Virgin teases “significant refresh” for Melbourne but cool on Cairns

The airline's Melbourne lounge is expected to get more 'on brand' with the new, more casual and relaxed Virgin Australia vibe.

By David Flynn, June 3 2021
Virgin teases “significant refresh” for Melbourne but cool on Cairns

While Virgin Australia's Melbourne airport lounge is getting a make-over, the airline remains noncommittal on reopening its regional lounge at Cairns, despite a ramp-up of flights to the Far North Queensland city.

The airline's lounge at Melbourne T3 was closed for extensive maintenance and renovation work in late 2020, although travellers seems generally happy with the short-term arrangement of two temporary lounges.

"The pop up lounge has gone really well," Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka tells Executive Traveller, although she's "very much looking forward to reopening the main Melbourne lounge as soon as we can."

Virgin's new 'pop up lounge' at Melbourne T3.
Virgin's new 'pop up lounge' at Melbourne T3.

That's expected to be "mid-year", possibly as soon as next month, and Hrdlicka says when the hoardings come down and the welcome mat is put out, travellers can expect to see the results of "significant maintenance work as well as a pretty significant refresh."

The refresh is expected to incorporate elements of the new-look lounge design, unveilled at Adelaide in February, to give Melbourne a relaxed vibe that's less corporate than casual, and certainly more on-brand with today's Virgin Australia.

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

"There will be elements (from Adelaide) that we'll be able to inject into our existing spaces as we go through our maintenance and refurbishment plan," Virgin's General Manager of Product and Customer Experience, Sarah Adam, told Executive Traveller earlier this year.

Adam cited greenery, soft furnishings and fresh signage as likely candidates "where it makes sense that aesthetically we can make those changes."

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

However, Hrdlicka wouldn't commit to a reopening of the Cairns lounge – which the airline axed in November 2020 under new owners Bain Capital – on the back of new flights from Perth and Adelaide joining the existing multiple daily services from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

"Our lounge network at the moment we think is going a great job covering the core needs of our guests and the network" she said, "but we'll aways keep our eyes open to opportunities as we better understand the market."

Gone but not forgotten: Virgin's Cairns Airport lounge.
Gone but not forgotten: Virgin's Cairns Airport lounge.

And will happen to Melbourne's The Club lounge when the main lounge reopens remains to be seen.

Once a haven for well-heeled members of Virgin's invitation-only The Club VIP tier, this cosy sanctuary has since flung open its frosted doors to business class passengers and Velocity Platinum frequent flyers as one of Melbourne's two temporary lounges.

Asked if the reopening of the Melbourne lounge might be the point at which Virgin would relaunch The Club – potentially expanding it to become a Velocity VIP tier open to the airline's most frequent flyers – Hrdlicka said "we are working our way through our VIP program design right now, and we will unveil it as we get confidence in exactly what it will hold."

Read more: Virgin ponders Velocity VIP tier for 'super Platinum' frequent flyers

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.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 252

VA Melbourne is nothing special  - try Swiss First Lounges E Gates and A Gates or LH First Terminal/lounges or even Cathay F lounges HKG  

30 Aug 2019

Total posts 18

Uhh, if we could leave the country we probably would. 

Also, no one here is comparing the VA Melbourne Domestic Lounge to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt? 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 361

Congrats for making the most idiotic comment of the month, and it's only June 3rd.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 527

Ouch (QFP1), hope I never find myself next to you at the footy (but wholly agree with your thinking). 

Ouch ... ouch ... ouch ...   :-)

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 251

What a stupid comment. 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

I think the Melbourne lounge was a waste of space, with a redesign it could be used better with the club and normal lounge using the same area. People actually joked how far The Club was away from security.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1021

The current layout of T3 at Melbourne means the lounges have to be landside; that is unavoidable.  There are plans to reconfigure the layout so these lounges would both be airside.  Obviously the pandemic and VA's administration have both delayed this though and I have no idea when it will continue.  

I do not see how you could reconfigure the current space so that you could fit both the Lounge and Club into the current floorspace of the Lounge and not sacrifice space for one or both.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

 I'm happy to pass some detail of A1 architects over to your team and help out, it's all basic 101 stuff, marketing, design building even a bit of financial guidance.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 527

I'm 'backing' UpUpAndAway on this, BIG TIME.  My business partner, a Quantity Surveyor who is intimately familiar (and I do mean intimately !!) with the MEL/SYD/BNE airports has long said as much.  Would sooooo much love to say more.  

