TALKING POINT | Qantas has revealed that the upgrade of its Airbus A380s will include two 'business class lounges' compared to the single space of the original superjumbo configuration.
While it's easy to moan that Qantas should have installed a serviced bar like that of the Emirates A380 this ignores the reality that Qantas has to work with the space it has, that being two long narrow spaces on each side of the A380's very wide front staircase.
Is the current lounge space under-used? Yes it is, and that's because it's not a very comfortable space or a very 'social' one, when you are sitting side-on to other travellers.
But I expect the A380 redesign will change this and make these lounges much more popular with passengers.
I travel extensively with Qantas in business class and while I usually upgrade to first class with points I can still see myself making a lot more use of the A380's new lounges compared to today.
1. A change of scenery
Even with the refreshed A380s having Qantas' newest Boeing 787 Business Suite replacing the old Skybed II seats it's still a nice change to be able to vacate that seat and change your personal scenery and surroundings, especially during a long flight.
The current A380 business class lounge doesn't inspire me very much but the new lounge looks far more inviting.
2. Much better for travelling with a partner
Yes, you can sit in today's lounge and talk with a partner or colleague but the seating layout is a bit awkward.
The new business class lounge is far better suited to this because you can be facing each other and sharing a drink and a snack on these little cafe-stye tables.
This arrangement also works if you are travelling with a few friends or colleagues because there's room for several people in each 'nook'.
3. Better for working
If you are doing business on your business trip those tables will be ideal for sitting at with your laptop, and I presume there will be AC and USB outlets under each table. Again sometimes a change of scenery from your seat is welcome and although I don't expect to be holding 'meetings' in the middle of a flight I can see myself talking with colleagues about what we are working on as long as nobody else is in the lounge to overhear!
4. A good way to start your flight
A few months ago I flew on Etihad's Airbus A380 from Sydney through to Paris and I discovered that almost immediately after boarding and putting their bags at their seat, some of the regular business class passengers will adjourn to the 'Lobby' lounge area to enjoy their preflight drink.
When the doors are about to close the cabin crew let them know and they go back to their seat for taxi and take-off.
This is something which Qantas should encourage with the new A380 lounge. After all, why spend that first 20 minutes solo in your seat when you could be getting the trip off to a fun start wih your partner or travelling companions?
5. Cafe breakfast?
In the same manner, Qantas should consider letting passengers take a meal in the new A380 business lounge, especially if this is a simple meal like a 'small plate' or a single-plated breakfast.
Virgin Australia lets its Boeing 777 passengers have breakfast at the bar before arriving in Los Angeles or Australia and it's another reason to get out of the seat.
6. Movie time?
Not much has been said about the other new A380 lounge which looks a bit more like it has a large video screen and a self-serve snack bar area along with bench seating.
The design looks a bit confusing because the seating is side-on to the screen and anybody going to the snack bar would be standing between passengers and the screen,
But if the seating is in a better orientation facing the screen this could be a nice area for sitting and watching a movie with your partner or family.
And when Qantas' international fleet gets high-speed WiFi it would be great for the service to include some free international TV stations. Imagine being able to sit back in this lounge during the flight to watch a live game of football, a world cup rugby or soccer match or an F1 race!
In summary, if Qantas does its two A380 lounges right they will make flying a much experience for the business class traveller.