Sydney - Kingsford Smith
- Broad seating selection
- High-speed WiFi
- Food offering could be improved
- Inconsistent opening of overflow level
- Premium Lounge Entry (when available)
Virgin Australia travellers flying business class or holding Velocity Gold or Platinum status will be intimately familiar with the airline’s Sydney lounge. Barring some minor edits, it has remained virtually unchanged for a decade.
In a way, it’s a fair case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. The layout is decent, the location right alongside security still convenient, and the variety of seating options across its two levels caters to just about every need. Yet it could be more.
Location & Impressions
Those jetting off without checked luggage between 5am and 8am Monday to Friday can take advantage of Virgin’s Premium Lounge Entry.
Featuring a dedicated security screening, it can take you from the kerb to the coffee queue in under three minutes. It’s an appreciated point of difference for the airline, though opening hours really need to be extended.
Lounge-worthy travellers with checked luggage can access a priority check-in lane in the main departures hall. The Virgin Australia Sydney lounge entrance is found immediately to the right once you’ve collected your belongings after security.
The lounge is light and bright with a somewhat retro-futuristic vibe. Seating choices span low-set lounges, dedicated work desks and upright benches with a view to the runway (my personal favourite).
At the heart of the first level is a lengthy buffet counter – a focal point drawing the eyes in before you start scanning for an available seat somewhere, anywhere. Because, as guests arriving in peak times can attest, finding a seat can be a bit of a challenge.
Outside the traditional high traffic hours of the early morning and evening though, locating somewhere to perch for an hour or more before the flight is much simpler.
An upstairs overflow area is also opened sporadically when need arises – you’ll find the staircase tucked in a corner opposite the main reception.
Within it offers the same broad mix of seating, in addition to a secondary bar area, which sadly remains closed. Tea and water facilities are conveniently provided.
The overflow is immediately next door to the invitation-only Beyond lounge and benefits from the same elevated runway view, although that’s where the similarities end.
- travellers seated in business class on Virgin Australia-operated flights
- Velocity Platinum and Velocity Gold frequent flyers, Beyond members
- top-tier frequent flyers of select partner airlines
- Virgin Australia lounge members
- holders of select credit cards, such as the American Express Velocity Business Card
Detailed info on Virgin Australia domestic lounge access and guest policy, in addition to which international partner airline members are welcomed inside, can be found here.
As with its counterparts across the country, the Sydney Virgin lounge offers a self-serve cold buffet complemented by rotating hot meals to suit the time of day.
For breakfast, it could be ham and cheese croissants or sweet corn fritters and baked beans, side-by-side with a selection including bircher muesli, freshly cut fruit and natural yoghurt with granola. Breads, pastries and cereals are often at the ready too.
Lunch generally sees eggs and lettuce wraps, ham salad sandwiches and perhaps a halloumi salad drizzled in balsamic vinegar, in addition to ready-made plates with guacamole, salsa and corn chips.
Sweet treats and fruit are always offered, while various hot snacks (quiches, party pies et al) are often laid out in the afternoons alongside a counter laden with cheese and crackers, giving those arriving between meals a chance to graze.
For dinner, it’s typically penne pasta alongside chicken and sweet corn soup or occasional sliders and wedges (both hot-ticket items that never fail to draw a crowd).
As for the cold selection, this is where you’ll typically find more variety, whether it’s wraps, potato salad, couscous and roasted pumpkin salad, pasta salad or falafels.
Fruit juice, soft drink, teas and barista coffee are of course available all day, while alcoholic drinks including beer and Australian wine are poured from midday.
One area where the lounge excels is its workspaces. There are several in fact: long upright benches with AC and USB outlets lining their centre, regular-height work desks with comfortable chairs and power outlets, and several tables near the main buffet.
In addition are oft-overlooked cushioned semi-private workpods, which are found immediately next to the Premium Entry.
It’s first come first served though, as there are a mere handful. Even in peak time this area of the lounge remains fairly quiet, making it a good option if you can nab a seat.
Upstairs, several work benches with high stools and under-table AC outlets are available.
Free high-speed WiFi is conveniently beamed throughout: 98Mbps download on last visit.
Passengers looking to freshen up before their flight (or indeed after, if holding Velocity Platinum status) can make use of showers with fragrant Appelles amenities in each of the bathrooms.
When compared to the Qantas Club across the way at Terminal 3, Virgin Australia’s Sydney lounge is lagging behind in amenity and dining (particularly around dinner time), though improvements are being made. Service remains consistent and always a pleasure.
While the bones of the lounge are solid, and subtle updates indeed have been made over the years, the space deserves a deeper refresh – one bringing it into line with the softer, more colourful aesthetic found in Melbourne and Adelaide.
A little love goes a long way, and with a few select changes, the lounge could live up to its potential as a flagship within the Virgin Australia network.
The writer visited as a Velocity frequent flyer.