Lounge Review – Qantas Canberra Domestic Business Lounge

When visited: May 2017
Time of day: Evening (7.20 pm to 8.30 pm)
Rating: 4.5 / 5

ACCESS RULES
– Flying Business class on a Qantas or QantasLink flight later that day.
– Qantas Platinum member or Oneworld Alliance
– Emirates Skywards Platinum member whose next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink
– Individuals under 18 must be accompanied by an adult given this is a licensed area.

I accessed the Business Lounge as a QANTAS Platinum member and as Business Class passenger.

LOUNGE LOCATION
The QANTAS Canberra Domestic Business Lounge is in the main terminal located between Gates 10 and 11.  After passing security turn left and follow the signs to the Qantas Club.  Up the Escalators and you can either turn left for the super secret Chairman’s Lounge, straight ahead for the Business lounge or right for the Qantas Club Lounge.

LOUNGE AREA
The QANTAS Business Lounge area is a very large area, probably the second largest in the country only behind Sydney Business Lounge.  This is likely due to high number of senior public servants flying around the country so beware this is not a place to discuss Tax Avoidance Schemes or how to gaming the welfare system!

You need to pass a security desk at the front entrance.  Many passengers who only have access to the Qantas Club end up getting redirected to that lounge so Qantas staff are on the lookout for your boarding pass and / or boarding pass. The lounge does not really provide tarmac views but does have some natural light.

After entering you can turn left for the bathroom facilities and seats and tables or right for tables and seating areas and the all important bar and food stations.  This lounge area is more formal than most business lounges I’ve visited although you only need to wear neat casual (jeans yes, singlets no) you do stand out if not in business attire.  As this is a huge lounge I had not difficulty finding either a single seat area or multiple grouped seating areas.  I suspect it might be a bit harder just before 6 pm departures.

FOOD
There is a main food station which you can use to make up nice sandwiches and take various cakes and bread based products.  You will find some hot food, on this visit it was a curry and rice option.  The more formal tables also have apple selections on them.  You can get apples and oranges from the main food station as well.

DRINKS
There is a dedicated bar that serves up espresso coffee throughout the day and wine and other alcoholic drinks from noon.  Before noon you could get coffee service, juices, tea and water.  There is a self-serve soft drink station you can use whenever the lounge is open but they only use smaller glasses (staff will provide longer 330 ml glass at the main bar).

FACILITIES AND SERVICES
There are several showers (you don’t need to book), toilets, several TVs which have either Pay TV Station Sky News or free to air Channel Nine, many iMac computers (which you can select PC mode on), printing/photocopying facilities, multiple tea / coffee stations and charging stations for most cable connections.

There are a number of power outlets to plug in your laptop or other equipment but grab these spots quickly as they are in high demand. Free Wi-Fi is offered but I didn’t test the speed but I have heard it is really only good for basic internet browsing and e-mail.

WHAT’S GOOD
The Qantas Business Lounge in Canberra provides a huge area to relax in with multiple different seating options and a quite ‘non mobile phone’ area.  The lounge is right outside the main gates used for Melbourne and Sydney bound flights.  The lounge is very clean with lots of food and drink options which far exceed anything you will be offer in economy on short flights from Canberra (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane).

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
Having no real tarmac views and more power outlets would be great.

SUMMARY
When of the best domestic Qantas Business Lounges in the country, Qantas obviously want to keep the Senior Public Servants and any CEOs visiting the National Capital happy.   There is no charge for food or drinks nor is tipping expected (or anywhere in Australia).  A good way to spend 30 to 90 minutes (any less just go to the Gate, any more spend more time in Canberra).

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Six Months Until My Africa Trip

I realised today that I’m only six months from commencing my next major world trip covering 11 countries over 62 days entered on Africa.  I was reviewing my trip notes and getting excited from the many highlights I’m anticipating.  

Before I know it I’ll be boarding my first ever International First Class flight 🙂  The count down has started.

HIGHLIGHTS

United Arab Emirates
First class flights with Emirates on Airbus 330-800 (Melbourne to Singapore to UAE) and Boeing 777-300ER (UAE to Nairobi).  Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai (apparently it is crazy huge and over the top).

Kenya
The Great Rift Valley. Lake Nakuru National Park and lake, famous for its flamingos. Meet local children at the East African Mission Organisation.  Lake Naivasha, the highest Rift Valley Lake.  The Masai Mara, Kenya’s finest wildlife reserve.  Masai Village Cultural Visit.

Uganda
The Gorilla Trek – my main highlight for this trip.  Kampala, the lively capital. Lake Bunyoni, spectacular scenery.  Jinja, Nile rafting.  The Equator Crossing.  Chimpanzee Sanctuary visit.

