Your guide to Melbourne Airport's international business class lounges

Your guide to Melbourne Airport's international business class lounges

Melbourne's international terminal features no less than eight lounges for business class passengers, and with some boarding passes unlocking not just one, but several pre-flight lounges, it pays to know all your options.

For example, Qantas business class passengers may naturally gravitate to the Qantas business class lounge, but depending on their destination and departure time, may instead be able to access the Cathay Pacific and Emirates lounges before their flight instead – or could also unlock the Plaza Premium and AMEX lounges with the right kind of plastic in their pocket.

Similarly, business class flyers travelling with Air Canada can access both the Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines lounges based on their ticket alone, while Japan Airlines' guests can stop by the Marhaba Lounge, the Qantas lounge or the Cathay Pacific lounge.

Whichever airline you prefer, here's what you'll find waiting at Melbourne Airport.

Air New Zealand, Star Alliance lounge

Where it is: One floor below the departure concourse – take the 'lounge escalator' downstairs after passing the second duty-free area, near Gates 5/7

When it’s open: 4:45am to 10:30pm daily

Who gets in:

  • Business and first class passengers of Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and United
  • Virgin Australia business class passengers travelling to New Zealand only, plus Velocity Gold and Platinum members prior to Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia flights to NZ (both expected to end October 28 2018)
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints Gold, Elite and Elite Priority One before Star Alliance flights; and also before Virgin Australia trans-Tasman flights (until October 28 2018)
  • Star Alliance Gold, Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide and United Club cardholders prior to Star Alliance flights
  • Air New Zealand Koru Club guests before Air NZ flights, and until at least October 28 2018, before NZ trans-Tasman codeshare flights operated by Virgin Australia
  • Virgin Australia Lounge members before Virgin Australia flights to New Zealand, until at least October 28 2018, including codeshare flights operated by Air NZ but excludes all other destinations

Read: Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand end trans-Tasman alliance

What’s so special: Being Australia's Coffee Capital, it's no surprise that AirNZ's Melbourne lounge features an all-day espresso bar...

... with the space itself transformed in 2017 to adopt the airline's new modern look and feel, as is replicated in other airports, too.

AusBT review: Air New Zealand lounge, Melbourne Airport

Cathay Pacific Lounge

Where it is: Below Gate 6

When it’s open: 4:45am-2pm and 8:30pm-11:20pm daily

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Cathay Pacific and other Oneworld airlines including Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. While LATAM, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines passengers would also have access here under Oneworld rules, the lounge's opening hours don't normally align with these departures.
  • Marco Polo Club Gold, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Diamond Invitation cardholders, plus Cathay Pacific Cargo Clan Elite members, prior to Cathay Pacific and Oneworld flights
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald cardholders (including Qantas Gold and above) prior to Cathay Pacific and Oneworld flights
  • Marco Polo Club Silver members prior to Cathay Pacific flights only
  • Marco Polo Club Green members who earn and redeem a single-use Cathay Pacific lounge pass in line with the program rules, when flying with Cathay Pacific
  • Cathay Pacific Business Plus members using one of their business' complimentary lounge invitations before a Cathay Pacific flight

What’s so special: While this lounge is on the smaller side, its biggest advantage is unlimited access for the airline's Silver-level frequent flyers – a considerable advantage in the Melbourne market, as most other airlines provide this only for Gold-grade members and above. Other eligible flyers can also visit the Qantas lounges, of course.

The Emirates Lounge

Where it is: Above Gate 15B – take the escalator up from near Gate 10

When it’s open: Generally, three hours prior to all Emirates flights. Emirates currently has departures from Melbourne at 5am (Dubai), 6pm (Singapore and Dubai) and 9:15pm (Dubai).

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Emirates
  • When travelling with Emirates: Skywards Gold, Platinum and iO cardholders, plus Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members
  • When travelling with Qantas, except to North and South America or to South Africa: Skywards Gold members and above, and Qantas Gold cardholders and above
  • Australian Emirates Citi World Mastercard holders using one of their two yearly complimentary lounge passes when travelling with Emirates on an EK flight number
  • Guests who purchase access at the door for US$100 (A$140), when travelling with Emirates or on an Emirates codeshare flight operated by Qantas

What’s so special: Given this lounge is shared by both business class and first class flyers and opened in its current space in 2016, the overall look and feel here is quite upmarket...

