The Qantas First lounge at Sydney T1 International is the Australian carrier’s flagship lounge, designed by Sydney-born Marc Newson and first opened in May 2007.
Opening Times: 5.00am to 10.00pm
Multi-standard Power Sockets: No (Australian three-pin)
USB Charging Sockets: Yes
The Qantas First Lounge at Sydney International is on level 4 of the airside departures area, past immigration and security. Follow the signs to the Qantas lounges which will direct you up the escalator from the main shopping concourse to level 3.
The first lounge entrance is immediately on the left, where your boarding card will be checked. This leads you along a wide corridor with an impressive 30 metre long vertical garden by French Botanist Patrick Blanc. At the end of this corridor – a second set of escalators brings you to level 4 which take you to the main lounge reception.
This lounge is available to passengers flying on a Qantas or Emirates flight, or on a oneworld member operated flight:
- in First class; or
- in Business, Premium Economy or Economy class and holding Qantas Platinum One or Platinum status, Emirates Platinum Skyward status or oneworld Emerald status.
This lounge is also available to passengers flying on an China Eastern or Jetstar flight:
- in Business, Premium Economy or Economy class and holding Qantas Platinum One or Platinum status.
We reached the lounge around 8.20am and were warmly welcomed by the reception staff and advised to remain in the lounge until boarding for our flight was called. Two things struck us when we first entered:
- The lounge is large and filled with natural light from the huge floor to ceiling windows running along the entire side, with great views of the runway and parked aircraft.
- The lounge was already really busy.
Despite operating for over 10 years, the lounge design still feels fresh. This is largely thanks to the timeless influences from Marc Newson. More details on his inspirations can be found here.
“Marc used sculptural wooden dividers made from European oak to separate the long space into open, bay-like sections; aerodynamically shaped, like a section of an airplane’s wing, these open frames highlight the curve of the ceiling and slope of the window wall, and give definition to the entire space while creating a sense of intimacy and privacy by dividing the space into smaller areas.”
The Wi-Fi in this lounge is easy to join, just select the Qantas First Lounge network then accept the terms.
By a long way – our lounge Wi-Fi speed record holder, despite how busy it was at the time (around 8.45am). We recorded a Wi-Fi speed pretty close to our fibre connection at home in Singapore and there was no issue at all remaining well-connected throughout this lounge.
As a point of comparison, we achieved about 5Mbps download and upload speeds during our last visit to the Singapore Airlines T3 KrisFlyer lounge (still good – but not a patch on this).
À la carte dining is the main focus of the Qantas first class lounge, and three of the ten or so ‘sections’ of the facility, each with a huge window vista, are dedicated to the restaurant area.
Two of these sections are directly alongside one another, with a single section a bit further down.
Simply approach the staff at one of the restaurant areas to be seated and they will try to accommodate you, even if that means finding you a seat in one of the emptier restaurants.
We managed to secure a table in the furthest restaurant section from the lounge entrance, but by that stage all the window seats were taken as other guests had clearly arrived nice and early to enjoy breakfast.
The extensive à la carte breakfast menu featured a variety of lighter and heavier food options, plus an extensive drinks list including a couple of morning cocktails and three Champagnes.
Having skipped breakfast at the hotel in anticipation of a food-filled day, we opted for the Eggs Benedict and the Signature Breakfast.
The Eggs Benedict was good, without being as exceptional as it looked. Nicely presented but the egg yolks weren’t runny enough for my personal preference, and by the time it reached the table it wasn’t that hot.
The ‘Signature Breakfast’ on the other hand was excellent, perfectly cooked, hot and well presented, not to mention very tasty and a generous portion size.
For those on the go with a bit less time for full-service dining, there are a number of self-service breakfast bars throughout the lounge stocked with a variety of lighter options alongside tea and coffee machines.
By 9am some long queues had started to form for a table in the restaurant sections, and the dining bar remained fully occupied, so we’d certainly advise to try and get to the lounge earlier than this if you don’t want to wait.
Children are also catered for in the lounge with their own menu, comprising the following items:
Breakfast (until 11am)
All Day Dining (after 11am)
For those interested in the ‘All Day Dining’ menu – which actually means Lunch and Dinner and is served after 11am – here’s a copy from High Tech Flight’s review from July 2017:
Do be aware though that the ‘All Day Dining’ options are regularly rotated, while we understand the Breakfast menu remains relatively similar all year.
There are serving staff throughout the lounge who will take drinks orders and deliver directly to your seat, so there’s no need to approach the bar directly if you’ve already found a comfy spot. They will of course happily oblige and pour you a drink of your choice from the extensive selection if you wish.
There is also the option to dine at the bar area, looking directly into the kitchen where the cook to order food is prepared.
Some of the seating areas furthest from the main bar are equipped with their own manned bar areas stocked with the most popular drinks including all three varieties of champagne, which should make delivery of your pre-flight fizz an expeditious affair no matter where in the lounge you’re sitting.
