When will Virgin Australia reopen its airport lounges?

As states open their borders and Virgin adds more flights, the state of the airline's lounge network remains TBA.

By David Flynn, November 5 2020
When will Virgin Australia reopen its airport lounges?

With more states opening up, Virgin Australia is bulking up its flight schedule – but what can travellers look forward to when it comes to Virgin's airport lounges?

Virgin, like Qantas, pulled down the shutters on its lounge network on March 23 in accordance with broad-ranging Federal Government restrictions that also locked down indoor venues such as cafes, restaurants and bars, pubs and clubs, gyms and places of worship, to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Four weeks later, the airline itself collapsed under the combined weight of Covid-dictated travel restrictions and what turned out to be a near-$7bn debt pile.

While Qantas was able to begin tentatively reopening its domestic lounges from July 1, Virgin remained in administration and the doors to its lounges remained firmly locked.

At the time, a Virgin Australia spokesman told Executive Traveller "we continue to assess the opening of lounges as travel restrictions ease and demand returns."

"We are assessing travel volumes and working on the right approach to lounge re-opening."

Virgin isn't quite ready to say yet when its domestic lounges will reopen...
Virgin isn't quite ready to say yet when its domestic lounges will reopen...

Since then, Queensland – home to four Virgin lounges – has started to drop its 'hard border' approach to NSW, while the NSW-Victoria borders will completely reopen on November 23.

In response, Virgin will step up Sydney-Melbourne to four return services per day "and progressively increase frequencies ahead of the Christmas Holidays."

Melbourne-Canberra flights are also being boosted, alongside plans to reinstate services from Melbourne to Coffs Harbour, Ballina-Byron and Newcastle.

So where to the still-closed lounges factor into this, especially as the prime Sydney-Melbourne corridor gets an eagerly-anticipated restart?

The November 23 timing of that restart could work in Virgin's favour, with new owners Bain Capital set to officially take over the airline in the week prior.

Executive Traveller understands that Virgin will outline its plans for those lounges, along with its broader value-centric 'consumer proposition' before November 23 rolls around.

"We are committed to providing leisure and corporate customers with best in class service, a comprehensive network of domestic and short-haul international destinations, lounges, and an award-winning loyalty program," a Virgin Australia spokesman told Executive Traveller.

Read more: Bain to take control of Virgin Australia in mid-November

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.

FYI, Spotless has handed in its f&b license for the Brisbane lounge to Brisbane City Council. A cost-saving measure for Spotless right now but without that license Spotless would still be able to operate the lounge but not to run an open bar or kitchen, they could serve only packaged meals and drinks. Maybe this is a sign of things to come for the new direction of the Virgin lounges?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 61

FYI, BCC aren't charging fees this year due to COVID-19. Letters went out over a month ago - around $2,800 saving.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Sep 2013

Total posts 54

If they start paid food in the main VA lounge it would be terrible.

I can rationalise paid alcohol but nothing else food and beverage wise.

Food costs can be minimalized by a reduced selection e.g. one hot dish.

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 22

forget about the so called elite at your peril Bain, these are often the people who decide which airline their staff (sometimes numbering in the thousands) fly. once things get back to normal, the amount of business flyers between Monday and Friday would be substantial and someone has to sign off on corporate policy. Qantas would be licking their lips at the business custom that will be handed to them for no real effort if Bain don't at least try to offer up some incentive

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

Something needs to be done, with too many travellers using the lounge as a surrogate restaurant rather than a convenient light meal. I'm talking plates stacked with so much food they spill it. The self-service aspect was being abused, turning the lounge into a food barn for the starving animals. Perhaps a staff served plate will change that. I don't have a solution, but the Sydney and Brisbane lounges became appalling between 5-7pm.

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

People treating the lounge as a restaurant isn't unique to VA and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, a lot of other carriers embrace that aspect of the lounge.

