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Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney International Review
An average business lounge in need of a major makeover.
The Qantas International Business Lounge in Sydney Airport is a common pit stop for many Aussie travellers. As the busiest gateway in Australia, Sydney has significant home traffic as well as a strong oneworld presence. Opened more than 10 years ago, the Qantas business lounge here is not exactly state of the art, especially when compared to its fantastic lounges in overseas outposts such as Hong Kong and London. Although Qantas has promised a multimillion dollar lounge upgrade, the refurbishment schedule has been pushed back from last year to sometime this year or the next. As a Sydneysider, I visit the Qantas lounge out of necessity rather than by choice. Most recently, I visited the lounge while waiting for my late morning flight bound for Singapore. Let's take a peek into the lounge to check out what Qantas has to offer from its homebase.
Points Finder Lounge Rating:
General information and lounge layout
Like the other Qantas international lounges in Australia, the Qantas lounge features a menu designed by Neil Perry and a cellar selection hand-picked by Rockpool sommeliers. The staff are employed by Sofitel, which has partnered with Qantas to manage its lounges.
The Qantas lounge is located airside near gate 9 and 10, on the left-hand side after passing through immigration and the duty-free zone. It's accessible by a set of well-signposted escalators, followed by a stroll towards the end of the walkway next to the first class lounge.
The key features within the lounge include:
- Bar service and barista coffee
- Buffet dining
- Showers and bathrooms
- Kids' and family zone
- Internet access
Located at the centre of the lounge is a pair of long dining tables with spherical pendant lights above them. The special menu, also known as the "plate of the day", is generally offered to guests seated at these tables. There are also high tables located beside the windows used for dining. At the dining area, you can also find a tended bar at which you can order an alcoholic beverage, barista-made coffee or a gelato from the gelato stand.
The main hall of the lounge is packed with a number of cushioned seats and small tables; hence they are not very useful for work or dining. In addition to the seating found in the main hall, the two wings of the lounge provide additional capacity. Two separate buffet food and beverage stations with identical offerings are located at both wings of the lounge.
The bathrooms and showers are well-lit and reasonably clean. They are stocked with ASPAR botanical hand and shower products.
Standard reading materials and fast Wi-Fi are available in the lounge. The business corner in the lounge is rather basic, with just a bench and Wi-Fi-connected printer. Previously, there were Apple computers installed at the business zone but they have been removed.
Due to lounge congestion, an overflow area has been created at the far end of the lounge to ease the crowding. This ad hoc space was originally part of the entrance to the first class lounge and is now temporarily sealed off using retractable barriers. This area is generally quieter than the main lounge, likely due to being quite hidden from the main entrance. One particular feature is the pleasant green vertical garden.
Great barista-made coffee
I'm a fan of the barista-made coffee in Qantas lounges generally. From the counter, you can order one to have in the lounge or to go in a takeaway cup. The Vittoria-blend Arabica coffee served here is smooth and consistent, hence it's my routine to get a flat white whenever I drop by this lounge. Alternatively self-service coffee machines are also available at both ends of the lounge.
There is a decent selection of beverages on offer, particularly showcasing local wines, beers and non-alcoholic drinks. Self-service beer taps are conveniently located at both ends of the lounge. You will also find refreshing fruit-infused iced water from the dispenser.
While I did not have much direct interaction with staff on this particular visit, I find waitstaff and baristas here quite friendly and helpful. They are also prompt when it comes to clearing used plates and crockery, even when the lounge is crowded.
Average food offerings
Overall, the catering here is average at best. The breakfast menu here hasn't changed for a long time, offering only standard English breakfast items such as scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon and baked beans. Mini croissants and muffins are also available, but unfortunately not very fresh and definitely not baked on the same day. Other items from the buffet station include cereals, yoghurt and fruit salad. There is a definite lack of dietary-friendly options, particularly for vegans.
Lunch here is typically a curry or stew, served with rice and a variety of salads. In a major international airport lounge like such, I anticipate more diverse food offerings. It would be nice to at least have a variety of artisan breads and cheeses as well as cured meats and salmon for breakfast. I wish the hot dishes offered during lunch could be less monotonous. Presumably regular business travellers feel similarly. I also noted that the gelato service was temporarily unavailable during my last visit, likely due to maintenance.
Adding to the disappointment, the plate of the day service was not available. The lounge previously displayed the plate of the day menu at the dining area, but it has not been the case during my visits lately. It's a shame that there is neither à la carte dining here nor made-to-order dishes, which are often seen in other premier international lounges.
The crowd and boarding announcements galore
A problem with this lounge is the crowd in the morning. In addition to Qantas departures, there were guests of American Airlines, Cathay, Asiana and other partner airlines all utilising the same space in this lounge. For a while I struggled to find a dining table for two. Thankfully, the crowd situation improved towards late morning. Another issue I had was the loud and frequent boarding announcements, ruining the lounge's ambience.
From the lounge you can catch a distant view of Sydney CBD. Apart from that, the view here is pretty disappointing. The surrounding structures of the lounge meant that you can hardly see the tarmac. While it's nice that there is still some natural light coming through, the view here cannot be compared to that from the first class lounge upstairs.
Lack of amenities
An area the new Qantas lounge could improve on is its amenities. The current lounge set-up does not provide any storage/locker space. Meeting rooms and rest zones are also absent in this lounge. For digital nomads power outlets are pretty sparse in this lounge, which is very frustrating having to interfere with other guests just to extend the cord to the nearest outlet. Not to mention, the work zone is rather minimalist with very uncomfortable seats. Perhaps partitions between work booths and office chairs would be a welcome addition to enhance the work space. I hope these issues will be addressed in the upcoming refurbishment.
Finder's lounge rating 3.5/5 stars
Although the Qantas International Business Lounge in Sydney ticks the boxes of the standard features expected of a business lounge, it's by no means a fantastic one. Particularly as the busiest hub of Qantas, I was hoping to be impressed by the overall lounge experience. On the contrary, it was lacklustre. The lounge decor and furnishings are noticeably tired-looking. The lounge capacity is also problematic during peak hours, making it hardly a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal. In terms of the menu, it lacks appeal and the food offerings on board are arguably more exciting than the lounge itself. However, the lounge experience is not entirely dire – I quite enjoyed the barista-made coffee and the staff are generally pleasant. In short, I can't wait for the lounge to undergo a much-needed makeover to incorporate a more stylish and ergonomic space for business travellers, as well as an improved dining experience. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
5am to 10pm daily
Airside, level 3, via elevators close to gate 9 and 10
- By cabin class: Business/first class passengers with Qantas, oneworld and other airline partners (separate lounge is also available for first class passengers next door); Business Max passengers with Jetstar.
- By tier status: Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members; oneworld Sapphire-grade and above members regardless of cabin class; Elite status with other partner airlines such as Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum members.
- By membership: Qantas Club members.
- By lounge passes: Complimentary lounge invitations issued by credit card or by Qantas Frequent Flyer for Silver members.
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