The Qantas International Business Lounge in Melbourne is a lounge for the masses. It caters to just about all lounge-worthy passengers travelling on Oneworld alliance airlines – that’s a lot of people. Got Gold status? Using a digital Qantas Club pass? Flying Business Class? Chances are, you’ll find yourself here.
Infamously known to some rusted-on frequent flyers as ‘the dungeon’ due to its location below the departures hall, the lounge nevertheless still has most of the features we’d expect. It’s mainly the ageing, drab interiors that bring the experience down a notch. The lounge is fine for a quick visit, but it’s not a place you’d want to be for an extended period of time.
Thankfully, Qantas has earmarked this lounge for a full interior refresh, with the first stage due to be completed in 2024. With all-new lighting and fittings, along with a promised food & beverage revamp, the Qantas International Business Lounge in Melbourne will eventually have a chance to shine.
Lounge details & location
The Qantas International Business Lounge in Melbourne is actually located in the ‘basement’ complex, which is technically the arrivals level of the international airport. It’s open from 5:15 am until the last scheduled Qantas departure every day, usually QF155 to Auckland at 11:25 pm.
From the main departure level, find the central lounge area and take the escalators down. You’ll find the wide entrance to the Qantas International Business Lounge here, opposite the Singapore Airlines and American Express Centurion lounges.
The lounge is big and can seat up to 350 guests. There are a number of separate areas, including a business centre with printers, dining and bar-style tables, rest and TV areas, and a kids’ zone. Qantas makes good use of the space provided to create different zones.
Our top tip: there’s a somewhat ‘hidden’ part of the lounge that is much quieter, brighter, and even has a small satellite buffet station. At the reception, go left rather than proceeding into the main lounge on your right. This area is also where the children’s Joey Club Zone is located. The iMac computers have been taken out, but the TV and toys remain.
At odds with the old interior, some of the chairs are part of Qantas’ signature new lounge look. We’ve been previously told they cost up to a cool $1,000 each. But there are still some seating areas that give me ’90s vibes, so it’ll be good to retire those funky seats.
Food & drink
Qantas puts on a buffet spread at this International Business Lounge, which appears to be more substantial than what I encountered at the Sydney International Business Lounge previously. There’s also a ‘plate of the day’ option – a toasted chicken schnitzel and Swiss cheese sandwich – offered until 2 pm during my lunchtime call. Don’t worry, you’ll also find a plate service during breakfast and dinner hours.
The main hot dish during this visit is Mediterranean lamb with steamed rice, supported by a range of salads and condiments for a traditional Qantas Club-esque make-your-own toastie. Overall, it’s an average offering, and I look forward to seeing how Qantas will revamp the food and beverage in this lounge in 2024.
All beverages are self-serve, save for the barista-made coffee which is an absolutely essential part of Qantas international lounges. Forget Champagne – your pre-flight fizz choices are Seppelt The Drives or Croser Rosé sparkling wine.
Qantas also puts out three choices each for white and red wine:
- Dandelion Vineyards Honeypot of the Barossa Rousanne
- Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling
- T’gallant Juliet Pinot Grigio 2022
- Seppeltsfield Barossa Youriga 2021
- St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2021
- Ferngrove Wine Co Independence Grenache 2021
Mix up your own drinks with essential spirits such as three types of whisky (Johnnie Walker Red Label Scotch, Jamieson Irish, Jack Daniels), Beefeater gin, Bundaberg rum, Kahlúa and more.
Finally, a range of six beers and ciders (some light and zero alcohol) and soft drinks round out the selection. I don’t see any juices though, so perhaps a morning mimosa won’t be happening. It’s not a bad beverage selection overall, and all the alcohol is available from dawn to dusk. Don’t feel bad about toasting your travels with a morning sparkling wine.
This lounge has seven showers, which lessens the wait time during peak periods. The shower rooms are rather bland, but at least they’re kept clean. If you need amenity kits and towels, just head to reception to ask for them. Li’Tya branded amenities add a small premium touch to the bathrooms.
Power points aren’t as ubiquitous as in Qantas’ newer lounges, but there are some in most seating areas if you look hard enough. I’d suggest setting up in the business area if you want to get some serious work done.
Finally, Qantas Lounge Wi-Fi performs as well as expected with speeds fast enough to support heavier upload and download usage.
Lounge access options
While we mention First Class and Platinum members as being eligible to access this lounge (which they are), those members should absolutely visit the superior Qantas International First Lounge instead.
- Class of travel: Business and First Class passengers on Qantas; oneworld partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines; and non-alliance partners such as China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Jetstar, Sichuan Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.
- Airline frequent flyer status: Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members departing on a QF-code, JQ, EK or oneworld flight.
- Airline partner frequent flyer status: Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum members on a QF or EK flight.
- Alliance frequent flyer status: oneworld Sapphire or Emerald members departing on a oneworld flight.
- Lounge membership program: Qantas Club members.
- Day pass: Qantas single-entry passes.
Summing up: our take
There’s no denying that the Qantas International Business Lounge in Melbourne is one of the weakest Qantas lounges in its international network. Remember, if you’re flying on Qantas or Emirates in Business Class or with Gold-grade status with either airline, you may want to make a beeline to the Emirates lounge instead (currently open 5:15 pm to 8:45 pm and 11:25 pm to 4:45 am, according to the Emirates website).
With that in mind, Qantas still puts on a passable buffet and a plate of the day, along with a decent beverage selection. The space is large and clean, has functioning Wi-Fi and a few shower rooms (though not staffed by attendants, which is commonplace in newer Qantas lounges).
The main issue is that most of this lounge is old and dim, and there’s no escaping that. But with a long-awaited renovation project in the wings, hopefully, we’ll be relaxing in fancier digs within the next year or two.
Photography by Brandon Loo, who travelled at Point Hacks’ expense.