Welcome to our second lounge review at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, this time in the domestic terminal and this time with Qantas, the current leading airline for domestic business travel. But with competition heating up in the domestic business sector, we went to Tullamarine to see just where Qantas stood on the domestic and international stage.
After clearing security at the Qantas Terminal, the lounge is pretty easy to find and is well signed. Something we didn’t know was that the Qantas Club and Business Class Lounge are two separate entities, housed in the same area. The entry to both is simple but elegant, and the escalator adds the feel of the exclusivity of the lounge.
At the top of the escalator, you’re treated a great view of the apron and all the action of the airport thanks to floor to ceiling windows. In our opinion, it’s essential for lounges to offer this as views of the aircraft really add to the ambiance and feel of the lounge. At gate keeper stands at the entry to the first area of the lounge- the Qantas Club- or the lounge for Gold Members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program/ OneWorld Sapphire.
Once inside the Qantas Club, it’s easy to see why it has been termed the ‘Qantas Pub’ by some frequent flyers…it lacks a lot of the feeling of a traditional airline Business Lounge. On the day we dropped in, things seemed pretty busy and there wasn’t much in terms of a quite space to get work done or collect thoughts. Your standard assortment food and beverage was there, and in the centre of the Qantas Club was a bizarre shop selling various wares such as newspapers and magazines- items that are already free in the space adjacent to the retail outlet. In our opinion, placing a shop selling goods in the middle of what is meant to be a lounge is a little tacky. In fact, the whole space feels like you are trying to be sold something with the WiFi redirecting to an advertisement on sign in (in this case for a car) and the TVs regularly showing ads.
At the back of the lounge is the ‘inner sanctum’ or the Qantas Business Lounge. It’s also open to OneWorld Emerald or Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum card holders. We really like the concept of the ‘inner sanctum’- the feel is like the famous ‘Private Room’ at Singapore’s Changi Airport. An opaque, automated, sliding door greets you and opens revealing the desk with a further gatekeeper. We were impressed at being addressed by name by the gate keeping staff- it’s the little touches like this that really add to the perceived value of the space and customer service received.
The décor inside is pretty well appointed. There are some atrocious excuses for airline lounges out there, but in this case, it had the simple, minimalist yet elegant styles of Marc Newson. It’s far from a room full of basic armchairs with each items of furniture seemingly designed for the task. Inside the quiet mobile-phone free area, it was a very peaceful surrounding to relax while waiting for the flight. Elsewhere there is seating with more noise and general chatter, but the space is overall a lot quieter than outside in the Qantas Club, which is again quieter than being outside in the terminal building.
The business centre features a suite of Mac products to help you with your connection needs, and high speed free WiFi is available throughout the facility. The bathrooms were pretty average and lacking in any type of amenities often seen in such lounges.
The food and beverage selection was interesting. There is no alcohol available until about 11am, then after that there is plenty of self-serve wine to enjoy, and bar service for other beverages. Before then there are soft drink fountains and a range of juices. The breakfast selection was lacking in our books- the only hot food item for example was an automatic pancake maker which dispensed interestingly shaped pancakes. Some eggs or similar savoury hot food would be appreciated. However, the breakfast offering had some interesting dishes no doubt created by Neil Perry, such as organic yogurt and muesli.
At around lunchtime, the offering redeemed itself in outstanding style with an excellent antipasto platter, along with great cheese and biscuits, salads and hot soup and a chicken dish. There were a few coffee machines scattered through the lounge, and each had some sweet treats with them which was a nice touch.
Impressions of the Qantas Business Class Domestic Lounge at Melbourne Airport
Ambiance: Reasonably quiet and some nice new age music. Views of aircraft and great décor.
Staff: Receptionists friendly. Staff generally attentive and quick to clear items away.
Food: Breakfast offering lacking, lunch had a great selection of items
Beverage: No alcohol in the mornings, limited self-serve at other times. Coffee, juices and soft drink fountains worked well.
Connectivity: The latest Apple technology plus WiFi. WiFi redirected to ads upon login which was annoying at times
Amenities: Bathrooms clean and basic
To us this lounge was a nice space, but was missing something of the international lounges.