After a comprehensive refurbishment, Virgin Australia's flagship domestic lounge at Melbourne Airport's terminal 3 reopened to much local hoopla early last month. Simple Flying swung by recently to check it out.
Access to Virgin Australia's Melbourne lounge
Virgin Australia's Melbourne lounge is located down the escalator after check-in but before security. After the escalator, veer left and you are just meters to the lounge's entrance.
The lounge is open from 04:30 to 21:30, seven days a week. Lounge staff will greet you at the door, scan your boarding pass, and check your vaccination status.
Who gets access? Business class passengers, Velocity lounge members, and Velocity platinum and gold frequent flyers (in any class of travel) with forward Virgin Australia travel that day. Platinum grade passengers can bring in three adult guests, and gold grade passengers can bring in one adult guest.SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY
High-status frequent flyers with Virgin Australia's partner airlines also make the cut. Those airlines include Delta, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. Reciprocal agreements allow access for one additional guest.
However, with Virgin Australia soon to end its partnership agreement with Delta, that perk for Delta loyalists will disappear and United's best flyers will see the welcome mat rolled out.
Holders of an American Express Platinum Charge Card, Platinum Business Card, and Centurion Card also score access for themselves and one guest.
Complimentary access passes are accepted, and paid entry is available at the door (A$65) subject to space. Virgin Australia lounges do not participate in Priority Pass or Dragonpass schemes.
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First impressions of the new look
The refurbished lounge is large - 2,900 meters square in size and can accommodate 650 guests. The former white and clinical look is gone in favor of a bright and breezy space broken into distinct zones. Staff at the service desk at the entrance will help with any flight inquiries or issues.
Raised floors, ramps, and curvy partitions break the space up. Along the floor-to-ceiling windows affording apron views are comfy chairs and ottomans. Curvy workbenches located throughout the lounge offer power points and charging ports.
Planter pots of greenery hanging from the ceiling add to the laid back vibe. From ceiling speakers, a playlist at just the right volume added to the relaxed weekend afternoon feel.
The clever design sees a big lounge with loads of seating also offering lots of nooks and crannies to hide away in. Well-upholstered chairs abut small tables, and are clustered in groups of two, three, or four. There is also ample seating with decent space from the neighbors for solo flyers.
With Virgin Australia not yet back to flying at full capacity, their lounges are still relatively quiet. That will change next year, especially once corporate travel heats up again.
Being freshly refurbished, the lounge is in squeakly clean condition. Every is new, unscuffed, and in tip top condition.
Overview of lounge ammenties
With no shortage of places to sit, the decisions down to whether you want to work, plane watch, people watch, or park your self in a quiet corner and play with your phone. The seating options at Virgin Australia's Melbourne lounge can accommodate all comers.
There's complimentary WiFi (just ask any of the staff wandering around for the password). A speed test revealed download speeds of 5.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 3.2 Mbps.
As you enter the lounge proper, a long bench handles the food and beverage offerings, bar, and primary coffee pick up point. Melbourne doesn't do rubbish push button coffee. Like any other self respecting airline lounge in Australia, a barista works a commercial quality espresso machine and makes coffees to order.
There's also another coffee station (not open on the day we visited) and another bar down the far end of the lounge (also closed). Past the second bar are two meeting rooms and a dedicated business center / quiet workspace. Virgin Australia promises PCs and printing facilities in the business center once COVID-safe requirements cool down.
Virgin Australia's exceptionally good bathrooms
The toilets, located about two thirds along the lounge, were immaculately clean and maintained. Splashes of green break up the grey tiles nicely. Upscale Hunter handwash pump packs are at every hand basin.
There's a large shower with plenty of room for dressing and keeping your gear dry. Towels are available from staff at the service desk. The writer cannot fault the bathroom facilities and upkeep - exceptional.
No matter where you are in the lounge, you'll also hear a cheery boarding call for each flight that begins with "hello everyone."
Virgin Australia's lounge food offering
Hungry? Virgin Australia recently made a big deal about relaunching its lounge food and beverage offering. To be honest, unless you are chowing down on a la carte offerings in an international grade first class lounge, airport lounge food is much the same the world over. This lounge doesn't break that mould.
On offer were sandwiches and wraps (an egg, lettuce, and mayo wrap and chicken, avocado, walnut, lettuce, and mayo sandwich), spicy Thai potato soup, mini beef pides, caesar egg salad and a tandoori rice and chicken salad. There were also assorted sweet and savory nibbles.
The food was generally pleasant if forgettable. The soup tasted like red curry soup and the mayo in the sandwiches and wraps really needed some zing. Due to COVID-safe requirements, there was no self service. However, staff were plentiful, prompt, and always asked if you wanted more.
At the coffee bar, the machine used Grinders coffee. There is also a Madame Flavour tea menu.
What's the barman pouring?
At the bar proper, complimentary sodas, juices, ciders, beers and wines were on offer. Beers included Four Pines, Pure Blonde, and Great Northern (?). We spied a lady at a nearby table drinking a Sommersby cider.
Wines on offer included a Vine View chardonnay, Beaumont chardonnay, a sparkling Tachilla non vintage brut, Tachilla sauv blanc, and a Tachilla cabernet shiraz. While Virgin Australia's lounges generally don't do spirits, no one is going to die of thirst in this lounge.
Everything comes in proper crockery and glassware. However, we did get a wine in a glass with visible traces of lipstick still on it.
There is a lot to like about this lounge. The new look is streets ahead of the former design aesthetic which always reminded this writer of a day surgery clinic. Now, it's a pleasant space to spend a couple of hours.
As you'd expect at Virgin Australia, the staff are excellent. Food and beverage staff work the room, clearing plates and wiping down tables. It will be interesting to see how the lounge functions once passenger numbers get back to normal.
Is this the best domestic business lounge in Australia. Probably not but it is a very good lounge. It runs circles around the Qantas Club in terminal 1. And given Virgin Australia's new pitch as a mid-market carrier, this lounge exceeds expectations.
Virgin Australia's Melbourne lounge isworth a visit the next time you're passing through the airport,Pitot Probe Covers Remain In Place As Malaysia Airlines A330-300 Takes Off Read NextShareTweetShareEmail Related TopicsAbout The AuthorAndrew Curran(2258 Articles Published)
Lead Journalist - Australasia - A Masters level education and appetite for travel combines to make Andrew an incredible aviation brain with decades of insight behind him. Working closely with airlines including Qantas and Virgin Australia, Andrew’s first-hand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing Australian airlines adds exciting depth and color to his work and sees him providing commentary to ABC News and more. Based in Melbourne, Australia.