News National Access to Qantas lounge tops parliamentary gift register

Access to Qantas lounge tops parliamentary gift register

He flies frequently, but the PM has membership at neither lounge. Photo: AAP
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Australia’s national airline Qantas is the biggest gift giver to politicians, parliamentary records show.

The airline has given at least 105 MPs free access to its exclusive Chairman’s Lounge.

Virgin Australia is also a strong contender for the most giving company, with 94 politicians members of the airline’s rival VIP lounge, The Club.

Money cannot buy membership to either of the lounges, but ordinary business lounge access costs Qantas customers $510 a year, while Virgin Australia charges $330 for joining.

Both lounges are invitation only, employ more staff and are more private than the business class lounges offered by the airlines.

They also offer unlimited free food and alcohol.

Qantas also dishes out eight free upgrades from economy to business class every year to VIP members.

The guest list for the Chairman’s Lounge is secret, but no more than 7,000 people can get on the list at any time.

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce once described it as “probably the most exclusive club in the country”.

Alan Joyce
Alan Joyce says Qantas has probably the most exclusive club in Australia. Photo: Getty

Around half of wives and husbands of federal politicians have also been given membership and Qantas is more generous than Virgin in extending access to spouses.

But spouses are not the only ones to make it into the VIP rooms.

The newly elected Labor MP Julian Hill is the only politician whose children are able to access the lounges.

Qantas has a general rule that all Federal MPs have Chairman’s Lounge membership, but the most recent declarations of gifts shows not everyone has a membership.

Senate crossbenchers do not seem to have access to either of the elite lounges.

None of the One Nation or Nick Xenophon Team senators have listed a membership to either of the lounges.

Senators Bob Day, Derryn Hinch, David Leyonhjelm and Jacqui Lambie do not have access either.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has waded into many policy debates involving Qantas, but there is no mention of a VIP membership on his declarations.