Featuring all-day barista coffee and speedy Internet, the Qantas Business Lounge at Melbourne International Airport is the go-to spot for Gold frequent flyers and Qantas Club members jetting abroad, and indeed, the airline's business class passengers.
Drawing inspiration from the nearby Qantas First Lounge, the dining area comes complete with waiters providing table service, but amidst a lounge that's quite dark and which begs for some decent natural light, as Australian Business Traveller discovers in this review.
Location & Impressions
Once through security and passport control, follow the terminal's main walkway and keep your eyes peeled for signs pointing to 'airline lounges' – you'll veer right on reaching the second duty free zone before taking the escalator down to the Qantas Business Lounge.
Unlike in Sydney, the Qantas First Lounge isn't directly adjacent, so if you find yourself ascending escalators instead of popping downstairs, you're going the wrong way.
- Business and first class passengers of Qantas, Air India, Aircalin, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Garuda, Jetstar (Business Max fares only), Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways
- Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers travelling with any Oneworld airline; with a QF flight number on their ticket; or with China Eastern, Emirates or Jetstar
- Other Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members travelling with any Oneworld airline, including Qantas
- Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum cardholders booked on a Qantas or Emirates flight with a QF or EK flight number
- China Eastern Gold and Platinum Eastern Miles members travelling to Mainland China on a Qantas or China Eastern flight number
- Qantas Club members booked on a Qantas or Jetstar flight number with any airline
- American Airlines Admirals Club members travelling with Qantas on a QF or AA flight number
- Qantas Silver frequent flyers and eligible credit card customers presenting a single-use Qantas lounge pass and flying with Qantas or Jetstar
Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Malaysia Airlines also operate branded lounges that their respective passengers can use, while Qantas too has a separate First Lounge for eligible first class passengers, Platinum/Platinum One frequent flyers and Oneworld Emerald members.
Where this lounge does excel is the food and beverage selection, starting with a dining area complete with waiters serving a 'plate of the day' straight to your seat: Simply pull up a chair and place your order. As it's one dish for everybody rather than a larger menu as you'd get in the First Lounge, we waited less than five minutes for our breakfast to arrive... ... joined by a great barista-made latte: Unfortunately though, the high-chaired dining table provides almost no room for your knees and means you'll either need to sit far back and lean in towards your plate – which is bad table manners – or let your legs dangle down uncomfortably: For a broader variety of food there's a separate and self-serve buffet with the conventional cereals, breads and condiments in the mornings... ... along with hot items including eggs, sausages and hash browns with tomato sauce nearby... ... a selection of pastries... ... yoghurts, fresh fruit... ... and sweet treats including a personal favourite: strawberries & cream lollies: Because it's always after 5pm somewhere in the world, alcoholic drinks are available throughout the day including spirits with mixers... ... along with beer, red and white wines... ... plus a sparkling: the Seppelt Salinger Brut NV Cuvée. It's no Taittinger or Veuve, but suffices for a business class lounge.
Business travellers tasked with work before their international flight can stop by the business zone to use Apple iMacs running both Windows and OS X... ... or can set up their own laptop on the tables nearby: Power points are present, but scarce, and are oddly easier found in zones geared towards relaxing with a tablet than in areas where you'd be likely to fire up a more power-hungry laptop.
As expected of all Qantas lounges, free WiFi is available and when tested at 9am on a busy Monday morning still returned average download speeds of 12.19Mbps, uploads almost triple that at 31.80Mbps and ping speeds circa 20ms.
In plain English, that means your pages load very quickly and images and other files are fast to upload: perfect if you're trying to email a presentation or video before jetting off, or even when just uploading pictures from your trip on social media.
A range of magazines and newspapers are available to help pass the time with a conveniently-placed coffee machine located nearby... ... with comfy seats ranging from duos and trios... ... through to larger groups, but which can still feel a tiny bit 'separate' when occupied by solo travellers... ... and many of which are within sight and sound of a TV and the flight information screens: A TV is also visible from the dining room seats but was tuned to SBS and the Greek language news, which appeared of no relevance (or indeed, comprehension) to anybody nearby. We asked the lounge staff if they'd mind flicking over to something more appropriate like ABC News 24, but were told they "would need special permission from the lounge host" to do so, and after 10 minutes passed without an English channel in sight, we gave up and relocated elsewhere.
With showers and a kid zone also available, Melbourne's Qantas Business Lounge certainly ticks the basic boxes of what you'd expect when flying internationally – particularly in regards to the food and drink – but misses the mark in other respects.
For starters, with only a few glass windows in the far left corner of the space, there's not much chance for natural light to enter: and with generally dim artificial lighting throughout, I found myself thinking "oh yeah, it's actually daytime" as I left the lounge and walked to the gate.
AC power points were also difficult to spot while USB slots were seemingly absent altogether.
And of course, staff shouldn't require 'special permission' to switch over from a foreign-language news channel to one in English when nobody is watching it – but granted, it'd certainly be a different scenario if people were.
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