What's next for Qantas' business class, first class in-lounge dining?

What's next for Qantas' business class, first class in-lounge dining?

Qantas has some big plans for its domestic and international lounge network, including an all-new first class lounge in Singapore, a refurbished business class lounge in Sydney and plenty of other revamps in a pipeline which will end with 85% of the airline’s existing lounges either newly-built, refurbished or refreshed over the past five years alone.

Australian Business Traveller sat down with Neil Perry, Qantas’ Creative Director of Food, Beverage and Service at the unveiling of Melbourne’s revitalised Qantas Business Lounge this month to find out more about what travellers can expect on the dining front in some of the Roo’s future lounges.

First things First: Qantas’s new Singapore lounge

Set to open by the end of 2019, the upcoming Qantas First Lounge at Changi Airport will feature à la carte dining as in the airline’s flagship Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles lounges, but planning for the opening is a little more involved than creating a menu alone.

“We're working with David Caon on this: he's looking at the design, and we're looking at how the food style should influence that, but also how the design should influence the food style,” Perry shares.

A concept image of the new Qantas First Lounge in Singapore

The Singapore First Lounge will also adopt a food theme, in the same way that Melbourne’s new Qantas Business Lounge now features a Spice Bar, although with plenty of time until the opening date, Singapore’s new theme is still being decided.

“It’s super exciting to have a full kitchen at our disposal when we're designing a (lounge) menu,” Perry continues. “It just gives us an opportunity to take all the great work that's being done in the current Qantas Singapore Lounge, but dial it up to another level.”

Whatever the menu, however, there’s one item Neil and his team wouldn’t dare omit from the Singapore first class lounge: the salt and pepper squid, a favourite of many frequent flyers in Qantas’ other first class lounges and the invitation-only Chairman’s Lounges.

“We will be doing that!” he affirms strongly.

Have your say: What do you want from Qantas' new Singapore first class lounge?

Dining in Qantas’ Singapore business class lounge

With the opening of the separate first class space in Singapore, Qantas’ existing all-purpose lounge at Changi will become a ‘business class’ facility, but Perry is quick to share that there won’t be a reduction in the dining amenities offered here when the first class lounge opens.

“The business class lounge will continue as-is,” and with top-level travellers moving over to the new Qantas First Lounge and the existing business class lounge also gaining more seats, “it’ll give everyone more space, which they need because of our throughput.”

With Qantas currently turning many passengers away from its Singapore lounge due to capacity issues, Perry explains that today’s lounge “was never designed to have two or three A380s arrive at once.”

“Linda and her team, and the people in the kitchen all do an amazing job of juggling everybody and somehow finding as much space as they possibly can, so they’ll really appreciate the new First Lounge, as will the passengers.”

Sydney’s new international business class lounge

With a revamped Qantas business class lounge at Sydney’s international terminal also due to open by the end of 2019, passengers here will gain a signature dining experience as previously announced, which Perry explains will be a little different to Brisbane’s international lounge further north.

“We'll mirror more along the lines of what we're doing in Singapore and Hong Kong, so there will be a couple of dishes of the day,” rather than directly replicating Brisbane’s ‘breakfast hatch’, which closes after the morning meal.

“We want to take Sydney away from being just the ‘buffet business class lounge’ of the past, because if you look at that lounge today, it's one of our older business styles, so when the new one hits, I think everybody will really like it.”

Signature cocktails will also be added to the menu, hinting there'll also be a full-service bar.

Also read: What do you want from Qantas' new Sydney business class lounge?

Melbourne’s newly-revealed Domestic Business Lounge

Finally, after much anticipation, refurbishment works at Qantas’ Domestic Business Lounge in Melbourne have been completed, with travellers now treated to an Asian Spice Bar offering a variety of meals prepared fresh to order from a rotating menu, in a nod to Perry’s Melbourne Spice Temple restaurant.

AusBT review: Qantas domestic business class lounge, Melbourne Airport

“The fried rice is inspired by the one that we do at Spice Temple, as are the stir-fried noodles, and the vegetarian wontons,” which regulars to the restaurant may have tried before – at least in variation.

The vegetarian wonton noodle soup, as served at the Melbourne lounge Spice Bar

“We can also do different dumplings, so we’ve got the flexibility to continually change and dial up more of the Spice Temple dishes, and we already provide a lot of those in-flight, too,” Perry adds.

But with Melbourne having many similarities with European culture and dining – it’s Australia’s coffee capital for a start, and the home base of Perry’s Rosetta Ristorante – we asked what nudged spice ahead of stracciatella.

“Well, we’re in a city with a really great tradition of Chinese and other Asian food, obviously as well as the great Greek and Italian and Mediterranean. We just felt from what we'd done that something unique, different, and Asian-based would be really appreciated.”

