The mod make-over of Qantas’ domestic Melbourne Airport lounges has reached its first milestone with the opening of the new Qantas Club, and travellers are in for a treat.
The new space roughly mirrors the footprint of the current Qantas Club but swaps the cluttered and rather drab sea of look-alike chairs for a space with a far more contemporary design and a more thoughtful composition of furniture and flow, giving travellers a greater variety of seating and tables plus more room to move between them.
Here’s a first look at Melbourne’s new Qantas Club, which is open to Qantas Gold-grade frequent flyers and Qantas Club members.
Two ‘pods’ comprise the reception area, which at the top-right of the escalators from the terminal’s main concourse.
Immediately past this is a small cafe area suited for a grab-and-go coffee (including those ordered in advance via the Skip app) and pastry, although a handful of tables make this the go-to zone for a short stay.
Still to come is a quiet zone situated next to the cafe. The newsagent retail outlet is gone – no great surprise in this world where so many travellers use smartphones and tablets to browse the news and read digital editions of their favourite magazines.
The bulk of the new Qantas Club runs gun-barrel straight, flanked by banquette seating and clusters of seats for individuals and groups alike.
This is the best place to appreciate some of the lounge’s design, which draws on a lighter colour palette to emphasise the sense of space.
The materials used range from tan leather to soft oak, with slate-coloured tiles in the familiar chevron patten of other new-look Qantas lounges.
Created by Qantas lounge stalwarts Woods Bagot, the form takes loose inspiration from the linearity of Melbourne’s grid-like streets and iconic laneways (but without the graffiti), with a range of colours (including subtle touches of turquoise and aquamarine) from the scenic Great Ocean Road.
Onto matters far more practical, the new Qantas Club boasts plenty of AC and USB outlets along both walls, island seating and raised workbenches, with the USB ports rated at 2.4A so they can quickly juice up a tablet or larger-sized smartphone.
Halfway along the lounge are three buffets for hot and cold dishes plus a ‘Quench’ hydration station.
Just beyond this is what for many travellers will be the highlight: a spacious tended bar serving premium beers, wines and spirits, plus barista-pulled coffee.
This is pretty much where the Qantas Club ends, at least for now, with close to two-thirds of the lounge’s total space fitted out.
A work in progress…
Stage two of the project, due to open in September, will see the opening of the first part of the Business Lounge.
The final stage of the project, opening in November, will mark the completion of the Qantas Club and Business Lounge make-over.
This will add a 'dogleg' to the Qantas Club, tucking around into part of the space currently assigned to the Qantas Business lounge (the bar and servers) and boosting overall Qantas Club capacity to around 530 seats....
... and the addition of windows into to the terminal, as shown in the concept artwork below.
This is to address what will likely be the most common complaint of Qantas Club members: that they’ll be losing the tall windows which provide natural light (and tarmac views), with that stretch of the former Qantas Club footprint being handed over to the new Qantas Business lounge.
Those windows won’t do much for a view but at least they’ll bring light into the rear section of the lounge.
Reduced facilities, and guesting limits still apply
During those second and third stages – which means from now through to November – the Qantas Club will have roughly half the number of showers and toilets as construction works around those areas.
The current limit on bringing guests into the lounge will also remain until November, when the entire project is completed, as the first stage of the lounge is restricted to 350 seats, which is over one hundred fewer than the original Qantas Club.
Gold-grade frequent flyers and Qantas Club members will be unable to bring guest a fellow traveller into the Qantas Club during the busy peak hours from 5am to 9am and from 3pm to 7pm, including weekends.
Outside of those hours, guest access will remain available – as will the use of complimentary lounge invitations – although Qantas notes this will depend on the lounge’s capacity.
Meanwhile, at the Qantas Business lounge…
Once the new-look Qantas Club opens, attention will shift to giving the Qantas Business lounge its own Cinderella-like transformation.
For the time being, business lounge customers will still enter via the Qantas Club – but they’ll walk down past the Qantas Club bar and come through what is currently the rear of the business lounge.
The former Qantas Club area will be closed off and converted into the new-look Qantas Business Lounge, as teased in concept images below.
This will open in September with its own entry area to the right of the escalators from the terminal concourse, occupying the entire northern span of Qantas' domestic lounge precinct and deliver a 40% increase in seating with space for 350 high flyers.
In the meantime, there’s no restriction on Qantas Platinum card-holders bringing guests into the business lounge.