What do Qantas first class flyers want from the Singapore lounge?

What do Qantas first class flyers want from the Singapore lounge?

TALKING POINT | Qantas' decision to return to Singapore as the stopover for Airbus A380 flights from Sydney to London from March 2018 has left first class flyers feeling decidedly second class.

It's nothing against Singapore – a city which most Australian Business Traveller readers consistently rated well above Dubai as their preferred transit point for flights to London.

(Our 2016 reader poll saw Singapore clock up a staggering 46% of the vote, with Hong Kong at 26% and Dubai at barely 9%.)

The issue is Qantas' Singapore lounge, which the airline positions as a 'premium' lounge shared by all eligible travellers – from Qantas Club members to Gold and Platinum-grade frequent flyers, business class passengers and, as of March 25 2018, first class passengers on the flagship QF1/QF2 Sydney-London superjumbo service and the Melbourne-bound flight QF36, which is also being upgraded to an Airbus A380 from the same date.

Perks for the pointy end

Qantas is expected to extend to first class flyers the same perks as Platinum One frequent flyers (and Chairman's Lounge members) – a 'soft product' package which amounts to real Champagne (usually Veuve Clicquot), priority access to showers, and a shirt pressing and shoe shine service.

But is that enough? There's certainly a substantial disconnect compared to the Emirates first class lounge at Dubai, which currently hosts the superjumbo stopovers of QF1/QF2 and QF9/QF10.

That lounge is admittedly a very different proposition: after all, it is Emirates' flagship first class lounge at the bustling Dubai hub, which is now the world's busiest international airport.

By comparison, Singapore is a just a red dot on Qantas' network map, and will see only three flights with first class cabins departing each day – QF1 en route to London, the return leg of QF2 heading back to Sydney, plus QF36 to Melbourne.

The Sydney-London flights will be on the ground for around 90 minutes, which equates to less than 60 minutes of lounge time – although London-bound passengers connecting from Qantas' Melbourne and  Brisbane flights onto QF1 will have more than five hours up their sleeves.

So what's the fix for first class flyers? 

Qantas has, for the time being, ruled out building a dedicated first class lounge for Singapore, but should the airline look to carve out some space from the Singapore lounge's existing footprint to create a 'First Wing'?

Should there be a first class dining room boasting familiar Rockpool-inspired dishes from the menu of the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges, plus French Champagne and cocktails made to order?

If you're a regular first class travellers on Qantas' flights to London, what do you feel the airline should do to look after first class flyers at Singapore?

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

david@ausbt.com.au / @djsflynn

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.
 

17 Comments

  • Tavis Callaghan

    Theresnormissin

    10 Oct, 2017 07:44 am

    I may get laughed, but is there any chance Qantas would atttempt do a deal with BA for first class flyers to gain access to their Singapore Concorde Room?
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  • Worldflyer90

    Worldflyer90

    10 Oct, 2017 08:44 am

    I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but logistically it poses a few issues. The Concorde Bar in Singapore has capacity for 41 guests, BA and QF both have 14 seat First cabins.

    The QF1 service will depart at around the same time as BA16, with BA12 departing a short while later. The BA15 service will depart at around the same time as QF2 and QF36.

    So based on full First cabins, the Concorde Bar would be at capacity, plus any Concorde Room Cardholders or BA Premiers.

    Although it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, I’d be surprised if BA did this especially as having a dedicated First facility in Singapore gives them an advantage on the ground.

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  • grumpytravel

    grumpytravel

    10 Oct, 2017 10:41 am

    I've been in BA's Singapore Concorde Room many times.

    There's hardly enough room to swing a cat and there are no windows.It's a dark and depressing place.

    Qantas wouldn't want their First Class passengers there even if BA offered.

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  • Worldflyer90

    Worldflyer90

    10 Oct, 2017 11:06 am

    To each their own I guess. I don’t mind it, it’s a relatively quiet space with a decent bar that’s away from the throng of the main lounge.

    I agree it’s not the most inspired space I’ve been in, but I appreciate having a dedicated area as a First passenger.

    I suppose there must still be some appeal if you’ve chosen to visit the Concorde Bar on multiple occasions?
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  • grumpytravel

    grumpytravel

    11 Oct, 2017 10:18 am

    What you chose and what your company mandates you fly are two different things.

    Fortunately the company will use Qantas between Singapore and London so my lounge problem is solved.

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  • Worldflyer90

    Worldflyer90

    11 Oct, 2017 11:09 am

    My point was that with an F class ticket with BA you could use either the QF Lounge, The primary BA lounge or the Concorde Bar, and you chose to use the latter on multiple occasions.

