Airline Lounge Nutrition Review – Initial Impressions
Covid-19 has certainly affected the airport lounge experience of some airlines, and Qantas is one of them. I reviewed the Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Domestic T3 in both February and April 2021 to try conduct a fair review due to challenges of the travel environment in Australia (snap lockdowns anyone!). And with travel slowly increasing through out 2021 I thought reviewing it at two time points may reflect changes in the experience as more people started flying and Qantas became busier, however both experiences were fairly similar.
During the April 2021 visit the Qantas Club was open and so I had thought there may have been some improvements to the food variety and quality (to differentiate between the two lounges) however I was disappointed to find no change in the Business Lounge offerings. (I will have to see what the offerings in the Qantas Club look like next).
Overall it was good to see a variety of choices offered in the lounge: salads, sandwiches, a hot dish, a soup dish, cheese/antipasto/vegetable plates and dessert. Sounds fantastic on paper doesn’t it?! However unfortunately what I found was the execution wasn’t always great in terms of food quality, nutrition, and choice.
- The vegetable stick platters – ok I think you all know these dishes are my favorite! Great to see vegetables and dip as a snack, and they seem to be available throughout the day (both lunch, in the afternoon, and dinner from my experience in a number of different Qantas lounges across the country at different times).
- Cheese plates – I thought these were great as they had approx. 1 serve of cheese which is a good portion as a snack or side dish. It came with a beetroot dip which wasn’t very creamy which was good. It did come with 3 slices of salami, which as a processed meat I do not recommend eating often, but the portion size was small on this plate and so ok to have occasionally. There were also a couple of pickled onions/pickles and olives on the plate too which I also liked.
- Salad bowls with a mix of colourful vegetables and cold potatoes. Cooked and cooled potatoes are a source of resistant starch (good for gut health) and so having a balance between potatoes and colourful vegetables is quite a nutritious choice. There was also only a light dressing on the salad which helps keep the calories (kilojoules down) but still provides flavour. I also love the bowls the salads are served in – they are about a cup size which is on average what us dietitians would call 1 serve of vegetables (if fresh salad) or 2 serves of vegetables (if cooked). And so if you have at least one of these then you are on your way to your 5 serves a day. But be mindful, just because something is called a salad doesn’t mean it always is (as seen below with the other salad options).
- Whole fruit was available – big tick from this travel dietitian! Always great to have fresh fruit as a choice.
Not so great (caution)
- There were not many options for nutritious, high fibre, wholegrains – all I could see on offer were white and refined carbohydrates. The sandwiches on offer were on foccacia bread, which is usually low in fibre and high in energy), or plain white bread. The hot dish was chicken cacciatore with white rice – again low fibre carbohydrates. Now if you only travel occasionally then this isn’t too much of an issue, however if you are beginning to fly again more frequently, then eating these foods regularly is not recommended.
- While I love the salads that have lots of colourful vegetables, there were some salads that unfortunately didn’t really have any even though they were listed in the description. Both the cous cous salad and the pasta salad were mainly… well just that… cous cous and pasta. Now, cous cous and pasta can both fit nicely into a balanced diet, however because both these bowls are about the size of a cup, this means there are approx. 2 serves of breads/cereals food group here, and for some people that is nearly half their daily intake. So if you had one of these salads with a foccacia sandwich, and some chicken cacciatore with rice, then it would be easy accidentally eat more than your daily requirements.
- The hot meal choices on both visits was chicken cacciatore which was served with half a plate of white rice. If choosing this dish I would recommend asking for only 1 small spoon of white rice. While it was great to see some cauliflower and broccoli in the dish, you don’t always get a generous amount of veggies so I always view these vegetables as a bonus and not something I bet on getting.
- The amount of filling on the sandwiches was at best described as minimal. The sandwiches are predominately bread, with minimal salad or protein rich filling. When having a meal it is always best to aim for half you meal as vegetables, and with these types of sandwiches it would be hard to reach this. So if you choose sandwiches, have only 1 and choose a side salad/vegetable platter.
Last word from travel nutrition review of Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Domestic!
There are some good offerings here in Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney Domestic, especially during this challenging period of travel. It is great to see a a number of choices for people to eat depending on their hunger levels i.e. a hot meal, smaller plates and sandwiches. However, just remember not all options are necessarily good for you – just because something is labeled a salad or a sandwich doesn’t mean it is healthy. You still need to make careful food choices here, especially if you are upping your time in the air once again. I hope the quality of the food improves as we keep moving forward with travel this year.
Here are the menus for the two visits I reviewed:
For more information on my visits to airport lounges, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. And I always love hearing from you so if you want personalised advice or consultancy services please reach out.
And here is a refresher on how I conduct a food and nutrition review of an airport lounge.
NOTE: All pictures are my own and I review a lounge from just the foods I see during my visit. There may be different options available at other times.