Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Qantas vs Virgin Australia: battle of the business lounge breakfast
Breakfast: it's the most important meal of the day, and one that many business travellers tuck into at their favourite airport lounge.
But how do those lounges compare in the breakfast stakes?
In our exclusive 'Battle of the Business Lounge Breakfast' we set out to compare the morning fare at the Qantas Club, Qantas Business Lounge and Virgin Australia Lounge.

Round 1: Coffee

There's no better start to a journey than with a great cuppa. Qantas and Virgin Australia both recognise this, with all three lounges offering a barista service which continues until closing time.
Qantas grinds Vittoria Oro beans in both its lounges, pouring coffees into takeaway cups in the Qantas Club...
... and into mugs and pyrex glasses over in the Business Lounge for a more cafe-like experience, where caramel- and vanilla-flavoured syrups are also available with hazelnut frequently appearing as well.
Virgin Australia too uses mugs and glassware for its range of Grinders coffees, breaks out a 'Virgin' stencil for the cappuccino crowd and keeps the same three flavoured syrups at the ready:
The baristas at all three airport lounges were skilled in 'latte art' – although the espresso shot in our Virgin lounge latte tasted slightly bitter this time around, while the milk in the Qantas Club latte was hotter than usual and singed a few taste buds.
Delivered and presented flawlessly in every respect, the Qantas Business Lounge wins on the morning coffee with Virgin Australia's java next in line ahead of the Qantas Club.

Round 2: Food

The Qantas and Virgin Australia lounges all serve basic cereals and breads, with toasters nearby, but what sets each lounge apart is whatelse is on the menu.
In the Qantas Club you'll find ham, cheese and tomato for an easy toasted sandwich...
... fresh fruit salad, yoghurts and a delightful Bircher muesli...
... a choice of apples...
... hard boiled eggs and a pancake machine with maple syrup standing by...
... but which churned out what we'd call bite-sized pikelets rather than actual 'pancakes', despite their tastiness:
The Qantas Business Lounge kicks things up a notch with waiters serving a cafe-style 'plate of the day' straight to your table or seat between 6am and 8am, with the plate changing weekly and also from lounge to lounge so that travellers aren't constantly seeing the same dish.
When we compared the lounges at Brisbane the breakfast menu boasted sautéed mushrooms with goat's curd bruschetta: a somewhat uncommon breakfast pairing but which arrived perfectly seasoned and went down a treat...
... with more mushrooms, bacon and also light and fluffy scrambled eggs found over at the buffet, along with hard boiled eggs in a nod to the Qantas Club.
Those are joined again by fruit salad and also ham, cheese and tomato – but which take the sidelines against individually-prepared Greek-style yoghurts, rather than being the main attraction:
As a further X-factor, Business Lounge guests can also create their own breakfast smoothies and juices by blending any or many of the fresh ingredients nearby:
The Virgin Australia Lounge puts its best foot forward in offering two hot dishes at any one time: our visit saw delicious potato rostis and crispy Canadian bacon.
There's also the familiar pancake machine, producing full-sized pancakes with a more inspired and delicious variety of condiments with cream, strawberry jam and pineapple joining the traditional maple syrup:
When eggs aren't featured as one of the two other hot dishes you'll instead find them here in the chilled zone with nice Bircher muesli and a Greek-style yoghurt that mixes well with the adjacent fruit salad...
... plus sliced mango, relish and the usual toasted sandwich favourites, with green pears over by the bread selection:
Let's be honest: between these two airlines and their three lounges, Australians are fairly spoiled!

So who's got the best business lounge breakfast..?

No surprises here: the combination of table service, weekly cafe-grade specials, a larger variety of yoghurts and hot dishes plus coffee to rival the country's best cafes sees the Qantas Business Lounge win this battle hands-down.
With a well-rounded offering that's steadily improved over recent years the Virgin Australia Lounge slips into second place, ahead of the Qantas Club.
It's worth noting that Virgin allows both Gold and Platinum frequent flyers into its lounge, while Qantas sends Platinums to its business lounge and Golds to the Qantas Club: so for Gold-grade flyers, Virgin comes up trumps.

Qantas vs Virgin Australia: battle of the business lounge breakfast

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