Your guide to Virgin’s temporary Melbourne lounges

Flying out of Melbourne with Virgin Australia? Here's a rundown on the airline's two temporary lounges.

By David Flynn, May 4 2021
Your guide to Virgin’s temporary Melbourne lounges

With Virgin Australia's Melbourne Airport lounge closed for extensive maintenance and renovation work, the airline has now opened two temporary lounges at Melbourne Terminal 3.

There's The Club lounge, originally built as a private sanctuary for Virgin's invitation-only The Club, but which since December 2020 has been rechristened as the Melbourne Domestic Temporary Lounge and become Virgin's de facto space for all loungeworthy passengers.

There's also the Melbourne Domestic Pop Up Lounge, a new addition intended to alleviate overcrowding at The Club as Virgin reaps the rewards of a rebound in domestic air travel.

Both lounges are located at very different parts of the airport, and have very different access requirements: here's what you need to know.

Virgin Australia's Melbourne Domestic Temporary Lounge

In a previous life, under former Virgin CEO John Borghetti, this space was known as The Clubcreated to compete against Qantas' Chairman’s Lounge as an exclusive, elite program for& politicians and power-brokers, movers and shakers, and especially those execs with sizeable travel budgets to send Virgin's way.

Read more: We reveal the perks of 'The Club', Virgin Australia's secret VIP tier

But for now, this once high-end haven has opened its doors to a much broader segment of passengers – and the future of The Club, both as a lounge and a VIP tier, remains unknown.

The considered design, elegant decor and premium finishes will give visitors a hint of what The Club was like in its glory days, although the superb Luke Mangan menu – with freshly-cooked ‘eggs any way’ breakfasts, the grilled salmon, thick steaks and truffle fries – is long gone, as are the plush leather wing chairs.

Access: The Melbourne Domestic Temporary Lounge operates from one hour prior to the departure of the first Virgin flight each day, through to the departure of the last flight of the day. At the time of writing, access is restricted to

  • business class passengers
  • Velocity Platinum frequent flyers
  • The Club members

Location: Head towards the original Virgin lounge and follow the signage towards the T3 wing of gates 11-19.

Food and drinks: Virgin says its Melbourne lounges are being upgraded to receive a new menu featuring freshly-made sandwiches, wraps and healthy snacks.

Capacity: By rearranging some of the furniture, Virgin says it will increase the number of seats available from the current 144 to around 160.

Executive Traveller tip: If you've got some work to knock over, or crave a little privacy with your colleagues or partner, try to snare one of the cosy little 'pods' which flank The Club's main thoroughfare.

Virgin Australia's Melbourne Domestic Pop Up Lounge

Opened on Monday May 3, 2021, Virgin's Melbourne Domestic Pop Up Lounge is an even more temporary temporary lounge to handle the overflow from The Club, in a space previously occupied by the airport's Picketts Deli & Rotisserie.

Virgin has made excellent use of the former cafe/restaurant, on which it holds a short-term lease through to July.

After all, with its own kitchen and servery, a bar plus seating booths, and of course a barista-attended espresso machine, it ticks many of the core boxes for an airport lounge.

Access: The Melbourne Domestic Pop Up Lounge operates from one hour prior to the departure of the first Virgin flight each day, through to the departure of the last flight of the day. At the time of writing, access is restricted to

  • Velocity Gold frequent flyers
  • Virgin Australia Lounge members
  • holders of single-use lounge passes (such as those issued to Velocity Silver members),
  • and "eligible partner airline guests and eligible credit card partners" (such as Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer members and AMEX Platinum card-holders)

Location: Once you're at the Virgin Australia check-in area, veer to the right – the Melbourne Domestic Pop Up Lounge is just past the AFL Kitchen and Bar.

Food and drinks: Expect the same menu of sandwiches, wraps and healthy snacks as the other temporary Melbourne lounge.

There's also an additional 'grab and go' section at the front of the lounge, for travellers who're short on time...

... while the bar carries a wide range of beers, spirits and wines (including Da Luca Prosecco sparkling).

Capacity: Virgin says the Melbourne Domestic Pop Up Lounge has room for around 90 passengers, as the airline remains subject to Victoria's strict COVID capacity constraints.

Executive Traveller tip: There are no boarding calls made in Pop Up Lounge, so you'll want to keep an eye on the time – we suggest setting an alarm on your smartphone.

In addition, because this lounge is located well before security, you'll need to allow extra time to get through the security checkpoint and head to your gate (especially if you're flying in peak morning or afternoon/evening periods).

When will Virgin's Melbourne lounge re-open?

Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka anticipates the renovated Melbourne lounge will pull down the hoardings and roll out the welcome mat "mid-year."

Also read: Virgin, 7-Eleven set to launch ‘points for petrol’ partnership

David

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.

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 45

I've read spirits in the new Gold lounge too which was unexpected. Anyone know if we can expect spirits in the Platinum lounge now too?

06 Sep 2019

Total posts 15

Yes, spirits are available in the former Club Lounge. When I visited the choices were Bundaberg Rum, Cointreau, Gordons London Dry Gin, Jim Beam and Johnny Walker Black Label.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 516

You can't be serious, what . . . . all that potential malaria and covid virus but no Bombay Sapphire G&T ??  (sigh!)

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 690

VA has a real chance here of being ranked better than Qantas if they set there offering right to consumers. I flew QF Business and VA Business in the last 2 days and QF have dropped the ball on my last couple of flights. If VA copies the business lounge for Platinums and Life Time Gold  and does a similar offering to QF I can’t see them losing but gaining market share from businesses. I’m actually think about cancelling a couple of QF flights and going VA instead.

