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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.

  • VALittleRed says:

    No doubt the current offering in the existing lounge will no doubt go down as all the best bits like a-la-carte dining will go to the first lounge.

    • Luma says:

      Really surprised that they’re building a new lounge rather than just using the downstairs space for it

      • Andrew J says:

        It seems to be the Qantas model – they did the same in Singapore and LA.

  • Mikeact says:

    This is excellent news for us..having used the Sydney location a few times. Looking forward to booking the direct flight as well, albeit at least two years away.

  • Hilda M says:

    I had an Avios booking for PER – LHR J about 10 days ago, but having flown QF SIN – PER on the way out, I found the Dreamliner seat very uncomfortable & just couldn’t imagine 17 hours in it. Managed to get PER – DOH F and daytime DOH – EDI J (after a stopover) for the same Avios. Would certain try a “Sunrise” route if J proves to be spacious/well designed.

  • Joshua Critchley says:

    Qantas are premium focused.
    It’s not going to be a oneworld lounge.
    Passengers that paid $20-30,000 for F to Sydney want space.
    Any banker will tell you that: UHNW loathe pollution like one-world trash an la Iberia or spotty plebs going on mile runs.

    • Andrew J says:

      That isn’t the policy that Qantas apply to any of their other lounges around the world and domestically so nothing to suggest they will not allow access to OW Emerald members. And there’s space and then there’s a lounge with 6 people in it – if they did apply that policy it wouldn’t justify building it.

  • Chris W says:

    All of Qantas’ first lounges can be accessed by OWE/BA Golds. Not sure why you think this one would be any different.

    • JC says:

      Correct All the present lounges.
      Sunrise is a huge investment. Qantas. Ticket prices will be high.
      It won’t be a oneworld lounge.

  • Luma says:

    20 hours on one flight. Qantas scientists are so preoccupied with finding out if they can, they haven’t stopped to think whether they should.

    • Rob says:

      New York to Singapore is blocked at just short of 19 hours and that has been running for a couple of years now. Quick look at Wikipedia shows 13 flights with a block time of over 17 hours.

      • Richie says:

        Interesting that Singapore Airlines has ULR aircraft that are just 3 class with no Economy cabin.

      • Rizz says:

        Exactly. People have been doing NYC-SIN for years (and there are two flights a day – one from EWR, one from JFK). 19 hours, have done it myself and would totally do it again over having to connect somewhere.

      • Jonathan says:

        SQ23/24 used to use an A345, Business Class only, unlike the aircraft currently in use

  • TGLoyalty says:

    Guess this was written before I posted about it in the forum at 6am yesterday …

  • Michael Jennings says:

    A lot of the Aus-Europe backpacker market had been abandoned to Air China and China Southern before the pandemic, and the huge amounts of capacity they were dumping on the routes drove LON-SYD economy prices down to as little as £500 return, which I can’t imagine anyone could have made money on. Lots of airlines that couldn’t make money on Aus routes against that may now be able to, as prices are now a lot higher and the Chinese airlines may never be coming back.

    • A350 says:

      Tbh, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese airlines all come back. They are already starting to. China (and HKG) will pretty much finally reach the post-pandemic phase towards the end of this year akin to what Europe is now.

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

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