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Expert tips: make the most of the Qantas first class lounge

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, first class, Melbourne airport, Sydney Airport, Qantas First Lounge, airport lounges, Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum, lounge, oneworld emerald, guides

The Qantas first class lounges at Sydney and Melbourne airport are among the world's best airport lounges, and happily they're not restricted to first class passengers – any traveller with Platinum-grade frequent flyer status is welcome, even if they're travelling in economy.

This updated 2015 edition of our popular guide to the Qantas First Lounge is the ideal starting point for newly-minted Platinums, first-time Qantas first class flyers and anybody else who wants to make the most of these superb lounges.

You'll find insider tips on how the lounge works, the best things to eat and drink, getting a booking at the free day spa  and much more. Think of them as The Seven Habits of First Class Lounge Lizards.

1. Qantas First Lounge access

So exactly who is eligible to glide through those frosted Qantas First Lounge doors?

The list is longer than you may think.

  • Passengers booked into Qantas first class, obviously enough

Want to snare an upgrade to Qantas first class using your frequent flyer points? Our Qantas first class upgrade guide tells all! 

  • Likewise, travellers booked in first class with Emirates or other Oneworld airlines
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum or Platinum One members travelling in any class – yes, even the cheapest most discounted economy seat – on a flight with Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates or any Oneworld partner airline (flying out of Sydney and Melbourne. That roster currently includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, JAL, LAN, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways.
  • And not forgetting members of any of those airlines' frequent flyer schemes holding QFF Platinum-equivalent status – that covers Emirates Skywards Platinum card-holders as well as British Airways Executive Club Gold, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Diamond and other travellers with Oneworld Emerald status.
  • Finally, even if you're a low-status or no-status flyer, a Platinum-grade frequent flyer can bring you into the Qantas First Lounge as their guest

If you're the Platinum frequent flyer and are travelling with one friend or colleague, you can bring them into the lounge – but technically you're limited to just one guest.

If you're part of a group, just choose which of your workmates and/or family members you like the most.

Okay, we jest – but only slightly! If the lounge is relatively quiet it's been known for the staffers to bend the guest list rules on occasion.

Our advice is to be pleasant about your situation and remember that you're asking a favour, not demanding the God-given right of a 'Don't You Know Who I Am?' type.

And don't rock up with a dozen-strong entourage and expect the whole posse to pass through.

But two guests instead of one, in quiet times – it's been known to happen.

2. Get to the airport early

If it's your first time in the Qantas First Lounge, you'll probably want to see what all the fuss is about. That means getting to the airport earlier than you usually might.

And once you've experienced the lounge, we think you'll want to make a habit of arriving early for subsequent trips!

Sydney Airport's T1 international terminal allows all-day check-in for passengers on Qantas flights.

Yes, you can arrive as early as you please – any time from when the lounge opens at 5am – even if your Qantas flight leaves in the afternoon or evening.

That means you can beat peak-hour queues at the airport, enjoy some great meals, have a drink or two,  plough through your work with free and fast Internet access, maybe even fit in a spa treatment.

We're not suggesting you spend all day in the Qantas First Lounge, although there are certainly worse places to see the hours tick slowly away. But many travellers find that extra-early checkin works in their favour.

For example: if you have to travel from the other side of Sydney, or even come across from Sydney's northside, a 7am checkin for an early afternoon flight means you can you beat the peak hour traffic and minimise the risk of delays.

Spending an hour sitting in the lounge versus an hour sitting in slow-moving traffic? Easy choice!

It sometimes helps to escape the office early and spend more of your pre-flight working day in the lounge, too. The Qantas First Lounge even has private rooms where you can sit and work in peace.

Melbourne Airport doesn't have all-day check-in, so most passengers on international Qantas flights are limited to the standard ' three hours before departure' timeframe.

But there's a little-known perk for Melbourne's Platinum-grade Qantas Frequent Flyers.

If you're travelling with only carry-on baggage you can arrive at the airport an astonishing eight hours before your flight, as long as you've used online checkin and printed out your boarding pass (or had that pass printed at another airport before a connecting flight).

