I was beginning my day off the way any premium cabin passenger should; spending time in the lounge prior to my flight. But this wasn’t just any lounge and this wasn’t just any flight. For two and a half years I had dreamed and worked towards this day. I had been earning Qantas points purely for this reason: First Class flight on a Qantas Airbus A380.
Arriving at Melbourne Airport I was dropped off in front of the dedicated First Class check-in area, which can be easily missed if you don’t know where to look. Thankfully my driver did know as the check in was hiding behind a line of trees. I was a little too early to check in for my flight, but was able to sit down in the lobby area (which looks almost identical to the First Class lounge).
Free Wifi from the airport kept me going until I was able to check in and once that was done I was handed the coveted Gold Boarding pass holder. My bags were also labeled with the yellow first class tag and I was off through security and immigration. Quick, clean and painless… the only way to fly right?
After winding my way through the endless duty free store and the terminal I went up the escalators and turned right to the lounge entrance. I was ready to enter my new.
Sydney and Melbourne both host Qantas First Class Lounges. These two lounges are reputed to be among the best in the world. Melbourne’s lounge is like the little brother to Sydney since it has all the same bells and whistles, just a little bit smaller. But Melbourne doesn’t have as many first class flights as Sydney, so that is to be expected.
Only first class passengers or the very top tier of One World frequent fliers (Emerald) can access the lounge. This means there are never more than a handful of people in there at one time. When I arrived, it was me and two other guests.
The staff are all trained by Sofitel the Luxury hotel chain of french hotels from Accor. So you feel like you’re entering a luxury hotel more than an airline lounge.
The atmosphere of the lounge was wonderful and for good reason: it was designed by Marc Newson. The seats, the tables, the chairs everything. The seats looked fantastic and the design was clean, functional and stylish all mixed into one – I loved it.
There were several different areas of the lounge where you could relax with a book or watch TV. There were even two fully enclosed offices, stocked with all the business essentials, so you can keep working right up until flight time.
There is one (well kinda of two) thing in the lounge that will likely catch your eye: the two old “click clack” style departure boards. These are extremely rare, and to see two of them in the one place is amazing.
While I took a heap of photos and explored, the staff were doing everything to get me fed. No worries, it was early in the morning and I was definitely planning on eating.
Sure, I could have selected a small snack off the side buffet, but this is First Class and they also offered a full restaurant. I was shown to a table by the window (just like any AvGeek right?) and the menu just took me for a spin. So many options… what to choose? Do I go light, do I go healthy? My head was swimming with choices. No matter what I chose, I knew it was going to be good. The entire menu is designed by Neil Perry and his Rockpool group.
Perry is one of Australia’s top chefs and he designs the menus and food for all Qantas flights in First & Business class. I decided that since this was meant to be an indulgent day I was going the whole hog! Buffalo milk yoghurt with honey and toasted almonds, fresh fruit, toasted rye bread from one of the best bakeries in Australia, an omelette loaded with goodies and of course… bacon.
With a loaded belly full of breakfast and coffee (did I mention they have a fully stocked bar and a barista?), what more is there to do? Well it was time for my massage!
The lounge has it’s own day spa run in conjunction with Payot. Each lounge guest is entitled to a 30 minute treatment of their choice. Facials, massages, you name it, you can have it. Add that into the fully stocked bathrooms and you can enjoy a relaxing massage and shower, feeling 100% refreshed after a long day in the office or flying. The view wasn’t too bad either.
My head was filled with excitement and I didn’t even want to leave the lounge it was so amazing. The only thing that could make me leave was that first class seat on the Qantas Airbus A380. I will be telling you about that flight in future stories.
|This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.
Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.