Emirates is swinging the axe into its generous (and rather good) chauffeur drive service on business class and first class tickets booked using Skywards miles. Commencing 1 March this year, rides to and from the airport will no longer be available for ‘Skyward classic rewards’ flights. The changes will also include upgrades using miles from economy to business class.
The axe doesn’t stop there with Emirates business class and first class flights booked through Skyward partners such as Qantas also effected. So if you are booked on a flight and are flying after 1 March, I strongly insist locking in your complimentary chauffeur now because once March hits, any changes will not be allowed or accepted.
I find the move disappointing by Emirates who are generally a generous airline. When you choose business and first, you naturally expect all the bells and whistles. Cost cutting in this space is seeing airlines simply making people pay for a chair. Hopefully this will be the last of the cost cutting measures we will see Emirates do to its premium classes for quite some time.
What do you think of the changes? Are you for or against the axing?
Location: London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3
Lounge Rating: 4 Stars
For years Qantas relied heavily on its Oneworld partners to provide their top tier frequent flyers with lounge access from British Airways to American Airlines. Whilst the business lounges from the respective airlines did the job, they lacked character and were no where near the standard set by Cathay or Emirates. Fast forward to late last year and hello – Qantas opens its first dedicated Qantas lounge.
From the dine-on-demand from set menus to a sexy gin and cocktail bars, the Qantas London lounge has really raised the bar in terms of lounge offering at Heathrow Terminal 3. A few of my friends have already frequented it and all have glowing reviews of it. I was keen to see what all the fuss was about and hopped on in for a look.
Lounge access options
Lounge access is available for passengers who are:
- first class and business class passengers on Qantas flights and those of Oneworld airlines departing from London Heathrow Terminal 3 (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Royal Jordanian, etc)
- Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold frequent flyers (and one guest) and their Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire equivalents, on Qantas or Oneworld flights
- Qantas Club members (and one guest) on Qantas flights
- Holders of a Qantas Club lounge invitation who are on a Qantas flight
- Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold cardholders on Qantas flights.
As a Sapphire or Emerald member you are welcome to invite one single guest per each departure flight to join you in the lounge.
Lounge location and opening hours
The Qantas London lounge is known at Heathrow Terminal 3 as ‘Lounge B’. Simply follow the signs for Lounges or Gates 1-11, take a left turn shortly after exiting the central core of the terminal’s duty free shops, cafes and seating. It’s open daily from 8am to 8.30pm.
The first thing I notice upon entering the lounge is the striking staircase that ascends up to the gin and cocktails bar. Glimmering so bright it ‘almost’ looked like a staircase to heaven…almost! The lounge is split between two levels with the ground floor housing a dedicated dining area with table service whilst the upstairs space contains the bar and more relaxed seating arrangements alongside a buffet food station.
Both levels offer views of the tarmac but be warned – unless you are near the windows you are unlikely to see much due to the way the lounge is positioned.
On the upper floor there’s six large showers suites with both rain and wand shower heads and Aspar toiletries – the usual Qantas lounge amenities suspects!
Due to the large open layout you’ll find that the noise carries around the lounge and during peak hours can be quite noisy. If you are looking for somewhere more quite to relax or work I would suggest you visit the Cathay or British Airways lounges instead.
Bread and butter (food and drink)
Whilst I wasn’t there to enjoy their dedicated table service menu, I did manage to sample some of their buffet options as well as enjoy a sneaky glass of their champagne which is provided to Platinum passengers. The choices on offer had a good focus around British and Australian cuisine. The scones and jam accompanied with my champagne went down a real treat! They were so good that even her Majesty would approve these!
There’s also espresso machines at both bars for the coffee aficionados while tea fans will find can brew themselves something lovely from the large selection of Dilmah teas on offer.
Being a hybrid business/ first class lounge, some of the food options were a little underwhelming compared to the offerings found in Qantas first lounges.
The Qantas London Lounge is quite a flashy, shiny new product. The lovely furnishings and wooden tones that meld well with marble really is a sight to behold when one first walks into the lounge. It has the vibe of a savvy upmarket London bar as opposed to an airport lounge.
Food and drink wise is a bit hit and miss and that is due to the airline catering for both business and first passengers. Qantas has definitely stepped up the food and drink offering for business class passengers but for those who frequent the Qantas first lounge may find the food on offer a tad disappointing.
The gin and cocktail bar is a fantastic touch and the girls and guys behind the bar know their drinks well. It’s almost a spectacle in itself to watch them behind the bar work their bar tending magic to create to fantastic looking (and tasting) gin and cocktail creations.