“But we're not pushing people into ‘Spice Temple only’ dining – on the other side of the buffet, you can still get Western food,” Perry assures. “We're also not forcing Asian breakfast on people: we’re doing a fairly traditional Western breakfast.”

“That said, I'd love to see congee and soup and stuff there in time, and if Melbourne cries out for it, we can move in that direction.”

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Qantas.

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!
 

29 comments

  • SSS

    SSS

    5 Nov, 2018 09:20 am

    Bring on congee and yum cha for breakfast in Melbourne!
    While the Spice Bar is a great addition, by opening at 12 it doesn’t do anything for Melbourne-based travelers who fly out in the morning.
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    5 Nov, 2018 04:52 pm

    Yes, I could happily tuck into a chicken congee with some trimmings as a lounge breakfast!
    No member give thanks

  • MHG

    MHG

    5 Nov, 2018 09:21 am

    All very well for these cities, but when does Adelaide get a revamp and a business lounge. 15 years old and still no Qantas action, no surprise really as we are treated like the plague with no International and few direct domestic flights, and they wonder why Emirates and Qatar do so well.
    Members who gave thanks

    drsimon50, Gty222

  • mviy

    mviy

    5 Nov, 2018 05:41 pm

    The ADL lounge is one of the best QANTAS Club's I've been to. Hopefully it will eventually get a dedicated Business lounge but that depends on having the space for one and having sufficient Business class passengers to justify it.

    There's going to be a new HBA lounge so QF is planning to address at least some of the problems that have long needed addressing with its domestic lounge network.
    No member give thanks

  • Brett Segal

    NQflyer

    5 Nov, 2018 11:53 am

    Can we get a Spice Bar in the BNE J Lounge. So over the Mexican cantina!
    Member who gave thanks

    mattm199

  • Anna80

    Anna80

    5 Nov, 2018 05:42 pm

    Sounds very promising for the Singapore first class lounge, I hope to be Platinum by the time it opens, but I am glad to hear there won't be any change to the dining at the business lounge, I really enjoy their plate of the day options.
    No member give thanks

  • James O'Mahony

    Ourmanin

    5 Nov, 2018 06:20 pm

    Having just relocated to Singapore I have to say I’m extremely pleased about the news on this new lounge. As a OW emerald recently I’ve favoured the BA lounge, but this should really step the game up at Changi. Always been a fan of the food at Sydney and Melbourne (heard good things about LA, but never visited!) and this should be at a similar level.
    No member give thanks

  • Martin  Slobodnik

    msport2012

    5 Nov, 2018 06:41 pm

    Question, Perth Has Italian (Pizza), Melbourne Asian (Spice Bar), Brisbane Cantina (Mexican), What do you think Sydney will get? once the Lounge is refurbished?

    No member give thanks

  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    6 Nov, 2018 02:06 am

    Lebanese - kebabs for everyone!!
    No member give thanks

  • Joe

    Joe

    6 Nov, 2018 08:40 am

    Kebabs I understand are Turkish? Shwarma on the other hand is Lebanese. It would be amazing to include Lebanese cuisine as a theme at one of the QF Aus lounges.
    No member give thanks

  • Rav

    Rav

    8 Nov, 2018 08:12 am

    Whatever it is why cannot Qantas rotate the "signature" dishes throughout so that everyone gets to try all the different styles?
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    8 Nov, 2018 09:25 am

    Because if you're flying out from Brisbane to say Perth or Melbourne you will get to try the dishes of those lounges, and probably also because you'd need pizza ovens in Melbourne and a noodle station in Perth to swap them over.
    No member give thanks

  • Rav

    Rav

    8 Nov, 2018 04:47 pm

    But if you only fly between Sydney and Melbourne then you do not get to experience the Brisbane or Perth and get sick of just the same fare in the lounges and that degrades your experience.
    No member give thanks

  • Joe

    Joe

    5 Nov, 2018 08:33 pm

    Still, the Rockpool menu has never won Qantas any international awards for inflight dining in business or first. You're either a fan or not. The lounge food is much better than on board.
    Member who gave thanks

    crakyl

  • David White

    davidW

    5 Nov, 2018 08:50 pm

    Personally I think Neil Perry’s influences on Qantas’ lounges and menus is past their use by dates
    It is limiting the ability of Qantas to meet the competition’s offerings and undertake innovation in its own right
    Qantas in flight offerings of both food and wine have become sub par
    Time for Qantas to take back ownership and accountability for this important activity
    Another case of private equity losing the plot when it comes to customer unders

    Member who gave thanks

    crakyl

  • traveller99

    traveller99

    5 Nov, 2018 09:20 pm

    I'm not sure whether it's Perry's influence or someone in catering, but I've taken a few Qantas long haul business class flights in the past 12 months and the menu has been very seafood heavy. On one occasion there were say three small plates and three large plates (let's say a total of 6) and four were seafood, one had an anchovy sauce, and one was vegetarian (that may not have been the exact number of plates, but the end product meant only one dish could be eaten). Not sure who mucked up the catering that day or whether it was intentional.