Tanzania
Arusha, the safari gateway.  UNESCO Listed Three Day Serengeti/Ngorongoro Crater Excursion.  Views of Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro.  Pangani, a historical coastal town. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city.

Zanzibar
Pristine beaches & historic Stone Town (UNESCO-listed).

Malawi
Lake Malawi, one of the African Great Lakes, with beautiful beaches, bays and inlets.  Full Day Snorkelling.

Zambia
South Luangwa NP, Livingstone & Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.  Zambezi Sunset Dinner Cruise.

Botswana
Chobe National Park, famous for its herds of elephants. Okavango Delta.  Chobe River Cruise.  Scenic Flight Over Okavango .

Zimbabwe
UNESCO Listed Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world.  Helicopter Over The Falls (15 mins).   Rafting On The Zambezi

Namibia
Fish River Canyon, the world’s 2nd largest canyon. Namib Naukluft National Park – Sossusvlei & Dune 45. Etosha National Park, Namibia’s finest wildlife sanctuary. Swakopmund, a charming colonial coastal town.  Sandboarding.

South Africa
The Cederberg Area and the Gariep River.  The trip home in Business Class with Qantas after 62 days on the road!!

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Day 4 – Short Break: Perth, Australia

Today was the return home to Melbourne.  Early in the day I actually joined a work meeting via a conference call for an hour.  With that completed a quick visit to local Rebel Sports to buy a ‘cold’ towel that when wet gets cold so should be good for upcoming Bali trip and later Africa trip.

We check out of the Perth Ibis at 10.30 am.  The Ibis hotel was very central and a reasonable cost for two beds in this location.  I’d recommend it was a short stay in Perth (1-4 days).  The work call meant we couldn’t wait to catch the bus back to the airport so it was a taxi ride this time which cost $44.40 which was fine for the distance.

Straight after check in I accessed the Perth Qantas Domestic Business Lounge (see lounge review here) to relax and get an early lunch.  This was a minor mistake given the extra food options on the Qantas flight back to Melbourne (see flight review here).

On arrival back at Melbourne it was obviously I wasn’t in Perth anymore, the tempature was maybe 12 and there was misty rain.  I only had carry on so passing security I went straight to Skybus service and purchased a one way ticket to Southern Cross Station (previously called Spencer Street Train Station).  The ticket cost $19.00 there isn’t a train option from Melbourne Airport which is a huge oversight.  The skybus doesn’t really get any special road access so you need to get good traffic over can get caught for a while.

From Southern Cross Station it was a 30 minute walk back to my apartment and this enjoyable trip was over. 

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Flight Review – QF476 Perth to Melbourne

Flight: QF476 Melbourne to Perth
Airline: QANTAS
Plane: Airbus 330-200
Gate: 15
Seat: 2A (Business Class)
Departed: 12:58 (Scheduled 12:55)
Arrived: 18:28 (Scheduled 18:30)
Duration: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

This was the return business flight QF769 which I previously reviewed.  I originally booked a very cheap economy seat back in January an immediately requested an upgrade to Business Class for both flights.

The A330-200 offers a great pod business class seat, with the option of a fully reclined bed setting.  While I didn’t use the fully flat seat it would be great for the red eye overnight flights back to the east coast.  The business seat is actually better than most 6-7 hour international flight business seats.  You even have to wear a seat belt and a sash belt (a belt that goes across your chest).

I selected a window view seat at 2A. All Qantas Business Class seats on the A330-200 offer direct aisle access so no climbing over another passenger which is a great highlight an makes it easier to get up and walk around.

The business seat / pod had a pillow and blanket waiting for me upon boarding using the priority lane. I was was offered a water not long after taking my seat. The cabin steward personally spoke to everyone in business class after departure.  The business section appeared to be 100% full, not bad for a noon flight.

Departure was delayed a few minutes as boarding seemed to take longer than expected.   As a business class passenger I boarded using the dedicated business / Gold / Platinum Member lane which works well in Perth (but normally fails in Melbourne).  This time I used the USB to charge my iPhone and power point to charge iPad.  Take off was smooth and provided a great view of the airport.

