Sydney Airport's five best international business class lounges

Sydney Airport's five best international business class lounges

Business class travellers and high-ranking frequent flyers enjoy access to some great lounges at Sydney Airport's international terminal. Here are T1's top five business class lounges.

1. Etihad Airways Premium Lounge

As a single lounge shared by first class and business class passengers, the Etihad Airways Premium lounge edges out the rest of the pack.

Winning touches include a full a la carte menu at the in-lounge restaurant where seasonal dishes include mussel chowder, truffle parmesan souffle, braised beef cheeks, grilled ocean trout and duck leg tagine. 

If you're rather a light bite, the self-serve buffet area boasts a range of lighter snacks, salads and Tapas-style mezze dishes.

... but there's no reason you can't pick and choose from both, before moving to the bar for a pre-flight tipple or two.

Of course, Etihad's staples of Arabic coffee and dates also make an appearance.

Parents and kid-free flyers alike will appreciate the children's playroom, too.

Etihad's Sydney business class lounge doesn't boast the up-to-date styling of its stunning Melbourne sibling, but it's easily the 'best in class' at Sydney Airport.

2. Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge

One of Sydney Airport's two Star Alliances lounges, the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge has an elegant and pared-back contemporary 'residential' theme rather than a slickly high-tech high-touch look.

It offers a much wider range of Western and Asian dishes, with tastes of Singapore such as laksa and mee siam...

... although we recommend ducking into the nearby Air New Zealand lounge for an excellent barista-pulled coffee.

If you need to get some work done before your flight, or just want a little more of your own space than the regular seating provides, a series of high-walled booths provide privacy along with room for your laptop and handy AC/USB sockets.

3. Air New Zealand Lounge

Next door to SQ's SilverKris lounge is is Sydney's other Star Alliance lounge.

The AirNZ lounge is larger than its neighbour but gets much busier because most Star Alliance airlines – including United, Thai and Air Canada – direct their business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyer here, as does Virgin Australia for its trans-Tasman flights.

A sprawling open plan design affords plenty of natural light and great views, with a tended bar and a 'food theatre' station where chefs prepare daily specials (albeit with a limited range) to go with the hot and cold dishes available at the buffet.

Like the best lounges these days there's a variety of seating areas: some casual and relaxing, others for solo or couple dining, plus longer benches, a 'business zone' and quiet zone.

And AC/USB sockets are everywhere and built into everything, from laptop benches to cocktail tables.

4. Emirates Lounge

The Emirates Lounge doesn't wow you with cutting-edge design – and given the airline's propensity for bling, that could be a good thing.

What does surprise travellers is the variety and quality of food and drink on offer.

There may be no a la carte dining room but the buffet is among the best you'll find in any airport lounge, and constantly re-stocked with a tasty selection of individually-played international dishes, accompanied by expected wines, spirits and Veuve Clicquot champagne.

5. SkyTeam Lounge

The SkyTeam lounge serves alliance airlines including China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines.

Although spacious, there's a clear delineation of different 'zones' for relaxing and working...

.... with a decent spread of food...

... complemented by a self-serve bar.

 

Honourable mention: American Express Lounge

The American Express Lounge is Sydney Airport's only private, non-airline lounge, and we're crossing our fingers for more to open their doors in Australia's other major airports.

Access is limited to selected American Express card-holders: a handful of premium cards give you unlimited yearly entry, others provide two free visits per year (and $55 per entry thereafter). The full list can be found at www.goodgoing.com.au.

This compact lounge is ideal for travellers who are travelling in premium economy or economy and lack the frequent flyer status to use that airline's lounge.

There's a pleasing spread of food and snacks, with barista-pulled coffee and drinks at the bar. 

While it can get quite busy during peak travel periods – at which point some guests are redirected to the adjacent SkyTeam lounge – there's still an air of exclusivity in this cosy and well-appointed nook. 

