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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 (May 2023)

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 Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

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

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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 £20.  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 LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 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.

  • Jonathon says:

    BA possibly abandoning a route? I refuse to believe it!

  • The Jetset Boyz says:

    “Subject to airport approvals, it will feature direct boarding from the lounge to the aircraft.”

    That’s not what’s being reported elsewhere…

    Phil Capps, Qantas’ Executive Manager of Product & Service had this to say:

    “Right now we’re planning for the acquisition of the lounge space – where it is, how big it is. And then we’ll work through progressively the design concept, the designers (and) the architects. Direct boarding from the lounge is one of the options we’d really love to explore further. It’s technically possible in Heathrow and that’s something customers really value – it makes that transition from the lounge to the aircraft that much more seamless. So those are the kind of experiences we’re looking to explore.”

  • The Jetset Boyz says:

    “Running a base in Singapore to handle the Sydney flights adds extra complexity to BA’s operations.”

    BA’s Singapore base was axed in the early days of the pandemic. These days cabin & flightdeck crew have rest days in Singapore before heading to Singapore. After their rest days they head back to Singapore, where they rest again before heading back to London.

  • Andrew J says:

    I wouldn’t imagine that Concorde Room type rules will be applied to the new First class lounge as that rule isn’t in place for the other Qantas First lounges – One World Emerald members are welcome.

    • Sam Wardill says:

      The Qantas First lounge in Sydney is my favourite lounge in the world. I used it many times (as a Qantas platinum never travelling in First). I could even take in my three kids as well as my wife (due to Qantas generous family guest policy).

      • Andrew J says:

        Yes it’s my favourite lounge too – visited it on a QR business ticket with my BA Gold.

  • Josh says:

    Qantas doesn’t have any first “class” lounges, only first lounges (similarly, it has no business class lounges).

  • Michael C says:

    I can of course see the attraction for many people, but rather than one x 20-hr flight, I’d still rather do an Asian stop-off. Used to be good planning a while back to do things like BKK outbound and HKG inbound.

  • Dev says:

    Still not sure what I think of 20 hr non-stop flights. Even the most luxurious first class seats still means your stuck in the same confined space, and goodness knows what condition the facilities will be in when you reach 10hrs+ and you realise your only half way!

    • Luma says:

      Exactly. When I’ve looked in the past, the absolute quickest one stop to Sydney is 22 hours, is it really worth it to get there two hours quicker? I’d rather take longer and pick flights that allow me to arrive in Australia fresh and/or be able to work on the plane.

      The prices on the non stop to Perth are ludicrous too.

      • marcw says:

        You are clearly not a target customer. Many peeps prefer non-stop flights, and it seems, they are happy paying a big premium for doing so on LHR-PER.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          I am an Australian who lives in London. I have done London-Australia probably 25 times over the last 30 years. When I have time, it is lovely to have a stop in Asia on the way, and it makes the whole trip a great deal more pleasant. When I don’t have time, I just want to get there as quickly and with as few hassles as possible. In the second case, I would prefer a non-stop.

          • PeteM says:

            @Michael Jennings is spot on – very much horses for courses. A lot of business travellers will also prefer to get there as quickly and seamlessly as possible with minimum space for things to go wrong.

        • Luma says:

          But that’s the point I’m making, when flying to Australia, the overall travel time is less important than flying to say New York. Even not considering the cost, I’d far prefer switching planes in Dubai or Singapore and having a shower and a meal at a proper table that’s being confined to one seat for 20 hours, no matter how good the seat is.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        You’re not arriving fresh regardless it’s simply too far – it’s two long haul flights back to back, whether broken in the middle or not that’s an ordeal.

        It’s comfortable enough in a premium cabin but fresh is not how anyone is arriving…

    • PH says:

      On the Singapore Airlines ultra long haul I’d trust there’d be great service, good food, bathrooms kept clean, fellow passengers not rowdy…on Qantas, not so much

  • Alex G says:

    Boarding directly from the lounge is a really nice feature. BA provide it in Boston. Doesn’t Cathay provide it at LHR?

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

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