American Express Lounge, Melbourne Airport

Review: American Express Lounge, Melbourne Airport

Country:
Australia
City:
Melbourne
Airport:
Melbourne
Cabin Class:
Any
Alliance:
American Express
Airline:
(Any)

location:

dining:

work:

overall:

What's Hot

  • Broad card access list
  • All-day bar and barista coffee
  • Zones for dining and relaxing

What's Not

  • WiFi network blocks emails from syncing
  • No showers (yet) or natural light

X-Factor

  • The freedom to fly with any airline, while still enjoying lounge access

Introduction

After debuting its first Australian airport lounge in 2014, American Express is expanding its lounge footprint beyond Sydney with an all-new American Express Lounge at Melbourne Airport: now welcoming passengers departing from Terminal 2.

Open from 6am until 11pm daily, the space features familiar favourites like barista-made coffee, WiFi and dining facilities, and although the lounge lacks natural light and tarmac views, it doesn’t feel dank and gloomy during the day, as can sometimes be the case.

After an earlier preview, Australian Business Traveller returned to the lounge on the first day it opened to the public to bring you this review.

Location & Impressions

After clearing security and passport control at Melbourne Airport, make your way through the terminal’s Luxury Precinct, continue walking, make a right at Brunetti, and follow the airport lounge signage to take the escalator downstairs, where you’ll see further arrows:

The AMEX Lounge isn’t difficult to spot, with its iconic living wall as also seen in places like Sydney and New York:

Fun fact: the lounge has a resident gardener to keep the wall in shape!

Once inside, you’ll emerge in a dining area with both table and bench seating…

… and as you continue through, you’ll find an array of private seats with Melbourne-themed artwork above…

… and chairs built for relaxing below:

(Regular travellers may recognise that piece from the Cathay Pacific Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong, below.)

Cathay Pacific's Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong

As Melbourne's lounge is new, it’s naturally very quiet for now – although the staff expect it to become busier over the coming weeks.

It's also larger than American Express’ facility in Sydney, catering to the growing number of travellers toting high-end points-earning plastic.

Access

Have one of the following cards? You’ll enjoy complimentary access year-round with two guests in tow:

A broader range of more affordable cards offer two visits per calendar year instead, with further visits payable at $55 per entry until the next year begins:

With these cards, each entry uses one of the complimentary visits, which are shared between the American Express lounges in Sydney and Melbourne – you don’t get two visits to Sydney and two visits in Melbourne each year, it's two lounge visits, period. If you bring a guest, that’ll use your second visit.

Altitude Black and Earth Black American Express cards issued directly by Westpac also provide access here until April 4 2018, when these cards are being retired.

AMEX displays a photo of all eligible cards at the door: and note, if you don’t have one of these (or the others mentioned above), there’s no option to buy your way in.

Dining

Let’s start with dining, and that all-important morning cuppa – there’s fresh barista-made coffee here throughout the day…

… with hearty breakfast options such as bacon, baked beans, hash browns and sausages…

… along with the expected breads, pastries and a pancake machine:

In the mood for morning tea instead, or just have a sweet tooth? Macarons, buffalo mozzarella sticks and other bites are available at the same time…

… joined by yoghurts and juices:

At around 11am, the buffet transitions to ‘all day dining’ mode, where salads make an appearance…

… as do a new line-up of hot mains, including spicy chicken with rice (which had a nice kick without being too zippy), plus pasta and frittatas:

Cheese and accompaniments join the spread too…

… which you can enjoy at a table – ideal for groups – or at bench seats of varying heights:

The menu here changes every week on a five-week rotation, so passengers who fly out around the same time every month won’t see the same food until the fifth time they return, with the same true for high flyers jetting abroad weekly.

Stop by at the right time and you might also find evening bites being freshly-made before you...

… such as yummy beef sliders on brioche buns:

On the beverage front, the bar is open all day, pouring a range of Australian reds, whites and a sparkling (Seppelt The Drives), plus a selection of beer, and also spirits: including Four Pillars Gin, Canadian Club 12-year Whisky, Belvedere Vodka, Courvoisier VS Cognac, Suntory Whisky, Sauza Tequila, Baileys, and Bundaberg rum, along with a spiced rum in The Original Sailor Jerry Caribbean, and Jim Beam bourbon.

Non-alcoholic drinks are self-served just to the side, with soft drinks both on tap and in cans – whichever you’d prefer – and of course, chilled water.

Overall, that’s a plentiful selection for a credit card lounge, whether you’re simply hopping across to New Zealand or jetting further afield.