Not-so-honourable mention: Qantas International Business Lounge

This is Qantas' busiest lounge at Australia's busiest airport, and the wear and tear of a decade of heavy traffic is sadly showing (note however that it's the same age as the upstairs Qantas first class lounge, which looks as good as the day it was opened).

Some parts of the equation seek to more than balance things out: there's a great spread of food at the buffet...

... plus little touches like the fresh juice station and even some gelato made in the lounge's own kitchen.


Nor can the service from attentive staff be faulted. But bearing in mind that this is Qantas' flagship business class lounge, business travellers could be forgiven for expecting a bit better. 

What's your pick of Sydney Airport's best business class lounges?

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

22 comments

  • S

    S

    14 Nov, 2016 10:05 am

    The SkyTeam lounge is horrible! I lasted about 5 minutes in there before we decided to walk out and go into the main terminal.
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  • Fqtv

    Zac

    14 Nov, 2016 10:15 am

    Thank you for the dishonourable mention for Qantas... it really is a poor lounge. Dated, overcrowded, uncomfortable, small selection of stodgy food. Prefer to wait in the terminal.
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    16 Nov, 2016 03:35 pm

    Don't complain about it to Qantas. I did and was told my perception was, well not  what they considered reality. 

    And all I said to them is what was in this post which is good choice is rather poor and at least one more hot dish should really be provided.
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  • Jono

    Jono

    14 Nov, 2016 12:04 pm

    Does anyone know if Star Alliance and SkyTeam have a similar rule to OneWorld, that says if you hold a business class ticket you can use any of that alliances lounges in the port you are departing from?
    Member who gave thanks

    Zac

  • Fqtv

    Zac

    14 Nov, 2016 12:14 pm

    Star Alliance does, although as one of the less well-known rules you may come across lounge agents who question it (unless you have a *G card of course)
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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    14 Nov, 2016 01:14 pm

    The Amex lounge looks the nicest of the lot - Fresh contemporary, yet warm and embracing.

    EY - Too sterile looking - too much white

    SQ - Carpet's too funky and psychedelic *Help I'm getting a seizure!* - Ceiling looks too boxy

    NZ - Too minimalist - Feels naked and sparse

    EK - Comfortable but the 90s rang and wants its furniture back

    Sky Team - Similar to NZ; bland and lacking in any real character

    QF - Dated, oh so dated.

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  • Dean

    deany83

    15 Nov, 2016 08:10 am

    A few of them favour the white or lightly coloured chairs... they'll age quickly.
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  • sgb

    sgb

    14 Nov, 2016 01:26 pm

    I just love the Emirates Sydney lounge, excellent natural light, good views, food and drinks second to none. It's like a old comfortable club environment, I especially like the smaller section to the left as you enter, rather than the larger main section. Home away from home.
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew Lorken

    luckylorks

    14 Nov, 2016 02:55 pm

    Thanks for a good article.  Having only been to QF and SQ Ive always wondered what the other lounges offer and their own unique styles.
    No member give thanks

  • JohnSydney

    JohnSydney

    14 Nov, 2016 02:56 pm

    QF have installed cheap and nasty bar tables and stools along the window.  I suppose this is to give you a better view of the First Lounge fire escape and not so lovely roofs.
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  • Looking

    Looking

    14 Nov, 2016 05:08 pm

    This is a brilliant article, as a loyal QF traveller I have never considered or been curious even about other lounges at KSA. I always run into friends  at the QF lounge which is a lovely highlight but also shows how busy it has become. The people on the coffee station have taken on the awful habit of shouting out customers first names when making a coffee and this needs to stop! The views of the runway somehow need to be improved ... roof garden perhaps? And some seasonal fruit would be great, celebrating all that is good about NSW.
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  • Martin  Slobodnik

    msport2012

    14 Nov, 2016 06:08 pm

    Really Really Wish QF will Update the Business Lounge ASAP. Singapore, Hong Kong, LAX, Brisbane and soon London will have much better QF lounge than Sydney.

