Should Virgin Australia start charging for meals in its lounges?

Maybe it's time to raise the preflight dining experience by introducing better quality meals at a reasonable price.

By David Flynn, October 28 2020
Should Virgin Australia start charging for meals in its lounges?

Yes, this is a rather controversial skew on the shape of Virgin Australia 2.0 under the reign of Bain. And no, we're not saying it will happen – indeed, we've heard zero hints of such from the usual 'sources inside the airline'.

But all the same, we're putting it on the table: Virgin Australia could do much worse than begin charging passengers for food and drink at its airport lounges.

If you're experiencing sudden heart palpitations, take a few deep breaths, count to ten and read on.

This is certainly not an unknown concept, as readers who've visited the lounges of some US airlines – and some airport lounges run by independent companies – can attest.

Nor is it a concept that should be dismissed out of hand, just because 'free' is being replaced by 'paid'. Free doesn't always equate to good, and paid certainly doesn't have to mean bad.

First up, some things should remain complimentary. Coffee and tea; a soda fountain with water and soft drinks; perhaps some basic snacks.

However, meals – and alcohol, for that matter – should come with a price tag and two caveats.

Firstly, we're talking decent, satisfying food: well-made wraps and baguettes, poke bowls and proper salads. Maybe bacon and egg rolls, freshly prepared in the kitchen, of a morning.

Secondly, that price should be reasonable rather than rapacious. Forget the inflated rates of airport dining outlets. That should apply equally to beer, wine and spirits as it does to food.

By the same token, that doesn't mean everyone has to pay.

You'd imagine that business class passengers would have their boarding pass stamped or their app scanned for a free meal and one or two drinks.

And you'd expect that Velocity Platinum and Gold members might also receive few of those e-vouchers each year, to use when they're booked into economy class.

The idea is to get rid of the 'feeding trough' mentality and the struggle to produce halfway decent food at the lowest possible cost, and shifting the proposition to offering meals that are worth paying for.

That's our take, and agree or not, you're welcome to share your take in the comments below: just keep them considered and on-topic.

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.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 281

While you are there, might as well suggest that “no BYO food and drinks allowed to be consumed on these premises” sign or “only food and drinks purchased on this airplane/lounge are allowed” rule

And then get have a senior person walking round and policing this rule. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2432

I'd not rule that out, although you'd have to hope that any food sold in the lounge would be decent enough in quality and price to make it questionable for somebody to buy food in the terminal and bring it in (apart from fast food, which is questionable anyway!).

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 281

@David

I seriously doubt any food sold in a airport lounge will be priced reasonably enough without any convenience or premium tax for the privilege of serving it in the lounge. 

Granted fast food sold at food courts can be bad, for many it’s something to fill the stomach with nothing special (which is how many Qantas lounges got away with simply self serves of sandwich fillings and bread with sandwich grills, and veg meals on hot tray sometimes served at peak hours) 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2432

You've raised a very good point: what about the toasted sandwich maker? There might be riots if that was taken away! After all, somtimes a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich absolutely hits the spot!

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 533

Yes my morning staple diet, Ham, Cheese and Tomato with a double shot Cappuccino whether at an airport lounge or MacDonalds for $7.50. Lunch / Dinner is normally a Sumo Salad or Rippa Sub Red Rooster. As long as the lounge had coffee , tea, soft drink and water and a basic sandwich maker I'd be happy. What would set the bar higher would be a lounge for Platinums and below and then a lounge for Double Platinums and another lounge for The Club. In Sydney the lounge upstairs beside The Club could be used for Double Platinums, this would make sense, they could even use the quick gate exit out.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 91

I don't think Bain is going to set aside all those Platinum and 'Double Platinum' lounges. But what would make sense if Bain kills The Club as a VIP Chairman's Lounge-type tier would be to turn The Club lounge into a business class lounge. Same f&b as the main lounge but free if you're in business class. In most locations.