Work

Make your visit a productive one by scoping out this private workspace: found at the very back of the lounge, and which is already proving very popular with travellers – seen here during a brief period when it was vacant:

Failing that, the solo suites allow you to work with your laptop on your lap, offering AC power and a cocktail shelf…

– but don’t forget to bring your Australian charger with you on your overseas trip, as these outlets only accept Aussie pins, rather than international chargers as are increasingly common in international lounges around the world. There’s no USB power here either.

For that, you’ll need to snag one of the tables lining the walls in the dining area, where the outlets feature both AC and USB:

You can also plug in along the dining benches – just lift the flap. The side outlets are better for smaller plugs, while the vertical plugs suit larger transformers, such as for the Microsoft Surface, which fits comfortably.

Wireless Internet is available throughout the lounge and is protected by a ‘familiar’ password, with our tests showing consistent upload and download speeds of around 5Mbps.

However, the wireless network appears to be blocking access to IMAP email servers – or the Internet ports used by these services – so as a result, my emails across multiple providers refused to sync, and I had to resort to webmail (or VPN) to access my inbox.

For business travellers about to board international flights (on which inflight WiFi may not be available), missing a crucial email before being incommunicado for an extended period isn’t ideal for a lounge designed with these passengers in mind.

Relax

To pass the time until your flight, head to the far end of the lounge…

… where the seats here can all cater to unwinding…

… including those business-like booths:

However, take caution when standing up – the light fittings here sit directly above you, and if you’re tall like me, your head may crash into them unless you’re careful:

I also found the music in this area to be excessively loud, which unfortunately didn't make the area conducive to either task, but is something that can easily be fixed.

Otherwise, you can grab something to read, and while you’re there, check when your flight is boarding on the information screen, as boarding calls aren’t made here to keep things peaceful: as passengers can be travelling with any airline, which would otherwise mean a constant string of announcements.

Showers are the one thing missing from this lounge, which we’re told are coming in the next 3-6 months – and as the bathrooms here are shared with the Plaza Premium Lounge next door, you won’t find showers there either.

But all things considered, for a lounge welcoming credit card holders travelling with any airline in any class of service, there’s a lot to like: except for the WiFi issues, of course.

Unlike AMEX’s Centurion Lounges abroad, there’s no special treatment here for Centurion cardholders – beyond priority entry during peak periods – but even if the lounge does fill up, AMEX has confirmed that guests will be welcomed into the Plaza Premium Lounge instead.

That’s a much better approach than in Sydney where AMEX cardholders can no longer sneak into the SkyTeam Lounge downstairs, and should help Melbourne flyers work or relax before their international flight.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Melbourne as a guest of American Express Australia and Plaza Premium Group.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

29 comments

  • Sam Kisvarda

    NBA

    28 Mar, 2018 07:03 am

    If you are an Amex cardholder this seems to be the place to go on route with VA to Fiji as the only other option is domestic VA. Can anyone confirm this?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Mar, 2018 12:30 pm

    You're spot on, although there's the Plaza Premium Lounge next door too which AMEX Platinum Charge and Centurion cardholders can access, but not the rest of the AMEX line-up.

    We'll be publishing a review of the Plaza Premium Lounge soon too to show what's available inside.
    No member give thanks

  • mickeyg

    mickeyg

    28 Mar, 2018 02:27 pm

    Was just thinking this works well for VA flights to Fiji and the like!
    No member give thanks

  • Miguel

    simiguelito47

    28 Mar, 2018 11:23 am

    Showers in the next 3-6 months? The Sydney lounge better be refurbishing soon to keep up
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Mar, 2018 11:39 am

    My understanding is that AMEX would love to expand the Sydney lounge, but that space is an issue at Sydney Airport which is preventing them from doing so. However, in Sydney, AMEX has an agreement with the SkyTeam lounge directly below it for guests wishing to use SkyTeam's shower facilities: the staff will point you in the right direction.

    No member give thanks

  • GoldCanyon340

    GoldCanyon340

    28 Mar, 2018 12:19 pm

    Is this lounge in the space formerly occupied by MH?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Mar, 2018 12:20 pm

    No: the doors to the old Golden Lounge still sit in their usual place (which happens to be next to the Plaza Premium Lounge).

    The AMEX lounge is directly to the left of the Singapore Airlines lounges.

    No member give thanks

  • Stanley Raj

    rsjones

    28 Mar, 2018 12:27 pm

    Can domestic travellers access this lounge as i am flying Mel-Perth on my return leg of my journey end of April
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Mar, 2018 12:31 pm

    Shouldn't be a problem, provided your flight departs from the international terminal (as this lounge is located after security and passport control, so you'll need to be able to physically access it).
    No member give thanks

  • nathjean

    nathjean

    28 Mar, 2018 12:42 pm

    Any review of the Plaza Premium Lounge please?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Mar, 2018 12:49 pm

    As above: "We'll be publishing a review of the Plaza Premium Lounge soon".

