Qantas & British Airways business class lounge, Singapore

Lounge Review: Qantas & British Airways business class lounge, Singapore

Country:
Singapore
City:
Singapore
Airport:
Singapore
Cabin Class:
Business
Alliance:
oneworld

location:

dining:

work:

overall:

What's Hot

  • good showers
  • changing food options

What's Not

  • awful wi-fi speed
  • crowded + noisy
  • no-name bad wine

X-Factor

  • UK + AU newspapers

Introduction

The joint Qantas-British Airways lounge in Singapore serves the Kangaroo Route flights between Europe and Australia, as well as Singapore flights from oneworld partner airlines. 

Singapore is Qantas' main southeast Asian hub, so I was expecting a showcase lounge.

I was travelling on BA from Singapore to London on a Wednesday evening and, with no late check-out available at my hotel, arrived at the lounge several hours earlier than necessary to wait for my flight, hoping to get some work done.

Location & Impressions

The lounge sits above the departures level inside Terminal 1, which is the terminal that most airlines (and all oneworld airlines) use in Singapore. It's well-signed from the customs checkpoint, up an escalator and along a small corridor.

On first glance, it was hard to tell that there was any British Airways influence in the lounge at all: the staff wore Qantas uniforms, the seating and interior design was straight out of the Qantas handbook, and the wine was Australian. 

Really, the only nod to Britishness was the availability of a respectable selection of British newspapers and magazines.

Inside the lounge, there are four main seating areas: a leather lounge area on the far left that also contains a half dozen or so Dell computers, a central seating area with more computers and a sort of "laptop buffet" area with stools where you can perch with your computer in the middle, and a third sofa area to the right on the way to the showers, which also contains the food and drink section. 

Access

Anyone flying Qantas Business Class or British Airways Club World can get into the lounge, as can oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers (that's Qantas Gold tier members) if flying on a oneworld airline.

Passengers with business class oneworld airline flights from Singapore can also use the lounge.

Dining

The food options were impressive, with a frequently refreshed and changing selection of sandwiches, pizza, pasta, noodles, cakes, and jars of bar snacks. Passengers with long connection waits will appreciate that there's not just one set of offerings for the day. 

But if you're a picky eater, or you have a swift connection, stake out the buffet: once the peak Qantas connection hour hits at around 6pm, everything disappears shortly after being placed out, and the staff don't seem to have figured out how to keep up with the rush.

There were several different wine options -- a couple of whites and reds -- which were disappointingly non-descript. The French bubbles I'd never heard of, and tasted more like carbonated white rather than méthode champenoise.

Given the decent options at the home hub airports of both Qantas and BA, the wine offerings were sorely lacking.

Work

My frustration about finding a comfortable place to work for more than a few minutes in Qantas lounges remains unabated. 

The little stools by the "bar" for laptops are impractical and un-ergonomic, and most of the other chairs are too low down and shallow of leg to be able to comfortably use them with a laptop. 

Try the two-seater sofas for the most comfortable position.

But don't expect to be able to get much done online in the Singapore lounge: Internet speeds for the lounge wi-fi are an atrociously slow 0.35 Mbps even when the lounge is empty. That's several minutes to download a 5 MB email attachment, and over three hours for a 500 MB TV episode.

But you're unlikely even to be able to read web pages with any speed on the wi-fi when the lounge is approaching full. Once the 6pm rush hits, speeds drop to dialup levels. It took 4 minutes 35 seconds just to load the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald's website (1.6MB) at 6.40pm. (In frustration, I timed it.)

Don't bother trying to use the Dell computers in the business centre either: they're so old they run Internet Explorer 6, and their speed is no faster.

In a country like Singapore with fast Internet speeds, it's unacceptable that this is the Qantas and BA offering.

Relax

The shower rooms are good -- though basic, with a spray hose shower wand rather than the surround-showers at the London end of the journey.

Until the 6-8pm rush when the big Qantas eastbound rush starts, the lounge is quiet and peaceful, but it's almost like a completely different place once the big connections start coming through.

Before 6, you'll have your choice of seats. But pick one you like by around 5.30pm, because it's hard to find an unoccupied seat after that until around 8.

The quiet music piped through the lounge before 6pm turned into frequent departure and "paging passenger..." announcements over the PA system, and not in a quiet or understated way you might expect for passengers in the middle of a 24-hour journey. 

Showers are available at the far left of the lounge if you need to wash off the grime of your trip, but they start to get a little scarce after 6pm.

The worst part about trying to relax in the lounge is the omission of a family zone like Qantas has in its Sydney international business lounge. 

Babies and families with grumpy, tired children are thus plonked down anywhere, with exhausted parents not on their parenting game often failing to prevent their more mobile offspring spilling drinks, climbing on the chairs -- and falling off, hitting their heads and shrieking. 

Hardly conducive to a relaxing time between flights.

Summary

The joint Qantas-BA lounge is a surprisingly poor offering, especially at Singapore's Changi airport, which offers economy passengers so many things to see and do to relax during a connection.

Lack of lounge space in this mega-airport is a real shortcoming. Even though the lounge was last updated before Qantas' A380s arrived, surely the planners should have realised what a madhouse it would be at rush hour.

It falls well short of BA's home lounges in Terminal 5, and even fails to live up to Qantas' international business lounge at Sydney. But the unacceptably slow Internet is the worst thing about the lounge -- and something that should be relatively easy to sort out.

John Walton

John Walton (John Walton)

@thatjohn

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.
 

4 Comments

  • am

    am

    23 Jun, 2011 04:19 pm

    The lounge is completely run by Qantas, but has to carry the QF-BA name because it comes under the cost structure and conditions of the JV (ie they share the costs between them)...

    I agree that it's not on par with other offerings, especially from an internet point of view... I imagine that they will eventually bring some iMacs in to replace the Dells in due course (hopeing to see some iPads too), and hopefully the internet will be dealt with at that time too.

    I do, however, much prefer this lounge to the SQ ones, especially considering the SQ ones are homebase flagships... Considering this is an outpost for both airlines, it's pretty decent (when you look at other airline's international offerings they usually come nowhere close to the quality of the homebase - see SQ in Sydney as a prime example). Just fix the problems, please!!!

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  • danwarne

    danwarne

    23 Jun, 2011 05:42 pm

    Best lounge review ever. Nice work John.

    No member give thanks

  • TomM

    TomM

    23 Jun, 2011 11:59 pm

    I've spent quite a bit of time in both the business and first lounges in Singapore and I still haven't worked out the difference in the product offereing between the two.

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  • Stephen787

    Stephen787

    1 Aug, 2011 03:16 am

    I was at the Singapore lounge this week and I agree the wifi is woeful. It kept dropping out and was glacial at best.

    The lack of food and the poor quality should be an embarrassment to Qantas management.The lack of choice in the drink department does not look good for a 4 star airline. Perhaps budget cutbacks have affected the lounges as well.

    As for the the design concept of these long tables that Qantas has installed at it's lounges, when are Qantas going to get the message that travellers don't want to perch on a bar stool to eat or drink. In both Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore these long benches were avoided by all in favour of a proper arm chair.

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29 Sep, 2016 06:39 pm

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