    I'm not a seafood eater, and making the menu so seafood heavy is just ridiculous as there are lots of other people who don't eat seafood (or are allergic to it) or people who just want more variety other than seafood.

    No member give thanks

  • Mark

    Mightyreds

    5 Nov, 2018 10:50 pm

    I think they need to rotate all offerings through the major lounges. Variety is the spice of life.
    Member who gave thanks

    h15t0r1an

  • bsb

    bsb

    6 Nov, 2018 12:57 am

    100% agree. I don’t understand why they keep it as one offering per port. I get the logistics of crockery and cutlery and to some extent the kitchen setup, but surely that can all be overcome. I’m tired of the same old same old in every QF lounge. BUT I will say this (as I am currently tripping around Asia), we get it good in AU lounge wise.
    No member give thanks

  • bsb

    bsb

    6 Nov, 2018 01:02 am

    I flew out of MEL for the first time (in I can’t remember how long) on a non OW carrier - GA (having achieved my next years WO status I thought it would be fun and GA was actually pretty good in the air...but that’s another issue). GA use the QF J lounge O M G that experience is very motivating to keep up my WP status and get back on a OW carrier out of my home port. What a disorganised, dirty, dingy, dark and depressing dump that is.
    No member give thanks

  • h15t0r1an

    h15t0r1an

    8 Nov, 2018 01:50 am

    So is your home port London Heathrow BA Terminal 5, then?
    No member give thanks

  • D Y

    ChickenorBeef

    6 Nov, 2018 06:13 am

    With so much new creative talent in the Australian food scene, hanging onto a guy who can’t even pay his staff correctly is bad brand for Qantas. Time to move on. New planes. Tick. New lounges. Tick. New branding. Tick. New head chef please.
    Members who gave thanks

    crakyl, arrigoa2

  • Sr Batrill

    Sr Batrill

    6 Nov, 2018 05:35 pm

    Don't know what Neil is so happy about in the pic above; he really hasn't done much for QF catering( as mentioned no awards whatsoever) and the lounge food is all over the place. The salads are very good though in the lounges unlike the ripped pieces of lettuce (better known as a 'salad' to QF and Neil) on board-and that's F Class! The SIN and HKG lounge salads are beautiful on the other hand I must admit.
    No member give thanks

  • poopbunny

    poopbunny

    7 Nov, 2018 04:00 pm

    If done right, it could potentially be better than SQ Private Room
    No member give thanks

  • zoomzoom

    zoomzoom

    7 Nov, 2018 04:23 pm

    And what is being done for the long suffering Business Lounge customers.........the offer is an insult.
    No member give thanks

  • fiscal

    fiscal

    7 Nov, 2018 04:40 pm

    I had my first QF business class SIN-PER the other day for a long time. I must say I was underwhelmed with the lounge offering, and the inflight offering was not much better. I cannot eat seafood, and I do not like roasted carrot on a bed of couscous, so I had soup with shredded dry chicken. I could not have starters as it was the same soup less the dry chicken, and seafood was the other option. The deserts were nice though. Not a well thought out menu in my books.
    No member give thanks

  • h15t0r1an

    h15t0r1an

    8 Nov, 2018 01:52 am

    A couple of First and Business flyers I've known who fly all the time, on principle would NOT eat seafood on an aircraft. One of them had a plane diverted to get him to hospital when he ate some prawns on a well-regarded First World airline, in First
    No member give thanks

  • wayne anstey

    john wayne

    7 Nov, 2018 04:57 pm

    We are looking at how the food can suit the design!!!!!! Oh please!!
    No member give thanks

  • Go travel

    Go travel

    7 Nov, 2018 05:40 pm

    I dont know about dining but what about a better lounge facility in Bangkok.The present arrangement is the pitts and i am sure Qanras can do better
    No member give thanks

  • eddies

    eddies

    8 Nov, 2018 10:28 pm

    QF a la carte offerings at SYD, LAX are pleasing. MEL SYD dom meals are slop.

    How about some more toastie varieties, like some tandoori chicken pieces, filly steak, etc?

    I’d be happier if subway licensed out their food to this space.

    Red wine selections always good quality.
    No member give thanks

Guest

16 Nov, 2018 02:37 am

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