Until recently, flying Qantas abroad from Brisbane meant stopping by the usually-full business class lounge or visiting the also-full first class lounge next door – but that's all changed following a top-to-bottom rethink and redesign of the space to unlock 30% more room for travellers and even an extra level to help ease the squeeze.
Simply named The Qantas Brisbane Lounge, the new facility serves business class passengers and both Gold and Platinum frequent flyers in a single space, offering favourites like plates of the day, barista-made coffee and bartender service, through to a new 'breakfast hatch' and Quench beverage station.
Australian Business Traveller puts Qantas' newest lounge through its paces to bring you this exclusive first review.
Location & Impressions
The Qantas Brisbane Lounge can be found in the exact same place as before – straight ahead after wandering through duty-free and nearby gate 80 – but from the outside, you wouldn't know that much has changed within. It's not until you ascend the escalator that the first hints of change emerge, where a modern Indigenous art installation named The Pulse of our Ancient Land greets you... ... before approaching reception where friendly staff process your entry at modern podiums rather a traditional reception desk: Directly beyond will be the first stop for many morning-time travellers: the barista coffee counter. It's aside a fully-tended bar for a bubbly breakfast or a something stronger, as you wish... ... and if you slept in or simply don't have much time until boarding, there's a nook directly behind reception that's perfect as a 'short stay' zone, joined by tables and chairs nearby for a quick spot of breakfast before you dash: Oh, and there's a brand new second storey to this lounge, too – but more on that later.
- Business class passengers of Qantas, Air Niugini, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern (from December), Emirates, Fiji Airways and Jetstar (Business Max tickets only)
- First class guests flying with Emirates
- 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
- Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members travelling with Qantas or Cathay Pacific
- 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 (from December)
- 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
- Fiji Airways Tabua Club members flying with Fiji Airways on an FJ flight number
- Selected credit card users and Qantas Silver frequent flyers using a single-entry Qantas Club lounge pass
Additionally, Emirates operates its own dedicated lounge at Brisbane Airport for passengers travelling to Auckland, Singapore and Dubai, offering direct boarding from lounge to aircraft.
As the vast majority of Qantas international flights from Brisbane depart in the mornings, the entire lounge practically heroes that all-important first meal of the day.
For starters, it's impossible to miss this new dining area as you meander inside: Pull up a perch from 8-9am daily to enjoy a breakfast 'plate of the day' served straight to your seat by the helpful wait staff, alongside a barista-made coffee.
Our visit saw a 'healthy breakfast bowl' of a soft egg, kale, haloumi and quinoa, proving a fresh and tasty start to the day... ... while the coffee here comes in a range of groovy Queensland-themed cups, tasting just as you'd expect. That's not your only option for brekky: you can also head upstairs and discover the Brisbane Breakfast Hatch: quite literally, a hole-in-the-wall within the lounge, again serving up the featured plate of the day plus ready-made Bircher Muesli bowls for something simple, tasty and ready to grab. As nice as these options are, sometimes you just feel like a buffet binge – so bacon, eggs and grilled tomatoes are all available too, flanked by fruit salad and fresh yoghurts... ... breads for toasting and condiments on the side: your last chance to enjoy Vegemite before leaving Australia... ... and, if you don't like change or just love lounge pancakes, you're not forgotten either: Also before those morning flights and indeed any other time of the day, a new 'Quench Station' provides a range of non-alcoholic beverages including a Rockpool signature tisane: assembled by adding mixed leaves to the teapots and filling with boiling water... ... or a cool ginger quencher, a lemon & elderflower drop or a pink grapefruit delight – the latter of which proved refreshing when mixed with water and garnished by a slice of orange: certainly a nice change to our usual Diet Coke. Beer lovers, fear not – there's a selection on tap at the main bar, with cider, spirits and seasonal red and white wines also available... ... with the Seppelt sparkling offered here too, or self-poured at leisure from locations throughout the lounge: For Platinum-level frequent flyers, that's certainly a downgrade from the Taittinger which used to be offered in the separate first class lounge, although Platinum One, Chairmans Lounge and other VIP travellers will find Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV Champagne tucked away behind the bar. If the staff don't already 'know who you are', just flash your boarding pass or frequent flyer card when you order, or at your seat if a waiter comes by to offer a refreshment during quieter periods: Later in the day, a selection of fresh fruits, salads and egg treats appear... ... as do heartier dishes like egg noodles with smoked bacon and chili, a potato and leek soup with rosemary croutons and our favourite, Persian chicken with pomegranate, carrots and rice pilaf (on the side): For dessert, there's a scrumptious caramel cheesecake well worth the extra time on the treadmill, and an also-delicious chocolate brownie – fresh from the oven, so the staff plated it up for us: As purely a business class lounge, we really couldn't ask for much more: except, perhaps, for Platinum members to also be included on the 'Champagne list', which they're already accustomed to sipping in the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges.
As you'd expect of any modern airport lounge, there's fast and free WiFi available throughout. We tested the speed a number of times and clocked downloads between 7.47Mbps and 16.93Mbps, while uploads ranged from 4.33Mbps to 19.85Mbps.
There are also plenty of places to get things done here, whether over in the quiet business nook... ... at dedicated working benches, complete with AC and USB power... ... or indeed anywhere else that takes your fancy, with nearly every seat offering access to power, including in the dining room if you know where to look:
We're hoping your lounge visit is more about relaxation than productivity, because there are so many ways to kick back here before your flight.
Many travellers will be drawn to the communal curved seating on the main level to socialise with friends, colleagues or fellow lounge lizards... ... with more options nearby to chit-chat or catch up on the day's news: Solo travellers may instead prefer these single seats lining the sky-high terminal-facing windows... ... or what we're terming the 'secret seat' for the same view with added privacy over in the corner: But why stay downstairs when there's an entirely new upstairs to explore? Here, you'll spot a broader range of furniture including wooden chairs which you might find on a Queensland verandah, styled carpeting reminiscent of the moon rising over Queensland's many waterways and reefs... ... and if you head to the very far corner, this groovy solo seat also provides a view, but with privacy from the main lounge space when seated: Plane nuts or parents with curious children will also appreciate this little observation deck... ... giving a bird's-eye view out and over the tarmac, perhaps even of the aircraft you'll soon be boarding: But take note that the upstairs level is only open until 12:30pm daily to coincide with the lounge's morning rush – stop by after that time and you might not even realise there's another storey here, with the staircase (to the left) craftily disguised as part of the adjacent staff office when the door is closed: Downstairs is also where you'll find the restrooms and private shower suites, with ample towels at the ready... ... and Aspar amenities provided within, including separate shampoo, conditioner and body wash, as opposed to some other lounges which combine everything into a single product: All things considered, this is a substantial upgrade for Brisbane-based travellers, offering everything we look for in a solid business class lounge – and perhaps giving a glimpse into what's planned for the new domestic Qantas Club, Business Lounge and Chairmans Lounges also en route to Brisbane.
Certainly for Platinum-grade frequent flyers, there's no longer a separate 'first class' space to relax with Champagne, but we daresay most will be content with having a fantastic business class facility in place of the 90s-era first class 'shoebox' it replaces.
Connect with other business travellers and AusBT readers in our Qantas discussion group