The Club adjoins the main lounge with the kitchen in the middle, eg Sydney, Canberra, Perth, I think it's also adjoining at Brisbane but in its own area at Melbourne. That co-location at most airports means Bain won't be able to give the space back to the airport because there's not anything much the airport can do with it, and Virgin has already paid for the fancy fit-out, so maybe Bain should turn The Club lounge into its Business lounge and make the most of it. No Platinums sorry, The Club's not nearly big enough, I think you're looking at only 50 seats, but perhaps Platinums can get one or two Business Lounge passes each year to use as long as there's space.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 533

Never ever going to happen, Club members and Platinums together in one lounge or getting rid of the Club. Club members are already threatening to move their business if the Club closes, as one Club member said "I can move all my company business to Qantas with one email to all staff". Another Club member gets the traveling public coming up to them taking selfies, they only buy expensive business class tickets. I really don't think Virgin will be that silly to wipe the Club out and lose all those bucks.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 281

@Gold4Life

You know they can always “try” to turn those excess space into meeting rooms for rent just like some in SYD QF terminal 3, right?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 175

At a cost of a few hundred dollars a pop, The Club is not going to survive. Dubious practices from some travellers have meant that it doesn’t stack up. 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 533

I agree but they need to realign with loyal customers who want quiet space and not be harassed by Tom, Dick and Harry while trying to read the paper etc. Pauline for example gets harassed in the Club by other Club members imagine if she was in the standard lounge she would be in a riot.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 281

It’s been a long time since I have been in a VA lounge; do they have the pancake (or rather pikelets) maker like some QF lounges?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 146

How about free tea, filtered coffee and make your own toasted sandwiches , pay for a more substantial plated meal, alcohol and barista coffee.

While on the subject they should impose a dress standard.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 175

I think it is a perfectly reasonable idea. Pay for what you want instead of being offered things you don’t need. More sustainable as well. For me access to lounges is more about the ease of movement through the airport and then a quiet place to sit away from the uncomfortable seats in the terminal. 

David, please don't go giving the accountants at Bain more ideas as to how they can lower the bar! Okay, actually when I've visited the Virgin lounges at Sydney and Melbourne the free food's actually not that bad. I always rate a Virgin lounge as better than a Qantas Club but of course nowhere near a Qantas Business Lounge. If Bain took away the free food which Virgin used to serve before it collapsed, I'd be pretty annoyed. But if the choice was downgraded crap food vs decent paid food, as long as quality and price were on target, I could handle that. In the end it'll come down to how much cost-cutting Bain intends to do.

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

Paid food = Quality?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Let's get away from the idea that any of this is 'free'. Access, food, drink and anything else has already been paid for by the traveller in one way or another.

Having said that, I totally agree that it would be great to get rid of the 'trough' mentality and how that has driven lounges to be the way they are. One way would be to limit access to paid up members and paid business class ticket holders. Does anyone remember the TAA Flight Deck Club?  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Aug 2017

Total posts 55

My immediate, emotional, visceral response: NO! I have paid for my lounge meals -- in the form of the thousands of dollars I pay each year for flights which earn me the Status Credits to get into the lounge. In this way I already pay for the food and drink in the lounge and charging me again would be greedy, unconscionable double-dipping on the part of Virgin Australia.

My measured, rational response: As long as I get value-for-money out of this, no problem. The meals should be reasonably priced (at cost or close to it), and the cost should be offset by either reduced airfares (since those airfares are no longer subsidising lounge food and drink), or some other useful perk. If my airfare costs $10 less and I have to pay $10 for a meal in the lounge, that's really not a problem for me.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 281

@Sibelius

I don’t remember any meal served by Virgin Blue costs less than $10, and that’s small portions of slops served in plastic containers and it’s 10 years ago

Any expectation of a small meal (more than a sandwich) to cost $10 at a lounge will be (IMO) overly optimistic.

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 55

Agree with StuParr. Bain says VA2 will be all about value, which I take to mean cutting out a lot of things that people don't actually need but still end up paying for, like economy meals, free WiFi, a checked bag on the cheapest fare, and maybe lounge f&b falls into that category. I certainly don't visit a Virgin lounge for the food, in fact I try to spend as little time in the lounge as I can. I don't want to cut things so fine that I am going straight from security to the gate, but stopping at the lounge for a coffee and a phone call or two is enough for me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 203

How about keep what they have now or slightly reduce - i.e it's only snacks, self made sanwiches, salad and soup and then charge for more substantial offerings that compete with airport food outlets - which means they can offer proper meals for ease of convenience for business travellers etc, compete with business lounge whilst offering cost value business and economy class airfares cheaper then QF, higher then Jetstar. 

