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Virgin Australia's new ‘Premium Exit’ in its Melbourne Airport lounge is now open, providing a time-saving direct path from the bustling lounge to the northern departure gates.
Frequent flyers will welcome the ability to fast-track from the lounge straight to gates 1-10 instead of backtracking towards the pre-departure screening area due to the lounge's location beyond the airport's secure zone.
Premium Exit is effectively a mirrored version of Premium Entry in the airline's Sydney lounge. Howard Mitchell, Virgin Australia's Manager, Lounges, told Australian Business Traveller that Sydney's Premium Entry provides travellers with an average 'through time' of just 2-3 minutes.
Out in the main Sydney terminal, Mitchell suggests an average of 15 minutes for check-in and security screening, making Premium Entry – and now, Premium Exit – real timesavers.
Fast track for lounge lizards
The Premium Exit's two dedicated screening lanes are both open during peak travel times, although the airline doesn't anticipate any more than two flights boarding at the same time.
However, as some travellers don’t arrive early enough to enjoy the lounge before their flights, Virgin has retained the priority line at the terminal's main screening checkpoint for business class passengers along with Velocity Platinum and Gold members.
Premium Exit won’t be available for passengers departing from gates 11-15 (Pier F) – insteadm the airline installed one-way exit doors at the southern end of the lounge earlier this year to save travellers some time:
Located at the far right of the lounge's bar, the Pier F exit opens near the entrance to a new general security screening point which is being moved forward from its current location:
Mitchell tells Australian Business Traveller that while approximately 60% of the airline’s passengers depart from gates 1-10, only 40% do so from gates 11-15.
By repositioning the existing screening facility the airline avoids the operating costs of an extra security checkpoint while still providing a reasonably quick security experience by way of the priority screening line.
Awkwardly positioned in the ‘landside’ space between two departure piers (below), the lounge itself will remain before security for the time being.
However, Mitchell advises that Melbourne Airport’s Southern Precinct Development should see the terminal's sterile area extended to include the lounge within “five to ten years”.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Virgin Australia.
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