Photo tour: Virgin Australia's new Cairns Airport lounge

By Chris Chamberlin, November 1 2013
Photo tour: Virgin Australia's new Cairns Airport lounge

Virgin Australia's new Cairns Airport lounge is now open, marking the fourth Queensland domestic lounge to join the airline's network.

The 'flying maiden', as seen at reception.
The 'flying maiden', as seen at reception.

David Anderson, Virgin Australia's General Manager of Brand Strategy, boasts that the airline now offers "the greatest number of flights of any one airline between Brisbane and Cairns".

Opening remarks, lead by David Anderson
Opening remarks, lead by David Anderson

With a capacity of 180 guests, the 710m2 lounge should please business and leisure travellers alike.

Meet Veronica, one of the Cairns lounge angels.
Meet Veronica, one of the Cairns lounge angels.

Travellers will appreciate the sweeping views of the tarmac and hinterland, even if the airport itself does get in the way.

And what's any self-respecting airport lounge without an all-day barista service?

As we've seen in the Canberra lounge, wooden privacy dividers are prevalent throughout the working areas...

... with AC power and USB ports located underneath the benches, which may be handy but also makes them easy to overlook.

Travellers throughout the lounge can find the USB power connections scattered along the tables, alternating with AC powerpoints...

... while those without their own technology have access to two Windows XP computers, and an all-in-one printer and copier.

Need a little extra privacy? You can reserve the lounge's meeting room, with space enough for eight people.

Visitors from other Virgin lounges may notice the new wooden lighting fixtures, which are currently exclusive to the airline's Cairns lounge.

As seen from below, these lights have minimal effect during the day, but should prove to be more useful in the evenings.

There are a number of distinct seating areas throughout the lounge, with plush chairs making an appearance...

... along with the more traditional (and colourful) working benches.

When quizzed on the design aspects of the lounge, David Anderson told Australian Business Traveller that "we took a special approach to this lounge because of the environment that it's in."

"The design cues are all there, the Virgin palate is there" Anderson suggests.

"We wanted to bring in some softer features – the timber panels, the floor-to-ceiling lighting – and we brought in sparks of colour through the pinks and the oranges and the purples."

Meanwhile, the lounge offers a range of (colourful) fresh fruit for the hungry traveller...

Oranges and green apples, with red apples also available
Oranges and green apples, with red apples also available

... along with a reasonable buffet selection.

Of course, Virgin's iconic toasted sandwich maker stands at the ready!

In the interest of research, Australian Business Traveller christened the machine by preparing the maiden Cairns Lounge toastie – a traditional mix of ham, cheese and tomato.

A pancake machine is set to make an appearance in the mornings, though the afternoons see the usual snacks on offer...

... and so too are the reds (pictured), in addition to a selection of white wine and French sparking (Grandin Méthode Traditionnelle Brut NV).

If you're lucky, the staff might just bring around mouth-watering 'Persian fetta and roast beetroot' hors d'oeuvres, though it's not to be expected.

Have time for a little reading? You'll be all set, with a reasonable selection of newspapers and magazines, with many more titles available freely through the PressReader app.

Frequent travellers to Virgin's Brisbane lounge will recognise the amazing Annette (right), here joined by Rebecca at the in-lounge service desk.

Overall, this is a very functional and practical lounge, and is a welcome addition to Cairns airport.

Travelling through Cairns soon? Let us know what you think!

Australian Business Traveller visited Cairns to attend the lounge opening as a guest of Virgin Australia.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

20 Jul 2011

Total posts 18

Interesting to see the Mayor was at the opening (on the right in top photo; yes, the grumpy looking one!).  I could almost bet that will be the only time he will ever put his foot into the Virgin Lounge, and yet, probably doesn't realise how many services Qantas are transfering to the Orange Cancer, slowly dwindling Qantas' relevance to Business-focsussed services for local Cairns businesses.  This really is a boon for Business travel in and out of Cairns.  Keep up the great work Virgin Australia.


22 Jun 2011

Total posts 10

Any new lounge is always welcome but Windows XP? Windows XP! They have to be kidding, surely? Apart from making themselves look light years out-of-date, do they realise that Microsoft announced three years ago the ending ("in 1,000 days") of all support for XP - the clock runs out on April 14, 2014. As for putting USB and power ports underneath the work benches, do the people who make these design decisions ever actually use the lounges they design? As for the plush chairs, are there any power ports anywhere nearby? It doesn't look like it - another poor design decision. If they want to see how to design a table to go with the comfy chairs, look no further than the (relatively new) QF lounge in Singapore, where every table between the chairs has multiple power/USB ports.  Presumably the lounge has free wifi, with adequate bandwidth?

If it's any consolation, the computers did have MS Office 2010 installed (I turned them on, checked they were installed, and then checked that the apps worked), though one would certainly hope for a new operating system when the time is right.

That being said, given the needs of both business and leisure travellers in the lounge, the basic computer functions (web browsing, email, printing, MS Office, and PDF reading) can all be utilised on these machines. While they may be running an older OS, in my opinion, upgrading to a newer version won't drastically increase the end user experience in the case of basic use within the lounge, though would be advantageous once XP is no longer supported (primarily for the availability of software patches and other updates).

For the powerpoints underneath the work benches – I didn't actually realise that the top portion was USB power until one of the angels pointed it out to me... I'd just dismissed it as a data port without really looking closely – and if I hadn't been told, I would have plugged in the full AC Apple charger... not an issue when you're one of the only people in the lounge, but when things start to fill up, you'd want to have people using USB power where possible (to free up the AC points for power-hungry laptops).

To note, when my iPhone was plugged in underneath the bench, I was able to rest the phone on the bench itself, and also made a phone call while sitting in one of the high stools without feeling 'constricted' or having to crouch down... it'd be great if they had a small "AC & USB power available below" sign on the bench... not only to highlight that the ports are there, but also to signal that the top part is actually USB power (the ports have a spring-closed cover, so they're not immediately obvious).

The plush chairs did have some powerpoints nearby (under the windows), but I don't recall there being as many as are found at the tables and benches.

Wi-fi is available – the photo of my laptop shows the typical VA login page, which is shown when you connect. I decided to leave out the specific details (as this was written as a photo tour), though I'm happy to add them down here.

In terms of speed, I ran three speed tests when I was there – download speeds were 3.00-3.15 mbps, uploads between 1.44 and 2.97 mbps, and pings between 46 and 78 ms.

To simplify things in terms of  'real life' usage, I tweeted the early iPhone snaps of the lounge without issue (@AusBT), and also uploaded all of these photos using the lounge wi-fi... each only took a few seconds, though I realise that I was one of the only ones using it at the time.

I hope that answers your questions!

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 140

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