28 Oct 2020

Total posts 1

I agree completely with this. I visit the lounge every time I fly, but always buy something decent to eat outside in the terminal rather than from the 'feeding trough' in the lounge. Under Bain, there is no way the already very mediocre free food offering in the Virgin lounge isn't going to become even worse. So rather than see them start dishing up 2 minute noodles, it would be great if they offered a good quality, changing menu of paid food at discounted prices. 

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 91

For a long time now, if I wanted a meal before flying I've been skipping the Virgin lounge at Sydney for [email protected] I started going there when there was a meal credit from Priority Pass through my Amex card, that's ended but if I haven't had time to grab a bite at the office or before leaving home, or if I'll need to pretty much go straight from my flight to a meeting, I'll still make tracks to Movida, in fact a lot of the time it also seems quieter than the Virgin lounge!

04 May 2015

Total posts 266

If VA started charging for food in the lounges, I'd be booking with Qantas, or maybe even Jetstar: it's as simple as that.

The whole point of lounges in Australia is to not have to pay for things you otherwise would in an airport, in a setting that's meant to be better than the terminal itself. Before coronavirus, Virgin's lounges were already insanely full, so there was little benefit in actually arriving early to use them, except to enjoy a drink or a meal without having to pay "extra" for it. Take that away, and there's not a lot left.

If I have to buy food in the lounge, and have to again buy food and drinks on board (as you reported the other day) if I want anything there, then the core experience becomes barely better than Jetstar (on which you'd have to buy things at the airport, and buy things on the plane if desired). In fact, it makes Jetstar better, because Jetstar passengers can access Qantas lounges, not to mention that Qantas has far more lounges across Australia than what Virgin has.

The whole point of lounges in Australia might be to not pay for food and drink, but Bain is an American company and this approach is not uncommon in America, you get some basic food for free and pay for 'premium' meals. I think we'll see Bain's Virgin become a lot more like US carriers including a 'basic economy' fare with no checked luggage and a bigger emphasis on unbundling and ancillary revenue.

04 May 2015

Total posts 266

I don't think just because something is done in America, it'll automatically be done in Australia. Most American airlines give free drinks in economy, whereas VA was already charging for most of these before coronavirus, and Bain seems to want that in place more broadly. If all of a sudden, VA starts behaving like Jetstar, but keeps charging fare prices above it, it's not going to end well, as there'd be no reason for passengers to pay extra to 'escape' Jetstar, when the alternative is no better. Then it's a fare war to the bottom, and we all remember how that worked out for Australian airlines last time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 120

Absolutely spot on. If there's no free food and alcoholic drinks, what is the benefit? The quiet, the super fast wifi and the ease of getting a seat at peak hour? Oh wait, we don't even have those things....

28 Oct 2020

Total posts 1

I felt sick as soon as I heard Bain had won the bid. And it seems to only be getting worst.  Sigh........................ nothing good lasts forever ey.  I think we (not the so called general public) are all completely screwed with VA2.  See you all over at QA ey, triple sigh ............

Lol - I actually didn't mind my 2min noodles, in business to Darwin the other week. Thought it was definitely a good laugh. They did have three beers on board for me as well.  I wonder if that will be my last business flight with VA. And quadruple sigh ...... sure looks like we've taken our last flights in "The Business"   RIP VA RIP

19 Apr 2013

Total posts 3

Please don't limit the conversation to Virgin! Qantas' offering is beyond woeful. I'm not surprised that there aren't more complaints. Pre COVID, Qantas Biz Lounge Sydney had one hot food option and that was generally a curry or stew. Since Accor has been in charge, it's depressing. And with legitimate financial pressures of COVID, I don't like to think about how it will be going forward.

On a more positive note, how about Virgin and Qantas having some sort of credit system (perhaps depending on your status etc). Let's say you're entitled to $50 credit to use for your stay. You could choose to drink 5 or so beers. Or you may want to have a nice meal and a coffee or two. Or maybe one coffee, one meal and one wine.  And naturally, the expectation would be that quality and range goes up significantly.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 61

Ah hell no - might as well remove the sliding doors and let the general public in. These Bain people better be listening to us - so far I've heard nor seen anything positive from them to keep me flying with Virgin. 

