The Plaza Premium Lounge at Brisbane Airport gives travellers more choice. More choice over the airline they fly, the ticket they book and the frequent flyer status they aspire to. That’s because here, none of these things matter.
Given it’s an independent lounge, you’re just as welcome when flying Jetstar Economy Class as you are when swanning off in Emirates First Class. As long as you’re willing to purchase access or have the right credit card, your journey can start here.
Of course, some airlines also use this space for their premium passengers. But whatever finds you stepping through the doors, here’s what awaits as you begin your journey.
Catering exclusively to those flying from the international terminal, Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge sits after international security screening and passport control. After snaking through the airport’s zig-zag duty-free maze, take a sharp right towards the departure gates.
With parked trolleys outside along with a cardboard cut-out, a stray lane rope and the external TVs switched off, the entrance doesn’t look quite as grand as when it first debuted. But compared to Brisbane Airport’s other lounges on the evening I flew, this one was actually open – certainly a more favourable attribute.
With passenger volumes still recovering, opening hours at Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge are currently limited. At the time of writing, doors open daily between 8-11 pm only. That’s not a typo: this independent lounge indeed spends 21 hours a day locked up, for now.
Before you travel, check the lounge’s latest opening hours on the Plaza Premium website, to see if they align with your journey.
Lounge layout and seating
When it first opened back in 2016, Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge was Australia’s largest independent airport lounge. It also made its debut as Plaza Premium’s very first own-brand lounge in Australia. (The company would later open Plaza Premium lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, too).
Six years later, it’s no longer the country’s largest – but it’s managed to maintain that ‘new lounge’ shine. A design style that incorporates warm wooden tones, cooler greens, darker stone floors and a contemporary carpet pattern gives the space a modern yet relaxed feel.
As you make your way through, corridors lead you through the various sections. Down one side, a bay of individual pods are perfect for working or dining when flying solo. More comfortable brown leather seats fill a good portion of the space, offset by sea blue chairs for some variety.
Closer to the food and beverage counter, a long table makes a great place for larger groups or bigger families. Smaller dining tables are plentiful in the areas around.
High ceilings help give the lounge a spacious feel even on its busier days. And with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall overlooking the terminal concourse and airfield, there’s plenty of natural light. That is, when you’re able to visit during daylight hours, which isn’t currently the case.
Food and beverage in Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge
As an independent lounge that caters for a broad base of travellers, there isn’t a particular ‘theme’ to its food selections. Instead, the options at Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge aim to tick as many boxes for as many people as possible.
Lighter choices include quinoa salad and a chilled pasta salad. For something more filling, help yourself to Margherita pizza and vegetarian quiche. Or keep walking to explore the main hot items. Here’s what was available on my Saturday evening visit:
- Honey soy chicken wings
- Fusilli pasta Napoletana
- Beef bourguignon
- Kung pao chicken
- Roasted sweet potato
- Jasmine rice
I enjoyed a bite of the beef, rice and pasta, together with a gin and tonic (Tanqueray).
But compared to my last visit pre-COVID, there isn’t currently a ‘dish of the day’ to be ordered fresh at the counter. What you see at the buffet is what you get.
I later return for a slice of rocky road, a small helping of tasty lollies, and a Pure Blonde Organic Cider on the side. I’ve arrived in plenty of time, so I need no excuse to enjoy a few more of those yummy lollies before I depart.
On the bar front, beer, cider, wine and spirits are complimentary for all guests. Now that Plaza Premium no longer accepts Priority Pass for entry, the lounge’s previous ‘alcohol card’ system for everybody else has been retired.
This ultimately makes it easier to order a drink, as you don’t need to flash that slip every time to avoid being charged. It also elevates the atmosphere just a little, as you’re simply enjoying what’s on offer: not having to prove you’re allowed that nip of gin by pulling out that little card. Barista-made coffee is available here too – not that I wanted to indulge mid-evening.
Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge sports one shower room – but that regularly proves inadequate, given how popular this lounge can be.
