These business and first class airport lounges have the best Champagne

These business and first class airport lounges have the best Champagne

Like many Australian Business Traveller readers, I appreciate the comforts of a good airport lounge – especially when there's a great Champagne to enjoy there before my flight.

For me, the presence (or absence) of Champagne can also be a reason to visit one lounge over another, particularly in airports where the right frequent flyer card or boarding pass provides a bonanza of lounge options for clued-in travellers.

Having flown almost 300,000 kilometres in the past year – that's circling the planet 7.5 times, or travelling three quarters of the way to the moon – here are some of the airport lounges with great Champagne that I've come to discover along the way.

Singapore Airlines' The Private Room, Singapore

Singapore Airlines' The Private Room caters exclusively for first class passengers, so it's no surprise that the Champagne on offer here is the same as in first class on board: Dom Pérignon 2009.

Even the shiniest of frequent flyer cards won't get you through the door, which is tucked away after walking through two other lounges: but if you're on the list, you'll be escorted through to your private setting to relax with a glass of Champagne.

Dom Pérignon is produced by the world's largest Champagne house, Moët & Chandon, with the 2009 vintage the current release.

AusBT review: Singapore Airlines' The Private Room lounge

Qatar Airways' Al Safwa first class lounge, Doha

Another lounge that only first class flyers will ever see is Qatar Airways' Al Safwa lounge in Doha – Qatar's 'real' first class lounge – where Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2005 is the standard drop, and the non-vintage Billecart-Salmon is available too for a little variety.

Regular jetsetters may have experienced the vintage Taittinger on board in first class with Qantas or Malaysia Airlines (now Business Suites), or on the menus at some of the world's best restaurants like The Fat Duck in Bray, outside of London.

However, if you're flying during the Holy Islamic month of Ramadan – in 2019, that's expected to be from early May to early June – Qatar Airways generally refrains from serving alcohol in its Doha lounges during this period.

Singapore Airlines' SilverKris first class lounge, Singapore

Of course, you don't have to be flying first class to try some excellent vintage Champagne: Singapore Airlines' "first class lounge" in Singapore, which is really for the airline's Solitaire PPS Club members, pours the delightful Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millesime 2002.

That has to be a real treat for Singapore locals and regular travellers, who can visit this lounge whether taking a one-hour hop over to Kuala Lumpur, jetting in business class further afield to places like London or Sydney: but Solitaire status isn't easy to come by.

To quality and retain your membership, you'll need to accrue $50,000 in "PPS Club value" every year – being the amount in SGD spent on business class and first class travel with Singapore Airlines and SilkAir – which puts the pricey Champagne served in this lounge into context.

AusBT review: Singapore Airlines' SilverKris first class lounge, Singapore T3

British Airways' The Concorde Room, London

When flying out of London Heathrow in British Airways first class (or as an Executive Club Premier or Concorde Room cardholder), make time before your flight for a visit to The Concorde Room, and a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle.

Although technically a non-vintage Champagne because it blends grapes harvested across multiple years rather than a single season, those grapes are drawn exclusively from the best Laurent-Perrier vintage years, so you're enjoying a premium Champagne blending the best the house has to offer.

You won't get into this lounge with a shiny Qantas Platinum, Platinum One or even Chairman's Lounge card, however, as Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers use a different first class lounge in London, separate to The Concorde Room.

Emirates' Concourse B business class lounge, Dubai

Believe it or not, the best Champagne at Dubai Airport isn't found in Emirates' first class lounges: it's in the airline's business class lounge in Concourse B, which houses a dedicated Moët & Chandon Champagne bar serving four different Champagnes, each with matching canapés.

Most iconic of the line-up is the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2008 cuvée, with pleasing hints of florals and citrus, although on my last visit, my personal pick was instead the black-label Moët Nectar Impérial NV, which is just a little sweeter.

Even if you're flying first class, you can still 'downgrade' yourself to the business class lounge for a Champagne tasting – while Gold and Platinum members of Skywards and Qantas Frequent flyer are welcome too, as are Qantas Club members booked on a Qantas (QF) codeshare flight.

Read: Visiting Emirates' Moët & Chandon Champagne bar in Dubai

Lufthansa's First Class Terminal, Frankfurt

Why build a lounge for first class flyers when you can have an entire terminal instead?

That's the Lufthansa approach in Frankfurt, where high flyers can choose between Ruinart Blanc De Blancs and Bollinger Special Cuvée Champagne: the former, a lesser-known brand which is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes, and the latter, a popular blend of up to 245 wines: the bulk of which are either grand cru or premier cru varieties.

With two great Champagnes to choose from, there's every excuse to try both before your next Lufthansa or SWISS first class flight out of Frankfurt – or if you're a well-travelled member of the Miles & More program with top-tier HON Circle status.