The old club lounge is shocking for powerpoints.  If you need to charge head to the brewery instead.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

I have to say, this is a pretty sharp move by Virgin to take over the lease of this cafe and turn it into a temporary lounge. Looking at the photos and reading the article I can really see how easily they have adapted the cafe to become this pop-up lounge. Very clever and well-executed!

vfm
vfm

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 20

Tried both today (long story). My thoughts; the 'Gold' lounge seems to has a wider range of food, which you order by talking to a staff member, but is nosier (in a pub-style of way) and you have to use the MEL airport (or Maccas) wifi. at the moment. The 'J/Platinum' lounge is quieter, and you're encouraged to order food & grog via a QR code (although a number of people seemed to be unaware of this, however, staff still patiently took their verbal orders). You can also access VA wifi. You can get the roasted vegetable wrap, toasted in the 'Gold' lounge, but the J lounge said they couldn't do that........

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

Those are welcome first-hand observations, thanks for sharing!

vfm
vfm

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 20

Thanks David, it was a bit of a rushed post (done in the J lounge). So, if I could expand just a bit more; both lounges were very busy on arrival; around 4.30 to 5.30pm.  As one can see from your banner-photo, the reception space is pretty cramped for the 2 staff, but it is a pop-up after all. And as you pointed out, it only opened on Monday.  More of an efficiency impediment was that even though there were 2 reception staff working, it was explained to me that they could only process one pax at a time, so there was a bit of a queue. Even though there are 2 workstations, they just mirrored each other, so what one monitor saw just reflected what the other workstation was doing. The staff were hopeful; this would be fixed over the next several days. Despite being busy, the staff were very helpful and suggested we find a seat and she would process my points upgrade request when she had a bit of time, which she did and was the reason why I sampled both lounges.

I agree with the others that the pop-up is not well sign-posted. I thought it odd, that outside the J/Platinum lounge that there was no signage directing where Gold members should proceed to.  I’m hopeful signage and processing will improve as things get bedded down.  For readers in this situation, look out for the AFL store (as shown in your photo), which is near the VA Ticketing desk.

I actually liked the Gold pop-up; I agree with your statement that VA has made excellent use of the former cafe/restaurant. I thought it had a bit of a gastro-pub feel. Further, the reception staff were great despite it being a busy time of day. BTW; for in-flight dinner I had the beef brisket pie – it was fine and so was the mushroom ravioli that my travelling companion had.

05 May 2021

Total posts 1

I tried to use these lounges on Monday.  I was flying out of Gate 5.  Once you go through security, there are no lounges.  So I have to go back out again.  One of the lounges was closed, with a sign pointing in the wrong direction to the other lounge which I could not find.  No good signage at all.  Pretty hopeless experience.  Waited at the gate for 2 hours, because my flight to Brisbane was 90 minutes late leaving -- hard to believe when there is so little traffic at the airport.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 987

The MEL VA lounges have always been landside of security so this is not a change.  Did you ask VA staff for directions to the Lounge?  I'm sure they would have been happy to help.

A late flight at the end of the day will typically be a knock-on delay from earlier in the day.  These can be weather delays elsewhere in the network, mechanical faults etc but they usually last for the rest of the day. 

Who is doing the VA marketing with the pop up lounge? Great idea having people able to see into the lounge area and show them what their missing out on. Should win a marketing award. 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

Errr, did you miss the bit where this used to be a restaurant? It's a retail space, of course it's going to have high visibility and be very open and let people see what's on offer. Virgin didn't "design" it this way, that's just how it came, all they did was to put up some signage.  That's not marketing. And don't forget, when Virgin opened its BNE international lounge a few years back with No 1 Traveller people criticized the lounge's design because it was also fairly open to outside viewing due to the full length glass windows and the wooden slat panels. If I'm in a lounge I want some privacy from outside.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 690

@QFP1

I agree and disagree on privacy some people want it some people don't care and some people need the privacy or otherwise they just get harassed and looked at while in the lounge. From a marketing point of view an open shop front lounge is straight out marketing of your brand to everyone in the target market your chasing. Just before Covid my wife and myself were in a lounge in Amsterdam my wife made the comment this was the best lounge she had ever been in, my thoughts were it doesn't even rate compared to the Etihad First Lounge we left 2 days earlier or the QF Sydney First Class Lounge. The difference was it had a good vibe with a cafe atmosphere and didn't come across as sterile. There are 2 types of travellers the refined traveller (The person wanting The Club) and the traveller who just wants a drink, meal and a place to sit before there flight. If I had both options I would use The Club sometimes and the retail lounge as well. Saying all that it will never take off because the other cafes owner will complain to the airport management that they are losing money due to the Virgin Lounge giving away free food and drink. I wouldn't be surprised if owners haven't already complained.

This pop-up 'cafe lounge' actually looks like a good concept. Air Canada has some 'cafe' lounges at its domestic terminals and I always thought that was a very good idea. A lounge doesn't have to match the conventional notions we have. In a very large airport I could actually see a main 'flagship' lounge in either a central location or up near check-in, sort of like Cathay's The Wing at HKG of BA's lounge complex at LHR T5 and then a series of smaller 'cafe' lounges at strategic locations along the terminal.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jun 2020

Total posts 3

Do not use the temporary lounge in Melbourne as it’s filthy dirty and like a cheap poor cafe definitely not like other lounges on offer check-in staff will not promote Chairmans lounge VA version  however that would be the place to go alternatively the AFL cafe next door. The virgin product has definitely changed and in-flight menu doesn’t exist unless it’s chips beer or soft drink the crew are not helpful on board and the sense of overworked and underpaid seems to be the new virgin in-flight experience


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