July 2 2020  |  Airline & Terminal News

Qantas re-opening lounges with new food service program

By Rick Lundstrom

A snacking station has replaced buffet service in Qantas Airways lounges

Qantas announced June 30 it would reopen a number of its domestic and regional lounges around the country, following the easing of travel and venue capacity restrictions.

The airline closed its domestic and international lounges on March 23, when the government restricted the majority of domestic and international flying.

“With the relaxing of state-based restrictions and an increase in domestic capacity, Qantas is able to begin a phased reopening of those lounge facilities which support the current domestic network, starting with 11 of its 35 Australian domestic lounges from 1 July,” said a release from the airline. Lounges that opened July 1 include: Capital city Business Class lounges in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra and regional lounges in Alice Springs, Kalgoorlie, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour, Broome, Karratha and Launceston.

As part of the Qantas Group’s ‘Fly Well’ program, a number of measures will be put in place across the lounge network to promote the health and wellbeing of passengers and staff including:

  • Capping the number of passengers in the lounges to comply with state-specific restrictions on indoor gatherings
  • A hosted All-Day Snacking Station replacing self-serve buffets and drink stations
  • Disposable coffee cups
  • Additional cleaning protocols
  • Sanitizing stations

Qantas Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully, said the re-opening of the lounges is the result of weeks of planning to ensure the lounge experience complies with state regulations and Qantas’ own enhanced standards while continuing to provide visitors with a positive and relaxing experience.

“We’re really pleased to welcome our Frequent Flyers back to our lounges across the country and get more of our people back to work, he added. “We’ve already rolled out some service changes on board for everyone’s well being and now we’re announcing some changes to the lounge experience as well.”

Passengers will be able to choose from a selection of dishes from staff offering a personalized tray around service, or select individual items from serviced Snacking Stations. They can also order coffee, fresh squeezed juice, beer and wine from the barstaff and barista.

The individually plated menu items will change daily and will include a variety of dishes from roast field mushrooms, kale and cheese tarts with tomato relish; bacon and egg rolls; bacon, chili and parmesan frittatas; to blackberry cheesecakes and carrot and pecan cakes with cream cheese frosting. Melbourne’s Spice Bar and Perth’s Pizza bar will also be in operation.

One of the first lounges to reopen will be the newly refurbished Alice Springs lounge redesigned with new furniture; wallpaper designed by Indigenous artist Jimmy Pike; a 25 percent increase in seating capacity, work benches; and increased power and data outlets throughout.

All lounges have undergone a deep clean during their closure.

Initially, Qantas will open the Business Lounges or regional lounges subject to capacity, with plans to reopen Qantas Clubs and Chairman’s Lounges in coming weeks.

Tully added, “This is a new world for everyone as we introduce and evolve our services to the new travel climate, but we’re very confident that we can make this work well for our people and our customers.

“Some initiatives will become the norm while others such as capacity restrictions will ease as time goes on. We haven’t ruled out a return of the buffet, toastie and pancake maker in the future or the reintroduction of self-serve beverage stations when restrictions ease, in the meantime, we are hopeful Qantas customers will enjoy the extra personalized offering.”

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