The Emirates Lounge, Brisbane

Another Emirates lounge to visit for the Champagne is the airline's facility in Brisbane, where Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label is often available aside the more standard Moët & Chandon NV: so don't be surprised to find both waiting for you.

There's no doubt that Sydney is Australia's biggest travel hub, but there's a little trivia here on why Brisbane's lounge is a little more 'special' for the airline – back in 2004, it was the first lounge that Emirates ever opened outside of Dubai: ahead of places like Sydney, London and even New York.

Since its opening, Emirates has also expanded Brisbane's lounge with a private glass aerobridge for direct boarding to the aircraft below, which remains one of the very few lounges to offer this beyond Dubai: so the next time you're up here sipping your Champagne, you can toast to the history of the airport.

AusBT review: The Emirates Lounge, Brisbane

Etihad Airways' first class lounge, Abu Dhabi

Flying through Abu Dhabi with Etihad? A visit to the airline's first class lounge comes affords a glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne, whether you're a first class passenger or a top-tier frequent flyer.

Among those that make the cut for entry, Etihad Guest Platinum and Exclusive cardholders, and Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum and The Club members flying with Etihad.

For Velocity Platinum members in particular, it's a nice perk to enjoy when connecting between Australia and Europe, and while it's not quite the vintage Dom or Taittinger you'd get in some other airlines' first class lounge, Charles Heidsieck is still very drinkable.

Singapore Airlines' SilverKris business class lounge, Singapore

Along the same lines, Singapore Airlines' SilverKris business class lounge at Changi Airport is another place where Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve can be enjoyed – yes, a third top drop for Singapore Airlines, which keeps the Champagne flowing at its home hub.

Unfortunately, there's no access to this lounge for Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum members, or for most Star Alliance Gold cardholders: this lounge is reserved for Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance business class passengers, PPS Club members, and AirNZ Elite members before selected flights.

For that reason, some Velocity Platinum cardholders do prefer to jet through Abu Dhabi on European journeys – not least because there's also a dining room inside that lounge – but for those booking business class, it's nice to have a Champagne in the business lounge that other airlines reserve for first class territory.

AusBT review: Singapore Airlines' SilverKris business class lounge, Singapore T3

Qantas first class lounges: Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles

Qantas' first class lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles generally provide travellers with three or four Champagnes to choose from, and while Taittinger Brut Réserve has long been the go-to for high flyers, its recent removal from the wine list leaves Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut the new pick of the bunch.

As regular travellers would know, the Qantas First Lounges cater not only to Qantas, Emirates and Oneworld first class passengers, but also for Qantas Platinum members and above, and their Oneworld and Skywards equivalents, whether flying to Christchurch or Copenhagen.

Personally speaking, in Sydney and Melbourne I usually try to snag a spa appointment not long after my arrival, saving the Champagne to enjoy after the treatment: but if the spa is fully-booked, Perrier-Jouët pairs wonderfully with the signature starter, salt and pepper squid.

AusBT reviews: Qantas First Lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles

Qantas international business class lounges: Brisbane, Singapore, Hong Kong, London

With first class flights yet no dedicated first class lounges in Hong Kong, Singapore and London – and no Qantas first class service from Brisbane at all – the Qantas international business class lounges in these airports keep a 'secret Champagne' under the counter.

Reserved for first class passengers, Qantas Platinum One frequent flyers and Chairman's Lounge members, Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut is the Champagne of choice here, but for everybody else, Champagne is off the menu: the best you'll find is a Seppelt Australian sparkling wine.

There's no secret handshake involved to get the good stuff: in Brisbane and Singapore, you'll generally be introduced to the bartender as you arrive, while in Hong Kong, you'll be seated at a table with a subtle black placemat (signifying you're on the 'Champagne list'), and in London, will receive a wine list which includes the Champagne.

Also read: Qantas to open new Singapore first class lounge in 2019

Cathay Pacific's The Pier first class lounge, Hong Kong

Finally on our Champagne lounge list, Cathay Pacific's The Pier first class lounge in Hong Kong, which again serves Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut – but to all eligible passengers, not only first class flyers and the VIP set.

Yes, as a Qantas Platinum frequent flyer departing Hong Kong, heading to the Cathay Pacific lounge finds a glass of Champagne waiting for you, even before a Qantas-operated flight. Head to the Qantas lounge instead, and your Platinum card provides only the same sparkling wine served to everyone else, not the secret 'PJ'.

AusBT review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier first class lounge, Hong Kong

Even venturing to Cathay Pacific's range of Hong Kong business class lounges finds the very acceptable Mumm Cordon Rouge NV Champagne at the ready: a handy trick to remember for Gold-grade frequent flyers and Qantas business class passengers who enjoy their pre-flight bubbles.