3. Use the Qantas First check-in area

Don't forget that as Qantas Platinum, Emirates Platinum or Oneworld Emerald card-holder flying with Qantas, you can skip the queue at the airport's regular check-in desks and use the Qantas First check-in area, even if you're flying economy.

If you've already checked in for your flight online you should still drop by the First Class check-in lounge to collect your Express Path pass. This lets you scoot through the fast-track Express Path outbound security lane.

Travelling outside peak hours and find there's no long snaking line at security? Consider skipping the Express Path and using one of the regular checkpoints, so you can hang onto your Express Path card and use it on another trip.

Annoyingly, a checkpoint for a secondary 'random' security inspection is located just past the Express Path security lanes – so you've a higher than usual chance of being pulled out, just when you want to head straight up to the lounge.

Our expert tip: play the odds. A casual glance towards the security desk while waiting for your carry-on bag to come through the scanner will show if the staff are waiting to (randomly) pounce or are occupied with other travellers.

If the former, take a little extra time sliding your laptop or tablet back in your bag, putting your coat back on, gathering up your things and such, so that the next person along will be chosen for the 'up close and personal' treatment.

If the latter: be quick in gathering your gear and moving on!

4. Book a spa session

Fancy a massage, facial or some other form of pre-flight pampering?

Both the Sydney and Melbourne lounges have a day spa which is open seven days a week from early in the morning through to late afternoon.

The Sydney and Melbourne lounges have different spa hours to cater for their different flight schedules.

In Sydney the spa opens from 8.30am to 4.30pm; in Melbourne it's 8am to 7pm.

Passengers travelling in first class are telephoned the day before they travel so they can book a spa session in advance. Everyone else is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Spa bookings can be made on arrival at the Qantas First Lounge's reception desk, and each treatments lasts for 20 minutes.

In addition to a range of massages, facials and hand and foot treatments, there are also two unique 'signature' treatments, one each for the Sydney and Melbourne spa.

Read: Qantas First Lounge spa: new treatments, more preflight pampering

5. Be smart about the menu

One of the best things about the Qantas First Lounge is the wonderful restaurant and equally wonderful menu, both of which boast the influence of Aussie superchef Neil Perry and his Rockpool restaurant empire. 

Read: Behind the scenes – fine dining at the Qantas First Lounge

If you've taken our advice and headed into the airport very early you can in fact sample a few meals throughout your visit.

There's a breakfast menu through to 11am, after which a more extensive 'all day menu' kicks in until the last flight of the evening.

Tip: Ask for the 'secret' breakfast at the Qantas First Lounge

And don't overlook the daily 'Market Inspiration' specials listed at the bottom left corner of the menu.

The lounge serves up a seasonal menu with a number of dishes changing every three months – but there's a score of reliable standbys which are too good to pass up no matter how many times you travel, such as the famous salt and pepper calamari.

To give you an idea of what's on offer, here's our feature articles on the Qantas First Lounge's most recent seasonal menus for Winter 2015 and Autumn 2015.

Most travellers will find themselves choosing from the all-day menu, for which we recommend selecting a few of the smaller starter-sized dishes rather than the larger mains.

Find something you really like? There's no rule against asking for second serve before your flight, although we lean towards variety. 

6. Ask what wines are being poured

The staff at the Qantas First Lounge take obvious pride in the champagnes, wines, stickies and spirits served in the lounge.

With a selection of five white wines, six reds, three champagnes and a rosé, the wine list mixes seasonal wines with old favourites. But they're all top notch, and sometimes you'll find a few amazing bottles cracked open and on offer.

For example, the excellent Bollinger, Veuve Clicquot and Taittinger champagnes may be supplemented with Dom Pérignon or the almost honey-like Delamotte.

Champagne, reds, whites and rosés are all on the regular wine list – but ask what else might be available, especially if you're a wine fan.

For example, there's usually a special wine available in the decanter.

Only small amounts of these special wines are kept at a time, so you won't find them printed anywhere on the menu.

Read: Qantas First Lounge – behind the wine list

7. Finding some peace and quiet

There's no dedicated quiet zone in these lounges, which can be a bother if you really need to sit down and focus on work or just get away from the cosy chat of your fellow travellers.

