Virgin Australia changes airport lounge access in Los Angeles

By Chris Chamberlin, December 15 2016
Virgin Australia changes airport lounge access in Los Angeles

EXCLUSIVE | High-flying Virgin Australia passengers jetting home from Los Angeles will soon use a new airport lounge at LAX, under revised plans which take effect from next week.

From Monday December 19, the airline’s Velocity Platinum members will shift from the Star Alliance First Class Lounge to the combined Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge prior to boarding their Virgin Australia flight.

Virgin Australia’s business class passengers will also move to the Etihad lounge from the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge used at present, with Etihad’s facility offering a dedicated dining room with table service…

… a manned ‘showcase bar’ where you can enjoy locally-inspired cocktails or a more traditional mix …

… plus a TV ‘lounging’ area, other relaxation zones, and of course, shower facilities.

Photo tour: Inside Etihad's new business, first class lounge in Los Angeles

For the most part, it’s an upgrade for these travellers – although some will certainly miss the Star Alliance lounge’s groovy outdoor terrace where it’s easy to while away the time.

Velocity Gold members booked to fly with Virgin Australia in premium economy or economy will continue to use the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge (below), which too provides a cocktail bar and shower facilities, although not a la carte dining as offered in the Etihad lounge.

Virgin Australia is also switching its lounge facilities in Denpasar (Bali) from the same date, with all lounge-eligible travellers moving from the JAS Premier Lounge to the Taurus Gemilang Lounge from December 19.

The moves follow other recent changes in November 2016 which saw Virgin Australia international passengers departing from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane shuffled to new airport lounges.

Those revisions allowed passengers travelling from Sydney to Los Angeles to cool their heels in the Etihad Airways lounge, and those flying from Brisbane to LAX to relax in the new Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge.

Also read: Virgin Australia shakes up international airport lounge access from Australia

Join other AusBT readers talking about Virgin Australia in our dedicated Virgin Australia discussion group

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

When I saw this headline I was worried, "What has Virgin gone and done now?"! But the Etihad lounge is much better than the Star Alliance ones, especially comparing it to the Star business lounge for Virgin's business class passengers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 153

Everytime they change access rules, it's like their adding another segment to spin the wheel or one of those create your own stories. "Which lounge can I access today?" 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 255

Showers in Etihad lounges?

Covered in the article.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 444

Virgin moving further and further away from any connection with Star Alliance ......

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 47

Funny you say that, since today is also the exact day they announce a strategic partnership with Star's Air Canada ;)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Feb 2012

Total posts 31

except the air canada anouncement today.....

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 45

I would say the move is more away from Air NZ then Star in general. While a 'Star lounge', it is run by Air NZ at the end of the day...


23 May 2014

Total posts 129

This is great news - "The Business" is becoming the product to beat over to the US - flew it last week and it is superb. The LAX First lounge was pretty poor tbh - Etihad is miles ahead.

As Golds are still using the Star Alliance lounge, I assume it would be ok for Biz class / Plats to "downgrade" themselves to Star Alliance if they really prefer the outdoor terrace?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

Yeh clearly they should be able to visit both star alliance and Etihad lounge if they want.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

Sadly no. Virgin isn't part of Star Alliance and any access needs to be contractually agreed. If a Virgin Biz Class passenger without Virgin Gold or above wants to use a lounge it's Etihad or nothing (as I understand it). 

02 May 2016

Total posts 4

Have you flown Air Canada's 787? Same seat as Virgin but much better! Proper electronic remote (not like the crappy virgin plastic one)- a tray table that actually folds away so you can sleep and a huge pillow. Plus the 787 has much nicer lavatories and windows...For me that is the product to beat- not VA.

Did you go outside to the terrace of the star lounge? Can't beat it- that's why it keeps getting voted best lounge year after year.

The LAX Etihad space is nice but cramped - the food is probably the only thing which I would prefer over the Star. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 64

Hopefully it's a little quieter and less of a shower line up...... The first class lounge used to be quiet, in October there were only a few seats free and it was a mess. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 109

I think I still prefer the Qantas Cathay British Airways lounge

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 27

Sydney Air NZ Lounge is very busy as is Star Alliance Lounge LAX  had some difficulty finding a seat & I was traveling solo. Food is OK. I am looking forward to using Etihad Lounge both Sydney & LAX, although the Star Alliance Outdoor Terrace LAX is a loss

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Jun 2011

Total posts 80

I'm assuming with this change, VA Gold and Platinum travelling on NZ LAX-MEL/SYD/BNE in any class other than business are left without access to a lounge?

Your assumption would be wrong: the only changes are those described in the article. Fly with Air NZ as a Velocity Gold or Platinum member from LAX and you'll continue to use the Star Alliance (business class) lounge.

25 Feb 2013

Total posts 66

So my wife (VA Gold), my 3yo daughter (no status) and I (VA Platinum) will be travelling through the US early next year and coming back from LAX for an economy flight on Virgin.

We usually got around the "only 1 guest" thing in the *A lounge (and others) for our daughter because we both had status. So seeing as Platinums can't "downgrade" does this mean they're now going to send us to different lounges and tell us we can't all be together?

Virgin - sort your s**t out!!

VA Platinum

21 Nov 2013

Total posts 20

I suspect you'll actually get looked after as I doubt very much they'll make you split up. Please report back!

25 Feb 2013

Total posts 66

We'll see - the issue with these kinds of arrangements is that VA really has no control over who gets access, as they are based on specific contracts with the lounges, which in this case are based on different status tiers. So it is really irrelevant if VA doesn't want us to split up, as it won't be their choice. 