AusBT review: Cathay Pacific's The Bridge business class lounge, Hong Kong


Over to you, AusBT readers: which Champagnes do you enjoy drinking on your travels, and which lounges do you find them in? Share your favourites and any great finds via the comment box below!

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

16 comments

  • vantage03

    vantage03

    7 Jan, 2019 12:14 pm

    As for Lufthansa, the lounge champagne highlight is actually at the two First Class Lounges at Munich airport where they serve Pommery Cuvée Louise (currently 2003), which is a far superior drop to the already lovely champagnes served in Frankfurt. Currently selling at Vintage Cellars in Australia for $224.95 a bottle..!
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  • Richard Robertson

    iM

    7 Jan, 2019 05:00 pm

    Cheers! Great round-up Chris.
    No member give thanks

  • Happy Trails

    Happy Trails

    7 Jan, 2019 07:38 pm

    Surprised The Wing first class at HKG, with a dedicated Champagne lounge and three labels on offer, didn't rate a mention.
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    7 Jan, 2019 07:41 pm

    What I can’t understand about Qantas is that it ignores some of the very fine Australian sparkling such as the finer ones from Tasmania which match some of the French options and more.
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    Rasta Man

  • Scott Wilson

    Libertyscott

    8 Jan, 2019 06:16 am

    Worth noting a few more:
    1. BA First lounges at LHR T5, T3 and LGW all have vintage champagne as well, with Duval LeRoy 2006, but although it varies it is better than most business lounges.
    2. Air France First lounge at CDG is worthy of a mention, but I can't recall the drop there.
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  • jeppetto367

    jeppetto367

    8 Jan, 2019 12:05 pm

    Worth noting that in addition to the Emirates Brisbane lounge, the Emirates LAX lounge also serves Veuve Yellow. This lounge is also weirdly accessible by VA Gold/Plat flying LAX to MEL/SYD/BNE on VA metal.
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  • jetsetter86

    jetsetter86

    9 Jan, 2019 04:53 am

    EK SYD lounge also serves the Veueve.
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  • Stephen Kerr

    Stekrr

    9 Jan, 2019 03:01 pm

    Even Skywards Silver can access the Dubai Business lounge for champagne access. I've also had Laurent Perrier in Sydney EK lounge and Pol Roger in Singapore EK.
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  • rockangel007

    rockangel007

    9 Jan, 2019 04:15 pm

    Flying SQ through Changi first class we had a choice of Krug or Dom Perignon in the private lounge and in the suites on board. Tough choice! (We had both - couldn’t choose between those two)
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  • Herman  G

    mancho90

    9 Jan, 2019 04:25 pm

    Chris, very good review and very detailed. I'm with you in the Champagne thing, not like other airlines that offer not even a good Prosecco but I would like to add that last February flying back to Canada thru LAX in UA, I used the SQ lounge at SYD and it impressed me so much and they have real and very good champagne not the top of the top but they had not only one but two options: White and Rose when they usually have white only. When I arrived before 9:30am to the left after you pass reception area they had: Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rose and Lanson Gold Label Brut 2005 something that really surprised me so much and enjoyed for the next almost two hours before my flight in UA...not the top of the selection but at least they had the real thing
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  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    9 Jan, 2019 04:28 pm

    Applause Chris! ..you got me at Champagne. What a wrap too, well done & many thanks. For me, it's hard to go past Tattinger at any time and the Comtes is a favourite. But, Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millesime 2002, is an absolute ripper and a dark horse. Bravo.
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  • Wilma Ballsdrop

    Wilma Ballsdrop

    9 Jan, 2019 04:55 pm


    if I was paying to fly Qantas First Class I would not be happy to be served the cheap stuff from Perrier-Jouët or Veuve Clicquot. You can pick up both for less than 60 bucks from Dans. What a liberty. Grand Dame or Belle Epoch please.
    Member who gave thanks

    Stekrr

  • Karen

    KJR

    9 Jan, 2019 04:57 pm

    Would prefer a great Aussie sparkling (Clover Hill BdB or Rose, or Arras) than Veuve Yellow label any day!

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  • Richrd OBrien

    richardco22

    9 Jan, 2019 11:01 pm

    Great review Chris. Thank you. You didn't mention the great annoyance for SQ business travelers flying out of Melbourne. Our Sydney colleagues get real Champagne in the business lounge but in Melbourne we have to wait until we're on the plane to get it. Why???
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  • NLF

    NLF

    10 Jan, 2019 11:07 am

    Really enjoyed this article, thanks Chris!
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  • dennis626

    dennis626

    14 Jan, 2019 11:17 am

    Singapore Airlines Melbourne Business Class Lounge does not offer Champagne on the last two visits I made in 2018. Their offering is a French Sparkling white which I suggested was a poor choice when many Australian Sparkling whites exist to promote our wines if they wanted to save money by withdrawing Champagne from the lounge.
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Guest

18 Jan, 2019 11:27 pm

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