However, both the Sydney and Melbourne lounges have two small meeting rooms which can be booked at no cost. These come fully equipped with PCs and printers.

Many a time we've arrived early into the Qantas First Lounge, grabbed breakfast and then settled into a meeting room to get stuck into some work before surfacing for lunch.

Melbourne's Qantas First Lounge has two small 'library' nooks in the middle of the lounge but they're flanked by flat-screen TV sets so don't expect much in the way of peace and quiet.

Sydney's flagship First Lounge does it better: at the opposite end to the spa is a sizeable library area with a fascinating assortment of books if you're up for a read.

Since it's at the other end of the lounge from the bar, restaurant and spa there's no through-traffic.

So pick up a glass of your favourite whatever, settle down into a reclining Marc Newson chair with a book or your iPad, and reflect on how very nice it is to be a Platinum-grade frequent flyer in one of the world's best airport lounges.

Original material by John Walton

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 15/7/15 by petrhsr

Here's an expert tip from a frequent flyer (8440 SC last membership year) about making the most of your time and your life - spend as little time as possible at airports and in lounges, bacause it's a huge waste of time.  Arrive near the check-in deadline, and then by the time you're through immigration and security you can pretty-much head to the gate.

People who spend hours and hours in lounges clearly don't spend enough time at airports to have gotten-over the novelty value of lounges.  It's a waste of time that I could be spending on more important things.

1 on 15/7/15 by hutch

Everything is a waste of time depending on your individual perspective - like negativly commenting on posts.

I'm sure people are capable of determining how much time they can or want to spend at the airport.

1 on 15/7/15 by petrhsr

If people seriously have nothing better to do than sit around for hours in a lounge that you have visited a few-hundred times before, then go for it.  Knock.  Yourself.  Out. 

1 on 15/7/15 by hutch

If someone wants to go early to the lounge and that makes them happy, then good luck to them. It may their first and only time there. 

Not everyone is in your situation mate. 

1 on 15/7/15 by petrhsr

As I said, if that's what floats your boat, then knock yourself out.

2 on 15/7/15 by T

So you don't want freat food, or wine for free, just go straight onboard? I would rather sit in the lounger for three hours then go straight on to boarding

1 on 15/7/15 by Chris

A number of comments have been removed from this article that were either off-topic, added no value to the discussion, were varying degrees of personal attack or contained foul language.

Please be reminded of our published comment policy, specifically:


  • We do not censor comments based solely on a point of view but we will delete comments that we consider to be off-topic and/or add no value to the subject; as well as comments that are abusive, contain foul language or spam.
  • Focus on the topic (especially when commenting on an article) and add value to the conversation.
  • Don't personally attack others for their opinion: if you disagree, then make your case. But stay objective and stick to the topic.

2 on 15/7/15 by Tom

For many first time first class flyers, they want to savour the special moment as it might be a one off time for them. I know if I had the chance to fly first class or got the chance to visit the lounge. Personally I would spend most of my day there, have the day off work and enjoy the meals, spa etc.

1 on 15/7/15 by Doubleplatinum

Spend most of the day in a lounge? Each their own I guess, I couldn't think of anything worse.

3 on 15/7/15 by airADL

Try the spa before you fly, you may enjoy it...

1 on 15/7/15 by petrhsr

I couldn't think of anything worse than having some stranger touch my face.  Gross.

1 on 15/7/15 by cdinoz

I personally find with the FLounge, getting there early. Relaxing pre-flight, lunch or dinner with a few glasses of bubbles and then sit and do a couple of hours work is an ideal way to pass the time waiting for my flight.

4 on 15/7/15 by Kogglogs

An interesting comment full of assumption.

Firstly, when in the lounge, I'm rarely 'sitting around' with idle hands. It's a time out to churn through work in peace and quiet; make some phone calls; respond to emails. It's usually a more productive space than in the office as you have fewer interruptions - especially if you're at the B end and making use of awkward meeting rooms or the ends of colleagues desks, rather than the comfort of your own office.