JKH
JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 147

I’m fed up with crummy airport and airport lounge food whether paid or included. There’s often a tendency for it to be flubbery, starchy-carb, low-protein garbage that doesn’t satisfy for long. It just seems counter-intuitive to be paying for an annual lounge membership (if not automatically earned via status) and then paying again for ‘airport food’. Hey, but Bain Capital? I would anticipate paying for the privilege of breathing with that lot.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 96

Perhaps a controversial comment, but I'll add it anyway. I think it is fair to say that the users of this website are not 'typical' in their travel compared to the wider public. My own view is that the importance of premium corporate (as opposed to business class) travel is going to significantly reduce for airlines post this pandemic. Companies have had forced upon them a whole new way of working and whether we like it or not, its a hell of a lot cheaper than sticking people in aeroplanes. Many companies have already started to manage peoples expectations regarding future travel. The decision for management now is not "what travel costs do I cut?" but rather "which do I reinstate?" and I suspect that it will be much reduced from the past. It has been proven that the corporate world will not stop turning just because people can't jump on an aeroplane. If you play into that too a likely need for businesses to want to be seen to be more environmentally responsible, I think that it will lead to reductions in corporate travel. Of course, before people jump at me, there are trips that must be made, but if we are completely honest, how much corporate flying is genuinely 'essential'. I worked for 2 large Oz based businesses and it truly staggered me the amount of utterly needless flying that took place. People hopping Sydney to Melbourne for facile one hour meetings. Going forward I think, for so many reasons we will see reductions there. This is bound to play into the lounge proposition (and other areas of the overall value proposition airlines have). The first responsibility any business has is to its shareholders and no one will be more aware of that than Bain!

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 37

I agree that the world has changed and business travel will certainly (and quite rightly 0 be more carefully scrutinised. As to deciding on its importance that is where good line-management should come in..

I'm old enough to remember when "video-conferencing" hit the business world in the 90's and that was going to be the death of business travel.  It did not. To be fair it was fairly primitive and very expensive and most of the hype came from the BT's and Telstra's of the world who in those days owned the broadband highways.  Sure, Zoom etc have changed all of that but...

One thing I have noticed is that in my neck of the business world several very large projects (deals if you insist)  that were germinating nicely pre Covid are still only germinating and in some cases at best treading water because of the inability to get key stakeholders who had not previously met in the same place in order to move forward. 

Closure of large pieces of business requires a high degree of trust and confidence between client and would be supplier.  A significant part of that is the chemistry that takes place (for better or for worse) when people meet face to face, look each other in the eye and establish or work on, a way forward.  The chats over a coffee break, a shared sandwich, lunch or dinner are also important in people getting to know each other. There will always be times when people need to get on a plane and go to work.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 96

I completely agree, my point was that there is still an awful lot of unnecessary travel. There will absolutely always be a place for a fair amount of it, but in my experience of working in large multinationals, it would be my firm view that a fair proportion is not as necessary as people imagined and the changes to working practices bought about by Covid will bring that sharply into focus.

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

Those that think Bain charging for food will result in quality food is kidding themselves.

If they start charging for food, it makes the lounge no different to a public waiting area.

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 76

Yeah i'd very much agree if this were to happen it would be the food you can get in the terminal now in the lounge.

I also feel some of these things being floated about Virgin is a bit of a move by them to get an idea of what they can get away with before being considered Jetstar2.

AYP
AYP

28 Oct 2020

Total posts 1

NO! Well, not entirely at least.


There must be free (decent) food and beverage available to Velocity Gold and Platinum members who have been reliable and loyal customers spending substantial money with VA to earn that tier. (And perhaps this should be available to single entry pass guests too.)


Remember that Gold + Platinum members are also families who enjoy family pooling, and enjoy the awesome point of difference to use the lounge on arrival as well as departure. Having somewhere to snack and drink, quietly relax, use WiFi, without having to dig into the family holiday budget really makes the Virgin Australia experience great, ensuring we are repeat customers.


However, Virgin Lounges could explore and trial offering a ‘premium meal’ of sorts that warrants payment; the customer will soon act with their wallet if the offering should be permanent or not.

