Four Continents and 37,000 Miles in Two Weeks: Qantas First Class Lounge Melbourne

Trip Report Index

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My lounge experience really started the night before my flight, when I had read on FlyerTalk that it was possible to pre-book a spa treatment in the Qantas lounge as a first class passenger. While OneWorld Emerald members also have access to the first class lounge, they can only book treatments day-of on a standby basis. Apparently the first class concierge calls first class passengers the day before the flight, though I wasn’t using my phone while traveling internationally, so I had no way of being contacted.

I had no sense as to how much competition there was for what I assume are a fairly limited number of appointments, so I was determined to find a way to contact them. I could only find the phone number for the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney, so I gave them a call on Skype and asked them for the phone number for the Melbourne lounge. They gave me a number, though no one ever picked up when I dialed it. I then called reservations, and they were able to connect me to the first class concierge office, though it was closed for the evening, so I left a voicemail for them. It was tough to leave a call back number, given that I was calling from Skype, so I just told them I was staying at the Park Hyatt and what room I was in.

Surprisingly enough I got a call early the next morning, and they confirmed my 30 minute massage for 1PM. Fantastic.

I had heard great things about the Qantas first class lounge, so booked an 11AM shuttle, allowing me plenty of time to check-in and catch up on email. The ride to the airport took just under 30 minutes, and I was dropped off at international departures.


Terminal exterior

The terminal itself was fairly bland, and I struggled to find the first class check-in area. Little did I know that it’s actually a separate room that could be accessed directly from outside.


Terminal


Qantas first class check-in entrance

The check-in area was nicely done, with two agents and a bellman assisting with bags. The agents were courteous, and there was even a seating area in which I could fill out the departure card, rather than having to do so in the terminal.

I’m pretty sure I had the biggest grin on my face when I was handed a boarding pass for seat 2A all the way to London. Talk about 23 hours of pure relaxation.


Qantas first class check-in


Sexy ticket jacket

I headed to the departures hall where I quickly cleared security. There was a priority security line, though it turned out to be rather awkward since the lane it lead to was closed and no one was working it. So while I could get in the premium queue, I ended up cutting everyone else. It’s always uncomfortable to do that when someone isn’t directing the line.


Departures hall entrance

Through security was immigration, where I was helped by a friendly agent who said “wow, your signature looks just like mine.” I’m always told how bad my signature is (people even laugh at it), so I couldn’t help but mention that and pass on my condolences. Fortunately that didn’t land me in any type of secondary security.

The international terminal featured duty free shop after duty free shop after duty free shop. It was pretty crazy, since it wasn’t just duty free shops spread between gates, but rather a seemingly endless array of them you had to walk past before you reached the gates.


Duty free

I couldn’t help but laugh at the pilots that were looking at some of the alcohol in duty free. Nothing inherently wrong with that, though it seems the basis of many airline comedy skits.


Careful, gents!

I figured I was half way to Singapore by the time I actually made it to the gate area, since they really do send you through just about every shop and restaurant before you can get there. The gate area itself was quite nice, though I was more looking forward to the first class lounge up the escalator.


Gate area


Cool shot, or what?

I did on the way up notice the Airbus 380 that would be taking me to Singapore and London already at the gate.


Big bird waiting for me

The first class lounge was located up the escalator across from the Emirates lounge. It’s worth keeping in mind that Qantas grants OneWorld Emerald members first class lounge access, meaning a top tier elite traveling in coach would have access to this lounge. So naturally my expectations were a bit lower than a Star Alliance first class lounge as I entered, though not for good reason.


First class lounge entrance

At the entrance I was greeted by a friendly agent that informed me a boarding announcement would be made for my flight and invited me to enjoy the lounge.

The lounge itself was very nicely decorated, possibly even one of my favorites. It was almost totally empty, which surprised me, since I assumed allowing OneWorld Emeralds in the lounge would translate to a full lounge.

The lounge featured plenty of seating with great views.


Lounge


Departures board


Plenty of seating


More seating

Service in the lounge was also excellent. There was a self service drink area, though there’s also a restaurant with bar, and even if you don’t want to sit in the restaurant, there are waiters constantly roaming the lounge ready to take orders.


Self serve drink area


Restaurant


Restaurant


Window seating

The lounge also had awesome tarmac and runway views, including of the Singapore 777 parked immediately below the lounge and also the A380 off to the side that would be taking me all the way to London.


Not too bad of a view


Big bird

The lounge also featured a library area and plenty of individual work stations with iMacs.


For the smart people…


Individual work stations

As I mentioned, I had made a spa appointment for 1PM, so headed there a few minutes early.


Spa

I was greeted by a rather young, attractive lady (girl?) that confirmed my choice for a 30 minute back massage. She asked if I was familiar with the range of services they provide, and I indicated I wasn’t, so she gave me a run down. Ultimately she recommended the facial and neck massage, which she said a lot of men like, so I went with that.


Spa welcome area

She brought me to the treatment room, which was great, with relaxing music, some plants which gave it a bit of a tropical feel, and plenty of space. While I think everyone loves spa treatments, there’s something even cooler about them than normal when it’s at an airport.

She left the room for a moment as I took my shoes and shirt off (per her request) and laid down on the chair. The facial was perfectly pleasant, though she talked to me for most of the time, during which I found out she’s only a year older than me. For whatever reason there was something a bit weird about getting a facial from someone around my age. Not sure why, but I’m used to getting treatments either from people 20 years older than me or people that don’t speak my language!

