Virgin Australia to build 'flagship' lounge at Sydney airport

By David Flynn, November 23 2011
Virgin Australia to build 'flagship' lounge at Sydney airport

Virgin Australia is set to transform its well-worn lounge at Sydney Airport into a 'flagship' lounge spread over two floors.

Speaking at today's Virgin Australia annual general meeting, CEO John Borghetti confirmed "we will commence work on a new flagship lounge at Sydney domestic airport".

The lounge will be given a total makeover with a clean, contemporary design based on the look of the slick Melbourne and Brisbane lounges created by Sydney-based architectural firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer.

In an interview earlier this year, TGZ's Tim Greer told Australian Business Traveller that the Sydney lounge will be expanded to encompass two floors.

“The (current) main lounge is on the lower level, there’s another mezzanine level upstairs which the airport have been using for functions" Greer explained. "We’ll take over that space and have a two storey lounge.”

This unique layout should allow Virgin Australia to keep the lounge open, by renovating one floor while another remains operational, rather than completely closing the lounge as was the case at Melbourne and Brisbane airports.

The Sydney lounge will also contain the same set of features and 'zones' as Melbourne, Greer says, "but configured for a different space.”

"We’ll have have a suite of lounges based on the same ideas, with a visual connection but subtle differences. But they’ll all have a library space, a bar space, a hub space, a verandah space and a quick stay space because those are the spaces we’ve identified that people really want.”

Here's how those spaces look and work in the world of Virgin Australia.

Quick stay

The short stay or quick stay area is intended for passengers who arrive in the lounge with only a short period of time before their flight.

At the Melbourne lounge, shown above, a thin translucent screen helps define this space.

The quick stay zone is sensibly located close to the Lounge's entrance, as well as being near the food & drink area (above) and the service desk (below).

The hub

This is the primary workspace and gathering space for guests.

It's located further into the lounge, near the food & drink area (and also the all-important bar).

Greer chose these curved workbenches instead of long squared desks; each workstation includes several handy pop-up AC outlets.

The bar

What's an airport lounge without a bar? And Virgin's got perhaps the funkiest bar of its kind.

Snaking along the lounge like a chic inner-city wine bar, it also doubles as a stand-up zone for socialising at the end of a long day.

That violet glow you're seeing at the front of the bench comes from a grid of LED lights inside the fixture.

The colour can even changed to suit different times of the day and reflect the different 'moods' of passengers, such as brighter for the morning and more soothing for the end of the day.

The library

Situated well away from the bar is a softer zone which Virgin Australia intends as a mobile phone-free area (although in both the Melbourne and Brisbane lounges the signage attesting to this needs to be much larger and more noticeable).

Drapes around the windows and carpet on the floor helps deaden the sound.

The verandah

The verandah overlooks the airport's tarmac, gates and runways, and even though it's not outdoors it makes the best use of the lounge's natural light and open space.

It's a mixed-use space designed for solo travellers and groups alike, whether you want to catch up on some last-minute email or just wind down.

If you're a regular visitor to Virgin Australia's Melbourne and Brisbane lounges, what's your feedback to Tim Greer and John Borghetti in terms of shaping the new Sydney lounge?


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

So Virgin's Sydney lounge will be across two floors? It's already a big lounge, I wonder if they will make part of the upstairs lounge into a VIP area like the Qantas Chairman's Lounge?

30 Jun 2011

Total posts 49

At the Melbourne lounge i am not sure the 'bar' space as described above is working out very well - rarely do I see many folks gathered there. And the ' library' is certainly not mobile phone free. But otherwise, Brisbane and Melb look great so bring on the double-deck Sydney.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Yes, they need much larger 'mobile free zone' signage in the Library areas – you really need to look to find them, which isn't really the idea!

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

I don't know what it is that makes airline lounge designers around the world think that having a massive bar in middle of the lounge is a good idea.

Qantas does it, BA does it, Virgin Australia does it -- and there's rarely anyone sitting there.

The space would be better used for more "armchairs with power points" like American does so well in its LHR lounge and Cathay does slightly less well in its not-Hong Kong lounges.

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