Wednesday 8 October 2014

Review: Qantas International First Class Lounge, Melbourne Airport

Before I boarded the aircraft for my recent flight to London, Qantas Airways allowed me to experience its International First Class Lounge at Melbourne Airport. I wasn’t actually flying in First, so it was a rare opportunity to see how the other half flies.

It was interesting to see how much it varied from the International Business Class lounge, which I'd previously reviewed.

Like the Biz lounge, the First lounge had a sleek contemporary design, but with a distinctly geometric layout and decor.

What stood out within this layout was a set of small red-walled libraries, each set within their own low square space. They had armchairs, cool modern lamps and a selection of books.

The reading material included, I was pleased to note, one or two Lonely Planet coffee table books I’d written articles for.

Rather than helping yourself to food as you might in Business, in the First lounge you receive the full à la carte restaurant experience. Narrelle and I sat at a table, ordered our meals and were served each course.

The menu included a number of restaurant-style dishes, but also a selection of classy sandwiches.

For my main course I ordered the club sandwich, an excellent upmarket version of the old standard.

It occurred to me later that sandwiches were a good thing to have on the menu even in First, as they were easy to eat in low armchairs if passengers preferred sitting there.

As they would in the Business lounge, some people were working at laptops, and there were work stations at one end of the lounge.

However, I got the feeling this place was more about luxury and relaxation, than the more bustling and purposeful business class lounge.

At one end of the First lounge there was a door leading to a stand-alone spa area. Here Narrelle enjoyed a facial treatment while I had a back massage.

Each was 20 minutes long, convenient for people who may have limited time to spare before their flights. It was pleasant and relaxing experience, what flying really ought to be like.

We finished our visit by sitting in one of the library areas, with a dessert wine each and a selection of cheeses.

A particularly impressive aspect of the lounge is its altitude – it’s higher up in the terminal building than the Business lounge, giving a more impressive view out onto the airport.

When I stepped to the windows and looked down, I could see our huge Airbus A380 directly below, waiting to take us to London.

If you can afford First Class travel, Qantas' International First Class Lounge at Melbourne lives up to expectations. Spending time in it was a great way to ease into a long journey.

Disclosure time… On this journey Qantas Airways gave me access to the First Class lounge for review purposes. For other posts regarding air travel, click on the air travel link in the Topics section below, then scroll down.

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