After departure we were immediately served of meal service; first with a drink service, which I selected a Coke Zero and than second the meal service. Business Class passengers are offered an entree, main and desert food options. I skipped the Entree or what Qantas calls a ‘Small Plate’, the options were:

  • Creamy cauliflower soup with herbed croutons
  • Seared tuna with sumac spiced freeman, coriander and pomegranate vinaigrette

The Main Plate options were:

  • Big bowl of creamy cauliflower soup with spice roasted cauliflower and chives
  • Roast Chieck salad with Italian slaw of cabbage, fennel, capers, Parmesan and red wine vinaigrette
  • BBQ pork omelette
  • Squid ink noodles with hot smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, red chilli and sesame soy dressing

I selected the BBQ pork omelette which was excellent.  I also skipped the Dessert option having filled up at the Qantas Business Lounge which I now regret as the Mini lemon polenta cake looked great.
The seat / pod has a large touch screen (for a plane) for the entertainment system. I selected ‘Patriot’s Day’ which I rather enjoyed.  The business class headset provides great sound.

The leg room is fantastic in this business seat / pods.  I found the cabin crew were not very attentive to all business passengers not that it concerned me but usually I expect the crew to be looking for ways to assist / help business class passengers.
There is only one forward toilet for the business class.  The flight landed a few minutes early on a wet day.   I left the plane very happy with my points upgrade selection.

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Lounge Review – Qantas Perth Domestic Business Lounge

When visited: May 2017
Time of day: Late Morning / Early Afternoon (11.50 am to 12.30 pm)
Rating: 4 / 5

ACCESS RULES
– Flying Business class on a Qantas or QantasLink flight later that day.
– Qantas Platinum member or Oneworld Alliance
– Emirates Skywards Platinum member whose next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink
– Individuals under 18 must be accompanied by an adult given this is a licensed area.

I accessed the Business Lounge as a QANTAS Platinum member and as Business Class passenger.

LOUNGE LOCATION
The QANTAS Perth Domestic Business Lounge is in terminal 4.  After passing security follow the signs to the Qantas Club however don’t take the escalator but instead keep going and you will see a sign for the Qantas Business Lounge on the same level as the boarding gates.  I actually made the mistake of going up to the Qantas Club having not been back to Perth since they opened the Business Lounge opened in 2015.

LOUNGE AREA
The QANTAS Business Lounge area is very large area.  After entering you are greeted by staff manning podiums and once pass the lounge dragons you walk past different sitting areas (which all have different tones) before finding the main serving areas.  The lounge provides tarmac views and has plenty of natural light.

There are multiple different table areas, from more formal benches with napkins and cutlery set out to tables.  The lounge area is relatively informal but being the higher status level lounge you are more likely to see businessmen and a higher dress standard (jeans yes, singlets no) there wasn’t the hi vis jackets I saw last time I was in the Qantas Club.  Despite being the middle of the day there were a lot of business people undertaking work activities and conversations.  It actually was difficult to find two seats that go together even at noon but lots of spare single seats.

FOOD
There is a main food station which you can use to make up nice sandwiches and take various cakes and bread based products. There is also a ‘Italian Pizza Bar’ setup that serves up fresh pizzas but only from noon.

DRINKS
There is a dedicated bar that serves up espresso coffee throughout the day and wine from noon.  Before noon you could get coffee service, juices (orange juice for me), tea and water.  Just like the Qantas Brisbane Business Lounge there isn’t a self-serve soft drink station which is disappointing.  As soon as the clock stuck 12.00 the main bar was extremely busy.  There appeared to be a good selection of wine, beer and spirits but I didn’t order any myself.

FACILITIES AND SERVICES
There are several showers (no need to book), toilets, I noticed two one area which you can watch pay TV (Sky News), two iMac computers and printing/photocopying facilities, multiple tea / coffee stations and charging stations for most cable connections.

There are more power outlets to plug in your laptop or other equipment then in other Qantas lounges but if you see a spot grab it quickly as they are at a premium. Free Wi-Fi is offered but I didn’t test the speed.

WHAT’S GOOD
The Qantas Business Lounge in Perth provides a lot more space than the overstuffed Qantas Club. The ‘Italian Pizza Bar’ offering was extremely popular and members going to this station also frees up the other food station area.  I always enjoy views of the tarmac and planes coming and going and natural light is always welcome.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
The non-alcoholic drinks service is very limited until the bar opens at 12.00 which is disappointing.

SUMMARY
A very good domestic Qantas Business Lounge.  There is no charge for food or drinks nor is tipping expected (or anywhere in Australia). A very good way to spend time before the long domestic flight back to the East coast.

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Day 3 – Short Break: Perth, Australia

Sunday 07 May 2017. Photos.
Highlights: AFL Match – Fremantle v Essendon

Perth Australia Post Office

Today was the main event of the trip a visit to Subiaco Oval to watch my team Essendon play the local boys the Fremantle Dockers.  But first I wanted to see a little more of Perth before the match, unfortunately it turns out that pretty much everything doesn’t open on a Sunday until 11 am.  This meant a walk around the CBD, including to the historic Australia Post building and then a chance to catch up on some overdue work caused by recent sickness absences.

