Must-read Earlier Installments:
- Singapore, Cathay, and Qantas First Class.. Some of the Best Meals of My Life, and a Tour of Hyatts in Bangkok, Singapore, and Sydney
- Inside the New Oneworld Lounge at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal
- Cathay Pacific First Class, Los Angeles – Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge, Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific Business Class, Hong Kong – Bangkok
- Grand Hyatt Bangkok: Suite, Club Lounge, and Facilities
- Thai Molecular Gastronomy at Sra Bua in Bangkok
- Getting Custom Tailored Suits Made in Bangkok at Empire Tailors
- Nahm at the Metropolitan: the Best Thai Food in Thailand?
- Thailand’s Iron Chef Cooks Ancient Recipes in a Deserted Top Notch Restaurant
- Eating The Best Local Thai Dishes in the Bangrak Neighborhood of Bangkok
- Louis Tavern CIP Lounge and Cathay Pacific Business Class, Bangkok-Singapore
- Grand Hyatt Singapore
- Eating and Entertainment Like a Singapore Local
- Singapore Airlines ‘The Private Room’ First Class Lounge
- Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class, Singapore – Sydney
- Park Hyatt Sydney
- Eating… and Drinking (As One Does..) in Sydney
- Review: Quay, Sydney’s Famed Restaurant Overlooking the Opera House
I got a call from Qantas the day before my flight home. I’d be traveling Sydney – Los Angeles in first class on a Qantas Airbus A380. Make sure you have a phone number in your booking, Qantas will ring you:
- Welcome you to flying first class with them
- Make sure you’re happy with your seat assignments
- Organize having you let them know of your arrival so that they can meet you out front of the terminal to assist with baggage
- Schedule a spa booking in the lounge.
Qantas lets first class passengers schedule spa treatments the day before departure. Everyone else in the lounge (and since this is oneworld, all top tier members of Qantas and alliance frequent flyer programs ahve access to the first class lounge, regardless of cabin) can only take whatever treatments are available when they arrive.
And since there’s no first class check-in zone, they’ll give you their phone number and instructions to call them when you’re about 10 minutes out from arriving. The person who picks up the phone will meet you curbside along with porters for your bags. They’ll escort you inside to first class check-in.
I was on flight QF11, a 3pm departure, so I made a 1:30pm spa appointment. They do just 20 minute treatments, so I figured this would leave me plenty of time afterward to still enjoy the lounge and I wouldn’t feel rushed for my treatment.
I arrived at the airport around noon. I rang up Qantas first class, probably 5 minutes out. They asked what car I’d be arriving in (I had Ubered) and I let them know the type of vehicle and color. They were easy to spot and the driver pulled right up to them.
We walked inside and got bags checked. They were checked all the way through, inclduing my domestic connecting flight on a separate ticket (and they even managed to issue boarding passes for the connecting American Airlines flight).
Just beyond the first class checkin area is security and immigration, which took just a few minutes. And then it was up to the first class lounge.
We were greeted at the desk and shown to the lounge. They invited us in for dining but I said we’d explore the lounge for a bit first. The attendant asked if we’d like to be collected when it was time to board and I accepted, so she kept my boarding pass.
I walked around and found comfortable seating by the window, and opened my laptop for a last bit of work before the flight.
Overall I like the design of the lounge. It’s open and with plenty of seating areas. It’s actually quite huge, which it needs to be to give the feeling of spaciousness and not get overcrowded because so many people do have access.
There are some modest snacks around the lounge, a bar area, and a sit down dining room in addition to the spa.
There’s not much service to speak of outside of the dining room and bar area, there weren’t servers finding you at your seat to bring you something to drink or snacks.
After a little while I decided it would be a good idea to sit down and try the dining room before it was time for my massage. I walked into the dining room and to a table and a server came right over with the menu. Meals are cooked-to-order, and dishes are designed by Neil Pery’s Rockpool.
Here’s the menu from our visit, it was the first day they were offering this new menu:
The shiraz on the menu was a St Hallett “Butcher’s Cart” Shiraz. I asked what they were decanting that day, and our server said they had a St. Hallett 2009 reserve opening up, so I decided to have some of that.
It’s always a good idea to ask what they may be decanting that’s off-menu, they tend to have a fairly good wine on menu that isn’t listed.
My wife wasn’t hungry and tried the mozzarella, tomato and basil. I ordered the salt and pepper squid and the spaghettini with Morton Bay bugs.
I have to say, the squid with green chili dipping sauce has to be the single most delicious dish I’ve ever tried in a lounge. I liked it even more than the wiener schnitzel in Lufthansa’s first class terminal.
The spaghettini was good, I can’t ever say no to ‘bugs’. I’ve always been fascinated that the shrimp in Australia is huge while the lobsters are tiny, sort of the opposite of at home.
As soon as we wrapped up the meal it was time to head over to the spa. We were asked to fill out the standard consent forms, as though a massage might kill me and they needed legal cover. Besides this is Australia after all, where if you do something stupid you’re the one at fault (and they assume that you’re American).
The spa is fantastic. There are several small, individual treatment rooms that are gorgeous and relaxing. I was brought to one of them, then the treatment specialist excused herself while I took my shirt off and laid down on the table. She came back in and gave me the most amazing 20 minute neck, shoulder, and back massage.
It was only a 20 minute service but I have to say it was incredibly skilled, and perhaps 3/4ths as good as the 50 minute treatments I’ve had in the Thai Airways spa in Bangkok. That’s saying something.
Afterwords I was incredibly relaxed, and headed to the far end of the lounge to take in the view of the tarmac until it was time to head out to my boarding gate.
On the far end of the lounge, opposite side from where the spa is located, are a couple of private rooms. There was a group in one of them, and a little kid approached and got his photo taken with them. I have no idea who it was.
When it was time that I had expected to board, no one had come to fetch me. I walked over to the departures board – the lounge has the most awesome and fascinating old-time boards — and my flight was showing on-time. Apparently the system hadn’t provided an update yet, but lounge agents knew that the flight was briefly delayed. They suggested I go have another cocktail and assured that they would come fetch me at the appropriate time.
I went back into the restaurant to have dessert.
Once finished it was finally time to leave and head over to the Qantas A380 that would take me home to the States.
Bottom-line on the Qantas first class lounge is that it has probably my favorite dining, and among my favorite spas.. probably my second favorite. I think they could offer more personalized service, like checking on you and bringing drinks to your seat while you’re working, but unquestionably it’s an impressive contribution up there with the better first class lounges in the world.