Drop in, chill out – Virgin Australia's brand-new lounge space in Brisbane Airport is set to be the new go-to airport lounge for all international travellers, not just business travellers or frequent flyers.
My Lounge – The Home of Virgin Australia opened to the public on Saturday, 31 August and will be available to all passengers on any ticket and flying with any airline. Located airside right next to gate 77 on the upper level of the departure lounge, the new lounge is also the shortest walk of any Brisbane Airport lounge to the gate so you can linger longer before boarding. Before the long-awaited international lounge launch (there's a Virgin Australia lounge in the Domestic terminal), eligible guests were hosted at an airline partner lounge prior to boarding their flights.
The Virgin Australia international lounge is in partnership with UK-based No1 Lounges, which has 15 lounges worldwide, including operating the Virgin Australia lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. My Lounge is open from 5am to 10pm daily and this all-access airport lounge aims to democratise the lounge experience, explains No1 Lounges COO John Upton.
“I always used to think you had to turn left on a plane to get access to an airport lounge. In the last decade or so now, [No1 Lounges] has been trying to set the pace and say actually, you can turn right on a plane, you can fly with any airline, you can have any ticket and get access to a lounge,” he says.
Virgin Australia business class passengers, Gold and Platinum Velocity frequent flyers and Virgin Australia Lounge program members have free access to My Lounge in Brisbane Airport, while other travellers can access the facilities for a fee ($60 for adults and $30 for children aged two to 11 years if booked online).
“It’s a crazy idea being on a corridor away from the main departure area,” John adds. “[At] No1 Lounges we’re all about making it easier for everyone to eat, drink, relax in style before you fly.”
Virgin Australia Group CEO Paul Scurrah reveals the open-plan, modern space of the casual-style lounge ties in with the airline’s aim to do things differently and built with sustainability in mind.
“Over the past year we have flown more than half a million passengers to 12 different destinations in and out of Brisbane, so getting the lounge experience right for people here in Brisbane is absolutely crucial. In Brisbane, there’s a strong business travel focus but also a stronger leisure travel focus than we have in some of our other destinations,” he says.
“Knowing that we needed to create the perfect space for our customers, we didn’t want to be just like everyone else for a lounge experience. In fact, where I’m taking the Virgin Australia Group is to make sure people book us for the things that are different, not for the things that are the same. We are uniquely Virgin and will continue to prove that we are.”
And what’s on offer? The warm, inviting space can seat up to 108 guests and the decor is modern casual – think long communal wooden tables and smaller nooks, comfy couches to sink into, potted succulents and geometric terrariums and plenty of connectivity via free Wi-Fi and power outlets. Guests can watch planes on the runway from large windows, and the space feels removed but not hidden from sight due to slatted wooden walls. It’s a place where you’d want to hang and relax.
There’s all the amenities you’d expect from an airport lounge – bathrooms and showers with hairdryers, a separate games room complete with foosball table, TV and Xbox, magazines and newspapers to peruse and a small working area.
With the food and beverage offering you’ll find a Brissie slant as everything is sourced locally, including craft beers from Newstead Brewery. The hot and cold grazing options will change up monthly to showcase dishes from different regions (US-style pulled pork and mac’n’cheese was on offer when I visited) with fresh salads and bite-size sweets as well as barista-made coffee and soft drinks on tap. If you want something stronger, you can even mix your own cocktail at the Bar Island (hot tip: try the gin-based Virgin Flamingo cocktail).
“It’s a wonderful lounge experience catered for all ends of the market being the business traveller as well as the leisure traveller,” says Virgin Australia's Paul Scurrah. “What you’ll see here [at My Lounge} is a social scene, a slightly different angle to lounges, something that’s a little more casual that can support anyone who wants to come here for the purpose they want to come here for.”
All images: Cassandra Laffey