Qantas is famous for many things, but if they excel in one discipline, it’s historically been their international lounges. With iconic touches like the salt and pepper squid, Green Ant Gin and the white jacket approach, they rarely feel like airport spaces, and when you’ve got a long haul flight ahead of you, that’s great news.
Unfortunately for some, and to the joy of others, Qantas is trialling paid lounge access to their London Heathrow Terminal 3 Lounge, regardless of what airline or cabin you’re flying in. Is this madness, or brilliance?
There’s no question that the Qantas Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 is lightyears ahead of the other paid options, such as the No.1 Lounge, which charges £40 at the door. The booze is premium, the a la carte food is of Qantas’ usual high standard and the spaces are cozy both upstairs and down.
Per ExecutiveTraveller, Qantas is now offering £55 paid access at the door to anyone, even if you’re flying economy on a completely unrelated airline – including those from different alliances. At first thought, this is madness. While you’re here, here’s a review of that lounge.
On second thought, it could be done right – maybe. Qantas experiences a morning rush ahead of the late morning QF10 direct flight from London to Perth, but the lounge stays open throughout the day and is barely utilized, even by Oneworld frequent flyers and business class passengers, who also have the choice between the British Airways Galleries Lounge, Cathay Pacific Lounge and the American Airlines Flagship Lounge.
Things don’t get busy again until evening, when passengers for the London to Singapore flight turn up, which in theory means that the lounge has more than enough space to bring in extra revenue, without cramming the experience for others.
I certainly wouldn’t expect demand to be wild for this. A nice glass of champagne in the terminal will run £15, and two of them still put you £25 ahead of the Qantas Lounge access fee. There’s boutique shopping, free whiskey tastings and plenty else to do in T3 anyway.
If Qantas gets greedy and allows paid access during the morning, or during the evening, it will ruin an already crowded experience and ultimately drive frequent flyers away. I’d think the airline would care more about bringing them in, than going the other way. If however the airline is able to make a couple grand a day, taking empty lounges and making them half empty, it’s hard to see how that wouldn’t be good news, with little cost attached to it.
I’ve visited the Qantas lounge many times during these “off peak” lulls, and id warn anyone visiting that the a-la carte food service is often limited, and a makeshift buffet is setup upstairs. Basically, don’t expect the full white coat experience you might get during prime business hours. It’s not to say you couldn’t drink your money’s worth in there – but you’ll end up paying for that a different way the next day if you do.