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Qantas Unleashes $100 Million Lounge Transformation

The Australian flag carrier is dedicated to enhancing its premium lounges and ensuring that loyal customers are rewarded accordingly

by Lark Gould

August 11, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Qantas

Qantas is in full throttle on a mission to create and upgrade its premium lounges and ensure the price of loyalty is met with just rewards. And while lounge upgrade news is often relegated to the ho-hum back pages of airline industry reporting, the effort by Qantas is anything but ho-hum. 

Starting this year, the airline is investing $100 million into lounge upgrades alone. It marks the most significant investment by the Australian flag carrier into its national and international lounge network in more than ten years. 

Perhaps it is the least American flyers can hope for, given the distances they must fly to get to the Land Downunder. Flight times from Los Angeles to Sydney top 13 hours, so a pre-flight oasis can go a long way to please the departing long-haul premium passenger. 

Hong Kong Takes Off

Hong Kong is the first and latest lounge to see gold from the red- and white-tailed carrier’s bold lounge upgrade initiative. 

The lounge reopened last spring after it was closed and vacated during the pandemic with a warmer color scheme, new furnishings, and lofty views of the airport’s legendary Sky Bridge. The 21,500-square-foot space has seating capacity for 290 front-of-the-plane guests.

Photo: Courtesy of Qantas

The remodeled lounge still occupies the same space as before at Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), but it offers several improvements, including 12 opulent private shower rooms and food offerings guided by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry. 

Naturally, the lounge is open to Qantas First and Business Class travelers, but also Platinum, Gold, and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyer members, Qantas Club members, oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members, and also Business Class passengers and Platinum and Gold Skywards members of Emirates. 

More Lounge Extras

Other refurbishments and openings will roll out through 2025, with the next up being the new herb garden and other upgrades scheduled this year for the Qantas lounge at Auckland International Airport (AKL). The Auckland makeover consolidates two existing lounge areas into a single international lounge, increasing overall capacity by nearly 40%, from 244 seats to 340 seats. 

Along with other amenities that, according to Qantas, are specifically designed for long-haul travel, the lounge will have an edible herb garden and an L-shaped bar surrounded by soft, earthy tones. The efforts in the process complement Qantas’s new Auckland-New York service that started in June. 

A new First Lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport is also in motion. Top features include direct access to boarding gates, expansive airfield views, an emphasis on well-being amenities, and luxury dining experiences. 

Photo: London Heathrow Lounge. Courtesy of Qantas Airways

The 2025 launch will coincide with the dawn of Project Sunrise’s direct flights to Sydney. The current International Lounge at Heathrow will transition into an International Business Lounge and coexist with the First Lounge. 

The Sydney (SYD) flagship lounge will see the promised redevelopment of the existing Business Class Lounge at Sydney International Airport that had to be paused during the pandemic, pending approval to increase capacity by 40% to more than 600 seats. 

Premium flyers can expect a new signature food and beverage offering and all moves toward a 2025 completion. 

Other planned Qantas lounge upgrade highlights include:

Melbourne International Business Lounge

  • A proposed redevelopment of existing Qantas Business Class Lounge at Melbourne International Airport (MEL) is in play, featuring an expanded footprint that will increase capacity by up to 30% to accommodate future passenger growth.
  • Will include a full internal refresh and a new signature food and beverage concept. Work will be carried out in stages from late 2023, targeting stage one, opening in mid-2024.

Hobart Qantas Club

  • On the table is the proposed relocation into a brand new Hobart Qantas Club with more space, which is in line with the overall HBA terminal redevelopment. Qantas is targeting a 50% increase in capacity from 96 to approximately 150 seats.

Broome Regional Lounge

  • Construction of a brand new Regional Lounge is to open in Broome (BME) 2024, doubling the capacity of the existing lounge to approximately 100 seats. The move follows consistently strong demand from premium leisure travelers to the destination.

Adelaide Domestic Airport

  • New Business Lounge at Adelaide Domestic Airport (ADL) that will be opening in stages from 2024. 
  • Full upgrade to Chairmans Lounge at Adelaide Domestic Airport (2025)
  • Full upgrade to Qantas Club at Adelaide Domestic Airport (2023)

Qantas has an extensive lounge network, including 42 in Australia (12 of which are in regional destinations) and nine lounges overseas. 

Flying Qantas also brings access to some 600 lounges worldwide through partnerships. 

Photo: Courtesy of Qantas

As with many premium lounges that are pivoting on admission policies due to current surges worldwide in air travel, access depends on the class of ticket, airline flying, and status as a frequent flyer with Qantas and partner airlines. The carrier is a member of the oneworld alliance of airline companies. 

“Being back in profit means we’re back to making long-term investments. That started with the major aircraft order we announced last year, and now we’re building on that with a major investment in our lounges,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. “Millions of people a year visit our lounges, and they are typically our frequent flyers who travel with us the most, so anything we do to improve them is a way of saying thank you.”