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LOUNGE REVIEW: Revisiting the Sydney Qantas First Lounge

LOUNGE REVIEW: Revisiting the Sydney Qantas First Lounge
Series: Christchurch to Sydney in Emirates First Class

The focus of this trip report will be my stay at The George and the return flight in First Class on the Emirates A380 from Christchurch, New Zealand. But I thought it would be worthwhile recounting some of the experience with Qantas of getting to New Zealand.

a white marble wall with black text
Qantas First check-in area Sydney Airport [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


My flight over to Christchurch was with Qantas in Business Class, so my Emerald OneWorld status allowed me to check-in at the First Class area and gave me access to the International Qantas First lounge. This will not be a full review, but merely an update on the Sydney First Lounge experience.

At the Airport

I headed out from home at 3:30 pm in an Uber to the airport for my 6:55 pm flight from Sydney to Christchurch, New Zealand

Checking in at the Qantas First counter is always a great experience. You are rarely there with more than one or two passenger couples checking in before you. And if you have to wait, there are some comfy lounges, and usually the offer of water to refresh your wait. The nicest thing is that staff always have time to have a chat, or answer any enquiries you have.

From the First check-in, I headed through to immigration and onward to the Qantas First Lounge.. Fortunately, it was not crowded, and I reached the lounge at about 4:05 pm.

a sign on a wall
Sydney International departures with crowd control for when it gets really busy [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


Once through immigration and security, then you need to head through the duty-free area, and towards the escalators. Essentially, you are heading straight ahead, but of course, there are plenty of shopping temptations in your way.

people in a terminal
Shopping at Sydney Airport – escalators in the middle distance [Schuetx/2PAXfly]
people in a terminal
Heading towards the escalators up to the Qantas Lounge area, Sydney Airport [Scheutz/2PAXfly]
an escalator in a building
Getting close to the Qantas First and Business Class International lounges [Schuetx/2PAXfly]
an escalator and an escalator sign
Qantas eligibility signage for Lounges [Schuetz/2PAXfly]
a glass door in a building
The Marc Newson designed hexagonal etching on the entrance to the Qantas First Lounge, Sydney [Schuetx/2PAXfly]

And that is the etched sliding door entrance you are looking for at the top of the escalators. If you are lucky, Nestor will be on duty to welcome you inside. If not – just proceed through the entrance corridor and admire the living wall before mounting the next seeet of escalators.

a large room with a staircase and plants
The extensive entry to the Qantas First Lounge with its living wall. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


This lounge is now a remnant of the Marc Newson design language for Qantas, with its glossy lacquer finishes, hexagonal motif, and yellow blond wood and the soaring aeronautical wing support structures dividing the lounge.

You start with the escalators, and that roundel in the ceiling reminiscent of either a jet engine air intake

a escalator in a building
Internal escalators up to the Qantas First Lounge [Schuetx/2PAXfly]
a man standing at a table
The aeronautical ‘fins’ in the Qantas First Lounge, Sydney [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Food & Drink

I took a seat in the dining area almost immediately arrived, and after water, asked for a glass of champagne. Piper Heidsieck was on offer, and that is what I ordered in an apparently bottomless glass. Bear that in mind when you read some of my dismissive comments later.

It had been a busy day, and that may have affected my view of the lounge that day. My notes record my thoughts: ‘Has the first lounge moved from a luxe experience to a posh café? Is the first lounge now a cafeteria with table service? Now on reflection, I think those comments are more about my tiredness than the service in the Lounge.

a glass of champagne on a table
Quenching my thirst in the Qantas First Lounge, Sydney [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Here are some shots of the menu that will give you an idea of what was available. They never list the champagnes on offer.

a menu with text on it
Qantas International First Lounge Winter Menu, part one. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

I opted for the burger, the green salad and some chips followed by the Margaret ‘Brookie’ and vanilla ice cream sandwich.

a menu of a restaurant
Qantas International First Lounge Winter Menu, part two. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I completely failed to take any shots of what I ate.

Although the lounge was relatively empty when I arrived, by 5:45, it was beginning to get busy with most tables occupied, but only with individual travellers.


The marble bathrooms were a delight, as usual. The private cubicles off a central foyer seem too luxurious for words. Qantas now has LaGaia Unedited liquid soap and hand and body cream in the bathrooms, with the heady but pleasant scent of lemon myrtle and geranium.

a bottle of hand cream
Amenities in the Qantas First Lounge, Sydney [Schuetz/2PAXfly]
a group of people in a large airport terminal
Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


At 6 pm, and with boarding scheduled to commence at 6:10pm it was time to head towards my flight through the ‘central’ plaza area of the international terminal. I still get a thrill from the departures board, whether electronic (as it is here) or mechanical (as it is in the First Lounge)

a screen with a picture of birds and a bird on it
Departure board, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

On the way to the gate, I passed the entrances to the Plaza Premium Lounge

a glass door with a sign on the wall
Plaza Premium Lounge entrance, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

…and the SkyTeam lounge.

Unfortunately, boarding was delayed and commenced after 6:35 pm.

a glass doors in a building
SkyTeam Lounge entrance, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

I was the first to board at roughly 6:40,

a hallway with a metal railing
Heading to the gate, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

It had been a long day, and I would not arrive in Christchurch until close to midnight local time, about 10 pm Sydney time.

I always enjoy the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney, and indeed elsewhere. However, today’s experience was not the most enjoyable. Now, that could have been about my mood, the fact I was travelling alone, how tired I was, or the length of the journey ahead.

While all those things are true, I think the service in the lounge was more abstracted than usual. It was not inattentive, but somehow didn’t make me feel as special as it normally does. (bring on the jokes about my ‘special’ abilities)

As I said, I am prepared to accept that it might be more about me than the Sofitel service in the lounge.

Enough of self-reflection. I had a flight, albeit on a Boeing 737, to enjoy, along with a new hotel and, finally, the Emirates First Class experience!

Other Posts in the Series
<< TRIP REPORT: Introduction – my trip to Christchurch, New Zealand flying Emirates First Class on an A380TRIP REPORT: Flight Review – Sydney to Christchurch on Qantas in Business – same, same but different >>

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