Sydney - Kingsford Smith
- Double storey lounge means there's more room to move during peak times
- Up to three barista stations pumping out coffee
- Working space with AC and USB power available
- Obstructed view from the lower floor
- No self-entry machine if entering from the terminal side
- 'Premium Entry' facilities for eligible travellers
Spanning two storeys and a boasting a Premium Entry facility for frequent flyers and business class passengers, it's no wonder that Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti often refers to Sydney as the airline's 'flagship lounge'.
Two bars and three barista coffee stations stand at the ready, so step inside and see what's on offer in the nation's busiest airport...
Location & Impressions
Located after security and conveniently positioned in the centre of the terminal, the first thing you'll notice is the spaciousness around the foyer and entryways.
There's plenty of room to move about, and when combined with a number of places to both work and unwind, chances are you'll find what you're looking for.
Business class travellers, Gold and Platinum frequent flyers and lifetime Virgin Australia lounge members can enter the Sydney lounge through the dedicated Premium Entry facility.
Allowing direct lounge access from the airport's drop-off road, eligible travellers can disappear inside without meandering through the regular terminal.
Greeting you at the roadside is a reception desk for flight changes or to check-in, while travellers can also opt to self-process at the kiosks before heading through a private, dual-lane security screening point.
As the only passenger going through a quiet checkpoint, you'll probably be 'randomly selected for additional screening' more often than not – but from there, you're straight into the lounge.
In addition to paid-up annual lounge members (who don't have access to Premium Entry), all other guests on the extensive doorlist can also enter the lounge from the terminal side.
Like Melbourne, the Sydney lounge is ready for some serious coffee orders.
With the main barista station (above) always open and two more located throughout the lounge, it pays to go for a walk if there's a long line in the mornings.
However on this visit, the second downstairs coffee haven was unmanned, while the upstairs section – where another espresso machine is located – was closed entirely.
Nonetheless, I'm still able to order a delicious latte, and it arrives within minutes.
Virgin's regular buffet fare is on offer, including pastas and salads...
... with dressings and other condiments on the side.
The opposite corner of the buffet is clearly devoted to fans of the airline's signature ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich, which can be pressed close by.
Hot soups stand at the ready, while a pancake machine makes an appearance in the mornings.
Fruit, breads and a toaster also adorn the buffet.
You'll find two beers on tap – Peroni Nastro Azzurro, a full-strength Italian pale lager, and the lighter Peroni Leggera.
The bar doesn't open until 11am...
... so juices, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and iced water are available to give you that much-needed lift in the mornings.
Although the upstairs section is only available during peak periods, you'll find the same food and beverage options as downstairs – so take your pick.
With ample wi-fi throughout the lounge and a number of curved desks for laptop use, there's plenty of space to get some work done.
If you don't mind facing away from the TV and the flight boards, my top pick is just behind the main barista on the ground floor...
... through the linen-print glass, you'll be able to keep an eye on your gear when ordering a coffee, and you won't have far to walk when it comes times for another.
Other working tables are scattered throughout the ground floor, equipped with both AC and USB power...
... while you could always take the stairs for a better view and more breathing space.
On the second floor, stools line the smaller working spaces – marked by the row of wooden poles.
Just be aware that your laptop sits at eye-level to the rest of the room, so consider moving elsewhere if your work is top secret.
You'll also find a couple of Windows XP computers and printing facilities over in the far corner on the ground floor, although they were all in use on our visit.
Whether upstairs or down below, there's plenty of space to relax and unwind.
If you've only got time to enjoy a quick coffee before dashing off, set down just behind the service desk and you won't have far to wander...
... but if you're travelling in a group and want to sink a few quiet ones, look for this long bench seat. It's near both the bar and a TV, so you're all set.
This groovy wooden fixture, styled around the terminal's support beams and more fitting for conversation or Facebooking than serious work, lets you charge your phone or tablet away from the work zones.
Other than this little charging corner, power points are scarce outside of the laptop working areas. As a result, you'll often see people plug in and chat incessantly around those trying to work, which gets old pretty quickly.
More power points – or even just USB power outlets for phones and tablets – around the social and relaxation areas would be a godsend, but sadly aren't there.
Mostly without power points, tables and chairs line the windows...
... although with all but an aircraft tail obstructed from view, they're not worth seeking out.
Instead of the tarmac, you'll be able to peek into The Club – Virgin Australia's invite-only lounge, where VIPs can, quite literally, look down on the hoi polloi!
The upstairs portion of Virgin's lounge space is divided in half, so you'll find Virgin's 'regular' lounge back at the other end.
Whether you've got just minutes or hours, why not while away the time in one of the comfy plush seats...
... or for the ultimate relaxation, look for a row of maroon chairs with footstools tucked away in the corner.
Once the obligatory Facebook check-in is taken care of, there's plenty of reading material to take your mind off work.
Whether it's magazines, newspapers or one of the thousands of titles available for free through the PressReader app, you'll find something of interest.
Otherwise, sit back and take some time just to enjoy your own company...
Compared to its predecessor, the new Virgin Australia Sydney lounge gives travellers much more elbow room, having turned the upstairs meeting and storage area into extra lounge space.
While it's unfortunate that the upper level – and the view that comes with it – is only open during peak periods, it's my pick of the lounge zones.
You'll have fewer people fighting for the same buffet food, so you'll have more time to get things done before the flight with a coffee and meal in-hand.
The 'wow factor' here is definitely Premium Entry – arriving in style and avoiding the bustling terminal makes for a much better experience, and at two minutes from kerb to lounge, it's unrivalled by anything the Red Roo has to offer.
Overall, it's a funky, chic and contemporary space, but one that could use a few more power points.