The lounge in conclusion is solid offering. I would definitely consider returning (should the Cathay Pacific First Lounge be full next door).
Have you experienced the Qantas London Lounge in Terminal 3 at Heathrow? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?
Location: Melbourne Domestic Airport
Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars
Qantas has been undertaking a lounge renovation spree over the last couple of years. The lounge renovations were long needed in some destinations more than others and Melbourne was one of those airports that was crying out for an update. Whilst the domestic lounge faired ok over time, the Qantas Club next door was a bit of a design disaster. This year saw the renovation and reopening of the Melbourne Domestic Qantas Club lounge. Now the Domestic Business Lounge has unofficially opened its newly renovated doors to its top tier Qantas FF clientele and Oneworld equivalents. What does this mean?! Well a better lounge experience for starters but the catch is only half of it is open with the other half due to be unveiled to the public in a month’s time. The TAT made a visit to the lounge to see what all the fuss is about.
Lounge access options
- Passengers with an onward Qantas or QantasLink business class flight
- Travellers connecting to or from an international business or first class flight with Qantas, Emirates or a Oneworld airline, even if the domestic leg is booked in economy
- Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers before or after a same-day Qantas, QantasLink, Emirates, Jetstar* or Oneworld flight
- Other Oneworld Emerald members when their next onward flight that day is with Qantas or QantasLink and carries a QF or other Oneworld flight number (no access when flying Jetstar)
- Emirates Skywards Platinum cardholders where their next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink.
Lounge location and opening hours
The lounge is located after security on the right of the food court via an escalator on the first floor. The lounge operates from 5am til 10pm daily.
The lounge is new and as a result quite striking. It has a very Melbourne feel to it (the intention of Qantas’ new lounge design cue to reflect the state where the lounge is located). The tones of black and dark marble give the lounge a very upmarket bar feel. I feel Qantas has really captured well that Italian / trendy Melbourne-esque vibe. The new lounge space takes over the old Qantas Club space (Qantas Club has since been moved to the back of the first floor) and offers a lot of natural lighting with excellent tarmac view.
As part of the refresh the bathrooms have also been given an overhaul with some nice aesthetic touches including individual mirrors as well as new marble benches and gold taps. If I had a home to call my own I would have this as my bathroom. Yes it is pretty darn flash without being too bling like the Emirates lounges.
Bread and butter (food and drink)
As you would know by having read some of my other reviews I really love my food (and drink). Qantas really does a great job (especially in their new lounges) in offering cuisine that is carefully curated to reflect the dining experience of where the lounge is located. This is demonstrated in the showpiece of the new business lounge – the centrally located marble drinks bar. Here you can pull up a seat or take away a beer, wine or if you are feeling ambitious a spirit. There’s also barista-pulled coffee on offer as well as a cocktail hour offering between 5pm and 6pm. At the time of when I was in the lounge sangria was being served to passengers in their chairs. The sangria was quite strong but met the brief in terms of refreshing – exactly what a sangria should do!
The new lounge sees a more spacious buffet area for hot and cold dishes. There is an emphasis on Asian dishes including fried rice, noodles and Asian greens. Qantas has also added their signature ‘Quench’ hydration station with hot teas and cool drinks. On today’s menu board there was a vegetable chowder, Mediterranean lamb with roasted potatoes and even scones with cream and jam (this menu item sent me back to times spent in the BA lounges in London). I sampled the lamb dish and scones and both were quite delicious.
It’s also anticipated that the Melbourne business lounge will have its own unique dining option in the form of a Spice Bar serving freshly-made noodles and Asian street food. Sadly I was unable to review this part as it’s part of the final lounge reveal in early November.
It wasn’t too hard to improve on a product that was well and truly beyond its shelf life. The new Qantas Domestic Business Lounge really does pack a punch in terms of style and flair. The food and drink choices is on par with its gorgeous interiors. For half a product (the rest is set to open early November), this is one exciting preview for top tier Qantas frequent flyers. Qantas has done a great job in making this not only a space that is very Melbourne yet provides genuine warmth and comfort for those fortunate to spend time here waiting for their flight board. I look forward to seeing the rest of the lounge in November if this is a taste of what is to be expected.
Have you experienced the newly renovated Qantas Domestic Business Lounge in Melbourne? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?
Flight: BA 322, London-Paris
Loyalty Scheme: Executive Club (Oneworld alliance)
Frequency: Multiple daily
Duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes
British Airways was once a proud and prestigious airline for the UK and was even for a time a leading airline within the aviation sector. Stiff competition from budget airlines in recent years has seen the airline slowly chip away its gloss and glamour in a bid to become a competitive product. In turn the changes have seen the airline take a turn for the worse where simple things like free seating allocation and food/ drinks on board have been replaced as add on purchases. Whilst economy has suffered the most out of the changes I was keen to see if business class (Club Europe) was still a decent product when I took a recent flight from London to Paris.
