I had the privilege of flying Virgin Australia in business class from Sydney to Perth a couple of weeks ago and gave you a sneak peek here. Prior to the flight, I spent a few hours in their domestic lounge in Terminal 2 – a benefit for business class ticketholders similar to what we enjoy here in the U.S. on American and United when flying on premium transcontinental LAX/SFO to JFK flights. But this isn’t your ordinary domestic lounge.
The lounge entry is a few short paces past security on the same level and I was told Ansett Australia (defunct for more than a decade now) was the former occupant.
I was greeted at reception by an enthusiastic agent who scanned my boarding pass and asked if I had been to the lounge before. After answering “no,” she happily provided a verbal tour of the lounge and wished me a pleasant visit. Already my experience was different (better) from that of any U.S. airline lounge.
Just past reception is the main service desk and a huge lobby area leading to various sections of the lounge.
I made my way through one hallway, past the main seating area, buffet, coffee barista station and settled into what I’d consider the “back” of the lounge. Nearby were conference rooms and I actually saw one in use! That never seems to happen in the U.S.
It was a funky little area with semi-comfortable chairs, tables and a couple of TVs playing local news. I didn’t stay in this section too long, actually, and decided to get a bite to eat and sit along the windows overlooking the tarmac and runway.
The buffet offered a selection of cold cuts and fixings to make a sandwich, as well as pasta, meatballs, salad, fruit, cheese and two soup selections (tomato and something very green). Opposite the buffet is a hot tea and soft drink station.
The barista bar, previously pictured, offered full made-to-order coffee service akin to Starbucks… err… Gloria Jeans, and a selection of popcorn, nut mix, Dijon-honey crisps and sour cream cups. A huge selection of beer was also available from the baristas, as well as self-serve wine and champagne just to the right of that area.
After a while, hot dogs were brought out and I decided to give one of the rather fluorescent looking dogs a go. It ended up tasting mostly like a hot dog, but with an ever so slight seafood taste (tuna, perhaps?).
The business center has 10 computer stations complete with a printer hookup and a copier/fax machine. I had trouble with a couple of the stations, as did another passenger, but eventually found one that worked properly. Free Wi-Fi is available in the lounge, too. Beyond the business center, power outlets are scarce besides at the dedicated “kiddie” tables near the buffet. Here, you sit on an ottoman-like cushion to plug in and rest your laptop on a communal table that maybe came up as high as my kneecap. It was a bit too busy to capture a picture of this setup. Nearby the business center is another small seating section.
On my way to the restroom, I wandered past the exclusive Premium Entry area whereby business class, premium economy and elite member passengers with only carry-on bags check-in, have a dedicated security lane and enter straight into the lounge. It’s sort of like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal experience in Frankfurt from what I can tell. I had to check a bag, so I needed to use the main terminal and missed out.
Near the restrooms are four shower rooms (one of which was handicap accessible). I took a peek inside.
The sun had set and I helped myself to dessert. A lounge agent did come by a couple of times during my visit offering up meat pies and cream puffs, too.
Boarding announcements for all domestic flights were made throughout my stay and when it was time to head to the gate, they have a handy escalator down to the concourse level separate from the main entrance.
The lounge is very much a step ahead of any domestic offering in the U.S., particularly in the food and beverage department. I’ve been told it’s ready for a remodel and that Virgin Australia’s offerings in Melbourne and Brisbane are their current top-notch lounges. Still, though, any U.S. passenger traveling domestically will be impressed with this lounge.