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 Club – created 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.
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."