It’s less of an issue for those based in Brisbane like myself, who can head from home straight to the airport at check-in time. But for those visiting the city and flying out – and who may have checked-out of their hotel earlier in the day – having reliable and timely access to a shower isn’t a tall order for an international lounge.
Wi-Fi speeds are more acceptable – even when the lounge was at least two-thirds full. Tests during this most recent visit find downloads averaging 64Mbps, with uploads steady at 43Mbps.
If you’re planning to download content to your laptop or tablet for the flight ahead, you should at least get a few movies saved before boarding time.
Separately, Brisbane Airport is also home to a Plaza Premium spa. It sits in a separate space just around the corner from the main Plaza Premium Lounge. But at the time of writing, this is yet to return since its initial COVID closure.
Accessing Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge
At the moment, the access list for Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge is rapidly changing. That’s because some of Brisbane’s other lounges are also progressively returning or expanding their hours. And every time that happens, this can impact which lounge a particular airline uses – or might use on a certain day.
Once international flight schedules return to normal, we’ll endeavour to update this section with the airlines that continue to call on the Plaza Premium Lounge.
But whether access is included with your ticket or not, remember, this is an independent lounge. This means there are many other paths for entry. Those exist regardless of the airline you’re flying, your cabin class or your frequent flyer status.
- By one-off paid access: Purchase one-off entry for precisely AU$56.92 online, or AU$44 online with a student card. These rates can vary slightly over time in line with international currency movements.
- By multi-visit paid access: Buy a number of Plaza Premium Lounge visits together and save. Valid in Brisbane and elsewhere, the cost per visit can become as low as US$32 per entry (AU$46) when bought in bulk online.
- By eligible American Express card: Access is complimentary with an American Express Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card, Corporate Platinum Card or Centurion Card. Australian cardholders can bring two gratis guests into the lounge.
- By DragonPass membership: Travellers with an existing DragonPass membership can purchase entry via DragonPass for US$40.
- By using reward points: Members of Plaza Premium’s Smart Traveller loyalty program can use their points for a complimentary visit. One visit for one passenger currently costs 2,500 reward points when redeemed online.
Earning and spending Smart Traveller points at Brisbane’s Plaza Premium Lounge
As hinted above, Plaza Premium has its own loyalty program, Smart Traveller. This allows flyers to earn and spend points at the Plaza Premium Lounge in Brisbane, among other locations.
Members can earn points with every lounge visit – not just those times where access has been directly purchased. This means you can earn free points just by relaxing in the lounge your airline was sending you to anyway. Or by flashing an eligible American Express card for gratis access.
With the program formerly known as Arrture, I’ve been a member for several years. Every time I visit a Plaza Premium Lounge, I earn another 100 points. (Those paying per visit earn points at a higher rate). I certainly don’t mind earning something for ‘nothing’, even if it takes 25 lounge visits to earn one free pass.
But Brisbane’s lounge staff could do with a refresher on this. The person who processed my entry hadn’t heard of the program at all, and didn’t know what to do with my membership barcode. A colleague was called over to assist, but who referred to the program by its former name, Arrture.
I got my points in the end, extending the validity of my hard-earned balance of points for another year – huzzah. The lounge supervisor also remarked that I was the first person to earn those points in Brisbane since the lounge reopened from its pandemic slumber. Given how easy it is to earn these free points, I’m surprised the program isn’t more popular!
All things considered, the Plaza Premium Lounge at Brisbane Airport is a pleasant place to await your flight. But we do hope the à la carte dining returns soon. This really gave the lounge an edge and provided travellers with a real reason to visit – particularly those who could otherwise visit another lounge at Brisbane Airport.
For premium American Express cardholders, the lounge’s restricted opening hours may not suit every journey. Prior to COVID, Plaza Premium kept its lounge open throughout the day to cater to a wider number of flights. As with pre-flight dining, we hope this becomes possible again soon as passenger volumes ramp up.
But for now, if the lounge’s opening times align with your departure, it certainly beats sitting out in the terminal.
Chris Chamberlin accessed the lounge as a regular guest. Feature image courtesy of Plaza Premium Group.
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