Rotating Flap Flight Display Boards
One of the standout features of this lounge are the split-flap departures display boards, the largest of which is in the main entrance atrium with smaller installations in other parts of the lounge. Marc Newson included these “to remind visitors of bygone days of travel”, and they are certainly a great focal point.
Fans of the traditional departures display board at Singapore Changi Terminal 2 will know exactly what we’re talking about here.
Various seating options are available throughout the lounge to suit various user requirements. Dining areas have sensibly sized tables and upright wood and leather chairs. Red and brown ‘easy chairs’ are situated in banks. Some of these face out towards the aircraft parking area and consequently are the most coveted and slightly worn.
The single leather chairs also have a comfortable recline function if you want to take some rest.
A selection of low-slung leather sofas and armchairs are dotted throughout the lounge spaces. Each section of the lounge has a slightly different feel with alternate colours, textures, lighting and seat choices.
A small library area is found towards the end of the lounge. The area opposite the library, once a children’s area, has been replaced with an extension to the library with further sofa and armchair seating. This area was by far the quietest section – away from the hubbub of the lobby, restaurant and bars.
The lounge is well staffed and the team are continuously clearing their sections so despite the volume of guests, the lounge never felt untidy.
The panoramic runway and taxiway views from the floor to ceiling windows are breathtaking. As the windows span the entire length of this sizeable lounge, viewing seats are quite readily available and are certainly the best choice (although the view is rather distracting!).
Unless your charging devices use the Australian 3-pin plug type, you’ll need to pack your adapter in your hand luggage if you want to use the sockets in this lounge, as they are all the Aussie 3-pin type.
Charging is also a little difficult to come by in the lounge, not every seat has a charging point. Indeed one lady asked if she could use the socket behind our table in the restaurant to charge her phone as she couldn’t find one in the adjacent seating area.
More charging points and a switch to multi-standard sockets would be a welcome improvement.
Some of the sections that aren’t equipped with a manned bar instead include a red sideboard featuring magazines, newspapers and televisions.
The office area has three Apple iMac computer terminals, each with a large desk space and printing facilities.
Towards the far right side of the lounge, there are also meeting rooms available, which can be pre-booked or you may be lucky and be able to secure one on the day. Each is equipped with a large working desk with two chairs, an iMac, TV, sofa and armchair as well as a printer and ample charging sockets.
A range of complimentary spa treatments are available to those using this lounge, including massages and facials. The spa is open from 8.30am to 4.30pm, which is a little more restrictive than the lounge operating hours.
Priority is offered to those actually travelling in first class – the Qantas ‘First Hosts’ will call you the day before to ask if you wish to book an appointment slot in advance.
We were initially concerned that this might not work as we did not book directly with Qantas, instead using our British Airways Avios points to redeem our first class tickets on the A380 Sydney to Singapore flight. However it was no issue and they telephoned around 1.40pm the day before our departure from Sydney, allowing us both to book in for a 9.30am treatment the next morning.
All the treatments are 20 minutes in duration, so if booking a slot in advance you won’t be asked to make a specific choice until you arrive at the spa itself.
For those accessing this lounge who aren’t eligible for the Qantas ‘First Hosts’ advance service, such as Qantas Platinum One guests flying in business, or oneworld Emerald status passengers, you will have to approach the spa on arrival to check for available slots. We’d recommend arriving early for your flight if you are hoping to take advantage of a treatment.
I chose the ‘Bliss Back Massage’ while Eddie went for the ‘Men’s Purifying Facial’. Both were really excellent and a great way to wind down further from the chaos of Australian immigration and security downstairs.
You’re well catered for in the Qantas first lounge if you need a shower before your flight, eight spacious marble-clad shower rooms are available close to the spa end of the lounge (turn left on entry if you want to head straight to the showers).
When we visited all eight showers were available for use, not too surprising as it was mid-morning – we expect the showers are more popular prior to the evening departures when many passengers will have been on the go all day.
Toiletries are from Aurora, in common with the adjacent Spa and the onboard product offered in first class.
Overall we think the Qantas First Lounge at Sydney International is a fantastic facility. Bright, spacious and well designed – it’s not even showing its age at over 10 years old.
The nostalgic aircraft-inspired design elements are strikingly beautiful and when paired with the unparalleled views of Sydney’s main runway, seats in this lounge are also an aviation enthusiast’s dream.
The separated sections avoid the lounge feeling noisy or impersonal despite its size and heavy occupancy, especially in the mornings. Service throughout the lounge is excellent, attentive and seamless. It’s not hard to see why access to this lounge is such a coveted privilege.
Despite how busy the lounge was during our visit, and the slight lack of charging points, there are very few places that we would rather spend our time at any airport. Singapore Airlines could certainly learn a few things here when it comes to their first class lounge offering at Changi.
Regardless of the purpose of your trip, be it business or leisure – this is the perfect space for you.
Visited March 2018
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)