Qantas’ new First Lounge, an over 1,000 sqm space in Singapore’s Changi Airport, marks the airline’s first ever first class lounge in Asia. Australia’s flag carrier has three other First Lounges across its network: two in Australia in Sydney and Melbourne, and one overseas in Los Angeles.
The airline first announced plans to build this new 240-seat lounge back in October 2018 and opened the lounge on November 18. Qantas flies non-stop to Singapore from Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Many of those passengers will be taking onward flights with Qantas or its codeshare partners to other destinations, so a new lounge offering will be welcomed by many passengers.
At a media launch event on Monday attended by Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce noted how a large portion of traffic at Changi, which sees six million passengers travelling between Singapore and Australia annually, is transit passengers.
“The traffic here is a bit different. In Sydney, people turn up to the lounge three to four hours in advance so they have plenty of time to have a meal or have a few drinks. You get a lot of transit passengers here. They want to get off the plane, take a shower, and get on to the next aircraft. So you have to design it for their specific needs,” said Joyce.
Who has access?
- Qantas First, Oneworld and EK First customers
- Qantas Chairmans Lounge members and their guests
- Qantas Frequent Flyer members: Platinum One, Platinum and their guests.
- Eligible Oneworld Emerald customers and their guests
- Eligible Emirates IO and Platinum customers
What’s it like?
Australian designer David Caon collaborated with Kelvin Ho of architecture and design firm Akin Atelie to create the lounge, which incorporates Singaporean influences into both its design and into the food and beverage offers created by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry.
Upon stepping into the lounge, the lighting and colour palette instantly create a calming effect. It feels as though you’ve left Changi airport and entered a different space altogether. The white Carrara marble paired with the European oak and the perforated panelling is almost reminiscent of sitting out on a patio on a bright summer’s day – except there are no windows.
A long, marble walkway separates the two areas of the lounge. On the right hand side, you have the cocktail bar and casual booth-style dining area, as well as the showers and bathrooms. On the left side, there is a variety of seating (armchairs, office-style chairs and couches) and a formal dining area. Right at the back of the lounge is an open kitchen.
The space features a number of Singaporean influences, including colonial-style furnishings and large potted plants, which the design team said were included to infuse Singapore’s lush landscape into the lounge and create a sense of calm for travellers about to embark on long haul flights.
“We always want to have a space that feels timeless and elegant. A space you can visit multiple times,” said Ho.
“Green spaces are quite abundant in Singapore, so we tried to bring that into the space. Some of the materials and details are based on the colonial influence in Singapore. The traditional elements are paired up with contemporary, more modern elements. This is a big part of the Singaporean experience, the collision of the two,” he added.
One of the key high-tech features of this lounge is a series of artificial skylights fitted into the ceiling. These attempt to mimic natural sunlight and help reset guests’ circadian rhythms as they travel through multiple time zones.
Near the entrance is a light brown couch fitted with one of these skylights. As mentioned, there are no windows in the lounge, but it really feels as though there is natural light gleaming down on you when you sit in this space.
Lounge designer Caon told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific that it was challenging installing the artificial lighting into the lounge, given how large the light fixture is.
“It was almost like fine surgery to get it into that area there, but it definitely creates a little oasis,” said Caon.
All ten showers in the lounge are equipped with the artificial skylight. Again, it creates the sense that there are actual windows letting natural sunlight into the room.
Passengers can even adjust the intensity of the lighting according to the time of the day using the following control panel.
There are different types of seating throughout: the middle of the lounge has a living room ambience with comfortable individual armchairs, long sofas, and communal style seating perfect for groups of friends or families travelling together. Many seats are close to power sources, so guests can easily charge laptops and other devices. While these seats are perfect to curl up in, there are also office-style chairs arranged along a long table that might appeal more to business travellers looking for a workspace. The deep green seats with the pop of red in the small lamp blends in well with the mostly neutral toned decor.
The following individual chairs arranged around small tables that are perfect for those who want to both relax but also get some work done before a long haul flight.
There’s a TV screen above the low, comfortable sofas in the area pictured below. Behind these couches are single, deep green seats, partially angled away from a wall with small coffee tables close to them. They are perfect for introverted travellers who prefer to watch from the sidelines, or those who want some privacy.
The white Carrara marble and perforated teak wood panels can also be found in the lounge’s bathrooms.
Food and beverage
The dining area, which has an open kitchen, is close to the back of the lounge.
Travellers who want to dine alone and charge their devices can head to the bar-style seating in the dining area (pictured below). There are power outlets under the gold panels.
There’s also a more private dining space with black leather chairs and booths opposite the one shown in the photo above.
The open kitchen serves up an a la carte seasonal menu. All the dishes have Singaporean elements woven into them, according to Perry, the Australian celebrity chef who created the food for the lounge. I got to try what Perry said is one of the most popular dishes at the lounge at the moment, the salt and pepper squid (pictured below), and it was delicious. This dish is offered in all of Qantas’ First lounges.
Other local delicacies include a signature tea smoked duck breast with pickled cabbage and Chinese mustard and a laksa with crayfish, bok choy and fried shallots.
The dessert menu includes the coconut and mango sorbet with toasted coconut flakes (pictured below); Tora di Verona with blueberries and toasted almonds; and a chocolate fudge cake with sesame sorbet, Pocky sticks and Milo.
When asked about how the menu caters to health conscious travellers, Qantas said chefs could modify the menu to specific needs of passengers.
“We can adapt our dishes to respond to our customers’ specific dietary requirements, with gluten free, vegan or vegetarian options,” said Qantas.
There’s also a cocktail bar with lounge seating, serving French champagne, seasonal spritzes, cocktails inspired by Singapore, like a Calamansi Mojito – made from the local Calamansi fruit, Singaporean and Australian beer – and Australian wine. Qantas said non-alcoholic healthy beverages such as kefir (a fermented milk drink) and kombucha (a fermented, slightly alcoholic sweetened black or green tea drink), barley water, and a ‘House Lemonade’ from Australian dining group Rockpool Bar and Grill are available. There is also an “all-day” barista service with Vittoria coffee and a selection of savoury bar snacks and fruit.
Location and hours
The lounge is located in terminal 1 at Singapore Changi Airport and is open from 2:30pm–12am.
The design is one of the most impressive aspects of this lounge. The chic white marble, muted gold details, iridescent yet warm lighting paired with the neutral colour palette of the lounge, as well as comfortable sofas create a peaceful atmosphere – a perfect respite in a busy airport. The stylish design of Qantas’ new space ensures that it exudes an ambience of refined luxury.
For business travellers transiting through Changi, there is a variety of laptop-friendly seating to curl up in and get some work done before a connecting flight. The individual sofas, office-style seats along a long table, as well as the couches ensure that there is seating for different types of corporate travellers depending on whether they want to really buckle down and work.
While passengers who enjoy massages or spa treatments might be disappointed as the airline currently does not offer such treatments in the new facility, the elegant shower cabins with synthetic skylights are a wonderful place to unwind and refresh before a long-haul flight. Indulging in the Singaporean dishes is also a great way to recharge and experience a bit of the local culture before the next flight.
Have you visited Qantas’ new lounge? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments section below.