    Unless you were unaware of this, you’ve recognised that BA’s offering for F pax is superior to what Qantas offers in Singapore.
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  • Packetman21

    Packetman21

    10 Oct, 2017 08:03 am

    I think having a temporary cut off area with a la cart dining like the old Residence area at Etihad Business lounge. That would be fine.
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  • ozzieflyer

    ozzieflyer

    10 Oct, 2017 09:28 am

    ... Nothing says luxury like a piece of rope
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  • Packetman21

    Packetman21

    10 Oct, 2017 01:38 pm

    That is why I said “temporary” until a more permanent solution is built/found.
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  • grumpytravel

    grumpytravel

    11 Oct, 2017 10:22 am

    Exactly,couldn't agree more.Qantas do in fact keep a reserved area in Singapore for Chairman's Lounge and Platinum One members.
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  • Adam T

    AT

    11 Oct, 2017 07:58 pm

    This has got to go down as the ABT 2017 quote of the year!
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  • davar98

    davar98

    10 Oct, 2017 09:34 am

    The question really is about the competition. If you are used to travelling on Singapore Airlines, and using their First Class lounge - then an upgraded section of the Qantas lounge (even if it is one of their best overseas Club Lounges - along with HK) is not really going to cut it.
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  • levelnine

    levelnine

    10 Oct, 2017 09:44 am

    A poster on the Australian Frequent Flyer forums did an excellent graph showing that the lounge will have more people than seats for several hours a day.

    Consequently, getting a seat is likely to be the special perk reserved for P1 & CL members. What luxury!
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  • Graham BLAMEX

    BLAMEX

    10 Oct, 2017 09:48 am

    QF will either need to reflect the lower standard of the overall product in F via the airfare charged or determine a unique space for F class passengers (not staff!) I did fly QF F to LHR via SIN on a number of times with QF and basically the product has not changed in almost 10 years. F is equivalent to others J now with downgrade of the lounge. Not a smart move by QF who should be attempting to bring customers back after the DXB disaster. That is after withdrawal of SIN and moved to DXB I have not flown QF international to Europe since. BA has a stronger product than QF!
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  • derek2015

    derek2015

    10 Oct, 2017 12:00 pm

    QF should resume HKG as a stopover to LHR route to provide one more choice
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    10 Oct, 2017 04:24 pm

    You can, of course, fly QF to HKG and then connect to LHR on either CX or BA.
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  • derek2015

    derek2015

    10 Oct, 2017 11:25 am

    QF should also resume HKG-LHR by extending QF127/128, with A380 used all the times. F pax and WP will be sent to the CX First Lounges then
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    10 Oct, 2017 04:25 pm

    QF doesn't have enough A380s to do that, unless they take a couple off another route.
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  • mviy

    mviy

    11 Oct, 2017 05:23 am

    And it would also need to pay for the additional slots at Heathrow needed. Two A380s + a 787 would probably be too much capacity for LHR except perhaps at seasonal peak times on peak days.
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  • Joe

    Joe

    10 Oct, 2017 11:27 am

    Well in keeping with the on-board F experience QF currently offers a business lounge in SIN and is really all that's needed. The F experience on QF is no longer reflective of price paid, which is premium, other than the sleep/bedding aspect. Food, service polish, lavs, IFE, on board bar and even showers with a proper F lounge direct access to ac from lounge are all aspects that will keep me flying EK metal on QF paper so a win-win of sorts where I get my money's or points worth if I'm in F. I Really hope QF get it right with the A380 upgrades and make ultra long haul flying fun again.....they can do it - they did so in the glam 70's with Captain Cook lounges which were extravagant to say the least. I think Qatar have it down to perfection...a refined & polished F offering, not too blingy like EK but definitely not boring or J on steroids like QF currently is.
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  • anthony watts

    anthony watts

    10 Oct, 2017 11:47 am

    Having got quite used to Emirate first lounge, is there anything Qantas could do?
    The best we could hope for is a OneWorld first lounge with Qantas, BA and CX being major "shareholders".
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  • Joe

    Joe

    10 Oct, 2017 11:52 am

    I'd also like to give credit to QF's F cabin downstairs where it's much quieter than upper deck and the 1-1-1 config. Everything else is J Class standard as above.
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  • Manganese

    Manganese

    10 Oct, 2017 12:18 pm

    Any chance QF could switch to T4 and use CX's new facilities there? Despite both not being the closest of partners.