We talked about her tattoos, her upcoming trip to Bali (I made some suggestions), and working at an airport. I left her a $20 tip, simply because I didn’t have smaller change and she was going on vacation the following week, so I figured why not.


Spa treatment room

After the spa treatment I felt the urge to at least take a look at the restaurant menu, since I couldn’t leave the lounge without having tried anything. While I was hungry, I knew a feast would be awaiting me aboard, so I went with the obvious choice — chocolate lava cake with rhubarb and vanilla bean ice cream. I stayed seated in the lounge instead of the restaurant, and the waiter was happy to deliver it to me when ready.


Dining menu


Chocolate lava cake with rhubarb and vanilla bean ice cream

About 30 minutes before boarding I was approached by another passenger who asked if I was “Lucky.” As it turns out, a Twitter friend’s friend was in the lounge, so he referred him my way. He was flying business class to Singapore on my flight, so we talked for the next 20 minutes or so. Great meeting you!

Shortly before 3PM boarding was called and I headed down to the departure gate for my longest flight ever (even though there may have been a quick stop in Singapore)…

On the whole the Qantas lounge blew me away. Between the excellent service, abundance of seating with great views, restaurant, and spa, this ranks among my top five lounges (probably behind the Lufthansa First Class Terminal and Thai first class lounge, and probably ahead of the Cathay Pacific Wing/Pier, Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, and Qatar Airways Premium Terminal). Now that I’m a OneWorld Emerald, I can’t wait to access this lounge when flying business class (or coach… eek).

Comments

  1. Tim says

    Wow, that QF MEL 1st Lounge does look pretty incred. It’s funny Aussies complain about the deteriating quality of Qantas, yet I still think it is way up there in terms of product and service.

    The decor is just perfect.

    And yes, the duty free shops in Aussie airports. I was so used to them then when I moved to the US was so weird to not have to walk through a mile of duty free to get to your flight.

    Now I kinda miss them!

    Great report Ben.

  2. Alan says

    Awesome report! We will have the same experience coming up this November when flying back to LAX. I wonder how far advanced you can make the spa treatment. 1 month? Because we will also have the similar situation that we won’t have a workable cell phone with us and would like to take the opportunity to use the spa.

    I’m now looking forward your next report on the 8-courses tasting menu on board!

  3. Petri says

    Wow! We loved Qantas First class lounge in Sydney (our #1 but we haven’t experienced all the best alternatives) and I totally thought that you were writing about the Sydney lounge. So many details look very similar.

    Nice to see such a lounge in Melbourne as well and a great service from Qantas!

  4. says

    Such an incredible difference compared to the Melbourne FIrst Class lounge before the redo (which was when I was there last..)

  5. Ken says

    In my opinion the First Class lounge in Mel is better than the Syd counterpart. The only pain is navigating through the airport and duty free shops (as you experienced yourself)! The service is great overall and indeed, I do get a call a day ahead from the consierge to check me in and book spa treatments, great touch. Too bad you did not sample more of the menu (I can understand though that you wanted to sample the food onboard, although the quality is better on the ground in my opinion). I had some delicious food last Wednesday in SydFirst Class lounge, their Neil Perry ground experience is outstanding. Looking forward to your next installment.

  6. says

    Small world eh, I had one friend on facebook who just checked into the First lounge, and Ben adding a twitter post, glad you could both catch up. And yeah the Melbourne First Lounge is pretty good, although I prefer the Sydney First Lounge as I can usually enjoy it with a well timed day trip without leaving Australia, as there are a select few international flights that travel between the Australian cities.

  7. says

    MEL is a better airport…but the SYD F lounge is a bit more dramatic.

    Are you a golfer? There is an airport-run country club on the grounds of MEL, too!

  8. Alex Brewer says

    Now I’m annoyed at Qantas. I flew QF1 SYD-BKK a few weeks ago in F and was unable to book a massage when I arrived at the lounge 3.5 hours before my flight. Qantas had my local phone number but did not elect to give me a call. Nonetheless, the F Lounge in Sydney was superb, even if I didn’t get a massage :D

  9. Michael H says

    Be quiet about the lounge access rules, because it’s some of the best fun the Aussie Frequent Flyers have.

    In Australia, there’s occasionally domestic flights that depart from Interntional terminals so it’s a favorite weekend past time to organise a weekend gathering with a bunch of QF Platinums and we go have three hours or so in the Lounge before a short flight.

    The great thing is the Lounge dragons know exactly what we’re doing, and they don’t mind it one bit even going out of their way to make the experience as great as they can.

  10. says

    Great report – and photographs. I like the Sydney flounge a little more, as the view is so much more dramatic and it’s got even cooler design, being purpose built. But like you, in Melbourne I enjoyed looking out directly at the A380 that was taking me to London. Just walk downstairs and straight onto the plane The restaurant is really worth more than a nibble. The meals are exquisitely presented and inventive. My favorite was the pavlova in a glass.

    I missed out on a massage – I was traveling with my wife and there was only one slot available. That’s a no-brainer!

    The real danger about these superb Qantas lounges is that you’ll get so blissed out on massage, excellent meals and constantly-flowing champagne that you’ll miss your flight. And have to spend another 24 hours there.

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