... adopting Emirates' newer design palate as travellers would also recognise from the airline's Los Angeles lounge, open to Virgin Australia passengers bound for Australia.

Photos: Inside Emirates' Melbourne Airport business, first class lounge

Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge

Where it is: Above Gate 15B – take the escalator up from near Gate 10, opposite the Emirates lounge.

When it’s open: Three hours before all Etihad flights and eligible Virgin Australia flights. Right now, that's 8:35am-11:35am for VA23 to Los Angeles, 12:55pm-3:55pm for EY463 to Abu Dhabi, and then 6:45pm-12:30am for EY461 to Abu Dhabi and VA69 to Hong Kong.

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers travelling with Etihad
  • Etihad Guest Gold, Platinum and Exclusive cardholders prior to Etihad flights
  • Virgin Australia business class passengers travelling to Los Angeles or Hong Kong only
  • Velocity Gold, Platinum and The Club cardholders booked on Virgin Australia's Hong Kong or LA flights, or travelling to Abu Dhabi with Etihad
  • Other Etihad travellers who pay $99/person for access; reduced to $75 for enrolled Etihad Guest members or $65 for Etihad Guest Silver members.

What’s so special: Despite Etihad's recent cost-cutting, the lounge's a la carte dining service remains on offer prior to Etihad-operated flights, complementing the standard buffet choices with a variety of dishes made fresh to order and served to your table:

From a design perspective, the lounge is quite visually stunning – even if you're stopping by before a Virgin Australia flight when a la carte service isn't offered.

There's also a separate VIP room that can be hired for just $40 on a first-come, first-served basis, previously reserved for guests flying in The Residence when Etihad offered Airbus A380 service to the Victorian capital.

Photo tour: Etihad's Melbourne Airport lounge

Marhaba Lounge

Where it is: Above Gate 9 – take the same escalator as for the Qantas First Lounge

When it’s open: 6am until 11:59pm daily

Who gets in:

  • Business class passengers of Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines and XiamenAir
  • Japan Airlines premium economy passengers and economy-class travellers booked on a full 'Flex Y' economy airfare
  • Eligible frequent flyers travelling with the airlines above (varies by airline, but includes Qantas Gold and Platinum members flying with Japan Airlines)
  • Paying guests who can purchase access for $70p.p. when flying with any airline

What’s so special: Opened in 2017 as Melbourne's first standalone pay-to-enter lounge, this is now the go-to business class facility of several airlines, while remaining available to any passenger choosing to purchase access online or at the door.

Along with shower suites and a buffet, there's barista coffee here, too:

Read: Melbourne gets pay-to-access Marhaba airport lounge

Plaza Premium Lounge

Where it is: Below Gate 9 – take the escalator downstairs.

When it’s open: 6am until 11pm daily

Who gets in:

  • Business class passengers of Malindo Air to any destination, and of Virgin Australia when flying to Nadi (Fiji)
  • Velocity Gold, Platinum and Virgin Australia The Club cardholders prior to Virgin Australia's Nadi flights only
  • Members of Priority Pass, Dragonpass, LoungeKey and the independent 'The Club' lounge program (not affiliated with Virgin Australia) before flights with any airline
  • AMEX Platinum Charge Card, AMEX Centurion Card and Diners Club-issued Diners Club cardholders when flying with any airline (excludes new Citibank-branded Diners cards)
  • Paying guests who purchase access for US$41 for two hours or US$48 for five hours

What’s so special: Opened in 2018 as Melbourne's other pay-to-access lounge, Plaza's lounge features two key areas – one for relaxing...

... and the other for dining...

... where in addition to the typical buffet fare, there's usually a dish of the day served to order, such as an omelette in the mornings or pasta later in the day:

AusBT review: Plaza Premium Lounge, Melbourne Airport

Qantas International Business Lounge

Where it is: Below Gate 9 – take the escalator downstairs.

When it’s open: Opens 5:15am on Mondays and Wednesdays and 3:45am on other days. Closes 11:30pm daily.

