Virgin Australia opens new Canberra Airport lounge

By David Flynn, March 13 2013
Virgin Australia opens new Canberra Airport lounge

Virgin Australia’s new Canberra Airport lounge is now open, gracing the ‘west wing’ of the airport’s terminal with another contemporary lounge in its growing network.

A much-needed replacement for the old Virgin Blue bunker, the new lounge has room for 300 travellers and a panoramic view over the tarmac.

It looks even better of a night, if you’re on one of the half-dozen Virgin flights which leave of an evening. 

As expected, it shares the same design DNA as Virgin’s other lounges in Melbourne and Brisbane (with Sydney heading in the same direction).

That includes a cluster of comfortable lounge chairs…

… a trendy bar area...

… the self-serve buffet with all-day barista service...

… and those snaking workbenches.

But there are a few new touches in the mix.

The workbenches now sport inbuilt USB sockets to charge up your smartphone or tablet, alongside the regular AC powerpoints.

Wooden dividers along some of the higher seating areas provide a bit more privacy while you work or eat, with more AC sockets within easy reach.

The new terminal itself boasts more checkin counters, a larger baggage carousel plus additional passenger screening areas, all so that you can spend less time in line and more time in the lounge.

And yes, the new terminal space also contains Virgin Australia’s invitation-only The Club lounge for Canberra’s politicians and powerbrokers.

The door, discretely marked ‘Private’, sits just off to the side of the main lounge’s entry, next to the self-checkin terminal.

Those who can’t get into The Club can grab a glimpse inside this haven for the well-heeled from the floor of the terminal itself, which affords a surprisingly open view up into the private lounge.

(And no, we're not going to make the obvious comment about The Club's VIP set looking down on the hoi polloi!)

The opening of the Canberra lounges is “a day I’ve been waiting for since the day I joined Virgin” says Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti, seen below cutting into a Canberra Airport-shaped cake at the terminal's opening.

Borghetti is well aware of how vital these new lounges, and Virgin's business class flights, are to engaging the corporate travel cogs of Canberra.

“We are no longer an airline in transition for Sydney-Canberra, Melbourne-Canberra or indeed any route” he says.

“We now are an airline that has not only the best product in the sky, we also have quality first class facilities on the ground. This lounge by any measure is outstanding, the terminal and checkin is outstanding, and most importantly our staff is outstanding.”

With Virgin now offering business class across its entire  Embraer E190 fleet plus smaller ATR turbo prop planes, “for the first time in over a decade Australians will have a choice when it comes to competition in business class travel in and out of the capital” a clearly chuffed Borghetti proclaims.

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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.

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 40

Now all they need are direct A330s Canberra <-> Perth and BAM, they'll have something that they are better at than Qantas (Qantas has one direct 737 a day)

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 181

As much as I'd love to see that mateiralise, that's unlikely to happen. The claim would be there's already enough capacity via SYD/MEL/ADL on VA to warrant a direct service. 

What we really need however, is a non-stop CBR-SIN tieing up with SQ and EY in SIN. While here in CBR a NZ/VA flight to AKL that connects with the return flight from SIN and vice versa.

On the ground we also need a high speed train connecting CBR to SYD to complement the process. Sydney will have an extra airport that's less than an hour away and Canberra will have an international gateway.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Dec 2011

Total posts 11

I love the idea of having international flights from CBR to SIN, AKL, WLG, PVG, etc (and also direct flights to DRW and PER) in the future when the need arises, but having a high speed train connecting CBR to SYD makes international flights from CBR irrelevant, since as you said it's only less than an hour away.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

The train isn't going to happen. The "grand project"-building style of governments don't exist anymore. Plus we don't have the population density to support it. However some international flights to hubs as you mention would be a definite win. Surely there would be 300 people a day in the CBR catchment area that would head to SIN. Interesting times ahead. 

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 181

I totally disagree with you about the population density. Many other cities around the world with significantly less density have got bullet trains. I also disagree with you about the 'grand project building style of' governments being extinct. The NBN is a huge current grand project.

As for the thought that it might get irrelevant if CBR becomes international, you're completely off the mark. The train will make huge sense for Sydney as it's effectively getting a second airport. Over the past 30 years more than 11 Billion had been spent by Federal and NSW governments on feasibility studies for a second airport without laying a brick. We could get HS rail link for something like 10 Billions within 4-5 years without breaking sweat over it. And because CBR airport has the infrastructure to handle the higher volumes it even makes more sense now.

20 Jul 2011

Total posts 73

I've thought that too, but I think the chances are gone now that QF has moved its hub from Singapore and beyond the range of narrow-bodies.  I'm sure there would have been demand for a long-range 737 or A319 to plug into the QF Europe flights - just look at the number of people from each early-afternoon Dash 8 who get that ridiculous transfer bus to the international terminal in Sydney.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2209

High-speed rail to Canberra will have similar costs to a second airport, so why not build a second airport? It delivers far, far more.

If you want it because you want it, cool, but don't expect it to be built. It just isn't feasible compared to the alternatives.

I've had this argument too any times on Railpage Australia...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2209

Oh, and guys, high-speed rail to Canberra won't be "less than an hour". From what I've predicted, it'll be at least 90 minutes, which really starts to erode the travel time advantage.

Then you might want to pick up at Sydney Airport and Campbelltown, oops, more deviations and slower trips.

Ansett Global Rewards

30 Oct 2012

Total posts 16

On a completely random note, I love the pic of Borghetti cutting a mini Canberra Airport cake to celebrate Virgin's presence in the city. I also love the fact that the cake has Qantas planes on it, and not Virgin ones... 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2553

That's due to the angle of the pic - from this side we can see the 'southern concourse', which is home to QF planes - John was standing in front of and cutting into the new 'western concourse' which I'm told was appropriately decorated with Virgin planes (I didn't the pic or see the cake, let alone taste it –  was back at the lounge, writing this article!).

Ansett Global Rewards

30 Oct 2012

Total posts 16

Ah David- you should have gone for a slice! That way you could have given us a Masterchef review of what it was like eating a bit of the concourse. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Mar 2013

Total posts 1

David, where is the new lounge located? I'm a big fan of where the original lounge was, due to its proximity to the main Virgin gates (and well past security). How's the positioning now?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2553

It's upstairs (well, stairs or lift or elevator, take your pick) about central to the new wing, by memory, so it's definitely well past security (which is in the central atrium between the two wings) and two minutes at most from any of the gates that Virgin will use.

21 Apr 2011

Total posts 42

Popped in for a look-see and was rather underwhelmed. This lounge, more so than VA's lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, feels rather stark and sterile. Maybe it will grow on me, but for now, I much prefer the warmer colours in the Qantas Club across the atrium. (and the J lounge, but absence of tamac views means I end up in QP more often than not).

Also, the "business centre" on day one was one table with two dell desktops (which weren't turned on!). Seriously, Virgin?


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