What Qantas Lounges are like right now
At-seat service, space galore and sanitiser a-go-go – here's what to expect.
Recently, I hit the Sydney Qantas Business domestic lounge for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic kicked off. I was heading to Coffs Harbour for a quick socially-distanced family visit. As someone who spent their pre-pandemic life in airports virtually every week, I was curious to see how things had changed.
Because passenger numbers are so reduced, in Sydney (and elsewhere) Qantas has closed the regular Qantas Club and is just operating the Qantas Business lounge. I'm a lucky Qantas Platinum member, so I get to use that lounge anyway. Checking in is much the same as ever, except you have to scan your own boarding pass at the front desk.
Qantas is limiting numbers in lounges to ensure distancing is maintained. That wasn't an issue on the Friday morning when I dropped in. Indeed, by my count there may have been more staff than actual passengers. This is no surprise when you look at the scheduled flights that showed up when I logged into the Wi-Fi.
Sanitiser is evident everywhere. There's a dispenser as you enter, another as you leave, and more around the food service area. Plus you can wash your hands.
The old-style buffet has been emptied entirely, and the self-service coffee machines are shut down. If you want a coffee or a snack, you ask one of the staff, and they'll happily deliver it to where you're sitting.
I was there mid-morning, so settled for just a coffee. But I didn't say no when I was offered a banana smoothie a little later.
Masks are encouraged, but not compulsory (unless you're flying to Melbourne). On my observations, I was the only passenger wearing a mask in the lounge.
What's missing? Understandably, there are no free newspapers anymore. For me, that's a minor nuisance because I like to grab the sudoku. But if I'm desperate for a puzzle, the NewsLink store is one of just two that are still open in the airport.
The overwhelming impression is how quiet everything is. I'm used to having to fight for space in lounges on a Friday. But there's no drama claiming a seat this time around.
My flying habits aren't going to return to "normal" in 2020. But if I do need to fly, the lounge experience is still very welcoming.
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Pictures: Angus Kidman