Virgin’s pop-up Melbourne lounge to alleviate crowding

Expect less waiting and more space, while The Club will be exclusively for business class and Platinum flyers.

By David Flynn, April 30 2021
Virgin’s pop-up Melbourne lounge to alleviate crowding
Executive Traveller exclusive

Virgin Australia will open a temporary lounge at Melbourne Airport to address over-crowding while its main lounge remains closed for ongoing maintenance and renovation.

The airline has been relying on The Club lounge – previously a private haven for members of its exclusive invitation-only Velocity VIP tier – since December 2020, with access for business class passengers and alongside Velocity Platinum and Gold members.

However, the continued recovery of domestic air travel – while good news for the airline and travellers alike – has had a side-effect of The Club's limited capacity being swamped.

Many Virgin Australia travellers are experiencing long queues at the door during peak periods, with some reporting a wait of 15-20 minutes or simply skipping their pre-flight lounge visit entirely.

Where is Virgin's temporary Melbourne Airport lounge?

As a short-term solution, Virgin has created a new 'pop-up' lounge adjacent to Terminal 3's AFL Kitchen & Bar – which in turn is next to Virgin's service desk – in space previously occupied by Picketts Deli & Rotisserie.

Virgin's pop-up lounge is next door to the AFL Kitchen & Bar at T3.
Virgin's pop-up lounge is next door to the AFL Kitchen & Bar at T3.

This means it's located before security, so visitors won't be able to dally once their flight is called.

The temporary lounge will open on Monday May 3 and operate across the same hours as usual: opening an hour prior to departure of the first flight each day and closing after the departure of the last flight.

Who can use Virgin's temporary Melbourne Airport lounge?

The temporary pop-up lounge will host Velocity Gold members, holders of single-use lounge passes (such as those issued to Velocity Silver members), Virgin Australia Lounge members, "eligible partner airline guests and eligible credit card partners."

Executive Traveller understands there'll be room for around 90 passengers, as the airline remains subject to Victoria's strict COVID capacity constraints.

Visitors can expect similar food and drink options as at The Club, with an added 'grab and go' section for those short on time.

What about The Club lounge?

The Club lounge will now be restricted to business class passengers, Velocity Platinum frequent flyers and The Club members, making it both a little less crowded and a little more exclusive.

The Club lounge will see access restricted to 'premium travellers'.
The Club lounge will see access restricted to 'premium travellers'.

Some changes are also being made to the placement of furniture to increase the number of seats available from the current 144.

Virgin estimates that both lounges will provide room for some 250 travellers, or an over 65% increase - although that's still well short of the standard Melbourne lounge's 700-person capacity.

When will Virgin's Melbourne lounge re-open?

Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka anticipates the renovated Melbourne lounge will pull down the hoardings and roll out the welcome mat "mid-year."

It's not known how different the lounge will look from before – for example, how close will it look to Virgin's fresh lounge experience as typified by the new Adelaide Airport lounge?

Virgin Australia's new-look Adelaide Airport lounge.
Virgin Australia's new-look Adelaide Airport lounge.

Virgin's General Manager of Product and Customer Experience, Sarah Adam, has told Executive Traveller "there will be elements that we'll be able to inject into our existing spaces as we go through our maintenance and refurbishment plan...where it makes sense that aesthetically we can make those changes."

"The greenery around the (Adelaide lounge) makes it feel a bit more welcoming, so that would be one of the obvious choices we would make," Adam says. "In addition to that, potentially some of the soft furnishings that we have in the space."

Virgin Australia's new-look Adelaide Airport lounge.
Virgin Australia's new-look Adelaide Airport lounge.

Read more: How Virgin plans to upgrade its airport lounges

A fresh menu for frequent flyers

Virgin is also rolling out a new menu featuring freshly-made sandwiches, salads, wraps and healthy snacks across its lounge network.

Already in place at the Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide lounges, it'll appear next week at both of the temporary Melbourne lounges (with the exception of salads, which will make their leafy return "upon the reopening of the renovated Melbourne Lounge"), followed by the Gold Coast and Perth lounges by mid-May. 

"Freshly prepared on site, the menus are just some of the new and exciting products you'll see when you travel with Virgin Australia over the next few months," Hrdlicka says.

