Australia's most frequent flyers can rack up as many miles and status credits as they like but that won't get them through the door at The Chairman's Lounge, Qantas' super-elite airport lounge.
This invitation-only lounge “is probably the most exclusive club in the country” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce once told Australian Business Traveller, while wearing the smile of a man with a sly secret.
That exclusivity alone makes The Chairman’s Lounge a subject of ardent curiosity, further fuelled by the scarcity of hard information on this haven for the very well-heeled.
The first rule of The Chairman's Lounge...
Stephanie Tully, Head of Airline Loyalty at Qantas, laughs at the suggestion that a la Fight Club, the first rule of The Chairman’s Lounge seems to be that you don’t talk about The Chairman’s Lounge.
The Chairman’s Lounge is aptly named: the Chairman of Qantas, Leigh Clifford, personally signs off on each membership application, which lasts for two years.
“We manage the membership on his behalf, but it's not an easy group to get into” Tully tells Australian Business Traveller. And it’s got nothing to do with your frequent flyer miles or status credits.
“Our Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum One tier is about hard-core flying loyal Qantas customers. It's a very different group to The Chairman’s Lounge, which tends to be decision-makers, CEOs and celebrities.”
This select group includes politicians and high court judges, along with the chair and CEO of major corporate accounts – the top end of town which spend heavily on Qantas flights.
“Membership is very sought after and it's a great asset for Qantas to utilise for our commercial endeavours” Alan Joyce says.
Beyond those frosted glass doors
As to the lounges themselves, there aren’t even any signs in the airport to point the way: if you’re a member, you’ll know where it is.
(For those wondering, look near the exiting Qantas lounges for a frosted glass door marked ‘Private’, and often discretely tucked away.)
Designed by Marc Newson, the Chairman's Lounge shares much of its DNA with the highly-regarded Qantas International First Lounge.
That not only includes the overall design and furnishings...
... there are also meeting rooms where the high and mighty can conduct their business in private...
... and a library for those quieter, more reflective moments.
Also a la Qantas First Lounge, the showers include complimentary Kevin Murphy haircare and Payot skincare products.
The buffet includes Rockpool-influenced food, while the drinks bar is both self-serve and always open – no drumming of the fingers until 11am!.
Beyond that, The Chairman’s Lounge is more like a smaller and more exclusive version of the best which Qantas already offers its Platinum members.
It’s less about extra features than highly personalised service and benefits such as a higher chance of upgrades and (unconfirmed) complimentary Chairman’s Lounge membership for your partner.
One thing’s for sure: The Chairman’s Lounge isn’t as much about waiting for your flight as privacy, recognition and potentially networking.
Which is why not even the million miles of Up In The Air's Ryan Bingham will get you past that invitation-only ‘Private’ door.
More on Qantas' top-shelf airport lounges
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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.