As Virgin Australia continues to expand its domestic lounge network, Virgin boss John Borghetti shared with Australian Business Traveller an insight into progress for the lounges already announced at the Gold Coast and Darwin, plus the refit of the Sydney lounge.
"Gold Coast is right on schedule still for April, so all systems are go," Borghetti says of the lounge, which will also include the newly-announced Concierge meet and greet service.
The Gold Coast lounge will seat around 135 travellers in 675 square metres of space, making it slightly smaller than its Brisbane sibling.
While the entry will be on the ground floor of the airport the lounge itself will be located upstairs, nestled between gates 1 through 3, affording a good view of the airfield.
"Mackay we've opened, as you know. We will be doing Darwin, and we will be doing the Sydney lounge."
Bigger lounges for Melbourne, Brisbane
In pleasing news for frequent travellers to Brisbane and Melbourne airports, Virgin is planning extra room there: "We're working on a program within six months to expand to Sydney capacity in Brisbane and Melbourne," Borghetti explains.
And are more lounges planned?
"Oh, yes!" Borghetti is quick to assure us. "Eventually what you'll see is a network of them, similar to our route network, effectively. But you can't do them all in one year, of course, and we're going as fast as we can in not only renovating existing ones but opening other ones."
There's a bit of comfort for frequent flyers from Australia's regions as well.
"You will see them in more regional ports as we go along," Borghetti promises. "We've already done Mackay and you will see one in Hobart. So the lounge program for the next 18 months is quite extensive."
We pressed for further details on our readers' behalf, but Borghetti is keeping his cards close to his chest: "Some we've announced, and some we haven't announced, and I'd like to keep them unannounced for just a little bit longer."
Now would Borghetti allow himself to be drawn on any plans to bring the interesting express lounge concept across the Tasman from Virgin Australia partner Air New Zealand's regional terminal in Christchurch.
Three models of Virgin Australia Lounge
Borghetti outlined the airline's strategy for its lounges to us, which you'll see as they land in airports around Australia.
"There are effectively three models that you're looking at: one is the model that you'll see in Brisbane and in Melbourne. Let's call that the core model," Borghetti explains of the two lounges created by Sydney-based architectural firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer.
"Then you've got the regional model, which is your Mackay-type lounge. It's a very good lounge, and it certainly beats any other regional lounge around," he says proudly.
"And then of course, the Sydney one, as you'd expect, will be very much a flagship lounge. It'll be quite a large lounge, but it won't feel large."
Sydney's split-level 'super lounge'
Virgin hopes to open the doors of it's Sydney airport lounge by year's end, with the new lounge be spread over two floors.
“The (current) main lounge is on the lower level, there’s another mezzanine level upstairs which the airport have been using for functions" Virgin's lounge designer Tim Greer from Tonkin Zulaikha Greer told Australian Business Traveller earlier this year.
“We’ll take over that space and have a two storey lounge.”
This unique layout could permit Virgin Australia to stage its work one floor at a time – for example, building out and then opening the upper floor, so that the current lounge on the ground floor can be renovated – rather than completely closing the lounge, as was the case at Melbourne and Brisbane airports.
It could also open the way for a separate and more exclusive Platinum section of the lounge – something that's also been tipped for Melbourne and Brisbane.
In other Virgin Australia news this week:
- Fast-track Premium Valet and check-in at Melbourne (with Sydney already in operation and Brisbane due to start soon)
- A super-elite Concierge meet and greet service for the top Velocity frequent flyers at Canberra, Gold Coast — and elsewhere...
- Android tablets and wireless streaming: the inflight entertainment game change kicks off in April
- New 1-2 configuration proper business class on Virgin's smaller Embraer E-190 jets