Virgin Australia’s lounges are getting back into full swing – including a new menu being rolled out across the network – but travellers should expect a slow return for the airline’s fast-track Premium Entry lanes.
Located at the valet parking entry to Virgin Australia’s Sydney and Brisbane terminals, the Premium Entry facility gave business class passengers and Velocity Platinum frequent flyers their own checkin desk and security lanes, which led straight into the lounge.
But the time-saving channels have been shuttered for almost two years, since beginning of pandemic and Virgin’s subsequent collapse into administration.
And they’re expected to remain locked up until next year, with Virgin citing “low demand” during the impending peak holiday period.
“We believe that during that during the Christmas and school holiday period, with our leisure guests returning (it) generally implies they’re probably travelling with luggage,” says Sarah Adam, Virgin Australia's General Manager for Product & Customer Experience, noting that the Premium Entry lanes lack luggage checkin facilities, being are for the carry-on only brigade.
Adam says the airline’s current focus is on “getting our people returning to work and getting more planes in the sky, and making sure that our operations are ready for the ramp-up” in demand across December-January.
“We’re continuing to assess what is the next step for Premium Entry,” Adam tells Executive Traveller.
The same ”wait and see” approach applies to the Premium Exit in Virgin’s Melbourne Lounge, which recently reopened after a refresh to bring it into line with the airline’s new and more relaxed look.
The Melbourne Lounge is located before security rather than after, although Melbourne Airport plans to close the security facilities at Terminal 3 – home to Virgin Australia – by mid-2022 and force all travellers departing from T3 to walk to T4 for screening, before heading back to T3 to catch their flight.
This will also see Virgin’s Melbourne Lounge become an ‘airside’ lounge, sitting behind security.
“We do anticipate that sometime next year that our lounge would be an airside lounge (instead of) the current landside operation that we have,” Adam tells Executive Traveller.
However, as with the Premium Entry lanes leading into the Sydney and Brisbane lounges, Melbourne’s Premium Exit path will remain closed for the time being.