In other Virgin Australia news, and as exclusively reported earlier today by Executive Traveller, Virgin is tipped to launch its new points-for petrol alliance with 7-Eleven within the coming weeks.

Earning rates will be set at 2 Velocity Points per litre of 'premium' Supreme 98+ and Extra 95 fuel, and 1 Velocity Point per lite for all other 'regular' fuel blends, with earn 2 Velocity Points per dollar spent in-store.

Read more: Virgin, 7-Eleven set to launch ‘points for petrol’ partnership

David

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.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 597

Long term having a Platinum / Business Class lounge would have to be a winner for VA. QF P1 and Platinums say that is one of the reasons they keep flying QF business class lounge. Makes them feel special.

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 3

completely agree with this sentiment.  I also would like either VA joining A* or allow transfer miles to KF 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 292

Chances of VA resuming KF transfers resuming chances are extremely low/unlikely under the management of Bain.  

Bain will likely demand an agreement that requires KF/SQ to pay Velocity/VA to cover the costs of operating/resuming the service, considering the Krisflyer transfers was losing VA considerable amounts of money prior to administration.

Alliance membership would likely depend on Bain's international partnerships.  The only FF/codeshare partnership locked in at this stage when international borders open up is Air Canada,
whilst the former 'Big 3' partnerships of SQ, EY and DL has had their JVs expire in administration and at the moment all 3 carriers have been scaled back to Velocity FF/interline partnership since VA went into administration.

In other words Bain has done a reset on international partnerships and has let the JVs of the previous partnerships expire, whilst keeping the old partners open through maintaining interline/FF relations.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 247

This is what I have said and so many other people have said. Make The Club into a business class lounge. Turn The Club program which was very elite and aimed at high-spending and influential Chairman's lounge types into a Platinum One-style 'Velocity VIP' tier, actually that's what the tier is officially called anyway, with status that can be earned, and then allow those Velocity VIPs into The Club lounge. But because The Club lounges aren't that big, keep Platinums in the normal lounge but give them four Club Lounge Passes per year as a special bonus.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 597

I would have Platinum or Double Platinums access all year round when flying VA. Plane  People are crazy about status, and I know many crazy people like the guy who flew for 3 weeks straight just because he wanted the Life Time Gold card to be in his pocket when he is buried.

Anyway I’ve never ever seen more than 8 people in a Club Lounge since it’s inception.

I know some Club members and have been guested in a few times, during peak hours the Club lounges were pretty busy, although never crowded, and of course The Club was always a select number of invitation-only people anyway, I heard it started around 2000 members and grew to maybe 4000-5000, but of course they were not really frequent flyers.

So I'd agree that the Club lounges could become Business lounges and I think adding a Velocity version of Platinum One would be smart and giving them access, but I would agree that given the much smaller size of Club lounges Virgin should just start with that base for access and monitor numbers, especially as domestic travel and especially business travel comes back, and then consider how to deal with access for Platinums.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Aug 2016

Total posts 3

Do you reckon Platinums would be turned away from the pop up Lounge if they chose to check it out, just for a bit of a change? Eligibility criteria says it’s limited to Velocity Gold and Lounge members.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 247

I'm sure the pop-up lounge would not turn away a Platinum member or anyone else eligible for The Club lounge to visit the new temporary lounge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 121

This is needed! My last two 6am visits to the melb lounge resulted in a door queue then a 15 min wait for coffee on the first occasion. And secondly a line so long to get in I had to give it a miss altogether.  Will report back tomorrow morning when I'm in there again. 

QF Plat

14 Jul 2014

Total posts 26

I’d stop flying Qantas and Rex tomorrow if VA had an exclusive P1 / Platinum Business Lounge  in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. 

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 150

If Virgin kept their same low pricing, which has been low enough to match Rex on promo pricing, or continued to undercut Qantas business class on the triangle by 30-50%, then a decent business class lounge would really seal the deal! Might be nice if it had better catering that the main lounge too, but if the f&b in the main lounges picks up then the business class lounge might even get away with just being a quieter space with more elbow room. But I wouldn't say no to a bit of an upgrade to the business lounge f&b either. But yeah, now that Virgin's got the in flight business class proposition decently done expert for wifi, some attention to the ground experience could really see it win a lot of people off Qantas.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin’s pop-up Melbourne lounge to alleviate crowding