Daily Mail Thursday 25th April 2019
Qantas has cut Cardinal George Pell from its Chairman’s Lounge – described as ‘the most exclusive club in Australia’ – as he laungishes in jail for molesting choirboys.
For years Pell had been able to hobnob with movie stars, prime ministers and captains of industry while enjoying fine dining and expensive wines on the airline.
The Chairman’s Lounge is an invitation-only club for favoured Qantas customers who are treated to pre-flight massages, seat upgrades and personal service at all times.
Members, who do not pay any fees, simply call it ‘CL’.
It is so exclusive that Qantas will not confirm who is a member, how they are chosen or even how many members there are.
Qantas has cut Cardinal George Pell from its exclusive Chairman’s Lounge, described as ‘the most exclusive club in Australia’ as he languishes in jail for molesting choirboys in the 1990s
Designer furniture and leather lounges adorn the Chairman’s Lounges in each of Australia’s major airports, with top-shelf liquor and five-star food available. Pictured is the Sydney lounge
Pell was jailed in March for three years and eight months after being found guilty of one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and four charges of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child.
The offences were committed against two 13-year-old choirboys in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 when Pell was the newly-ordained Archbishop of Melbourne.
Pell, the third most senior cleric in the Catholic Church, has always denied the offences and has appealed against the convictions.
Qantas would not comment on the 77-year-old’s Chairman’s Lounge status but it was confirmed to Daily Mail Australia by independent sources he is no longer a member.
It is not known exactly when Qantas cut Pell’s privileges but airline insiders say Chairman’s Lounge membership is largely about ‘commercial relationships’ and a flyer’s expenditure.
The man formerly known as the Vatican’s treasurer will certainly not be flying anywhere for a while.
Losing his Chairman’s Lounge membership is another indignity for Australia’s most reviled clergyman.
After his convictions Pell was stripped of an honorary position as vice patron of the Richmond Football Club which he had held since 1997.
No need for public announcements: A Chairman’s Lounge host will walk up to a member and quietly inform them when their flight is ready to board. Pictured is the lounge in Melbourne
Qantas ambassadors such as Hugh Jackman and John Travolta are members of the Chairman’s Lounge, as are several high-profile media identities. Membership extends to partners
St Patrick’s College in Ballarat, where Pell boarded through the 1950s, removed his name from a building and dropped him as a ‘legend of the school’.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated Pell would be stripped of his Companion of the Order of Australia, an honour granted in 2005, if he loses his appeal.
While Qantas does not reveal exactly how Chairman’s Lounge membership is bestowed, among its beneficiaries are politicians, judges and the chairs and chief executives of companies with major Qantas corporate accounts.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce once told Australian Business Traveller the Chairman’s Lounge was ‘probably the most exclusive club in the country.’
‘Membership is very sought after and it’s a great asset for Qantas to utilise for our commercial endeavours,’ Mr Joyce said.
Frequent flyer points will get customers benefits up to Platinum One status but will not gain entry to the Chairman’s Lounge.
It is assumed most or all federal MPs are invited to join, as are state premiers, the heads of major unions and the occasional senior cleric such as Pell.
‘Membership is very sought after and it’s a great asset for Qantas to utilise for our commercial endeavours,’ said Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce. Pictured is the lounge in Sydney
Qantas ambassadors such as Hugh Jackman and John Travolta are members, as are several high-profile media identities. Membership extends to partners.
Independent senator Fraser Anning said he had been stripped of his Chairman’s Lounge membership after he was censured by parliament for blaming Muslims for the Christchurch massacre.
Senator Anning had claimed immigration of ‘Muslim fanatics’ led to a white supremacist murdering 50 worshipers in two mosques on March 15 and that ‘while Muslims may have been victims today, usually they are the perpetrators.’
The Qantas chairman, currently Richard Goyder, signs off on two-year memberships to the lounge but there is a perception the Irish-born Catholic Mr Joyce controls who gets in the door.
Members are issued with a matte black card which can also give them priority treatment in other parts of airports such as at security scanners.
There are lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.
All are hidden behind smoked glass doors and are usually located near other Qantas lounges.
Inside, the bar opens early and flows freely with champagne and boutique beers.
There is an a la carte menu with table service and for some time the most popular meal has reportedly been the salt and pepper calamari with hot green sauce.
Helpful staff personally inform customers when their flight is ready – there is no need for public announcements.
One member told Business Insider: ‘It’s more like a retreat than anything else.’
Pell’s appeal against his conviction will be heard in June.
George Pell was jailed in March for three years and eight months for sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child.
Currently George Pell is, in the view of the law, a convicted paedophile and sex offender.
That may/may not change at his appeal.
The kind of people who patronise exclusive airport lounges would want to share their space with a sex offender.
It just shows you that when you fall from favour and grace people do not want want to know you any longer.
Of course if there is any possibility that Pell is innocent (I don’t believe he is) he is entitled to full due process..
At the moment being banned from airport lounges is the least of hus problems.
He might soon find himself a “layman”.