Exploring Singapore’s Qantas First Lounge with John Simeone
We catch up with Qantas' Senior Vice President for Asia to see what makes the lounge tick.
What we'll be covering
But what gives the lounge its X-factor? We catch up with Qantas’ Senior Vice President for Asia, John Simeone, to find out. Enjoy highlights of John’s commentary below, or scroll to the bottom of this story for our full video interview.
Could Singapore be Qantas’ most premium First Lounge?
It’s like a fine dining restaurant at Changi Airport. The team do up to 180 covers a night in terms of meals. The lounge fits 240 passengers and it looks after all our First and premium passengers – our Chairman’s Lounge and our Platinums.
This lounge has been built around really focusing on the customer, focusing on the preflight and in-flight wellbeing. And when they enter this lounge, they have the opportunity to sit down, do some work, or to go into the showers and have a shower – there are 10 showers here.
There’s plenty of room for customers to relax and it really has that premium feel around the lounge.
(There are) some great lounge areas and opportunities for our customers to sit down and do some work. Plenty of technological pods, and a few different areas … if you want to group together or if you prefer to sit on your own and relax after a meal.
Talk to us about the design of the Qantas International First Lounge in Singapore
It’s just a just over a thousand square meters. I think this is the best lounge in Changi. This mixes a really good opportunity of having Australian and Singaporean culture come together.
The produce is sourced locally from Singaporean producers. And I think the benefit of this lounge is the people, the food – but most importantly, the inclusiveness that everyone feels. And we work very closely with the local authorities to ensure that everything is 100% in this lounge.
It brings the whole customer experience together. And I think that touch of Australia and Singapore that we bring together is unique, and I don’t think you’ll find it in any other lounge here in Singapore.
Whether you want to sit down and have a snooze or have a rest, whether you want to have an a la carte meal or whether you need to do some work, there’s three different options for you
It was designed by David Caon and Kelvin Ho. And they’ve really taken the opportunity with a little bit of greenery around a few of the natural palettes … just to be able to provide that relaxed feeling.
How do you handle passengers on the tight QF1/QF2 transits?
When the QF2 comes in from London, it’s traditionally around a 5:15 pm arrival time. (Then it’s) a 7:30 pm departure. Customers in First and (our other) premium customers come in. They’re either sitting down, grabbing a bite to eat then jumping in the shower or getting ready for the flight. But it’s quite a tight timeframe in terms of making sure that our customers have a real premium experience over that period.
There’s a fair bit of work that goes on before the lounge opens. If you were in here an hour before the lounge opening, the team get together. They look through all our premium VIP customer lists. They look at the specific requirements for our customers. If there’s a birthday going on, they’ll approach the customer with a birthday cake and a celebratory drink. So I think that’s the important part in this lounge.
Tell us more about the food and beverage at Singapore’s Qantas International First Lounge
Here we have an opportunity to provide an a la carte dining service.
We serve some of the best produce out of Singapore and work very closely with the local producers. The team do 180 covers a night in terms of meals, so they’re definitely on the go.
(There’s) our signature bar here where you can grab a Neil Perry-inspired cocktail from one of his mixologists. Or grab a macchiato or a cappuccino if that’s what you feel like. I keep saying it’s one of the best coffees in Singapore, and I definitely think it. And there’s an amazing opportunity to sit down and have a meal.
And of course, Champagne. Premium, world class Champagne, premium Australian wines, bottled beer. And (there are) plenty of options for those that don’t drink as well.
What do you order from the menu?
I usually have the barramundi when I sit down. But they also make an amazing prawn wonton with the chilli and black vinegar sauce. We have our signature salt and pepper squid in the lounge. And ideally for customers, no matter what type of requirement they have from a dietary perspective, this lounge looks after our customers exceptionally well.
The customers love to have a sit down, have a look at the menu and take a choice. And it’s pretty obvious that customers don’t just have one meal. But yeah, definitely the entrees, main and the dessert.
Salt and pepper squid’s the signature First dish. And it’s in very, very high demand. I think we do about 60 to 80 salt and pepper squids a night here, and probably about 80 prawn wonton dishes a night.
(Passengers) shouldn’t be leaving hungry. Absolutely not. They should (leave) fed and relaxed.
Catch the full video interview below.
Videography and featured image by Tobias Venus. Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin. Daniel Sciberras and Tobias Venus travelled to Singapore at Point Hacks’ expense.
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