Seated in 2A, the first thing I noticed upon boarding the plane is that the seating is basically configured the same as the 3-3 in economy expect that the middle seat has a table across it (perfect for drinks and snacks when you don’t the tray table open). I take my seat and find that I’m the only one fortunate enough to have a row of three seats to myself in the business cabin.
The flight attendant for the business cabin comes round offering a glass of champagne or water before take off. There was no greeting but instead a a somewhat shouted announcement of the two drink offerings. I choose the champagne which I found was quite delectable. No accompanying canapes were offered as part of the pre-departure service.
Other than twiddling my thumbs whilst waiting for our delayed flight to take off, I found the only entertainment offered on boarding was waiting for the food and drink cart to come down the business aisle. Sadly no seat back or WiFi entertainment service was offered on this flight.
The Bread and Butter (food and drink)
Not long after the seat belt sign was extinguished the meal and drink service came through. With such a short flight I guess business class passengers want to maximise their time to eat, work or simply have a quick power nap before their destination. Being a early evening service dinner was served on this flight with a choice between a chicken or rice dish. I went with the chicken option and found that the meal was light and tasty. The meal was accompanied with a dessert as well as some bread rolls which the FAs happily kept offering from the bread basket through the flight.
Drinks wise the options were limited. From the usual white and soft drink suspects I stuck with the champagne. One thing that was pleasing to see was the FAs attentiveness to the business cabin by offering passengers the change to top up or have another drink. Some in my cabin kept the champagne flowing so to speak!
Whilst the meal is nothing outstanding it certainly did the job. Service was excellent during the segment of the flight.
The flight experience despite being delayed on both ends was relatively smooth. A poor start to the pre-departure service was more than made up for in the overall service throughout the flight. Food and drink choices were good but nothing memorable. Would I be willing to pay a considerable amount more to be at the top end of a BA plane again so soon? Perhaps not but then again I would definitely consider it if the price point was better on a business class sale for example.
Have you experienced flying Club Europe with BA? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts
From August, Etihad will introduce a range of exclusive Acqua Di Parma amenity kits and toiletries for its customers travelling in The Residence on its Airbus A380 as well as on their long-haul First Class and Business Class services.
The new amenity kits feature the iconic yellow of the luxury Italian fragrance brand. First Class unisex kits will host an array of luxury items including a miniature bottle of Colonia, a 40ml body lotion and lip balm. whislt toiletries include Colonia hand wash and hand cream. Shower gel, body lotion, hair shampoo, and hair conditioner will also appear as part of the Colonia bathroom amenity kits.
It won’t be business as usual for Business Class with the premium cabin also set to get a flashy unisex wallet bag, which can be buttoned to create a stylish and useful valet tray. They will feature a Colonia sampler and hand cream, which will also be dispensed in the Business Class washrooms.
And the Acqua Di Parma doesn’t just stop on the plane, with the Italian brand also set to feature in the airline’s flagship First Class Lounge & Spa in Abu Dhabi.
The announcement comes after Etihad announced earlier this month the introduction of caviar and sleepwear to the First Class cabin. For an airline that’s been doing a lot of cut backs of late this announcement is a welcome change. I personally love the Acqua Di Parma brand. and view the new partnership between the airline and the Italian fragrance giant as a huge step up on the current Luxe kits that are handed out in the Etihad cabin.
Like anything in life time will tell if the product matches the hype and look of the promo product that Etihad is spruiking.
The age of flying non-stop has been very much in vogue over the last couple of years with numerous airlines trying to outdo each other with the world’s longest flight. Now Singapore Airlines has decided they want a piece of the action by launching what would be the world’s longest non-stop flight route in October. Commencing October 11, the ultra long haul flight will take off from Singapore’s Changi Airport and land at NYC’s Newark Liberty Airport.
What makes this fight even more unique is that the aircraft will not have any economy class seating, instead offering 67 business class and 94 premium economy class seats.
Operating three times weekly, Singapore will use their new Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) plane to make the 19 hour journey that spans a whopping 16,700 kms.
Singapore Airlines originally flew the route on the A340 but fuel inefficiency saw this route shelved in 2013. The reinstatement of the route will see it eclipse the current longest flight route record holder Qatar Airways which flies Doha to Auckland (14,529 kms).
Would you be willing to fly 19 hours non-stop on a plane if it offered only premium seating? Keen to hear your thoughts.