Top-notch oasis for Oneworld elites: A review of Qantas' brand-new International First Lounge in Singapore
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Qantas has gained a reputation for having some of the best first-class lounges accessible to Oneworld Emerald elite members. In fact, its first-class lounge in LAX may just be the nicest airline lounge in the United States. The Australian carrier doesn't operate too many first-class lounges -- four to be exact -- so when it opens a new one, it's a big deal.
On Monday, Qantas opened the International First Lounge in Singapore. And I happened to be passing through Singapore this week, so I was eager to get inside to take a look around. Based on my initial impressions, this is one of the hottest new Oneworld lounge openings this year. Here's why.
Qantas' new first lounge is near the D gates in Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at Changi are all connected airside, so you can access the Qantas lounge even if you're departing from another terminal. Note that you won't be able to access the lounge if your flight departs from Terminal 4.
The lounge entrance is just past Terminal 1 immigration. Make a right after clearing immigration and you'll then see signs for the lounge pointing you up an escalator.
The lounge is on the right immediately after you get off the escalator. The lounge's exterior sports Qantas' signature white, marble facade, which is hard to miss if you're a frequent Qantas flyer.
The lounge is open daily from 2:30 p.m. until midnight.
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There are a few ways you can gain access to the Qantas International First Lounge:
- Your next onward flight that day is in first class on a Qantas or Emirates flight (one guest is allowed)
- You are a Platinum One or Platinum frequent flyer with Qantas and your next onward flight is operated and marketed by Qantas or Oneworld (one guest is allowed and must be traveling with the member on the same flight)
- You are a Oneworld Emerald frequent flyer and your next onward flight that day is on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld (one guest is allowed and must be traveling on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld)
- You won't be able to access this lounge if you're flying with Cathay Pacific, since they operate from Terminal 4 at Changi
- Your next onward flight that day is in international first class on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld (one guest is allowed and must be traveling on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld)
If you don’t have access to this lounge, there are some other great Priority Pass lounges at SIN. You can access them using the Priority Pass Select membership that comes as a benefit of select credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The lounge is basically one long rectangular corridor with various partitioned seating areas.
The relaxation and work spaces are right inside the entrance. There are a bunch of dark green relaxing chairs reminiscent of the carrier's newest business-class seat. They reminded me of the new iPhone 11 Pro.
There's also a small business center with two chairs and printer nearby.
There are more relaxation spaces deeper inside.
There's a large co-working table with multiple chairs for the WeWork types.
The highlight for me was the mustard-colored twin couches by Australian designer David Caon. In general, the lounge's design was stunning, but I really liked those couches.
The second half of the lounge is dedicated to the dining area. It's clear that Qantas wanted to place emphasis on the food-and-beverage program in this lounge, as there are over 150 dining seats for dining.
Tables are arranged in either two-tops or four-tops, but the lounge attendants were great about accommodating large parties.
There's also a bunch of counter seating at each of partitions in the dining room. These seats proved popular with solo travelers.
The marble-clad bar is in the middle of the lounge. There's no seating at the bar, since all drinks are made to order and delivered to the tables.
There are over 200 seats available, but I've heard that it still gets quite crowded, especially around the arrival and departure time of QF 1 and 2, Qantas' flagship route from London (LHR) to Sydney (SYD), with a stop in Singapore.
Although there aren't any views from the lounge, I loved its luxurious design and feel. The background music was also a nod to the land Down Under, which I thought was fun.
The lounge was certainly built with the modern traveler in mind. Like any good lounge, there are power outlets everywhere.
Aside from a few dining tables in the center of the lounge, every other seat was within reach of a power outlet. Sometimes, though, the power outlets were hidden in plain sight, like under shelves or below tables. If you're sitting in one at one of the few tables without a power outlet, the staff can lend you portable power banks.
The Wi-Fi is blazing fast. After connecting to the Wi-Fi network, I was asked to agree to the terms and conditions, and then immediately connected to the internet -- no password required. I measured the ping as 6 ms, and download and upload speeds of 223 Mbps and 162 Mbps, respectively.
The lounge's restrooms are in a corridor near the entrance to the lounge. The restrooms are one-person lavatories separated by gender.
Unlike some other Qantas First lounges, the Singapore space doesn't offer a spa. However, there are nine individual shower suites (with one being handicapped-accessible).
The shower suites aren't as large as those in other first-class lounges (I'm thinking of you, Lufthansa), but they did the trick for my visit. I especially loved the scent of the LaGaia Unedited bath amenities.
Food and beverage
As at other Qantas first lounges across the world, the food-and-beverage program is curated by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry.
There's a tiny buffet of mixed nuts, olives and fresh fruit next to the main bar.
A drink fridge sat below the small buffet. In addition to the usual Coca Cola-branded soft drinks, Qantas stocks two flavors of kombucha (apple and ginger), a nice touch for health-conscious travelers.
The highlight of the lounge's culinary experience is the a la carte menu with an Asian twist. Don't worry, though, the famous salt-and-pepper squid makes an appearance.
I tried the buffalo mozzarella salad, the pappardelle with vegetables and the grilled barramundi. Everything I ate was delicious and was of restaurant quality.
The lounge staff works to accommodate dietary restrictions. I overheard a vegan guest order an off-menu dish of grilled eggplant with mushrooms.
The dedicated lounge drink menu is just as extensive as the food menu. I loved the focus on Australian wines.
I tried two cocktails during my stay, the Tamarind Talisman and the gin spritz. Both were great, and I particularly liked the Australian Four Pillars gin.
The lounge is managed by the Accor group, which owns the Sofitel hotel chain. Service throughout my meal was well-paced and professional, just as you'd find in a five-star hotel.
In terms of service, waiters are assigned sections of the lounge, and you'll typically be served by the same waiter throughout your meal. The service motto is "Whatever you want, wherever you want," so you could technically be served your meal in the business center, if you prefer.
The Qantas First lounge in Singapore is the most notable Oneworld lounge opening this year. The lounge's bespoke design is inviting to the eye and has comfortable seating and tons of dining tables. There are also plenty of power outlets and blazing-fast Wi-Fi to cater to the modern traveler. The only issue with the lounge is how crowded it can get, especially during peak departure times.
The food and beverages by Neil Perry are restaurant-quality and definitely some of the best served in an airline lounge around the world.
If you can access this lounge, do it, without a doubt. It may just be Changi Airport's nicest lounge.
All photos by the author.
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