- Tarmac views, natural light
- Lengthy door list, plus an option for paid access
- All-day barista coffee, bar service from 11am
- Painfully slow WiFi
- No access when flying with VA partner Hong Kong Airlines
- Shared by both domestic and international passengers
Virgin Australia's Gold Coast Airport lounge offers many of the amenities you'd expect at much larger airports: but tweaked to suit a smaller space, with seating for up to 135 passengers.
Positioned in the airport's domestic zone, it's accessible to both domestic and international flyers – those heading overseas just complete a second round of security screening and clear passport control en route to their international boarding gate, similar to the process in Canberra and Adelaide.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by the 2018 Commonwealth Games' host city to bring you this review.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security (and using the priority lane if you're in business class or a Velocity Gold or Platinum member), turn left and continue walking to the far end of the terminal, near Gate 1 and 2, to find the Virgin Australia lounge.
As the lounge is located directly next to two boarding gates used by Tigerair (on which passengers do not enjoy lounge privileges), there are often large volumes of people sitting and standing in the areas directly surrounding the entrance, which you'll need to dodge to get through.
It also explains why Virgin Australia has installed barriers around its exterior lounge walls, to keep people from using this area as a waiting zone!
Once you've escaped the airport crowds, you can admit yourself via the self-service access point – particularly handy during busy times – or see the friendly staff at reception.
The lounge proper is located on the level above, which can be accessed using stairs or a lift...
... which both have you emerging in a 'short stay' area with a few tables and chairs nearby the bathrooms and exits...
... with the main lounge space just around the corner:
There's plenty of natural light here, courtesy of tarmac-facing windows...
... with the overall look and feel of the space very familiar to Virgin Australia's other domestic lounges.
- Virgin Australia business class passengers before or after their Virgin Australia domestic or international flight
- Velocity Gold and Platinum members with a same-day Virgin Australia domestic or international flight (access on departure and on arrival), and before Air New Zealand international flights from the Gold Coast
- Paid-up Virgin Australia Lounge and Air New Zealand Koru members travelling with Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand
- Silver Velocity frequent flyers plus American Express Velocity Platinum, American Express Velocity Business, ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures and Virgin Money High Flyer cardholders redeeming one of their yearly lounge passes
- American Express Platinum, American Express Business Platinum and AMEX Centurion charge card holders when flying with Virgin Australia
- Air New Zealand Airpoints Gold, Elite and Elite Priority One
- Alitalia Millemiglia Freccia Alata, Freccia Alata Plus and Freccia Alata Plus Per Sempre Club
- Delta SkyMiles Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion, plus Delta Sky Club members
- Etihad Guest Gold, Platinum and Exclusive
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Gold, PPS Club, Solitaire PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club Life
- South African Airways Voyager Gold, Platinum and Lifetime Platinum
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold
Not covered by that incredibly extensive list? Access can also be purchased for $65 or 10,000 Velocity points for a one-time visit when travelling with Virgin Australia: but with some domestic business class upgrades available for fewer points which also include lounge access, consider this path before spending your points on a lounge pass.
However, note that business class passengers of Hong Kong Airlines – a Virgin Australia partner which flies from the Gold Coast – have no access to this lounge, nor do Velocity Gold or Platinum frequent flyers when travelling with the same: for now, at least.
Star Alliance Gold members, other than Air New Zealand Airpoints members, also have no access to this lounge when departing on Air New Zealand (Star Alliance) flights.
As this lounge is relatively small compared to its more popular cousin in Brisbane – where the airport terminal building had to be expanded to accommodate more seats – the design here makes best use of the space available without skimping on the usual features.
For instance, the buffet counters here are noticeably curved to create more surface area for nibbles and more room for travellers to approach during busy times...
... while still accommodating favourites like all-day barista coffee...
... and a sandwich toaster:
Our morning visits to the lounge found standard breakfast options of ham, cheese and tomato available for toasting, plus a selection of yoghurts, fruits, salad, eggs and sauces...
... along with made-to-order pancakes, fruit juices...
... cereals, and other hot breakfast items, which were still in ample quantities towards the end of the morning.
Alcohol is available from 11am – one hour earlier than the noon opening of the Qantas Club bar on the Gold Coast – but with the noticeable absence of spirits: favouring beer, wine and cider instead.
At breakfast time, however, a freshly-made latte is always preferred:
We found the food and beverage staff here to be friendly, and were accommodating when we had to ask for more bread, ham and a knife to make a toasted sandwich, as a busy period in the lounge had caused these items to run empty in quick succession.
Business travellers with work to accomplish will likely gravitate to the dedicated 'business zone': fortunately located in the far corner of the space where the atmosphere tends to be quieter.
Computers, printing and photocopying facilities are available here...
... while several benches stand ready for laptop work:
AC power points are accessible from many of the seats...
... but, here's a tip: if you specifically need USB power, or the lounge is busy and you don't want to hog an AC plug just to charge your smartphone, look for a spot near one of the wider power banks: these feature two USB charging ports in addition to the AC outlets, which keeps everybody happy:
Some of the other seats throughout the lounge also offer access to power – particularly those lining the walls, albeit a single AC plug at each location:
Wireless Internet access is available here, but we found speeds ranging from rather slow to downright unusable.
A visit on a quiet Tuesday morning – where we were one of only several passengers in the lounge – found download speeds of 1.8Mbps, uploads of 1.7Mbps and ping speeds of 36ms, which is particularly unhurried, but still functional.
We returned on a much busier Sunday morning, and with the lounge at around 60-70% of capacity, the wireless network was so jammed that it took 10 minutes just to load the WiFi login page: at which point, we simply gave up.
It's not that all of the passengers outside in the terminal were pilfering bandwidth – the network is password-protected, after all – it's that the connection itself is too slow for its purpose, and in a lounge catering to both domestic and international passengers, a functional Internet connection surely isn't too much of an ask.
Without a good WiFi service, you can pass the time before your flight in one of many comfy chairs, some offering leg rests, with a variety of reading material available, and a TV close by.
Particularly useful before evening flights or international services are shower facilities, with all amenities provided – including separate shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, which isn't the case in many competing Qantas Club lounges where only a single 'shampoo shower soap' is offered.
Just keep in mind that when travelling abroad, you'll need to allow plenty of time to complete a second round of security checks, passport control formalities and to lodge any TRS claims, if applicable, before boarding your flight.
We were travelling to Hong Kong on Hong Kong Airlines' morning departure (with Virgin Australia lounge access by special arrangement), and were through to the international zone within five minutes: but the lounge staff here suggest allowing 20-30 minutes to be safe, particularly before trans-Tasman flights where many more people are heading through at the same time.
Overall, with many of the same facilities as we'd expect of much larger capital city lounges, Virgin Australia's Gold Coast lounge is a pleasant place to await your flight – but working WiFi would be a welcome fix.
Chris Chamberlin visited the lounge a guest of Virgin Australia.
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