What's next for the Qantas international lounge network?

What's next for the Qantas international lounge network?

Did Qantas just open its best home-grown international business class lounge in Brisbane? It certainly looks that way, with the stylish new Brisbane International Lounge eclipsing its Sydney and Melbourne siblings.

(Ironically, it mirrors how Perth now boasts the Flying Kangaroo’s best domestic lounge.)

Brisbane sees the first local rollout of a design style which began in Qantas' Singapore and Hong Kong lounges (below) and then flowed through to the Oneworld business class lounge at LAX.

It’s a juggling act between the distant design DNA of an airline’s brand and local themes and influences based on the lounge’s actual location.

“We want guests here to know where they are in two senses,” explains Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans. “To know they're in a Qantas lounge but also to know there they are in terms of geography.”

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller at the opening of the Brisbane International Lounge, Evans (above) relates how “you can feel the same themes we have in our premium lounges around the world, but you can also feel a difference in the ‘Queensland-ness’ of it, in the light and space, the colours and materials.”

Photo tour: Qantas' new international lounge at Brisbane Airport

“This concept is what we would be looking to roll out across all international lounges in the future” Evans says, adding that a makeover for the international business lounges at Sydney and Melbourne is under consideration.

London calling

“But our next big lounge from an international perspective is London, which will open in March 2017."

The new Qantas London Heathrow lounge (above) will follow this increasingly common template, Evans says, “with Qantas DNA but a UK and London design and feel.”

It will also be a ‘premium’ lounge with business class and first class passengers – and their equivalent Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold and Platinum card-holders – sharing the same space instead of two separate lounges.

This is despite the fact that unlike other ‘premium’ lounges in Singapore, Hong Kong and now Brisbane, London sees two daily Qantas Airbus A380 flights with first class cabins.

Evans allows that the space constraints of the split-level footprint of the chosen lounge space at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 was “probably the main reason” for this.

“Lounge space is at a premium at Heathrow, we looked through the options and we came out (thinking) the best option was to build a really fantastic premium lounge and offer a great experience to all customers.”

Read more: Qantas to open new London Heathrow Airport lounge

Auckland still TBA

The Qantas Auckland Lounge remains on the roadmap, Evans says, although many frequent flyers may disagree with his take that “it’s still a very good lounge today.”

“Obviously it’s the older generation of design but is still a very good serviceable lounge.”

It’s expected any new Auckland lounge would follow the ‘premium’ model rather than see separate first class and business class spaces retained.

Evans adds that Qantas is “looking a number of other lounges around the world as to what comes next… of course we have to pace out investment, we can’t do everything at once.”

Tokyo, Honolulu lounges

This rethink of the Qantas lounge network also places a question mark over the future of the airline’s lounges at Honolulu and Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

“When managing your lounge portfolio you have to get the balance right” Evans tells Australian Business Traveller.

“In the right places you've got to invest in having your own lounge with your stamp and your feel.

“But you can’t do that in every place around the world where you operate to, no airline does that.. so in other places we can work with partners and use their facilities.”

“It’s about making sure we've got our own world-leading facilities in (the most) important destinations for us, and in other places which are still important but with less traffic

“In Tokyo we’re still working through what we might do there. Obviously we’ve just announced a new route into Tokyo from Melbourne so we have to work out what the best outcome… do we keep our existing lounge or move to a partner facility (with Japan Airlines)?”

“Similarly in Honolulu, we have to work through what the best solution is.”

Connect with other Australian Business Traveller readers in our online Qantas discussion group

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

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    21 Oct, 2016 08:55 am

    MEL Int'l needs a new location; a makeover won't cut it.  The location is dark with low ceilings and no natural light.  I understood a new suite of lounges was being built above the main concourse and expected that QF would take space up there...maybe I was wrong.

    The MEL Qantas Club needs a thorough makeover also.  It is now 16 years old and looks it when compared with VA's Lounge as well as QF's efforts in PER etc.  It has an architectural limitation with the toilets in the middle which naturally makes the rear of the lounge dark but replacing the wall treatments and the dark tiles with lighter options, along with all new lighting will improve the place significantly.
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  • Harry Carr

    harrycarr6

    21 Oct, 2016 10:14 am

    What's happening in Sydney? Surely that must be up for change soon? 
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  • David Flynn

    David

    21 Oct, 2016 10:20 am

    Read 7th par, Harry.
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  • Harry Carr

    harrycarr6

    21 Oct, 2016 11:11 am

    Oops thanks David!
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  • markpk

    markpk

    21 Oct, 2016 01:26 pm

    The lack of even high level deliverables for Auckland is disappointing...It's their #1 international destination! 