I remember a few years back a survey went around from VA asking whether pax would be interested in having a dedicated dining area. To me that was appealing - proper tables and chairs to dine on as apposed to awkwardly bending over a low table.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 281

While I agree that some pax behaviour with food stacking is appalling, I do use the lounge for dinner, since I may not like the offering on the airplane and for many travelling and waiting in the lounge between 5-7 pm it meant we may not get home/hotel before 8-9pm

16 Aug 2017

Total posts 16

Thanks to QR for the VA Platinum status match I may transition to QF and use their lounges as OneWorld Emerald if VA haven't opened theirs when I next fly.

Bain needs to take care of VA's up-till-now loyal FF's.

11 Sep 2017

Total posts 2

I agree Freebo. I will happily walk straight to the QF lounge courtesy of QR - and the more I do the less likely I'm coming back. Given the apparently overwhelming take-up of that status match campaign, I would say that Bain has better straighten this up soon or there will be no regular corporate travellers on their dumbed-down mid-market airline. Given their favoured routes, that's a problem...

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

Paid f&b would be a deal breaker for me. This would become no different to a public waiting area.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 32

Absolutely ridiculous to have "paid food" if the alternative is Qantas where it is complimentary. They may as well give up, and just concentrate on cheap airfares , even undercutting Jetstar, because they at least allow lounge access to Qantas club. If that is the market they are aiming for, then ,so be it....but the fares better be cheap. However, if they want to be a cheaper Qantas alternative, they have to supply the goods. Virgins problems started when they purchased Tiger...this should be a lesson for somebody.

16 Aug 2017

Total posts 16

Agree, basically if they do this I jump ship to QF, and I've been VA Platinum for many years.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 167

I rarely found any food of substance whenever I went into a Virgin domestic lounge ... perhaps I am missing something here?

Yes, there was the salad bar/sandwich toastie station; nuts/popcorn, and sometimes a soup or a single pasta dish - but certainly nothing particularly special (and obviously no comparison to an international lounge).

If they went to a charged arrangement, then they would need to be providing a range of good quality food ... otherwise you'd be better off in a restaurant in the terminal. Certainly in Sydney and Melbourne there are a few cafes/restaurants that are separated from the food court so you are still sitting outside the scrum of people.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

Your observations are correct, Andyf. In the alternative, perhaps Bain should retain 'The Club' lounges premises, but avail them only to VFF Platinum and any Business Class fare passengers on the basis that a superior F&B service offering has, effectively, been paid/purchased by those passengers. That would leave the regular lounge for VFF Gold and Lounge Club membership paying travellers, including Platinum and Business who, for what ever reason, prefer that lounge.

This would combat the loss of business to REX when they commence inter-capital sectors on what will, I'm sure, be notably cheaper airfares.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 282

If Virgin 2 is now a new business wouldn't they first have to sort out lounge deals with the airports, who may not be all that eager in the current environment considering they too have lost millions to VA.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 167

True in that presumably they need to come to new lease agreement ... however the same airports are allowing them to use their gates at the moment so there is still an ongoing commercial relationship, and I wouldn't imagine there is a line of alternative tenants available to fill the space.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 135

The sooner American Express cuts a deal to transfer the lounge access benefit with their Platinum Charge cards from VA to QF, the better. QF obviously wanted to charge Amex far too much, resulting in them opting for VA. QF may now lower the cost enough in the age of COVID-19 to win the business; here's hoping.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 159

I wouldn't mind a paid food and beverage offering if it results in there being access to a greater range of items not available today (Delta do something similar from memory).

Would be more than happy to pay $15-20 at the end of the day for a proper cocktail instead of very basic and undrinkable options. And if the airfare is say $50-100 cheaper than QF, you come out ahead with a better experience anyway.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 544

As I said, once a low cost carrier, always a low cost carrier.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 533

The market is the market and in 12 months the market (the travelling public) will decide and only a very non responsive leader would change what VA already had in place, all they should do is make it better even if they pick the key strengths from Qantas, Life Time Gold, P1 etc.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 282

Strategies are changing all the time, As thousands and thousands of QF frequent flyers stare at a drop in status as well that will mean no lounge access next year many passengers will be weighing up priorities, as will the airlines.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 60

Does anyone really care about Virgin anymore?

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 320

i pay for my lounges if i was to use one anyway but not so sure about the food.


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