View from our seat

Today’s match started at 2.40 pm so around noon Jason and myself walked down to the Watershed Factory Outlet for lunch (which was finally open).  After a leisurely lunch it was another 30 minutes and I had arrived at my 14th VFL/AFL venue for my first AFL match in Western Australia.  It was a hot day (around 29 degrees) and I didn’t have high hopes for my team but as long as they played well and I had a few chances to cheer I’d be happy.

(Essendon run out onto the Ground)

 

​We were sitting at the city end behind the goals and the Essendon Cheer Squad.  Still a few Fremantle supporters around but majority Essendon.  As we entered the ground about 60 minutes before the start we walked down to the other end to watch the Essendon players do some early practise.

Fremantle Supporters Celebrate

Essendon started the match well and at one point lead by around 26 points in the second quarter but the heat and the 3 match over 13 days meant Essendon faded badly in the end and lost by 37 points.  Over 33,000 attended this match.  Joe Danaher kicked three goals but Nat Fyfe dominated at key moments for 26 possessions.  Any enjoyable match even if my team listed (as I expected).  Glad I got to experience at match at Subiaco Oval before they move AFL matches in Perth to a new venue next year.

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Day 2 – Short Break: Perth and Rottnest Island, Australia

Saturday 06 May 2017.  Photos.

Highlights: Swan River Cruise, Indian Ocean, Rottnest Island: Quokkas, Bathurst Lighthouse, West End Coast line

Today was all about visiting Rottnest Island which I’ve been hearing about for years.  Rottnest Island is about 33 kilometres from Perth and is a very beautiful island but with a storied and sad past.  After European settlement Rottnest has been used as a Aboriginal Prison (from across Australia, not just Western Australia) and as an internment camp during World War 2 but is now visited by over 500,000 people a year so I was looking forward to this visit.

Jason was staying in Perth today.  An early morning start (well not that early if you use Victoria Time which my body was still on) and a walk down to Barrack Street Pier and I was set for today’s events.  I booked the Rottnest Island Express Ferry service from Perth to Rottnest Island via Fremantle.  This included a Coach Tour.  

The Ferry trip took us down Swan River to Fremantle.  This took approximately 60 minutes and included a very useful commentary of the local sites including Perth Park and the were the very rich live.  I should have sat outside on one of the few higher deck outdoor seats (something I fixed for the return ferry).   The majority of the Ferry actually joined at Fremantle.  From Fremantle is was a quick and relatively smooth ride to Rottnest Island.

I only had 30 minutes to orientate myself to the main settlement before catching the Discovery Tour Bus around Rottnest Island.  Unfortunately I sat on the right hand side of the bus when most of the sights were on the left hand side but it was only a minor ignorance given the multiple stops.  On the island there are only a few ways to get around, bus, bike or walk.  Cars are only allowed for a couple of official functions (police, fire and general store deliver) in order to protect the Island.  Quite a few of the bike riders were only wearing their bathers and in some cases very tiny bikinis (I’m not complaining).

The highlights of the coach discovery tour was seeing a shipwreck, and the stops at the Bathurst Lighthouse and the West End / Cape Vlamingh.  The Bathurst Light was the last manual lighthouse in Western Australia, with the last Lighthouse Keeper leaving in 1990.  From the Bathurst Lighthouse I could see the Military Battery that was used to protect Fremantle.  It was at this location I first saw my first Quokka, a lovely small marsupial about the size of a cat.  

The quokka is related to the kangaroo which isn’t obvious until you see one run, which actually is very rare as they are friendly creatures with no natural predators so they just walk around.  Unfortunately quokkas on the mainland are dying out now that we have cats, foxes and dogs but here this beautiful creatures are protected.

At the West End we stopped off to see the amazing coast and surf of Rottnest Island.  Sometimes during the year you can see dolphins and seals.  Watching the ocean sweep onto the coast was very smoothing. 

Back at the main settlement I first visited the old Rottnest Cemetery (last burial 1903) and climbed up a small hill to view Herschel Salt Lake.  I enjoyed lunch at the local Bakery as the quokkas wandered around the town looking for a free feed.  However everyone was under strict instructions not to feed the quokkas, or any of the wildlife on the island.  After lunch I hiked up to the second Lighthouse on the Island, the Wadjemup Lighthouse built after City of York was shipwrecked.  This gave me a chance to see more quokkas at close.

At 3.55 pm it was time to catch the return ferry.  This time I enjoyed the views from the upper deck on the outside of the ferry. 

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