Australia’s Qantas announced in October last year that it would be launching a brand new First Class lounge at Singapore Changi Airport. Dubbed the ‘Qantas First Lounge’, it is set to open its doors in November 2019, providing a much-needed capacity boost for the airline at its largest hub outside Australia.
The Qantas First Lounge, whose layout and fittings are being led by industrial designer David Caon in collaboration with Sydney-based architects Akin Atelier, will have capacity for 240 guests.
That means a large area of the lounge is set aside for seating, with a mixture of private ‘booths’, low armchairs, sofas and desk-style options.
Caon also oversaw the design of several other Qantas lounges, including the existing Qantas Singapore Lounge, the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge, the Brisbane Chairman’s Lounge and the Qantas Perth Transit Lounge.
It’s not surprising therefore that many of the design features common to those facilities will filter through to this new lounge, with white marble, oak wood accents and highlights of greenery.
Kitchen & dining
A significant space in this lounge will be dedicated to the live open kitchen and à la carte dining area.
Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said the airline “knows Qantas customers like to dine in the lounge to maximise sleep onboard, so the layout will offer generous and comfortable seating options, ideal for eating, working or relaxing”.
Qantas are promising “premium dining inspired by Singapore’s vibrant culture”. The existing Qantas Singapore Lounge already offers a couple of à la carte options each day from the open kitchen.
The pre-flight dining option is bound to be popular with passengers flying on shorter overnight flights to Australia. Even those heading to London around midnight may be keen to eat before departure and prioritise sleep on board.
Every First Class lounge is best rounded off with a tended cocktail bar, whether it be for those pre-flight martinis, barista-made espressos or just a casual glass of beer or Aussie Sauvignon Blanc.
Champagne is a certain addition to the lineup, with the Qantas Sydney First Lounge offering three varieties.
The bar area appears to feature low armchairs and bar stool seating options. Other lounge features will of course include shower facilities and plenty of device charging stations.
The Singapore Qantas First Lounge will be at Terminal 1’s ‘D’ gates, unlike the existing Qantas lounge which is located in a mid-terminal position, closer to the airport’s ‘C’ gates.
Like the existing Qantas Singapore Lounge, this new facility will not have any immediate outside views and will instead overlook an internal terminal area – in this case Changi’s T1 ‘D’ gates arrivals immigration hall.
Qantas is using virtual reality (VR) in the development of the Singapore First Lounge. David Caon and his team have created an immersive virtual reality representation of the design concept, providing a better way for Qantas to preview and fine tune lounges. A similar approach is being used for the airline’s upgrade of its A380 cabins.
This short video shows the VR concept in use.
Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said VR gives the airline a completely new way to make sure a lounge meets customer needs well before the build begins.
“While we already use VR technology to promote destinations, this is the first time we have used it to better understand a lounge design. Being able to immerse ourselves in a virtual lounge gives us a more accurate sense of space and an understanding of how it will look to scale,” said Ms Webster.
David Caon said using Virtual Reality has revolutionised the design process between designer and client.
“Virtual reality brings the 2D drawings and photos to life, and for this project in particular, it has sped up the consultation process between our design team and Qantas,” said Mr Caon.
Qantas told us the opening hours for this new lounge have not yet been officially announced, though as we predicted in October last year (and Australian Business Traveller reported this month) the hours will be similar to the 2.30pm – midnight opening of the existing Qantas (Business) Singapore Lounge.
Qantas confirmed to Mainly Miles that the access policy for the Singapore Qantas First Lounge will mirror that seen at the carrier’s First Class facilities at Australian airports.
In other words you’ll have to fall into one of the following categories to gain access to this lounge:
You must be departing 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 Skywards status* or oneworld Emerald status.
* Access for Emirates Platinum Skywards status holders is applicable only for departing on QF/EK flights.
This lounge is also available to passengers flying on a Jetstar (3K/JQ/BL) flight:
- in Business or Economy class and holding Qantas Platinum One or Platinum status.
Qantas Platinum / oneworld Emerald
If you’re a Qantas Platinum (or oneworld Emerald) status holder, the access policy is good news for you. Provided you are departing on a oneworld marketed and operated flight from Changi in any class of service, you will be eligible to use this lounge (subject of course to the opening hours).
