Is Qantas’ Lounge Dress Code Ridiculous?

Filed Under: Qantas

Earlier in the year I first wrote about how Qantas would begin enforcing a dress code for their lounges as of April 1, 2015.

Qantas already had a stated dress code, though up until April 1, 2015, they weren’t enforcing it.


So what is the dress code for Qantas Clubs?

Smart, casual dress standards apply as a minimum at all times and entry may be refused if customers do not meet that standard. Bare feet or clothing with offensive images or slogans are not acceptable. In addition, individual lounges may have Club Rules regarding specific items of clothing which are not acceptable. Individual lounge managers will have discretion to administer these standards as they reasonably deem appropriate in the circumstances.

This policy has once again gotten a bit of attention this week, after an Australian singer took to her Facebook page after being kicked out of a Qantas Club over her footwear. Here’s her post, along with a picture of how she was dressed:

Disappointed to be evicted from the Qantas Lounge after being a member since 1990 for wearing 'inappropriate footwear'? hahaha (new rules)

Posted by Kate Ceberano on Sunday, October 4, 2015

Via The Sydney Morning Herald:

“We completely understand that being declined at the door isn’t a great experience, so this is a good opportunity to remind those wanting to use our capital city lounges of the dress code that applies,” a Qantas spokesman told Fairfax Media.

“We’ve always had smart casual dress standards for our lounges, which are similar for those in place for most clubs and restaurants. Over the past year or so, we had clear feedback from lounge members that they wanted these existing guidelines to be applied more rigorously.

“We reached out to members earlier this year to remind them of the dress standards and had a grace period up until April this year.”

“We appreciate this may have caused some frustration but we’re not in a position to flip-flop on the policy.”

Even though I’m someone who never wears open-toed shoes and doesn’t even own a pair of flip flops, I do find the policy a bit ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m disgusted when people with poorly maintained feet choose to wear open-toed shoes at airports. But at the same time I think there are much more offensive things we see at airports than that. And for that matter there are many people who wear open-toed shoes in an acceptable way.

Furthermore, I’d like to think the below part of the terms gives club agents a bit more discretion to logically apply the policy, as opposed to just enforcing it regardless of the situation:

Individual lounge managers will have discretion to administer these standards as they reasonably deem appropriate in the circumstances.

Bottom line

Like I said, it won’t impact me, but I do find the policy a bit over the top. While I certainly prefer people to wear close-toed shoes, I don’t take issue with the footwear in the above picture.

What do you make of Qantas’ lounge dress code? Should it be applied across the board, should it be applied selectively, or is it a silly rule?

(Tip of the hat to Mike)

  1. Totally ridiculous rule. As long as it’s not obscene, people should be able to wear whatever the hell they want. Crap like this makes it LESS likely that I’ll fly Qantas. The idea of a dress code for ANYTHING these days (except for perhaps a religious service), strikes me as dictatorial and puritan.

  2. Stupid rule. I remember a post here I think where you were in a China Airlines lounge and some dude didn’t even have shirt on…I laugh so hard. Now that I would deem unacceptable 🙂

  3. I regularly fly in very casual clothes including flip-flops, shorts and gym pants. Like it or not, the era of dressing up to fly is over. If I am going to be in a cramped plane seat – typically economy – for two or more hours, I don’t want to wear uncomfortable “work clothes.” I do think that dress code is ridiculous because it is an AIRPORT LOUNGE, not a club or nice restaurant you go out to. Not many people are going to the lounge for a night out, it’s just a preferable option to killing time at the airport.

  4. It’s quite simple: if you don’t like the rules, don’t fly with Qantas (or use their lounges). If you choose to fly with them (or use their lounges) then you abide by their rules….irrespective of what you may think of them.

  5. What i don’t understand about this situation, is here in Australia what she’s wearing is pretty much spot on “smart casual”. She’s not barefoot, she’s wearing neat attire with dressyish sandles.

  6. I was in 4 QF lounges in late April, early May this year no issues. Wife and I both in flip flops, jeans and t-shrits. No one said a word to us.

  7. Pretty ridiculous. There is a difference between bare feet and open toed. But at an even higher level the dress code is just silly.

  8. I totally agree with Ziggy. FIFO.

    Why are dress codes enforced in any establishment around the world? Its the only way someone at the door can apply some sort of objective judgement to decide who gets in and who doesn’t… I would be suprised if more than a couple of people a day get bounced at the door….