    On another note, I know it's cute to mention the red dot thing, but don't do it in such a disparaging way. A lot of your readers are in Singapore and I don't think it's appreciated how you used it in this article.
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  • MissBasset

    MissBasset

    10 Oct, 2017 02:12 pm

    A dedicated F lounge for QF F ticketholders primarily. If Qantas was thinking more of a OW lounge to spread out the costs, the other airlines should be made to have very different times of day to use. The LAX OW F lounge becomes awfully crowded at times making it hard to get a shower, or enjoy the lounge generally. Many, many of the natives (US residents) have worked out how to worm their way into that lounge with one or other of the alarming array of cards they all have.
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  • born2fish

    born2fish

    10 Oct, 2017 10:37 pm

    As a regular user of the current QF9/10 MEL-LHR in F, I won't be going via SIN due to:

    (a) already stated lounge concerns - that's going to be a circus. and

    (b) 5+ hours connection time waiting for the QF1 in SIN on the outbound. I assume that timing is to allow the A380 to get back to MEL to operate the outbound LAX QF93?

    I have already booked flights in F MEL-LHR on the codeshares with EK post 24Mar2018, but QF will probably loose me altogether to SQ /EY. Have been burnt a number of times before with significant delays on the QF A380 services to/from LHR, and have run out of patience trying to be a loyal Plat / Lifetime Gold flyer and paying premium First fares for a business class outcome.

    Member who gave thanks

    levelnine

  • moa999

    moa999

    10 Oct, 2017 11:25 pm

    From MEL outbound you can do QF37 (330) / QF1 (380) combination with only a 1-hr layover in SIN, rather than 6-hrs on QF35
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    QFcrew

  • born2fish

    born2fish

    10 Oct, 2017 11:47 pm

    Thanks moa999 - but no First cabin on the A330 unfortunately; as the original article is specific to First Class pax via SIN.
    A330 flight up to SIN is OK if you are in J all the way through to LHR (or terminating in SIN), although the new B787 PER-LHR then becomes a worthy option also.
    Member who gave thanks

    levelnine

  • nix584

    nix584

    12 Oct, 2017 10:13 am

    That's an interesting take... you'd rather do J MEL-PER-LHR on the 789 than A330 J MEL-SIN/A380 F SIN-LHR? You can then do A380 F MEL-SIN-LHR.

    The difference in the J seats on the 789 and A330 is very subtle (I think the divider is the only major difference).
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  • born2fish

    born2fish

    12 Oct, 2017 03:43 pm

    nix584 - No, it is only if heading all the way MEL-LHR in J that the 789 via PER becomes viable in lieu of the current A380 J Skybed Mk2 (before refurbishment) SIN-LHR.
    Sure, there is the F option on the A380 MEL-SIN, but the 5+ hour connection time will not suit everybody; and some don't value some free food and drink in a lounge as much as others apparently do.
    If I wanted busy crowds (and possibly have to stand) to eat my food, I can go to a street vendor......
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  • Scotgoat

    Scotgoat

    11 Oct, 2017 09:07 am

    Again QF is diminishing their standards. Have not used the QF Singapore lounge since they don’t serve champagne and stopped the Singapore Slings. Used to have a good QF/BA First lounge a few years ago. This new route does not tempt me to us QF to London anymore. BA and EK (on QF coded) much better product. I foresee the QF London lounge will not be much better, no First lounge. QF seems to be down grading their lounges. Not been to the Brisbane International QF lounge, but again no First lounge, granted only P, P1 and Chairman card holders will use. Am I seeing a trend, QF reducing the standards?

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  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    11 Oct, 2017 12:53 pm

    ...I'm just happy we're back in Singapore. Everything else isn't that important.
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    Russjking

  • Russjking

    Russjking

    11 Oct, 2017 11:05 pm

    First World problems!
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  • Adam T

    AT

    12 Oct, 2017 11:32 am

    Yes would be nice to have a F lounge at SG but honestly how would you seriously get a business case approved to fund and build for a few flights. If SG was again the hub for multi flights across UK Europe maybe you’d have a case but today the answer would be no.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Joe

    Joe

    13 Oct, 2017 10:28 am

    Nothing unreasonable about at least a separate area for F, P's and CL's. It comes down to price paid and loyalty at the end of the day. I think for J,QC & Golds QF offer prob the best lounges out there in LHR, SIN, HKG. Just doesn't cut it for F and senior tier pax.
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  • SMM

    SMM

    14 Oct, 2017 09:15 pm

    Having travelled to SIN several times as a P1 I have NEVER been offered anything other than the standard lounge offerings. Basic at best and far from a First Class experience as it gets. The Emiriates first Lounge at Dubai is world class. QF will need to sort this out ASAP
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Guest

23 Oct, 2017 04:21 am

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