Virgin Australia offers paid entry to airport lounges

By David Flynn, January 16 2014
Virgin Australia offers paid entry to airport lounges

Virgin Australia is opening its airport lounges to all travellers, even those sitting in the cheapest economy seats – but at a price.

Whiling away some pre-flight time in the lounge – with free food, drinks and fast Internet all on tap – will cost $65 at the door, or 10,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer points to buy a lounge pass online for up to six months in advance.

Business class travellers, and Platinum and Gold members of Virgin's Velocity frequent flyer scheme already enjoy free entry to the airline's lounges, but everybody else is left on the other side of those frosted glass doors.

The pay-to-enter concept is bound to be appealing to infrequent flyers, especially if they've got a loose 10,000 points rattling around, but it's no bargain.

For example, if you've booked a Flexi fare you can upgrade to business class on short routes such as Sydney-Melbourne or Sydney-Brisbane for a mere 4,800 points and get lounge access into the bargain.

(You could also trade in 13,800 points and $21 on a business class award seat for the same route.)

And you can forget about turning up in the morning for an evening flight and using the lounge as an all-day office – paid entry is valid only two hours ahead of your flight's departure time.

Virgin Australia previously sold single-entry lounge passes for the same price but axed the scheme in early 2012.

Qantas has sold passes to its Qantas Club lounges as a limited-time promotion, most recently offering four single-use passes for $197 in December 2012, but has ruled out the possibility of Qantas Club access ever being offered on a walk-up, pay-at-the-door basis.

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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.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 738

Well, if the price were lower I'd be annoyed about too many people cluttering up the lounges, but at $65 I can't see many people taking them up on it, so I guess it's okay. 

Although if you did pay the $65 you'd feel obliged to drink, like, ten beers to get your money's worth, so I hope it's not going to fill the lounge with drunks.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2213

It still falls flat against the Admirals Club membership for 30 days - it's USD 99, but it grants you unlimited Qantas Club access while flying Qantas, so fly twice in that month and you're already ahead.

I think this will have a few takers, no doubt, but I don't think this will really "open the floodgates". It opens options while still effectively locking out the undesirables.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 529

I agree that at $65 it might keep most people out and especially as the domestic terminals are really not that bad anyway so it's not people feel they need to get away by going to the lounge.

Have to say though, I actually don't know why they would want to do this as it tends to cheapen the lounge somewhat by allowing it in the first place. On the flip side... It might be a good business decision as it allows other people to experience the lounge and perhaps tempt people to fly Virgin more often...

16 Dec 2011

Total posts 49

I've bought Qantas club passes on Ebay before and i've always paid less than $50.  And you can go in more than 2 hours before, although i'm not sure how long. 

Not sure if virgin passes come up on Ebay too ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2012

Total posts 149

There are no Virgin Passes, they're loaded on your card to prevent people doing that. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1252

Hate the concept of paid lounge entry.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 184

Didnt they just scrap pay per entry less than 12 months ago?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Aug 2013

Total posts 8

This completely devalues the concept of being Gold or Platinum FF.

They should offer an annual membership, nothing more.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2014

Total posts 2

There is a reasonable level of crowding in the lounges of both airlines already. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 31

I'm tipping it won't last....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 207

Arrrgggh!!! That's the last thing they need to be doing! I've had to use the VA Lounges at SYD, MEL and BNE and have been unimpressed. Filling them up with passers-by is only going to make them worse! ALL airline lounges need to focus on more space, less crowding and excellent F&B (especially for those of us who prefer not to eat on board). VA needs the equivalent of the QF Domestic Business Lounges (although even they can get too crowded!!) to improve it's competitiveness on the ground.

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