Review: Aspire Lounge, Brisbane International Airport

The former home of Virgin Australia, this freshly-rebranded lounge offers paid access to travellers on any airline.

Overall Rating

By Chris Ashton, June 19 2023
Aspire Lounge, Brisbane International Airport
Country

Australia

City

Brisbane

Airport

Brisbane

Alliance

None

Airline

All

Cabin-class

All

Notes
The Good
  • Inviting, living room-like atmosphere
The Bad
  • Can be somewhat noisy when adjacent gate in use
  • Limited opening hours, dining
X-Factor
  • Tarmac-side position delivers a great view
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

International jetsetters bound from Brisbane once again have a choice of two independent pay-per-use lounges, with the long-shuttered ‘My Lounge’ finally back open for business and pleasure – and it’s now sporting a new name too: Aspire Lounge.

Aside from the revised moniker though, little has changed in the pre-flight hangout, which is a good thing. The eclectic decor of old remains, while the casual vibe and open plan layout still lend it a more relaxed feel than some of Brisbane’s other lounges.

The semi-enclosed lounge is found alongside Gate 77.
The semi-enclosed lounge is found alongside Gate 77.

Add in barista-pulled coffee, a self-service bar featuring Australian wines and popular spirits, plus the ability to freshen up with a shower and you have an inviting space which ticks plenty of boxes. If only it were open longer.

Location & Impressions

Tucked alongside Gate 77, just a minute or two walk from the main departures hall, Aspire is a lounge without walls. Staff have nicknamed it a ‘loft lounge’, and walking by you could easily mistake it for a duty free store or gift shop, or even a furniture showroom.

My 9am visit sees just a handful of other guests.
My 9am visit sees just a handful of other guests.

Instead, it’s separated from the main thoroughfare by partitions. Some are clear glass, others vertical timber slats. This means you can hear everything going on in the wider terminal, including announcements for flights (which admittedly is quite handy).

Lounges, dining tables, sofas, bean bags... you name it, it's probably within the Aspire Lounge.
Lounges, dining tables, sofas, bean bags... you name it, it's probably within the Aspire Lounge.

That said, it’s been cleverly done – it feels like a self-contained lounge, even if occasional awkward eye contact with those seated outside the lounge can be a common occurrence.

Access

Aspire Lounge Brisbane welcomes passengers travelling on any airline. Current opening hours are seven days from 4:30am to 12pm, with visitors able to enjoy the space up to three hours prior to departure.

Entry can be pre-booked via the Swissport Executive Lounges website for £29.91 per adult (AUD$54) or £19 per child (AUD$35). It’s the same price at the door.

Priority Pass, Lounge Key and Dragon Pass members are also welcome.

Dining

Given the current morning opening hours, dining slants heavily towards breakfast, though there are a couple of all-day options. Most importantly though, there’s quality barista coffee.

A self-service bar and barista coffee station.
A self-service bar and barista coffee station.

On the brekky hotplate are the usual suspects of baked beans and chipolatas, while freshly scrambled eggs can be whipped up on request. These are replaced by a not-quite-lunch selection of snacks – mini pies, sausage rolls and quiches et al – in the late morning.

Crossover between breakfast and late-morning snacks.
Crossover between breakfast and late-morning snacks.

Assorted pastries, bread and individual serve cereals, as well as some ‘smoothie shots’, natural yoghurt and a bowl of salad greens round out the offering. It’s very limited, but hits the spot.

Bread, pastries and an assortment of spreads.
Bread, pastries and an assortment of spreads.

Those after a pre-flight tipple are in luck, with complimentary beers and ciders (Peroni, 5 Seeds, Jams Squire 50 Lashes) plus wines and an array of spirits for you to mix up your preferred cocktail.

Four McPherson Wines are ready to pour: a grenache rose, shiraz and cab merlot, as well as a sparkling chardonnay pinot noir.

Aspire is the only Brisbane lounge alongside the tarmac window.
Aspire is the only Brisbane lounge alongside the tarmac window.

Non-alcoholic options take the form of soft drinks and juice, plus Byron Bay teas and coffee. A self-service coffee machine is available when the lounge (and barista) is busier.

Mixers are found in a low fridge behind the spirits.
Mixers are found in a low fridge behind the spirits.

Executive Traveller can confirm a premium cocktail upgrade option is also being worked on, with espresso martinis just one of the favourites likely to make an appearance.

Work

While there’s no dedicated WiFi network within the Aspire Lounge, Brisbane Airport offers a fast and free service regularly clocking in at more than 200Mbps, so you can still stay connected.

Upright tables, desks and lounges all have a power point within reach.
Upright tables, desks and lounges all have a power point within reach.

AC and USB power points line the skirting boards throughout the lounge (these are black on black, so you may not notice them immediately), and are also found under the desk at the upright workbenches. Wireless charging ports are embedded in these desks too.

Relax

Lounge access includes complimentary use of shower facilities (these are discreetly tucked around behind the breakfast buffet). Fluffy towels and L’Occitane toiletries are supplied.

Shower access can be arranged at the front desk.
Shower access can be arranged at the front desk.

Directly beside the entrance is a small games nook housing an Xbox, bean bags and a foosball table. However, it does feel a little odd using the space with non-lounge guests sitting at the gate (a metre or two to the closest seat) able to see directly inside through a slat wall.

You'll be the envy of those seated just outside at this foosball table.
You'll be the envy of those seated just outside at this foosball table.

VIPs and families can make use of a small roped off area right next door.

As an added perk, Pressreader access unlocking thousands of newspapers and magazines is available via QR codes on the tables. This code is valid for up to a week, meaning you can potentially snap a photo of it and put the service to good use on your travels.

Verdict

Brisbane Aspire Lounge is an excellent option prior to your flight, with a decent drinks selection and a small-yet-adequate meal offering. It will be interesting to see how the latter evolves as lounge opening hours are no doubt expanded in future.

The spacious, open plan layout does feel a bit like a furniture showroom.
The spacious, open plan layout does feel a bit like a furniture showroom.

The tarmac-side location, resulting view and light really set Aspire apart though, as all other lounges at the airport – Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Plaza Premium – overlook the departure hall, with the runway glimpsed beyond.

Caffeination and a view.
Caffeination and a view.

Previous tenant Virgin Australia had a real winner in the ‘My Lounge’. But though it’s a shame the airline has no plans to return to it, confirming to Executive Traveller that international lounges remain off the cards for now, its loss is other travellers’ gain.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Aspire Lounge, Brisbane International Airport

Clicky