Can the country musical capital deliver a golden guitar for frequent flyers? Angus Kidman bootscoots north to find out.
In 2019, Tamworth's Qantas Regional Lounge is scheduled for a major refit, one of just six global Qantas lounges scheduled for an upgrade that year. Yet even in its current form it's still a relatively impressive space given the airport's regional status.
I passed through Tamworth in August 2018, just days before the upgrade plans were announced. As the whole airport is undergoing a rebuild and the plans stuck to the wall show an expanded lounge area, the refurb didn't come as a total surprise.
Tamworth follows the classic model for Qantas Regional Lounges: the lounge is unstaffed, and you gain admittance with a pin code. You can find that at the bottom of your boarding pass if you've checked in online, or ask the check-in staff for it.
Once inside, there's a choice of seating areas (including the oh-so-important desks with power outlets), a coffee machine and a range of snacks. To assuage your thirst, there's a fridge filled with cold beverages, including red and white wine, beer and soft drinks. There are no staff permanently in place, but the area is cleaned regularly and all flights are announced. There's also a television set (set to Sky Business when I visited) and a small selection of newspapers and magazines.
What I liked
- A variety of working spaces. You can choose between a bench lounge, a range of individual seats and a working island. I calculated the lounge could seat around 36 people at full capacity. For my flight, we had barely half-a-dozen people using the space.
- Plenty of power outlets. As well as the expected strip of power outlets in the middle of the island desk, there were also several points under the bench lounge along the wall. The free Qantas Wi-Fi works well throughout.
- Convenient toilets. While they aren't actually inside the lounge, they're immediately adjacent, which is better than most regional offerings.
- Airside location. Unlike some regional lounges (hello Coffs Harbour, hello Launceston), the lounge is after security, so you can stay there right until your flight is called. Given my flight was delayed by 30 minutes due to inclement weather in Sydney, that was welcome news.
INSIDER TIPWhen Qantas says the lounge operates "an hour before each flight", it means just that. While you can get your pin code to access the lounge when you check in via the Qantas app, that's not much help if you arrive at the airport on a Sunday, as I did, to find the security screening area closed, which means you can't get to the lounge anyway! That would be less of a problem on weekdays when flights are more frequent, but keep it in mind.
What I didn’t like
- Lack of food choices. While I don't expect a range of hot snacks in a Qantas Regional Lounge, I have become used to having cheese and crackers, and this time there was no cheese on offer. I wasn't the only one bothered by this. "What's going on, mate?" a fellow traveller asked the Qantas staffer when he came in to tidy up. "There's no Tim Tams, there's no cheese." "Yeah, we're out of cheese."
- No escaping the TV. It's a frequent complaint for me, and one that's really pronounced in this single-room lounge: there's nowhere to sit where you can't hear the two TVs. Adding insult to injury, one is positioned right next to the desk, even though if you want to use that the odds of your wanting to watch TV are presumably much lower.
- No view of the tarmac. Not a lounge essential, but if you're not working then it's pleasant to be able to see incoming craft.
Points Finder Lounge Rating: ★★★☆☆☆
THE POINTS FINDER TAKERelatively modern decor and a plentiful supply of power outlets put this in the upper ranks of Qantas Regional Lounges. It's no city slicker joint but it beats having a beer at Duncan's.
THE FINDER LOUNGE REVIEW PROMISE: Our lounge reviews are based on a visit to the actual lounge during normal operation. We offer an honest and open critique from one of our frequent flyer experts, and update with any relevant news as it comes to hand. Being in a lounge is basically always more pleasant than just being stuck waiting at the gate, but we won't shy away from highlighting any issues. Learn more about how our scoring works.
Qantas Regional Lounge Tamworth details
Location: Airside, down the corridor past the toilets.
Opening hours: One hour before each flight departure.
Who can get in? Fliers on a Qantas-operated service with Gold or Platinum status (or equivalent with oneworld partners) or a current Qantas Club membership. As ever, you have to be booked on a Qantas flight that day.
How many Qantas Points can you earn flying from Tamworth?
There's a single direct destination on offer from Tamworth: Sydney. Under Qantas' points guarantee, this earns 800 points in Discount Economy no matter what class you're flying in and whatever your tier status is. If you book Flexible Economy or Business, you'll get 1,200 points.
You'll earn 10 status credits for a Discount Economy fare, or 20 status credits for higher tiers. Note that there's no such thing as a business seat on this route, since that's not a feature of the QantasLink Dash 8 aircraft.