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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