03 Oct 2020

Total posts 3

So, I am a US person who travels to and in Australia a lot; up to eight times year, maybe more (always business class). I take either Qantas or Virgin for intra-Australia as I am Star Alliance Gold but United Global Services so get nothing from either in way of status (I book based on schedule to be honest). The lounges in Australia are actually kind of crappy compared to other lounges in the world (Star Alliance or other) EXCEPT ones in the US (they truly suck except new United Polaris lounges are now the exception). Yes, you get free alcohol in Qantas/VA lounges for those who love alcohol but outside of the Ham and Cheese Toasty machine, fruit and salad there is really nothing I would want to pay for but not sure I’m going to pay for a Ham & Cheese Toasty. As long as water and coffee is free I guess I’ll be OK.

If VA2.0 becomes part of Star Alliance I may change my opinion a but the United lounges in US don’t do too good by Star Alliance Gold members to be honest.

The ticket prices in Australia are sick expensive whether economy or coach (I usually am Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne) so if they start to charge for stuff in lounges maybe lower ticket prices (oh, scratch that thought).

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

And your culinary experiences Stateside in the Delta Sky Club Lounges, s'il vous plait? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Aug 2013

Total posts 1

Definitely the answer here is no, the value proposition of flying Virgin vs Qantas is already weak! this will be a nail in the coffin for many, particularly for us who fly coast to coast, A330 v 737, flat seat business class vs 90s style seating, all inclusive lounges vs paying, where is the value proposition flying Virgin let alone earning and burning Velocity points???

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

I fly to Perth only once or twice a year, so it's easy to compare fares. Never, ever has Qantas been cheaper than Virgin, there's nearly always a $400-$500 difference on return fares.  Keating once said "there's no such thing as a free lunch', and Qantas has stood by their man.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 551

"Should Virgin Australia Start Charging For Meals In Its Lounges?"

Hmm, it seems to me that there is an automatic assumption that the lounges are a source of substantial revenue loss. 

I would suggest that this may not necessarily be the case going forward. Why?

-  lounge costs for Virgin Australia are divided into two distinct but different groups : international vs domestic. It is customary for airlines to pass their tiered guests travelling internationally off to their relevant (intl) partners ie: in the USA to Delta, in Singapore (and other locations) to SQ, and to Etihad in the Middle East and Europe. This comes at a substantial cost to VA. The average cost for a typical day-pass visit in the USA is around USD $65-70. For the likes of SQ and EY (who do not offer paid day passes) the cost is probably even higher.

-  Ergo, with COVID-19 and with VA now not flying internationally, as well as severely or completely severing ties with some of these carriers / partners, these substantial expenses will cease to exist. If Virgin Australia Mk2 goes hybrid or in plain terms, LCC pay-for-service - then these costs to Virgin disappear for all international travellers. Bingo ! Instant savings.

- Typically, Virgin's lounge offering for food and beverage has been generally what one would call 'cafe-style food' rather than fine dining. No deconstructed pav or sectioned barramundi (a la QF First Lounge) here. Similarly, I don't recall VA winning awards for 'cellar in the sky' ... or on the ground, for that matter. So guest costs for alcohol and F&B are probably closer to AUD $20 on average. Remember, many domestic guests simply grab a coffee and cake, snacks or an alcoholic drink.  Having some basic kitchen staff and some serving staff in each capital / major city would not be particularly expensive - and a constant flow of visitors would keep them employed.

- Now, it is not unreasonable to consider that the lounge is not a dedicated profit centre. Airlines provide these facilities to their tiered guests as a perk or in recognition of constant patronage. It is, in short - a hospitality cost to the airline. On the trunk triangle routes such as SYD/MEL/BNE, it is not uncommon for Golds and Platinums to bypass the lounge entirely. Some of these people genuinely have better things to do than play 'Leisure Suit Larry' in a domestic lounge. Equally, it is not desirable for the lounge to become a major financial drain either.

- Clearly, there is also a composite and very real asset value attached to such lounges - and that is called 'goodwill'. The problem becomes a cost issue when airlines begin to diversify their lounges in each major city to cater for cache or niche members. When you have a base domestic lounge, a business lounge or two (domestic vs international), a first lounge and a Chairman's Lounge it becomes obvious that there is substantial duplication .... and cost. When does it become 'loss-making?

