Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport

Out of all the hub lounges I’ve been to, my three favourite business class lounges are Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse at London Heathrow, Cathay Pacific’s The Pier Lounge Hong Kong, and Swiss’ Dock E Lounge in Zurich (more or less in that order, with Qatar Airways’ Al Mourjan lounge being a fourth). While I’d love to write a post dedicated to what I believe are the world’s best business class lounges, I have a couple more to visit this year that I believe will make the list, so I’ll hold that off until later this year.

Off the top of my head, I knew Qantas’ lounge at Sydney Airport wouldn’t make the list. While Qantas has a famously good first class lounge, the business class lounge has long seemed to be somewhat of an afterthought, with reports being that it’s drab, crowded, and aging. Qantas is planning on refurbishing this lounge, and the new lounge will be fully completed by the end of 2019.

With my family, my bags and somewhat low expectations, I headed to Sydney Airport at 1 PM for our 4 PM flight.

Sydney Airport Check-in Hall

While our rental with Hertz had some issues (that ended up being resolved on a good note), we dropped off our bags at the check-in counters without issue, as there was no line, and I’d already checked us in online the night prior. The check-in agent was rather stone-faced, though he was efficient and soon we were holding our boarding passes for the flight home.

Sydney Airport Check-in Hall

Immigration was a painless process, and we didn’t use the fast track vouchers that we were offered, as the line was short and some of us were in premium economy. After immigration, we went to the tax refund counters, where the agents were strict, though did their job well (unlike the clowns at Munich Airport). When that was done, my parents wanted to have a walk around the duty-free area, so I made my way towards the Qantas lounge, located near immigration on the left side.

Sydney Airport Terminal 1 Airside

The Qantas lounges are one level above the terminal, so they’re quite easy to spot. The escalators led up to the first class lounge, while the business class lounge was a quick walk down the hallway.

Sydney Airport Entrance to Qantas Lounges

As you’d expect from a Qantas lounge, the lounge is open to all Qantas business class flyers, as well as business class flyers on oneworld airlines or those with oneworld Sapphire status (those with Emerald status should visit the much better adjacent First Class lounge).

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Entrance

I was checked into the lounge by a friendly lounge attendant, and spotted a nice seating area outside the lounge.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Outside

The entrance dispersed into the lounge through somewhat of a triangular seating area, with lots of seating. Immediately it was pretty evident that this lounge was focused more on capacity than it was on spaciousness, though the fact that they were struggling with space and were about to expand their lounge during their refurbishment wasn’t a secret to me.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Entrance Area

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Entrance Area

The lounge itself was a long room with a lot of these partitioned seating areas. It was chocked full of seating, though not in a way that seemed too cramped (though there were so many people that you can’t quite disguise how crowded this lounge was).

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Entrance Area

While there were big partitions separating the lounge into a few smaller rooms, there were smaller, more stylish partitions of sorts to separate the long, exposed back end of the lounge.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport

Most of the seating featured couches of some sort. However, near some of the food spreads, there were some less comfortable high chairs around circular tables, which mostly seemed to be unused.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Seating

While the amount of seating was extensive, I found the lack of “proper” tables rather annoying, though that’s partially because I don’t like round tables – they jut out into your body while you’re trying to work, so I much prefer a square table.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Seating

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Seating

While the left side end of the lounge was more geared towards relaxation, the right side of the lounge was more geared towards working and dining. Featured there was a huge communal table with set-up tables (I originally thought there was a-la-carte dining that I’d missed online due to how the tables were set up, though that wasn’t the case), some square tables (alas!), and some bar seating, where I decided to perch myself for the stay so I could get good views of the tarmac.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Dining Bar Area

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Tarmacside Seating

I don’t get the hype for desktop computers at airline lounges now that everyone brings their own computer – since they were mostly deserted despite how crowded the lounge was, I feel like two or three computers would suffice. Despite that, I’m sure that those that don’t have their device on them would appreciate the extra option.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport IT Department

Most of the views of this lounge are obstructed by the roof – there’s an emergency exit that leads onto the roof, though it’s restricted access-only. I found that to be a missed opportunity to create an outdoor area of sorts, which apparently is on the cards for their refreshed lounge.

View from Qantas Lounge Sydney Airport

Despite this, I still managed to get great views of the runway, as well as the taxiway. At one point I got a clear view of a Qantas A380 taxiing with the Sydney skyline in the backdrop, which was stunning.

View from Qantas Lounge Sydney Airport

Now let’s talk about the food and beverage options at this lounge. By the communal table I spotted what I guess was a dispenser containing orange or citrus juice of some sort, with red and white wines also provided. I’ve heard that the wines are rather mid-range, which is a missed opportunity for a hub lounge in a wine country like Australia – despite that, at least the setup was nice.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Drinks

Apart from the juice and wine, there was also flavoured water on tap.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Drinks

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Wines

Near both ends of the lounge were two separate though identical food spreads. By one end of the spread there was bread, though the toaster was unplugged, so the only way to eat it was to have it cold. They tasted slightly stale.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Food Spread

There was an “all day dining” option for hot items, and the menu was located next to the spread itself. It read as follows:

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Menu

I tried all of the hot options that were provided at the lounge, as they looked good. The appetiser provided was a pea and mint soup, which was good. The mint really came through, and the pea flavour was prominent (it didn’t have the “canned flavour” that you’d expect at an airline lounge buffet soup).