But for an exclusive appoint and a works program of less than six (6) weeks (I said 'weeks', not months), it can be done.  Not spruiking for it, too many competitive egos involved - would never happen, but UUAA is quite right.  Jayne should put her foot down hard on this matter.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 120

Would be great to see the CNS lounge reopened. With the nice CNS QF club and 330’s on some SYD/MEL to CNS sectors it would help out a little with keeping VA Golds and Plats from choosing Qantas on this route. 

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 100

With the 2-3 A330’s to Mel & Syd plus all the other flights, the Qantas lounge is getting very full!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 332

With between 10-12 flights a day into Cairns, it would be a massive oversight if VA were not to reopen the lounge. Hopefully common sense prevails. 

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 252

"Once a haven for well-heeled members of Virgin's invitation-only The Club VIP tier, this cosy sanctuary has since flung open its frosted doors to business class passengers and Velocity Platinum frequent flyers as one of Melbourne's two temporary lounges"

My remark was in response to the above quoted phrase.  Simply this ex-club lounge doesn't compare to the lounges I mentioned in my remark, obviously in terms of food/beverage offering but also certainly in the hardware offered in lounge.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1021

Stop digging!!  Apart from the strangeness of comparing an international first class lounge operating during normal times with a temporary lounge with restricted food offerings due to the pandemic, I would ask, has the poster actually ever been in the Club when it was operating as a VIP lounge?  I would guess not. 

I’d change your username after that comment, also I’ve been in both those Swiss lounges and my thoughts was  “Is that it”.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 252

LX E Gates First Lounge Fantastic champagne selection, 2 bed rooms with a large queen/king bed with their own showers for up to 6 hours fantastic food including baby lamb cutlets cooked on demand  -smoking/vaping room  in A Gates F  Lounge with Davidoff Cigars, and you can take your champagne with you through Terminal E to one of the smoking rooms. Even Qatar First Lounge bedrooms with their tiny single beds don't compare to there "hotel" rooms.

And yes I wouldn't know what the software was in the VA  "The Club".  I concentrate on my LH Senator and UA 1K status and prefer to fly internationally for leisure multiple times year to IL/USA/GR/DE/IT/CH  (pre-covid).  My comment was that this Club has particularly bad hardware,  and  obviously one would not expect the food offerings that were offered pre-Covid.  QF Domestic C Lounges manage to work well in ADL and SYD with good food and beverage options.

Skytraxx voted E Gates LX F Lounge Best First Class Lounge World Wide in 2019, and the lounge proudly displays the award. 

07 Dec 2016

Total posts 37

David, we are astonished at Virgin's refusal to re-open the Cairns lounge. Cairns was one airport that was open and welcoming flights all through 2020 and is now buzzing in 2021 with domestic tourists. A lounge is more than warranted with nearly 18 hours of Virgin traffic from first to last flight. Also it is essential for the many tourists going beyond Cairns to Port Douglas, who need a place to refresh. And the lounge has a more attractive outlook than Qantas.  Ah well, back to Qantas for us. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 527

Also worth reminding that CNS is an international airport. Assuming one day Virgin puts its big pants back on and flies abroad, Virgin will need that lounge. Jane needs better people if this decision can't be made quickly.

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 92

Well of course Virgin never flew from Cairns before, but it could be a long time before it's back as a proper international airline with widebody jets to Asia and the USA, in the meantime maybe Virgin could use its Boeing 737s to crack open the Cairns market with flights to Auckland and Bali and even Singapore.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

12 Jun 2019

Total posts 12

The CNS lounge was a really comfortable boutique lounge. 

We are flying to cairns in 3 weeks. Flying in J  but is always nice to have a lounge before the flight. I agree with you idea of “the club “ being for platinum and J. 

05 Sep 2019

Total posts 1

Just making a comment to back up my fellow FF ...."the thing about common sense is that it is not very common! "

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 37

The Virgin lounge in Adelaide is great... at least during covid it is.  Partly because it isn't busy but also feels special and relaxed.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2019

Total posts 4

Despite being a Lounge member for many years I’m currently unable to attend any as Virgin has not enabled any new paid memberships since my extended membership period expired at the end of May. It is completely bizarre that they simply cannot find a way to receive the much-needed funds on offer from loyal customers (who are nonetheless not on the Gold tier, I fly economy and am only Silver year to year). 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 527

 . . . that makes you a valuable customer worth being taken seriously ( . . . or so I'd have once assumed).  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Dec 2016

Total posts 16

Some of us can't even fly interstate let alone overseas. Lets be gentle on all airlines and lounges and people who comment on here, that is until you can fly anywhere that we all want as I can bet that lounges worldwide will never be the same as they where in 2019.

26 Oct 2017

Total posts 7

As a reasonably regular visitor to Cairns (for holidays and family connections), the lack of a lounge certainly influences my decisions about which airlines to fly with.


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