    Personally I don’t want to be sat in the Qantas First Class Lounge at Sydney enjoying amazing salt & pepper squid with a flute of Veuve only to be spoilt by some hooligans in their sport kit seeing how many beers they can down in the lounge.

    It is a pity that the couple on their way to Hawaii now have to “dress up” for the lounge but then again, as Zigi says, nobody is forcing you to fly Qantas…

  9. So the reason these rules exist in Australia is because of the FIFO workers who fly so much they have club access and they come in wearing work clothes or flip flops. It’s horrible and very bogan like (look it up).

    But i think the real reason they kicked out Kate Cebrano was because its Kate Cebrano.

  10. It’s a private Club with membership and if you can’t like it don’t go in. Now the one part I don’t like is, ” individual lounge managers will have discretion to administer these standards as they reasonably deem appropriate in the circumstances.” Being consistent will be tough since everybody can like something or dislike something.

  11. Not that I agree with the policy, but I like this line by the Qantas spokesman: “we’re not in a position to flip-flop on the policy” – pun intended? ^

  12. @ Rolex

    I think your almost spot on..

    In the first class lounge – yes there should be an enforced dress code… But.. This wasn’t a first class lounge, or even a business lounge. Its just a Qantas Club lounge..

    To quote you

    “Personally I don’t want to be sat in the Qantas First Class Lounge at Sydney enjoying amazing salt & pepper squid with a flute of Veuve only to be spoilt by some hooligans in their sport kit seeing how many beers they can down in the lounge.”

    Is the problem their dress sense or their behavior? Would you prefer to be enjoying your salt & pepper squid with a flute of Veuve only to be spoilt by some hooligans in their suit and tie seeing how many beers they can down in the lounge??

    Maybe rather than a dress policy they need a behaviour policy!

  13. we used the showers in the quantas lounge in nrt twice in aug, shorts, t-shirt and tennies . no problem

  14. This is just giving more power to the lounge dragons who can now arbitrarily deny anyone entry — whether it be if the person in question is actually violating the dress code or if the dragon is having a bad day, that is another question. Adds another level of unnecessary subjectiveness in the process. Suffice to say I will not be flying Qantas anytime soon and they can continue their draconian lounge access policies all they want.

  15. Certainly QANTAS are well within their rights to set a standard. Unfortunately, it’s a boneheaded move on their part. What she’s wearing IS “smart casual”, so they’ve taken a rule and enforced it to a point of absurdity. A smart Virgin Australia ought to jump on this opportunity to reinforce their message that they’re smart, hip and modern while QANTAS are old fashioned and stodgy.

  16. Just for some context for non-Aussies: Kate Ceberano is a MAJOR star down under. It’s like if Mariah Carey were evicted from an Admirals Club.

    And no, Qantas’s remark about a policy “flip-flop” is not a pun. Flip-flops are called thongs in Oz.

  17. I’m one of those that still get a bit dressed up (nice shoes, properly fitted jeans, collared shirt) when flying. And–yeah–I’m tired of the lazy-ass slobs who show up to a lounge and a premium cabin looking like they’ve just gotten back from a demolition derby at the Arkansas State Fair.

    So I’m with Qantas on this one. Though that singer looked perfectly fine to me.

  18. Agree 100% with Troy.

    Loud talkers (with cell phone or each other), space hoggers, and again loud talkers. These are the people that should be evicted. I’ll take someone who’s barefoot but well behaved any day.

  19. So if a Victoria Secrets models flying F on Qantas or another Oneworld airlines were to show up for her flight in a Chanel dress wearing a pair Louboutin youpiyou’s or Jimmy Choo Lang high heel sandals she would be shown away for being under-dressed?

  20. Flying is all about comfort for me. It’s 8 or 10 or 24 hours of not trying to impress anyone and being barely reachable.

    I’ve paid cash for many business class trips to Asia. It’s not my job to impress anyone. I find planes warm and I find Asia warm. Until I have to dress differently for work, it’s shorts, a tee and keens for me.

    I’ve paid $7000 dollars for that right.

    And I don’t drink, not even beer. I find alcoholic banter far more annoying than polite and comfortable.

  21. What’s wrong with you guys down under?. You invented casual, and your cousins up here in the frozen tundra have of course adopted similar.