So, in essence, this may not be the problem that is assumed. Consider also that Virgin Australia may choose to offer a composite 'Day Pass' revenue option for say AUD $35.00 for a 2 hour visit. I could imagine that would have a serious 'take-up' functionality for non-tiered members. And it would be substantially cheaper than the price level QF flirted with. All of a sudden, you might have a revenue earner, that even helps to subsidize the freebie tiered members. Problem solved.

25 Feb 2013

Total posts 64

David, no! This would be a line in the sand for me (unless it was *retaining* what they do have, and adding something substantial instread of replacing what was free with something that is not).

I work for a company that not only doesn't fly its suits around in business class, it actively prohibits it (even if we are using funds we have brought in separately from clients or grants). I don't care about "the Business", fancy meals and seats or anything up the pointy end, but I *DO* care about the lounge, as a quiet(er) place to sit, have a (free) drink (proper coffee, or a sundowner if required) and light food (usually toasties or pastries - but I do like a bacon sarnie in the morning and the hot food is great if meetings mean I missed lunch or dinner) and TBH it is the *main* value proposition of staying with one airline for me. Importantly, I value it being there *when I do need it* rather than needing it each time.   

It is also is the only thing that allows me to book QF or VA over JQ on BFOD policy as they factor in food and internet connection that would otherwise be compensated. If they bring this in the company eyes we may as well fly JQ and factor in a far more decent feed in the airport (where the bars and food is nicer nowadays) and charge that. 

I realise I am not the kind of value proposition a suit travelling up the pointy end is, but they are about to become very much the exception and business travellers like me are about to become very much the rule. Take away the only real benefit I get and I'm either going to the person who retains it, or changing my travel patterns entirely. Losing me (a bum-in-seat Platinum who flys enough to gift Platinum as well) may not be an issue. But if 90% of higher-end business travel is about to become like me we have a problem.   

17 Feb 2015

Total posts 5

Correct me if I'm wrong but I always thought the virgin lounges had quite a limited kitchen setup out the back?

I certainly felt many of the dishes in the VA lounge were reheated rather than freshly prepared. Eg soups, pasta dishes, stews and even the poached eggs..

Would Bain spend all that money on equipment for something that would likely break even at best (particularly if pricing is set reasonable like AA lounges)? 

Aside from that I think anything that breaks the trough mentality is a good thing. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

Break-even is the best that can be hoped for.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

Good question David.  I've seen fellow travelers treat the lounge like an 'leagues club buffet on pension day', with overloaded plates drop food on the floor and a plane's take-off weight materially increased.  Not a pretty sight.  

Something needs to be done whereby quality increases but quantity remains sufficient merely to remove hunger without enabling carb-loading of triathlon proportions for 5 days on 'Survivor Island' (you know who you are, the tribe has spoken, it must stop).  

There needs to be a measure of complimentary F&B, after which there's a modest charge to recover the 'hard cost'.  If some grubby little bean-counter in the Bain mothership thinks the Lounge can become a 'profit centre', then Deloitte should standby at the ready for their next airline administration.  The starting point will be 'smart cards' for Platinum and Gold that allow (a) the airline to pre-load non-convertible 'Virgin dollars' onto my account but also allow me to load Australian currency.   

Virgin's hard costs will not include occupancy/leasing.  The cost of the 'Uniforms' on the front counter are not recoverable as they're inter-changeable with attendants out at check-in.  To give this perspective, a G&T sold out in the public bar at, say, $12 - $15 would in the lounge have a recoverable hard cost of $3 - $4.  As a Platinum member, I'd only expect to pay hard cost for my 3rd and later G&T, happy to see Gold get their first drink (only) on a complimentary basis, with Silver and others paying 'hard cost' as they go.  Of course, if later in the day in another Lounge waiting for a connecting flight, I'd expect those metrics to be re-set to zero.  

It does sound complicated, but that's only during the set-up phase and even then, that's the challenge for the Bain-brains  to make it simple, fair and with absolutely no 'fuss and bother'.  

14 Nov 2018

Total posts 3

Hey hey its on its way from another well know airline as well. Someone has let the cat out of the 'bag'

I've never flown with Virgin, but my first thought was about the suggestions for self-service toasters and sandwich makers--I think they will have to go because of the infection risk.  And what about social distancing in lounges?  Won't that reduce the numbers allowed into the lounges?


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