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Hot Items – Pea and Mint Soup

The main course was a beef lasagna. It’s hard to screw up a lasagna, so luckily Qantas didn’t – the lasagna was delicious, and wasn’t greasy.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Hot Items – Beef Lasagna

The vegetable curry with rice was considerably inferior to the lasagna, though was still a solid option for an airline lounge.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Hot Items – Vegetable Curry with Rice

There were also a selection of cold items, which looked good, though I passed.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Menu – Cold Items

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Cold Items

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Cold Items

Furthermore, there were also soft drinks, as well as beers (including ginger beer). Beer drinkers will be happy to know that there were a few beers on tap straight from the fridge.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Beverages and Wines

By one end of the communal table was barista coffee and gelato ice cream. I’ve been drinking coffee for quite a while, and over the course of this trip my standards of coffee were upped significantly. The quality of both the coffee and gelato (apparently made in-house, or in this case, in-lounge) was unrivalled by any airport lounge of this caliber, and the barista was really quick, while really friendly as well.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Barista Coffee

There were six flavours of gelato to choose from, though the main selling point is that it’s made in the lounge. I’m not sure based on the quality that it was made in-house, though nonetheless it was very good gelato.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Gelato

The cappuccino and berry gelato that I ordered were both very good. I liked that my gelato cup was filled to the brim, and I liked the coffee cup – while stylish, it managed to hold quite a bit of coffee, which is always a good thing. I also love the coffee art that was made on top of the coffee.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Coffee and Gelato

While I originally only wanted to photograph the shower room, the circumstances made it awkward to simply ask for photos, so I just took the opportunity to take a shower. After following the signage to the shower area, I was directed straight to an empty shower room. The design of the shower room matched the slightly sterile and outdated tones – it felt bleak and lifeless, though it didn’t matter, since it was large, very clean, and otherwise very well designed. I was also a fan of the good water pressure that this shower offered.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Shower Room

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Shower Room

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Shower Room

As with their Hong Kong lounge, the shower rooms featured ASPAR toiletries.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Shower Room Toiletries

In terms of other facilities, there’s also a kids’ area by the entrance, which I always appreciate, especially when there’s comfy seating for the parents as well. This one was particularly well-designed, though I can’t help but feel like it was slightly sparse in terms of children’s amenities offered.

 

Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Airport Play Room

All the staff I interacted with at this lounge were friendly. The lounge wasn’t the most relaxing environment to work due to how crowded it was, so I was able to overhear some conversations that (presumably) lounge regulars were having with the staff. They were talking about their vacations in the U.S., etc. (since I was at the lounge shortly before the Dallas departure began boarding), and the staff were listening quite intently despite how obnoxious some of them were. For this I have nothing negative to say about the lounge staff.

They were also good with clearing plates – when the lounge is at full swing during the morning/early afternoon rush don’t expect to have your plates cleared immediately, though overall the staff were happy and eager to help. One gripe I have is that boarding calls rang throughout the lounge every now and then, which is a negative when you’re trying to get some rest (unless, obviously, it’s your flight being called). WiFi at this lounge was fast, free, and easy to connect to.

Boarding was scheduled for 3:10 PM, so I was a little surprised to hear at 2:55 PM that boarding had begun for our flight home (since we were on a Cathay Pacific flight, I was surprised to hear a boarding call at all). I decided to wrap up what I was doing, as it’s not the first time in my experience where a lounge has prematurely made a boarding call.

Sydney Airport Terminal 1

However, when I dashed to the gate at 3 PM (which was right below the lounge at gate 24), sure enough boarding was already well underway, which was a pity since I had specifically assigned myself a seat that would allow me to take better cabin pictures during boarding. Apparently Sydney has long had issues with prematurely boarding aircraft, which I personally don’t appreciate, though as a travel blogger I’m in the minority.

Bottom Line: Qantas Business Lounge Sydney

I had low expectations of this lounge, and knew that it would be crowded, worn, and somewhat of a dump. In terms of the “hard product” that the lounge offered, even when empty I wouldn’t consider the lounge very nice. The colours are rather bland (mostly white and black, with a few red touches), though they’re fixing that with a more upmarket feel that matches some of their outstation lounges, as well as lounges at some of their other Australian hubs (their Hong Kong lounge is Qantas’ only outstation lounge that I’ve visited, though I know for a fact that there are other great ones).

However, I was impressed by the food and coffee that this lounge offered. I’ve written about the top 10 things I look for in an airline lounge, and while the room that the lounge is housed in is admittedly a dump, I’d be sure to pay the lounge a visit before an eligible flight in the morning (for a coffee), for a solid meal that I otherwise wouldn’t be having at the airport, or when I’m craving some pretty good homemade gelato.

During Qantas’ lounge refurbishment, some things the lounge cries out for are separate working areas/cubicles, somewhat of a more defined “plate of the day” – they have great food, though more people need to know that – and the aforementioned outside area (the lounge already knows that it needs more space, and is working on more efficiently utilising more of the surrounding space around the lounge).

As I’d expected, this lounge didn’t make it up on my league of the three best business class hub lounges in the world. However, I wouldn’t mind spending a bit of time in this lounge, and believe that as long as Qantas keeps up the quality of their lounge “soft product”, their new refurbished lounge in Sydney will be world-class.

Have you visited any of Qantas’ refurbished lounges in Australia? Share your experience in the comments below!

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