    Given the indigenous focus/inclusion for BNE I would have thought Auckland presents an ideal opportunity to replicate the same approach with the Maori community? 
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  • bmq747

    bmq747

    21 Oct, 2016 02:35 pm

    I think Brisbane (yes, Brisbane!) deserved to get a lounge that eclipses SYD and MEL. The BNE lounge had no investment in it for a long time. In fact, other than a quick spruce of chairs and carpet, I don't think anything had changed since I first went there in the mid 90s. 
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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    21 Oct, 2016 03:01 pm

    With many airlines investing in LHR T3 lounge upgrades/refits, a building which according to public documents is meant to be knocked down within the next 3 years, I wonder what the airlines know that the airport isn't telling the public.
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  • HelenRQ

    HelenRQ

    21 Oct, 2016 03:51 pm

    Perth may have a great domestic business lounge, but the international one is a shocker!
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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    21 Oct, 2016 05:10 pm

    Its a little sad they can't do a First Class lounge for London, but space issues are a real thing and at least there's dedicated First ground facilities in Dubai as well as Melbourne and Sydney.

    I wonder if they'll consider giving up the Honolulu and Narita facilities. HNL isn't really a business market and both JAL and American have lounges in HNL. As for Narita and Haneda, JAL's facilities in both airports are pretty damn good. 

    The Auckland lounge really does need love to remain competitive. And both Sydney and Melbourne's Business Class lounges could do with an update.
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  • AJW

    AJW

    21 Oct, 2016 06:00 pm

    HNL is a bit odd considering the number of flights a week they have, yet they closed BKK which had daily flights.
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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    21 Oct, 2016 11:04 pm

    The only time I've been in the QF NRT lounge (when QF21/22 still operated to/from SYD), it was quite bad.
    Though they'll soon be back to 14 QF operated NRT flights/week and a number of carriers contract to use that lounge. Might be a question of how much QF gets from those contracts.
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  • Ryan Stephen

    RaptorNation158

    21 Oct, 2016 05:47 pm

    I personally think the London lounge should be like Singapore's Home Away From Home lounges in the sense that you get a feel for Australia at the lounge especially when it's a 24 hour journey, but I'm not the lounge designer and don't know the specifics so I'll just assume they will do a great job as always.
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  • Ron Bird

    Ron Bird

    21 Oct, 2016 07:22 pm

    The statement that Auckland "is still a good serviceable lounge"  could not be further from the truth. One only has to step into the Emirates lounge in Auckland to see why this is so. 
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  • Jason

    cooper81

    21 Oct, 2016 09:20 pm

    The new lounges look great but I think it's a shame there is no real added lounge 'perk' for Plats/OW Emeralds in any of them anymore.  Even if they did something similar to what CX did with The Pier when they had closed the First Class lounge for renovation and F/Emeralds used the Pier Business Class lounge - they still had a dedicated section for Emeralds with a few extra bits on the menu etc.

    I know, #firstworldproblems right?  I just think it's one less reason to strive for Platinum/Emerald now.  If more and more lounges/airports follow suit it makes more sense to reach Sapphire/equivalent with a couple different alliances instead of going for Emerald with one alliance.

    I know there are benefits over and above the lounges for Emerald but the lounge proposition is probably the most important for me.
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  • Steve987

    Steve987

    22 Oct, 2016 01:50 pm

    Should have read your post first and then commented on it - my exact point, phrased slightly differently.
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  • Steve987

    Steve987

    22 Oct, 2016 01:47 pm

    Melbourne business international has to be priority number one - it is a shocker. I am possibly going to lose platinum at the end of this year and for the most part don't care (QPub v Domestic Business not a big deal in my eyes, most of my international destinations have the joint lounge model in place, status boost makes negligible difference etc), except for having to go back into the dungeon when I travel internationally. 
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  • Steve987

    Steve987

    22 Oct, 2016 01:48 pm

    PS completely self-aware about this being a first world problem!!
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  • moa999

    moa999

    23 Oct, 2016 04:02 pm

    Not sure what they can do about MEL given its dungeon location and lowish ceilings..

    Maybe some fake windows/ live view to outside
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  • Kyle Craft

    crakyl

    24 Oct, 2016 02:05 pm

    Where to with the QF Shanghai lounge? My last visit to the QF shared lounge in Shanghai with US colleagues, would hands down be the worst lounge experience ever....here's hoping this will change in the very near future.
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  • Cal8

    Cal8

    25 Oct, 2016 08:47 am

    I was on QF130 from Shanghai last Friday and went to the designated China Eastern lounge, which i promptly left.  I can't believe Qantas could  even consider associating their brand with such a terrible facility.
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  • moa999

    moa999

    24 Oct, 2016 07:52 pm

    There is a new China Eastern lounge opening in PVG in 2017 which should improve the current dire lounge, albeit its still a Chinese airline lounge
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  • PuriPuriMan

    PuriPuriMan

    3 Dec, 2016 01:20 am

    Awaiting QF97 30th Nov, to HKG:  Brisbane's new "enhanced experience" QF Lounge?  Underwhelmed, I was!  The Red Rat, 'armless as it is, has a long way to go to emulate Emirate's and Singapore's offerings.  Fortunately, the cabin crew were superb.   
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18 Jul, 2019 03:01 am

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