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Qantas announces a new First Class lounge for Heathrow Terminal 3

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‘Project Sunrise’ – the Qantas planning name for the non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London – is coming soon.

To ensure that you will be travelling in style from 2025, when the services will launch, Qantas has announced a new First Class lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3.

Subject to airport approvals, it will feature direct boarding from the lounge to the aircraft. This is something that Emirates already offers from its own Terminal 3 business class and first class lounge.

Qantas FIrst Class lounge Sydney

We don’t know much about the lounge at the moment. All the airline is saying is that it will have:

sweeping views of the airfield, a focus on wellbeing features and an unrivalled dining experience

It isn’t hugely surprising that Qantas is looking to open a dedicated First Class facility, as it already has similar lounges in Los Angeles, Melbourne, Singapore and Sydney. (The pictures above and below are from the Sydney lounge.)

It isn’t clear if it will be a Concorde Room-style lounge – meaning that only ticketed First Class passengers will be allowed to use it – or if it will also be open to all oneworld Emerald members, such as British Airways Executive Club Gold members, who are flying on Qantas or another airline.

The existing International Lounge isn’t going anywhere. The plan is to rename this as the International Business Lounge.

Qantas First Class Lounge sydney

Qantas is rolling out more new lounges

The new First Class Heathrow lounge wasn’t the only announcement yesterday. Qantas is also rolling out:

  • Hong Kong – the Qantas International Lounge, which was meant to have permanently closed, is being revived and will open in April 2023
  • Melbourne – the existing Qantas Business Lounge will be expanded to become the Melbourne International Business Lounge, will completion due by mid 2024
  • Sydney – pending confirmation of the broader terminal upgrade plans, the Sydney International Business Lounge will be expanded by 40%, with work commencing in early 2024
  • Hobart – the Hobart Qantas Club will be relocated with a 50% increase in capacity
  • Broome – a new Regional Lounge will open in 2024 which will have double the capacity of the existing facility

The following projects have already been announced and are progressing:

  • New Auckland International Lounge (set to open progressively from 2023)
  • New Business Lounge at Adelaide Domestic Airport (to open in stages from 2024)
  • Full upgrade to Chairmans Lounge at Adelaide Domestic Airport (2025)
  • Full upgrade to Qantas Club at Adelaide Domestic Airport (2023)
  • New Regional Lounge at Rockhampton Airport (now open)
  • Redevelopment of Regional Lounge at Port Hedland Airport (2024)
Qantas A350-1000 ULR

How will Project Sunrise work?

It’s worth running over ‘Project Sunrise’ again for those who are not familiar with it.

Qantas has been discussing ‘Project Sunrise’ since 2017, challenging Airbus and Boeing to propose a solution that would allow direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Europe. If the pandemic had not intervened the aircraft would have been due to launch this year.

Airbus won the tender, and last year Qantas announced the purchase of 12 Airbus A350-1000ULR aircraft.

ULR stands for ‘ultra long range’. These will be built with an additional fuel tank which will allow them to fly fully loaded from Sydney to London.

Qantas has been trialling direct flights to Australia since 2018 when it launched its non-stop London to Perth service. This uses a standard Boeing 787-9 aircraft and takes 17 hours to cover the 14,498 km distance. London to Sydney or Melbourne is beyond the scope of existing aircraft.

The first flights will operate to New York and London, followed by Paris and Frankfurt. Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town could also welcome the jets according to initial plans.

Qantas’ new A350-1000ULR

The A350-1000ULR aircraft will have the ability to fly for 21 hours. This is enough for the routes under consideration, even after building in flexibility to deal with bad weather diversions and other potential issues en route.

The aircraft will carry 238 passengers in a four class configuration, including First Class, with internal changes to give passengers more chance to walk around during the flight. Over 40% of capacity (and a much higher percentage of floor space) will be dedicated to premium passengers.

Entirely new seating will be developed, and Qantas has already pulled back the curtain on a very impressive First Class suite:

Qantas A350 First


Qantas A350 First 2

Qantas has created a suite with a closing door that features both a permanent bed and seat, similar to the impressive Singapore Airlines 2nd generation A380 First Class.

Storage appears to be plentiful and the suite features a 32″ in-flight entertainment screen.

The A350-1000ULR solution is believed to be attractive because, whilst the aircraft can handle ultra-long flights, they are equally suitable for shorter intercontinental trips. They will also allow Qantas to bypass international hubs such as Singapore and fly direct – and will eventually replace the hub-to-hub A380 operations.

None of this will come tomorrow, of course. ‘Project Sunrise’ is due to launch in 2025, although whether it starts on time is another matter. Fortunately, the A350-1000ULR is just a modified A350 so it is unlikely to be delayed as long as Boeing’s new 777X.

How will British Airways respond?

One question worth considering is whether British Airways will drop flights to Australia in 2025. After many years of losses, and after Virgin Atlantic abandoned the route, British Airways had finally started to make money with its flights to Sydney pre-pandemic.

The strategy had been to use smaller, more fuel efficient aircraft, and effectively abandon the backpacker market to Emirates and Qatar Airways. If the business market moves en masse to the direct Qantas flights, irrespective of cost, British Airways may have no choice but to walk away. Running a base in Singapore to handle the Sydney flights adds extra complexity to BA’s operations.

Anyway …. British Airways still has two years to decide what to do …. and we still have over two years to wait to see how the new Qantas First Class London lounge turns out.

PS. If you are interested in earning Qantas Points from UK credit cards, take a look at our guide here.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (April 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (56)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Track says:

    Fellow commenters fail to mention, that Cathay First Class lounge section experience doesn’t feel very premium.

    Champagne was downgraded, from Rothschild one notch down, and then another notch down. Snacks don’t look appealing and the best main meal is a burger on most days.

    They now don’t even bother to pour the champagne on offer, just point out towards the liquor counter, “pour yourselves”.

    • VALittleRed says:

      Strange as they poured out the champagne in the business class section from the bar

      • Track says:

        It is, as the business class section has a barman to make drinks.

        First is self-pour basically.

  • ADS says:

    Worth remembering that these Ultra Long Haul flights use seriously more fuel than a one stop journey. The fuel burnt to carry the fuel for the second half of the journey is significant.

    These direct ULR flights will likely cost significantly more than a one stop journey (as well as being awful for the environment).

    • Lady London says:

      Businesses and own-money HNW will pay though.

      • ADS says:

        Absolutely. And a certain number of those passengers will be switching from ME3 airlines to Qantas.

        So there may still be space for BA to earn a profit with their one stop flights – including picking up some current Qantas passengers who prefer cheaper / one stop flights.

    • His Holyness says:

      I’m sure Qantas will be banging on about how environmentally friendly they are 🥱

      • ADS says:

        Alan Joyce spoke at the Royal Aero Society a few years ago, and he wouldn’t say how much worse the Perth flight is – he kept using the absurd comparison with previous generation aircraft.

  • MT says:

    Hopefully BA don’t abandon Australia.

    A weakness of the current offering is that onward travel from Sydney International to Domestic (and vice versa) is a 2+ hour ordeal that no Australian ever does more than once. If BA flew to Melbourne (or Brisbane), onward domestic connections are much easier and BA wouldn’t be competing with Sunrise either.

  • Paul says:

    I was in the QF F lounge in December and was very far from impressed. Service was dire and the food mediocre. The spa was closed and the furniture looked like it was the same as was there in 2008.
    That said the flight to DPS was pretty solid with good crew and very decent wine

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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