    Considering the declining service provided, with the rising charges, airlines have no hesitation in treating us as cattle. Airbus now wants stacked seating?! What??!!

    As for “first class”, on more than one occasion I’ve had to bear with some annoying, loudmouth suit.

    Its the behavior, not the clothes that make a good customer, and person.

    Just sayin’

  22. As others stated, the dresscode is on place to be able to control FIFO workers who come in with high visibility vests, work boots or anybody else coming in wearing shorts, singlets and flip flops.

    The reason Kate Ceberano was rejected is because the day before she messed up the words of the national anthem when singing it before the start of the rugby Grand Final….

  23. I totally agree with Ziggy and Rolex! Too many people today push the envelope on what they wear to fly and in lounges. I think dress codes make a lounge. I was in a Marriott lounge in Bangkok last year and a man walked in barefoot and shorts and an open shirt, when I called him on it , we almost got into a fist fight! I commented to the lounge attendants and they made him leave. He did come back with shoes on, but started up with me again. The comments I see here that complain about a dress code in a particular lounge , if you don’t like it, don’t fly and don’t go in! My gain and your loss!

  24. The public dress like slobs. Good for QF to shape things up on common people. If you pay 7g or whatever, change into your first pj’s. Otherwise, dress with common sense.

  25. The challenge for Qantas is that individual lounge staff apply the policy VERY differently.

    We understand that if Kate Ceberano had presented herself in that same lounge the day before, with exactly the same footwear, she would have been let in.

  26. I think 90% + of comments here would fail to see the context of this story.
    It has been mentioned in the comments that these rules were created to deal with the fly in fly out workers (fifo). Anyone who has been to Perth lounge (Qantas club here is the business lounge here) a year or so ago when these rules were implemented would know why they were
    brought in. Traditional business travellers would literally have to jostle with these fifos for seats food etc & I can assure you most of these fifos aren’t the sort of people you’d be inviting to afternoon tea. Generally they wear hi-vis, thongs or steel capped boots & tend to be loud. My experience in the Perth lounge was FAR from a premium experience. In short, these fifos were alienating traditional business travellers (hello virgin). So this has been Qantas’ response to the problem. I for one back Qantas 100% on this.
    As for Kate cebrano being declined entry, I do personally think it’s a bit harsh, but the rules are the rules. All frequent flyers would know about these rules.
    Oh, and Kate cebrano used to be a big name here in oz, a long time ago. It would be exaggerating to suggest she’s been an A lister in the last 10-15 years. As usual, this is the press trying to spin a dramatic story out of nothing…

  27. The ‘casualness’ of us Australians was mentioned above. To be honest that casual standard has, for some time, been de-volving and the appropriateness of peoples attire has really pushed boundaries of what reasonable to wear in varoius circumstances.

    Those dress standards have found their way into the airline lounge. Qantas has drawn a line in the sand with singlets, boardshorts, thongs (flipflops) and sandals.

    The Qantas Club and Qantas Business lounges are meant to be a premium experience. The way members present themselves is part of that experience.

  28. @Richard – “a man walked in barefoot and shorts and an open shirt, when I called him on it”

    Why on Earth would you do that? Who died and made you the dress code police?

    “I commented to the lounge attendants”

    This is what you should’ve done in the first place, rather than play vigilante.

  29. Worth noting for those getting worked up about dress codes that these rules only apply in Domestic lounges in SYD/BNE/MEL/ADL/CBR.
    Nothing to stop you wearing thongs/flip-flops in the International lounges including the F Lounge

  30. This is epic. Some D grade celeb gets kicked out for not following the rules. The state of lounges in Aus is getting horrible. The Virgin Lounge needs to follow Qantas’ lead, the Sydney one is becoming a zoo. Caps, thongs, yoga pants, fisherman’s pants, work boots etc. Dress rules apply to all clubs, be it nightclubs, sailing clubs, private member clubs. Why shouldn’t they exist in airport lounges?

  31. I’m all for dress codes, but the fact that her TOES are showing is the deal breaker?! I dress reasonably well when flying, but often wear nice sandals. So, no Qantas lounge for me? That’s as dumb, imo, as claiming “no orange or chartreuse clothing.” What the hell is wrong with cute, strappy sandals? That’s just nuts.