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  • travelalot

    travelalot

    14 Nov, 2016 07:53 pm

    Great article. Shows QF for what it has become unfortunately. Last few times I have been in there, they have had cheap and nasty low grade sausages in a Business class lounge for breakfast? Really? 

    Amazing, that people stick to QF. But hey, all the more room for others in the better lounges...
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    14 Nov, 2016 09:53 pm

    While dated I don't think the QF SYD lounge is that bad, although definitely needs more space at times.

    Design wise compared to the MEL lounge it's first class.
    No member give thanks

  • Palpal

    Palpal

    14 Nov, 2016 10:15 pm

    thanks for a great article
    you mentioned the syd american express lounge can sometimes get busy and guests may be redirected to the skyteam lounge. 
    do u mean that if the amex lounge is full, and i carry an amexcard which grants me entry, they will give me free entry to the skyteam lounge?
    No member give thanks

  • markpk

    markpk

    15 Nov, 2016 05:09 pm

    At the risk of breaking the down-voting system here on AusBT I'm going to go into bat for Qantas on this one...

    The fact is, when you consider real world factors such as lease terms, fit out depreciation schedules etc, when Qantas opened this lounge vs what space was since made available, plus a belligerent landlord you "may" realise that Qantas, by moving first to raise the Lounge standards bar has now found itself stuck with a dated lounge and little options to move or update easily. 

    If you remember the original Qantas lounge/dungeon from before the turn of the century, then think of the new/current lounge, you'll appreciate how far Lounge design has come (globally) - and all this under a landlord who patently refused to develop Terminal 1, then realised it could make boat loads of extra cash and opened up acres of space for Qantas competitors - comfortable in the knowledge that they had Qantas locked into a space that was going to be a medium to long term issue.

    Is Qantas completely blameless? No, they probably could have done a deal earlier with a partner like AMEX to shift load as to allow a redev, but hey, none of us know what constraints exist in terms of what they want to do vs what they can do...

    But add a little broader business perspective...
    No member give thanks

  • John

    akronflyer

    15 Nov, 2016 08:20 pm

    Agree that the QF lounge is a bit underwhelming but the Staff try hard to please. If only QF would copy their wonderful lounge  at Changi and transplant it to Mascot
    Emirates is certainly better in the Tucker stakes
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  • JohnSydney

    JohnSydney

    16 Nov, 2016 08:02 am

    I suspect that when QF eventually refurbishes it's A380 fleet it will delete first class altogether and we will see the first lounges in SYD and MEL absorbed and enlarged - until then there will only be minor cosmetic changes.
    No member give thanks

  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    16 Nov, 2016 03:26 pm

    Fair Call David. As a P1 I'm not in the QFF Bus Lounge but have been in the EY Lounge (last week) and SQ lounge (three weeks ago). Both are fine...you're right with the Laksa! One thing I value is a shower, I'm normally belting to the Airport from a surf, in the garden, juggling kids...and i value this. EY & SQ do this well.
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  • Nick Sydney 2

    neiljeram

    16 Nov, 2016 03:43 pm

    Here is hoping for a Changi style upgrade to Mascot 
    No member give thanks

  • Stranded Often

    Stranded

    16 Nov, 2016 04:14 pm

    At least we have options in Sydney, overall there are none that are horrible, none are perfect and lets face it, that is travel. All would hands down competed an better a International United / Delta / American lounge in LAX/SFO/DFW/Houston from their terminals (Excluding Tom Bradley in LAX)
    No member give thanks

  • Karen116

    Karen116

    29 Nov, 2017 11:13 am

    If I hold a China Southern business class ticket, is that means I can get into Air NZ, SQ and Star Alliances lounge even if I don't have a Star Alliances card on me?

    Thanks

    No member give thanks

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22 May, 2019 03:11 am

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