Qantas lounges to reopen after coronavirus shutdown with new health regime

Qantas will begin reopening its domestic airport lounges from Wednesday around the country - but not in Melbourne or Brisbane.

The airline closed its domestic and international lounges on March 23 after government restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak saw most flights suspended.

Business class domestic lounges in Sydney, Perth and Canberra will open on July 1, along with the Qantas Club at Adelaide Airport. The airline will also open regional lounges at airports in Alice Springs, Kalgoorlie, Tamworth, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Broome, Karratha and Launceston.

Passengers will notice some differences due to the airline's new "Fly Well" health and safety regime. Numbers will be capped based on the state guidelines on indoor gathering limits. The self-serve buffet is also gone, replaced by a hosted "Snacking Station" and hot drinks will now be served in disposable cups.

Menu items can be ordered and will be delivered by staff on a tray. Dishes include roast field mushrooms, kale and cheese tarts with tomato relish; bacon and egg rolls; bacon, chili and parmesan frittatas; to blackberry cheesecakes and carrot and pecan cakes with cream cheese frosting.

"This is a new world for everyone as we introduce and evolve our services to the new travel climate, but we're very confident that we can make this work well for our people and our customers," said Qantas chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully.

"Some initiatives will become the norm while others such as capacity restrictions will ease as time goes on. We haven't ruled out a return of the buffet, toastie and pancake maker in the future or the reintroduction of self-serve beverage stations when restrictions ease, in the meantime, we are hopeful Qantas customers will enjoy the extra personalised offering."

The airline plans to reopen the Melbourne and Brisbane lounges from July 10 if current gathering restrictions are eased. The exclusive, invite-only Chairman's Lounge will reopen in August.

The lounge changes are the next stage of the airline's new hygiene regime, which was first rolled out on June 13. These include providing masks and sanitising wipes to passengers, contactless check-in and sanitiser stations at departure gates.

Virgin Australia's lounges remain closed. A spokesperson said: "We continue to assess the opening of lounges as travel restrictions ease and demand returns. We are assessing travel volumes and working on the right approach to lounge re-opening."

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