    Member who gave thanks

    nathjean

  • nathjean

    nathjean

    28 Mar, 2018 01:40 pm

    Oops... sorry, missed that sentence.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Mar, 2018 01:45 pm

    No drama: if all goes to plan we'll have it published tomorrow, or failing that, early next week.
    No member give thanks

  • nathjean

    nathjean

    28 Mar, 2018 06:47 pm

    Can’t wait, especially on the layout and food selections.
    No member give thanks

  • paul jones

    fairbasa

    28 Mar, 2018 12:54 pm

    No beer available?
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    28 Mar, 2018 02:25 pm

    There is beer available, just not self service I bel
    No member give thanks

  • xtfer

    xtfer

    28 Mar, 2018 02:42 pm

    Do they really have a live-in gardener?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Mar, 2018 02:51 pm

    Ha, we didn't say that the gardener was "live-in", just that the lounge has a "resident" gardener, the definition of which can include somebody "working regularly for a particular institution".

    No member give thanks

  • John Odlum

    John Odlum

    28 Mar, 2018 03:21 pm

    Wow, this is like the Sydney AMEX done bigger and better, really like the way they have used that space to create those specific 'zones'. Great review Chris!
    No member give thanks

  • Simon McLaughlin

    docsimonm

    28 Mar, 2018 04:30 pm

    Sounds much better than Sydney AMEX Lounge. Sydney was great initially but it’s become exceptionally crowded over the last year or so. Also had the worst scrambled eggs from a buffet there yesterday... which is a difficult accolade to achieve.
    Member who gave thanks

    Chellesy

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    28 Mar, 2018 09:29 pm

    Very good that excessively loud music was mentioned. Why do so many places believe that they have to provide music? What happened to silence?
    No member give thanks

  • Kai Robotham

    Travellingmum

    29 Mar, 2018 07:04 am

    I'm in the AMEX lounge right now. There is only my family in here. There is no music and quite comfortable. Food is decent and the coffee acceptable.

    Overall, as a perk of the AMEX card, it's pretty good value. And you don't have to sit out...there.
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    29 Mar, 2018 01:56 pm

    Not another vertical indoor garden....
    No member give thanks

  • Bojack  Horseman

    marvel

    29 Mar, 2018 02:07 pm

    So what if you have 2 adult children travelling with you? Can you pay for them to accompany you into Amex Lounge?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    29 Mar, 2018 02:34 pm

    This is covered in the article.

    "A broader range of more affordable cards offer two visits per calendar year instead, with further visits payable at $55 per entry until the next year begins... If you bring a guest, that’ll use your second visit."

    (So, if you have two visits on your account and want to bring in three people, that's $55, using both of your complimentary visits and purchasing a third. If the group comes back again in the same year, you'd pay 3x$55. It's irrelevant that the guests are your adult children.)

    Of course, if you have the AMEX Platinum Charge Card or one of the other top-tier cards, you receive unlimited entries with two complimentary guests every time.

    No member give thanks

  • Alan Oh

    Oh

    29 Mar, 2018 05:00 pm

    Is there a time limit to how long you can stay in there ?
    No member give thanks

  • bcworld

    bcworld

    30 Mar, 2018 09:28 am

    In this lounge at the moment. I like the space, and sitting in the couple booths on the edges is nice. In terms of actual service and execution it's a bit lacking. The layout in the food area is not sensible. The plates and cutlery are located under the toaster station...where people stand waiting on toast...meaning you can't get to the plates and cutlery. There's no teaspoons...a steady stream of people are asking the barista for one but no one's thought to place them beside the rest of the cutlery so there still handed out on a request basis. It was an hour before anyone came through the lounge area to clear empty plates etc. There was a line up to get in too and they seemed to be manually writing down people's names and credit card numbers on paper...maybe they are having a system problem though?
    No member give thanks

  • Jessica Morden

    JLM1985

    3 Apr, 2018 10:09 pm

    Hi there,
    Would you suggest using the Melb AMEX lounge or QANTAS business class lounge (with two young kids...yikes!)
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    5 Apr, 2018 11:54 am

    It depends on what you're looking for from your lounge experience. The amenities of each lounge are covered in our respective reviews, which allows readers to make their own decisions as travelling with children isn't something we cover.
    No member give thanks

Guest

21 Sep, 2018 07:08 am

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