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Qantas, Aircalin, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Garuda, Vietnam Airlines, and Oneworld airlines including Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines
  • Jetstar passengers booked on a Business Max fare
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers prior to Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates, China Eastern or Oneworld flights, or when travelling with other airlines such as China Airlines or Fiji Airways with a Qantas or Jetstar flight number on their ticket
  • Emirates Skywards Gold, Platinum and iO members prior to flights with Emirates; and also before Qantas flights with the exception of those to The Americas or South Africa
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers such as AAdvantage Platinum and Executive Platinum and Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold and Diamond prior to a Oneworld flight
  • Qantas Club members prior to a Qantas or Jetstar flight, or when travelling on a Qantas or Jetstar codeshare flight operated by another airline
  • American Airlines Admirals Club members travelling with Qantas on a QF or AA flight number
  • China Eastern Gold and Platinum Eastern Miles members travelling to Mainland China on a Qantas or China Eastern flight number
  • Fiji Airways Tabua Club members flying with Fiji Airways on an FJ flight number
  • Qantas Silver frequent flyers using their free once-yearly lounge pass, along with customers who receive these passes from their credit card company such as with ANZ Frequent Flyer Black and Qantas-earning Westpac Altitude Black cards

What’s so special: Although the design and location of this lounge leaves a lot to be desired, particularly the lack of natural light in all but one area...

... one of its better points is the breakfast 'plate of the day' if you're stopping by in the mornings. Our last visit saw a bacon, spinach and tomato quiche with relish, which can be ordered from the dining area, as can barista-made coffee for that morning pick-me-up.

AusBT review: Qantas International Business Lounge, Melbourne

Don't forget, for Platinum-grade frequent flyers and eligible first class passengers, Melbourne Airport features a separate Qantas First Lounge, too.

Singapore Airlines SilverKris business class lounge

Where it is: Opposite the Qantas Business Lounge, below Gate 9.

When it’s open: 3 hours before departure for Singapore Airlines' flights to Singapore (SQ218 at 12:05am, SQ238 at 9:35am, SQ228 at 3:40pm, SQ248 at 4:50pm, and SQ208 at 6:25pm); 2.5 hours before departure for SQ247 to Wellington; and also opens to serve Philippine Airlines' 4:45am and 8am morning flights.

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Philippine Airlines, Thai Airways and United
  • Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer Elite Gold, PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club members before Star Alliance flights, along with other Star Alliance Gold cardholders, and paid Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide and United Club members before the same
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum and The Club frequent flyers prior to Singapore Airlines flights
  • Eligible Philippine Airlines frequent flyers prior to Philippine Airlines flights, by special arrangement

What’s so special: Whether you're travelling for business or pleasure, one thing we love about this lounge is that you'll find power points at almost every seat – ditto, cocktail tables for your drinks and snacks, which the power points are built into.

Although natural light is again limited, the lounge feels a lot less gloomy thanks to clever use of overhead lighting in the centre of the space, mimicking a skylight, despite being artificially-powered:

As with Qantas, Singapore Airlines operates a separate first class lounge in Melbourne, catering to its own first class and Suites Class passengers, along with PPS Club Solitaire frequent flyers.

AusBT review: Singapore Airlines SilverKris business class lounge, Melbourne


Still don't have access to a lounge at Melbourne Airport? There's one more option which may be available depending on the credit card you hold: the American Express Lounge, open to passengers travelling with any airline.

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!
 

21 comments

  • sgb

    sgb

    18 Sep, 2018 08:48 am

    Fantastic comparison report.
    No member give thanks

  • Sanjay Prakash

    sanj747

    18 Sep, 2018 09:06 am

    Comprehensive coverage. Chris did you manage to visit the Qantas First Class lounge in Melbourne.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    18 Sep, 2018 09:10 am

    Hi Sanj, yes, I've visited and reviewed Melbourne's Qantas First Lounge - there was a brief link in today's story to that review, but we didn't feature it here as were were looking only at the airport's business class lounges.
    No member give thanks

  • longwayround

    longwayround

    18 Sep, 2018 10:59 am

    Unfortunately, I have not see al a carte dining in the Etihad lounge for about 1 year. I fly out with Etihad monthly - the service has been consistently buffet only. Staff levels have been reduced as well.
    No member give thanks

  • KBN

    KBN

    18 Sep, 2018 01:08 pm

    Thanks!
    So reading this if i am flying in Emirates business I can go to the Qantas and Emirates lounge prior to the same flight?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    18 Sep, 2018 01:17 pm

    Indeed, subject to the normal opening hours of each lounge, which means if you're booked on the early morning EK409 service (departing at 5am and boarding even earlier), you'll probably only be able to access the Emirates lounge as the Qantas lounge will be closed.

