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Virgin Australia: Adelaide lounge opens – the lounge of the future?

Virgin Australia: Adelaide lounge opens – the lounge of the future?

After more than a years delay – thank you COVID-19 and near bankruptcy – the new Adelaide Virgin Australia frequent flyer lounge opened today.

How futuristic is it really?

But from the publicity pictures, I’m not sure if I’m in Adelaide or in Melbourne at the Qantas Business Class lounge – or is that just me?

Melbourne Qantas Business Lounge
Virgin Australia Adelaide Lounge

The new lounge and template for the refresh of all Virgin Australia lounges, seats 283 customers and was designed by Brisbane based WMK architecture.

Virgin is describing it as a:

‘ . . . warm, authentic and inviting environment for frequent flyers.’

For me, the design while pleasant, is a bit contemporary Domain, also-ran. However I do love the breeze block feature wall at the entrance – but think that broad sweep could be broken up with something – maybe plants or colour – like they did at the sadly closed Italian restaurant in Sydney – Besser – as in besser-block – the go to building block of post-war European immigrants.

Entrance, Virgin Australia Lounge, Adelaide

The press release describes the ceilings as ‘canopy’, but other than the entrance, I’m seeing fairly standard office ones, complete with air conditioning outlets, down lights and fire detectors.

The design seems like a simplified, and not quite as lux version of the interior of the new Crown Plaza up the road on Frome Street in the city of Adelaide.

Crown Plaza Adelaide foyer/bar

. . . even almost down to the red plush chairs.

New Virgin Australia Lounge, Adelaide

Enough from me. What does CEO Jayne Hrdlicka think?

“We know our capital city lounges are highly-valued by our frequent flyers and we’re reimagining the experience in a very Virgin way. Not only is the new Adelaide Lounge the best airline lounge at Adelaide Airport, but it’s fun, relaxed, and a place that everyone will feel welcome and comfortable.”

Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO Virgin Australia

What’s in the lounge

Well, as you would expect, its fairly standard:

  • Coffee Bar: doubles as a wine bar at night
  • Cellar Door Hub: to be used by South Australian wineries to bring their cellar door to the Lounge for seasonal wine tastings
  • Distinct dining areas: including large social tables and banquette seating for more private dining
  • Library: workstations with PCs, printing facilities, power sockets and desk lamps
  • Gallery Lounge: lounge chairs and a large flat-screen television
  • Sunroom: cosy seating
  • Long Stay: tucked away from the main entrance with a variety of seating options

Russell Grady, WMK Architecture Director claims the Lounge is unlike anything else in Australian airports. I’m not sure I agree. I think – as I have tried to demonstrate, it is a little more derivative than he thinks.

Lounge menu

This is new – the occasion being the launch of the new lounge. It features a selection of sandwiches, salads, wraps and healthy snacks, prepared on site. Expect this menu to be rolled out to all Virgin Australia lounges in the coming weeks. Claiming it as an Australian airline first, Virgin is also trialing a food ordering system, initially in Adelaide and Melbourne. It involves your phone and a QR code – maybe reminding people of this age of COVID-safe environments.

2PAXfly Takeout

The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.

It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.

This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.

This lounge opening has been long awaited and is the first major step in the roll out of services and products by the new management of Virgin Australia. Expect new menu’s in Business Class, and a buy-on-board menu in Economy to be introduced over the next few months.

I hope to be able to bring you a personal review of the lounge in March.

Finally, in this release, Virgin reveals that it will hang on to its Canberra lounge – not previously confirmed – and will re-open it in March. Maybe they have realised that its worth keeping government policy makers and the leaders who go to lobby them on-side.

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