Secondly, I'd much rather head to the lounge early, thus avoiding peak hour and indulge in the above activities, rather than leave "on time" and spend twice as long in transit (time which I could have been using productively as mentioned above). 

Lounges aren't a novelty (well... not any more). They're a business tool very graciously provided as a benefit for the business I direct toward the airline. Thus, I use it as such - a business tool. 

2 on 15/7/15 by davar98

I love a lounge, and I've been in plenty. Its not the novelty, its the convenience. I can get work done, eat, drink, and read in relative peace and quiet making the most of otherwise wasted time. Sure you can be last minute larry to the checkin, but why take the chance and add to the anxiety?

As other posters have said - each to their own.

3 on 15/7/15 by Ken

I am booked in First Class on an Emirates flight leaving Melbourne at 3:30am. It will be interesting to see if all the facilities of the Qantas lounge are available at that hour, including the food. I intend to go to sleep as soon as possible on the flight so will want a meal before boarding.

1 on 15/7/15 by hutch

The QF lounge is not open for that EK flight - so no facilities to be check. 

1 on 15/7/15 by Chris

Correct - you'll have access to the Emirates lounge, though.

4 on 15/7/15 by samson

I'll be at the Sydney F lounge in less than a fortnight and cant wait!  This will be my third visit - once a year for the three years I've been Platinum.  This article has whet my appetite yet again!

Based in BNE, my status is racked up mainly though lots of domestic Y flights up and down the east coast.  When I go overseas on annual leave, I confess I do get some enjoyment from the perks I've earned with QF throughout the year.  All those hours circling the Gold Coast waiting to land in BNE, all those delayed flights to smog-bound CNB, all those obnoxious seat mates I've suffered, etc, etc, etc..  I'm happy that my partner and I can enjoy the perks of OWE which includes the F lounges so we can begin (or continue) our vacation relaxed with good service, a nice meal, good champagne and even a massage before our longhaul flight - I feel as though it's a bit of a reward for the hard yards.  And for me these sort of perks and especially the F lounges help put the romance back into flying, which is easily lost when you are in the air a lot.  Yes, for me the concept of flying across the globe is still exciting.  I understand that for others it may be passé.  And yes, we've checked out the menu and have already chosen :)

1 on 15/7/15 by Tom

Lucky :)

5 on 15/7/15 by Michael

It does make it very hard to enjoy a domestic lounge again though. 

6 on 16/7/15 by Lee

Last year I went to Bali with two friends for my mates 30th. I approached the front desk at the F lounge in Sydney and asked very nicely if I could sneak 1 extra friend in the lounge. They were very polite and said "only on this occasion". We were flying Jetstar and were dressed in the required Bali thongs and shorts attire. 

1 on 16/7/15 by petrhsr

-Deleted by admin-

1 on 16/7/15 by Chris

Hi petrhsr, a second reminder of our published comment policy as already given above, specifically, "don't personally attack others".

Please keep personal comments to yourself, stick to the topic and refrain from making remarks about other readers. Further posts along these lines, by any user, will also be deleted without further warning.

7 on 26/7/15 by jetsetter86

I will be travelling from SYD-AKL in Dec on EK412 in F. Looking forward to accessing the QF F Lounge! I believe I can take a guest as I'm travelling in F. Wondering if I can take a second guest since I'm EK Gold and that entitiles me to a guest? If no, would I be able to take 2 guests into the QF J lounge?

1 on 26/7/15 by jetsetter86

Also slightly off topic but, as a EK Gold can I take more than one guest into the EK lounge if I have the Citi CC vouchers?

8 on 29/9/15 by BevanMcBevan

Back on EK for a quick trip to DXB/AUH. Leaving SYD on EK413 this Saturday, flying First. Can I access SYD First Lounge for this flight? Much Appreciated

9 on 20/10/15 by John

Great tips thank you :) 

Lounges are definitely a fantastic benefit that makes the airport visit much easier. I don't like dealing with the stress of turning up at the last minute so I usually turn up to the airport early and head to a Qantas lounge to enjoy a nice drink and snack and unwind before the flight.  However, the Qantas First lounge takes it to a whole new level!  I can't wait to experience it for the first time on my next trip to London! 


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