    Similarly, if you're flying Emirates first class, you can either go to the Emirates lounge, or the Qantas First Lounge, subject to opening hours.

    Member who gave thanks

    NLF

  • David Ryan

    David69

    18 Sep, 2018 03:05 pm

    Are there any whispers on lounge access for Virgin Platinum post October 28? I fly on October 29.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    18 Sep, 2018 03:12 pm

    These days, Virgin tends to announce lounge-related updates only when the change takes place rather than in advance, so I wouldn't expect to see anything from the airline until late October on this. (I assume you're talking about trans-Tasman here.)

    Having said that, now that Virgin Australia has a formal lounge access agreement with Plaza Premium in Melbourne for its Nadi-bound passengers, I wouldn't be surprised to see the airline moving its NZ-bound travellers to Melbourne's Plaza Premium lounge when the Air New Zealand partnership comes to an end, but that remains to be seen.
    Member who gave thanks

    David69

  • scrodes

    scrodes

    18 Sep, 2018 03:57 pm

    Thanks Chris. Couple of questions.
    1. Can a Qantas platinum flyer flying Vietnam Air business go to the Qantas lounge?
    2. Which is the best business lounge in your view?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    18 Sep, 2018 04:04 pm

    1. Nope (unless flying Vietnam Airlines business class, which includes business class access with the ticket)... as per the article: "Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers prior to Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates, China Eastern or Oneworld flights, or when travelling with other airlines such as China Airlines or Fiji Airways with a Qantas or Jetstar flight number on their ticket".

    (Qantas used to codeshare on Vietnam Airlines' flights which would have made access possible, but I've been advised that this stopped a while back.)

    2. The Etihad lounge is very nice and the bar by the windows is particularly eye-catching, but I've never really sat down and analysed which of the business class lounges here is the 'best', as such, although Etihad would be a strong contender.

    Member who gave thanks

    scrodes

  • scrodes

    scrodes

    18 Sep, 2018 04:06 pm

    Thank you
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    18 Sep, 2018 04:40 pm

    Which one do we think is the best offering?
    No member give thanks

  • Steve987

    Steve987

    18 Sep, 2018 05:33 pm

    I was always happy enough in the SQ lounge back when I flew them regularly.

    For QF I think the Emirates lounge (when available) provides the best option.
    No member give thanks

  • mickeyg

    mickeyg

    18 Sep, 2018 05:43 pm

    Just to add - VA Platinum and Gold have access to the Etihad lounge when flying EY.
    No member give thanks

  • nathjean

    nathjean

    18 Sep, 2018 07:57 pm

    Flying with CX J Class out of Melbourne in a few weeks’ time on CX178.

    Is there any benefit of going to the QF Business Lounfe over the CX lounge? Just want to know others’ thoughts.

    Thanks


    No member give thanks

  • nathjean

    nathjean

    18 Sep, 2018 07:58 pm

    By the way, thanks for the comprehensive review.
    No member give thanks

  • morco

    morco

    19 Sep, 2018 05:03 pm

    Really good summary

    . I was in the QF lounge for the first time in June and was underwhelmed . I love the SQ and AirNZ. I peered into Amex (which is also Priority Pass?), and that looks nice.

    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    19 Sep, 2018 05:13 pm

    Hi Morco, Priority Pass doesn't provide access to the AMEX Lounge, but it can get you into the Plaza Premium Lounge next door (they're both in the same complex, and share the same washrooms, etc).
    No member give thanks

  • Blair Coull

    Notso Swift

    19 Sep, 2018 09:03 pm

    I do believe Vietnam Lotusmiles Gold/Platinum or Sky Team Elite Plus have access to Qantas, when flying Vietnam Airlines I an Lotusmiles Gold flying W and have been given it, so presume that is the norm, last time was December)
    No member give thanks

  • Jacklim

    Jacklim

    24 Sep, 2018 07:28 pm

    The plaza premium lounge, as with their stable of lounges around the world, has access arrangements with some banks allowing premium credit cards holder entry. For Malaysian cards, the Maybank Visa Infinite is one that allows entry.
    No member give thanks

  • Greg Crowe

    GC

    7 Mar, 2019 01:30 pm

    The article says that QF business class passengers can access the Emirates lounge at Melbourne except QF flights to North and South America? Is this still correct? I am travelling to SFO on Qantas... what are the lounge restrictions?

    No member give thanks

Guest

20 Jul, 2019 10:11 pm

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