The following oneworld airlines operate from Changi (from T1 unless stated):
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific (T4)
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines (T2)
- Qatar Airways
- SriLankan Airlines (T3)
That means as a oneworld Emerald status holder from as little as S$104 (based on fares in March 2019) you can book an afternoon or evening Malaysia Airlines Economy Class flight to Kuala Lumpur and make use of this lounge, which sits directly at the end of a short airside SkyTrain journey from T2.
Other cheap alternatives include using just 4,000 Avios + £37.40 (around S$66) for the same journey, 7,000 Avios + £38.80 (S$68) to Bangkok on Cathay Pacific or 10,000 Avios + S$166 for a 4-hour flight to Colombo on SriLankan.
Other oneworld schemes like Asia Miles also provide options, but if you haven’t got any Avios see our article from last year about why it’s a good idea to have a stash of these at your disposal for good value redemptions in the region.
As Qantas Platinum / Platinum One, you can also use this lounge when departing on any Jetstar Asia (3K), Jetstar Australia (JQ) or Jetstar Pacific (BL) flight from Changi. Needless to say, there are some low fares here for you lucky few, and check-in opens 2 hours 45 minutes prior to departure time (3 hours 45 minutes before departure for JQ flights).
Not Qantas Platinum / oneworld Emerald?
Here it’s a more complicated (and potentially costly) method to use this lounge. You will have to actually be flying First Class with Qantas, Emirates or British Airways.
Emirates First Class passengers in particular will be pleased about the new lounge, with the airline’s own revamped facility in the ‘C’ wing of Terminal 1 still not featuring any dedicated First Class section.
None of the other oneworld airlines operate a First Class cabin from Singapore, with the exception of Cathay Pacific who offer occasional First Class configured 777-300ER aircraft sporadically on the Hong Kong route. Regular equipment swaps however make this a risky option, you can easily find yourself downgraded to Business on the day.
A First Class redemption on Qantas to Australia (Melbourne or Sydney) will set you back:
- 90,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points
- 90,000 Emirates Skywards miles
- 80,000 Avios
- 70,000 Asia Miles
- 50,000 AAdvantage miles
While to London it costs:
- 126,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points
- 126,000 Emirates Skywards miles
- 140,000 Avios
- 105,000 Asia Miles
- 90,000 AAdvantage miles
See our review of the Qantas First Class seat on the A380 here.
BA First Class to Sydney will cost 80,000 Avios on a peak date or 68,000 Avios for an off-peak date, while their flights all the way to London in First Class are 140,000 Avios and 119,000 Avios respectively. See our review of the BA First product here.
Emirates First Class to Brisbane, Dubai or Melbourne will cost you 85,000 Skywards miles or 90,000 Qantas points.
A380 cabin refits
In other Qantas news, refits of the airline’s 12 Airbus A380s with upgraded cabin products, including the new Business Suites as featured on the Boeing 787 and most Airbus A330s, have been postponed slightly.
Originally due to start in March, Australian Business Traveller recently confirmed that the first aircraft will now commence refit work in July this year, with service entry in October.
The A380 refit work should still wind up by the end of 2020.
Even as staunch Singapore Airlines fans, we’d have to be mad not to admit that this looks set to be one of the nicest, if not the nicest airline lounge at Changi airport.
It will be interesting to see how SIA responds with a revamp of its Changi lounges set to take place over the next couple of years.
Qantas, oneworld and Emirates First Class passengers, currently denied any dedicated lounge facility at Changi, will certainly be looking forward to this one, as will oneworld Emerald status holders.
The icing on the cake for Qantas’ top-tier members will be access to this lounge when flying on the extensive low-cost Jetstar network from Singapore.
The Qantas First Lounge in Singapore is expected to open in November 2019, while the existing Business Lounge will be expanded and is due to open mid-year. The overall lounge capacity in Singapore will increase by 60 percent, and combined, the First and Business Lounges will offer seating for more than 800 customers.
Based on March 2019 schedules, Qantas flies 47 flights per week from Singapore Changi Airport to Brisbane, London, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, using exclusively wide-body Airbus A330 and Airbus A380 aircraft. Jetstar operates a further 298 weekly flights from Changi.
(Cover Image: Qantas)