Smart travellers know that a holiday or business trip starts at the airport well before the flight departs and airports and airlines are stepping up to the plate to offer premium spaces where travellers can refresh, relax, eat well and even enjoy express spa treatments after check-in.
In recent years Brisbane Airport's International and Domestic Terminals have each had multi-million dollar makeovers and airline guest lounges have followed suit. Features such as Wi-Fi and plentiful charging points are standard and lounge services now include everything from healthy menus to welcome drinks and signature dishes masterminded by celebrity chefs.
Even if you're not travelling on a First Class or Business Class ticket, you can buy into the VIP experience in some lounges with a single use entry on the day of travel.
Qantas International Premium Lounge
Don't be surprised if you start to have visions of a holiday at Noosa even as you enter the Qantas International Premium Lounge which has a beach house-come-reef escape vibe, starting with a welcome drink.
The lounge is split across three levels and with interiors reflecting the Queensland landscape, from the dramatic bespoke glass and light art installation called The Pulse of Our Ancient Land by Jenna Lee that dominates the entry to rugs inset with colours and textures reminiscent of the reef and waterways of Queensland's coast.
Seasonal menus are designed by celebrity chef and Rockpool founder Neil Perry who is also creative director of food, beverage and service for Qantas. According to lounge manager Sam Williams, guests gravitate towards healthy choices and a popular dish on the menu is the breakfast bowl with a 65-degree egg on kale salad with grilled haloumi. A breakfast hatch on the mezzanine level offers quick serve dishes such as bircher muesli and breakfast bowls.
The Quench hydration station - a concept repeated in the Qantas Domestic Business Lounge at Brisbane Airport - where guests can rehydrate before flying, from a choice of a Rockpool signature tisane blend, infused water or a range of non-alcoholic beverages. Barista coffee is served all day. A premium hot and cold buffet is also available and a bar serves Rockpool-designed cocktails, craft beer and premium Australian wines.
A new level has opened in May 2019 taking over the previous space of the Air New Zealand Lounge, which moved to a new location in 2016. The ground floor offers barista-made coffee, a buffet of hot and cold dishes, a Quench hydration station, plenty of seating and of course, WiFi.
- Location: Airside Level 4, International Terminal, near Gate 80
- Open: from 5.30am daily, Level One and Three are only open until 11am daily
- Capacity: 395 people
- Who gets in: Qantas and Emirates First, Qantas and Emirates International Business, Jetstar Business Max, China Eastern customers, Cathay Pacific Business Class and eligible One World Emerald and Sapphire Members, Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum and Platinum One and Qantas Club members.
Plaza Premium Lounge and Wellness Spa
Plaza Premium Lounge is Australia's first independent international airport lounge where membership is not required for entry and it has been judged World's Best Independent Airport Lounge in the annual global Skytrax.
Chef Kalesh Kamal's range of signature dishes includes a popular fish ball soup, laksa and a visually stunning lollipop dessert. There's a live cooking station, a buffet of hot meals, salad bar and freshly brewed barista coffee.
The Wellness Spa, open from 8am to 8pm daily, offers a range of organic spa treatments using products developed from natural ingredients at Jasmin Organic based at Tamborine Mountain. Lounge guests can enjoy treats from a quick 15-minute hand massage to 40-minute back, neck and shoulder massages or spend an hour luxuriating in a full body massage.
- Location: Level 4, near Gate 81
- Open: 5am until last departure at night
- Capacity: 95 people
- Who gets in: Open on a pay-as-you-go basis on day of travel. Two hours for $60* and five hours for $70*. Wellness Spa treatments start from $49*.
SilverKris Lounge, Singapore Airlines
Elements of Singapore Airline's heritage have been woven into the décor which includes comfortable high-backed lounge chairs and business pods which line the walls. High ceilings allow plenty of natural light to flood the space and afford views of the departure tarmac for anyone keen on plane spotting.
With the buffet zone housed in a nook near the entrance, there's plenty of time and space to peruse the options and then eat in the dedicated dining area. The international flavours on the menu range from curry and yum cha to corn fritters, quiche and arancini. If that doesn't tickle your appetite, visitors are invited into the kitchen to talk with executive chef Jason Sydenham about special requests. There's also the chance to preview the food of Singapore with Jason's popular laksa, satay and meesiam, but his deserts are a treat too. Jason also is responsible for the beautiful roses that often decorate the lounge.
- Location: Level 4, near Gate 81
- Open: Three hours before Singapore Airlines flight departures and closes following the departure of the day's final SQ flight
- Capacity: 80 people
- Who gets in: Singapore Airlines Business and First Class passengers, PPS Club members, Krisflyer Elite Gold members, Virgin Australia Velocity VIP / Platinum / Gold members; Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold cardholders; Star Alliance Gold members. Departing on Star Alliance operated carriers: First and Business Class passengers; Star Alliance Gold members.
Air New Zealand Lounge
Its prime corner position offers the best Brisbane city skyline view from the airport and its chandelier-style lighting is a nod to Brisbane's Story Bridge. The buffet focuses on hearty, home-style food and popular dishes include a lamb stew and raspberry cheesecake accompanied by New Zealand wine or beer. On Monday and Friday nights the lounge's 'Surprise and delight' service sees bite-sized treats served directly to passengers. There's also a semi-enclosed children's room with a television.
- Location: Level 4, near Gate 81
- Open: Two hours 30 minutes before departure
- Capacity: 183 people
- Who gets in: Airpoints Elite, Gold, Elite Partner and Koru members plus Business Class passengers departing on Air New Zealand flights.
Emirates Business Class Lounge
Setting the tone for premium and luxury travel, the Emirates Business Class lounge was the first of its kind to open at Brisbane Airport's International Terminal in 2004. Leading the way in premium offerings, travellers can enjoy an array of self-serve food with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options in addition to a kids menu for young travellers as well as a large selection of beverages. Sit down, relax and enjoy a taste of Emirates’ onboard product offering yet to come, in the spacious lounge where you can dine in the restaurant area and watch planes take off, or choose to relax in an arm chair and catch up on the latest broadcast news. For those wishing to gain WiFi or computer access the complimentary Business Centre is also available. The Emirates Brisbane Business Class Lounge is the only lounge in the terminal offering direct boarding to the aircraft, keeping in line with Emirates goal of making travel easy for passengers.
- Location: Airside Level 4, International Terminal
- Open: Open 3 hours prior to departure of all Emirates flights
- Capacity: 172 people
- Who gets in: First class and business class passengers, Skywards eligible tiers and paid lounge access for non-eligible customers
Opening soon: Virgin Australia "My Lounge"
Due to open in mid-2019, is Virgin Australia's international pop up lounge, My Lounge. The lounge will be operated by UK-based No1 lounges and will be located at the end of the terminal's northern concourse, next to Gate 77. The lounge aims to offer a relaxed, contemporary environment in a loft apartment style. Guests can dine on a grazing menu, barista-made coffee and a bar. Something a little different is the games room to finish the loft apartment aesthetic of My Lounge.
- Location: The end of the Northern Concourse next to Gate 77
- Open: Details TBC
- Capacity: 100 people
- Who gets in: Virgin business class passengers, Platinum and Gold Velocity Frequent Flyer members on flights to New Zealand, Los Angeles, Bali and the Pacific Islands, paid members of the Virgin Australia Lounge program will also be welcome prior to eligible flights.