  32. As someone who regularly flies out of PER and has spent enough time in the Qantas Club and the Lounge (Virgin Australias lounge product), I can tell you that the FIFO crews that populate the Qantas club are the exact reason these rules were implemented. At times, they were rocking up in athletic shorts (nothing left for the imagination, truly horrendous) and a bintang singlet, no shoes, smelling of BO and they weren’t shy about it either.

    Thats not to say the Lounge doesn’t also have a number of FIFOs but the companies those guys work for have a mandate for them to have their High Vis gear on before they land as a safety requirement which makes plenty of sense (for anyone in Australia, Roy Hill and BHP use VA alot for their flights to site it seems).

    I have no problem if you look like at least half respectable but showing up looking like you have just rolled out of bed (Sorry Lucky, no pyjamas in transit) or offering an odour that no amount of deodorant will cover should be banned from lounges. Its a private club and they have every right to evict you if you don’t comply with their terms. And if Qantas wants to start enforcing its rules which have been there for a very long time, let them.

    On the note of Kate Cerberano, shes a washed up celebrity that hasn’t done anything notable for years until managing to mess up the national anthem a couple of weeks ago at the Grand Final. The Lounge Manager probably decided to kick her out after she messed up, wouldn’t blame her as after all, they are the spirit of Australia.

  33. It’s a private club. Nobody forces you to use it.

    If you’re dressed in jeans or don’t have a jacket you aren’t allowed to eat at Per Se either. It’s your choice.

    There were plenty of seats in the terminal if you want to dress like a slob.

    BTW, just having lots of money doesn’t make you respectable, often just a bigger fool; it’s a lesson that @Frog, the FIFOs, and many Chinese nuveau riche have yet to learn.

  34. As a Platinum Qantas FF I spend a lot of time on thier planes and in their lounges. If I have shelled out that much then do I expect a certain level of dress amongst my fellow passengers? Yep sure do. If you want to slum it then try a low cost carrier.

  35. @Lucky: There is a difference between “we see at airports” and “we should see at clubs/lounges”. I support Quantas and their rules.

  36. This is not sarcastic, I particularly enjoy the aligned and informed Australian public response to this thread. Especially about Perth fifo as I used to be one. That is why I enjoy the Melbourne business lounge within lounge enclave.

  37. We live in a society and we have to cater for the 1% that doesn’t “get it”, the ones that wear smelly, ill-fitting clothes, open toed footwear with poor feet hygiene, not just smelly, but nasty ingrown yellow nails and what not.
    So I am happy if the rules prohibit some ladies wearing flip flops that showcase their otherwise perfect pedi from entering the lounge if that means that they also stop one of the 1% from entering the lounge.
    It is one of the reasons you sit in the lounger and not at the gate anyway. And as someone else said earlier, these are the rules, you know them beforehand, or you should, so don’t go about throwing a hissy fit about it. Either change your attire to abide by the rules, or you can go and wait by the gate, depends on which of the two you value the most.

  38. Folks, folks, folks, calm down. The Qantas Club is not a First Class Lounge. It’s not even a Business Class lounge — Biz passengers & OneWorld Emerald flyers use the dedicated Business lounges.

    The QF Club is a room for OneWorld Sapphires and fee-paying nobodies.

    If there’s a problem specific to Perth — of smelly mining workers in transit — then there are more nuanced ways of addressing it than by banning everybody in the world from entering any Qantas Club wearing stylish sandals. Get over yourselves. This is not the Palais de Cannes.

    Oh, and @ Respect — If you’re going to be a snob, at least learn how to spell “nouveau riche”.

  39. Although I have no way of knowing whether her footwear passed the smell test, airline lounges are full of people more in violation of the smart casual edict. There is certainly nothing ‘smart’ about her companion’s footwear. There are no doubt people allowed into the lounge in t-shirts or shorts, so her sandals, without extenuating circumstances, are a step up from what others may be wearing.

  40. I returned my Gold Membership Card and will never fly Qantas again. This stupid rule was enforced after partening with Emirates, so I imagine that Qantas just obeyed its new boss. I fly London-Sydney-London mostly, wear thongs often and won’t accept to be refused the entrance at the First Class lounge. Now I fly British Airways.

  41. Just a little aside on women and plane flights…especially long haul…our feet swell. Yes yes you thought we were perfect, but. Good leather sandals are a practical solution to that problem.

  42. This make want to join the club, a dress code is a must for any 5 star establisment. Yes I am one those people that feels the break down if tardtiond in Western Civilization is a threat to its exstances.

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