The increasingly Byzantine arrangements around VA lounge access are not only confusing but incredibly off-putting. If I left LAX on any one of the other VA partner airlines this wouldn't be an issue at all, but because I've chosen VA (and because they've chosen to complicate every aspect of their lounge access arrangements) I've got yet another issue to call and sort out. It's hardly a positive user experience. 

25 Feb 2013

Total posts 66

Update: I've called Virgin to see what would happen and their response was "we don't know". Pretty poor form - it isn't an unusual scenario and really should have been predictable *before* implementing the change. Find out in Feb I guess

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 93

This sounds exactly like VA. Culturally they're still thinking and behaving like a LCC.  By this I mean, they don't have an ability to let common sense prevail.

This may be a great example, and is one more to chock up against VA.  When things are within the parameters or 'rules' then fine, but the moment you have a problem or request outside of these, then they just either say no, or I don't know.

Why you would split your Gold and Platinum Velocity members makes no sense.  At the very least, Platinum should be able to choose to stay with fellow Gold passengers if needed.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Dec 2016

Total posts 16

Interesting some comments regarding Velocity access, never had an issue in USA, Europe or Asia and on a recent trip to Phuket had a Qantas traveler in front of us declined access to lounge in Singapore as Qantas FF do not have access to lounge if flying Silk we got welcomed in, so much for the comment of snubbing Qantas, flyers have voted on numerous occasion that Velocity is world class beating the pants off all the others and not just once. Been a member of a number including Qantas and the long gone Ansett and I have no issues with earning points or redeeming or access to lounges.

26 Jul 2011

Total posts 11

Hi all,

I'm sitting in the Etihad LAX lounge right now, and wanted to clarify a few things:

* There is NO access to Air NZ's lounge for ANY Virgin customers anymore, regardless of status or ticket. Chris, perhaps you can clarify? I was told this by staff at check in and here at the lounge.
* Apparently there's no ala carte menu at night - only during the day? I suspect they take this option away when they know it's only Virgin/Delta passengers coming in, as is the case tonight
* Buffet - and I'd use that word lightly - is less than half the size of Air NZ's.
* Only one shower
* Less than 1/4 of the size of Air NZ's lounge
* No self serve drinks of any kind. All located behind the bar (not a huge issue, but might bother some)

Gotta say, it's a big step DOWN from the *A lounge, which is pretty poor from Virgin. All the supposedly good things I've read about Etihad lounges aren't visible atm - maybe I just got em on a bad night?

It's becoming clear that Virgin AU has no plans to become a global airline, but rather a strong domestic airline that does a few international flights. Their bolt-on approach with partnerships with Sing Air, Etihad, Air NZ etc is only going to become more complicated. Might be time to consider jumping across to a truly global company like Qantas.

"There is NO access to Air NZ's lounge for ANY Virgin customers anymore, regardless of status or ticket. Chris, perhaps you can clarify? I was told this by staff at check in and here at the lounge."

If you're referring to the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX (which is managed by AirNZ on behalf of Star Alliance), that's correct when flying on Virgin Australia, as we've reported this week: Virgin Australia Velocity Gold flyers lose LAX lounge access

(Velocity Gold and Platinum members can continue to visit the Star Alliance Lounge when flying on Air New Zealand flights, however.)

26 Jul 2011

Total posts 11

Thanks Chris - I'm jet lagged out of my mind after flying in to LAX yesterday and flying home tonight, so misread that. Didn't see this week's earlier report either.

Pretty bummed about the loss of access to *A Lounge. It was one of the best. Food selection in Etihad lounge is so poor I'm now at the bar downstairs!

Virgin Australia Platinum

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 69


This article must be amended to let people know what exactly they have to look forward to here. 

I was here last night and there is no a la carte menu whatsoever. The buffet menu is terrible and not even half as big or good as the Star Alliance LAX J lounge. There is poor selection of drinks and must be ordered. Only one shower.

I was all excited for the changes to the Etihad lounge because of this article BUT now I'm so let down. There aren't even Etihad workers at this lounge in the evening since theres no EY flight. The workers are VA contracted and the service and offering is clearly different. 

As a VA Platinum flying J, I WISH I could go back to the Star Alliance F Lounge LAX where I had personalized service, top shelf alcohol and champagne, private space, and access to the J lounge as well. 

Virgin Australia Platinum

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 69

To further add, I flew from LAX-AUH on EY a few weeks ago and the food offering and service was leaps and bounds better. The only thing really that VA customers are getting is the EY lounge hard product. 

26 Jul 2011

Total posts 11

Yep, sad to say @wanderlust, but it's a big disappointment. I went downstairs to the sushi bar, as they had actual food there, instead of the poor offering in Etihad's lounge.

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 27

Question. The LAX-BNE flight VA007 is from T3. How on Earth do I get from T3 to the lounge and then back to T3?

26 Jul 2011

Total posts 11

@Guvner check-in is at Terminal 3, but flight boards/departs from TBIT. It's a short walk from T3 across to TBIT where you go through security and then up to the lounge

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 27

Thanks gibosity. Managed to check-in and get to the lounge.

FWIW, the Etihad lounge is overcrowded, the staff couldn't care less, the food is non-existent and the alcohol has virtually run out. And there's 2 hours to go before the flight...not a great "Premium Experience" as the marketing for VA business class would have you believe. I'm taking a wander around TBIT to look for a bar.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 64

Oh god help me next month..... one shower when there was always a wait at Star lounge with the number of showers they had...... I think VA will be hearing from me on the lack of amenities.

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