Virgin Australia’s all-new lounge at Mackay Airport opens its doors today.
It's the the third of Virgin’s new-look lounges and also the smallest in the family – a cosy 260 square metres, with room for up to 70 guests.
This makes it around one-third the size of Virgin's Brisbane lounge and almost one-fifth the footprint of Melbourne, which remains the flagship until Sydney gets a major makeover into a two-storey facility beginning in 2012.
Despite its compact size, the new Mackay lounge – located opposite Gate 2 – incorporates the same fresh design and is built around the same principles as Melbourne and Brisbane.
The reception desk is backed by Virgin's iconic 'flying maiden'...
... and opens straight into the lounge.
The open space is neatly segmented into a series of discrete 'zones' for working and relaxing.
This includes grabbing a bite to eat from the 'Luke Mangan-inspired buffet' and making use of the sandwich toaster, which has become almost a fixture of Virgin Lounges.
A quick toastie is probably your best bet for a pre-flight snack. To mark the opening of the lounge AusBT christened the toaster with a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich on wholegain bread.
Other essentials include a coffee machine (no fancy barista service here, it's all DIY)...
... plus a supply of sweet and savory treats, such as Tim Tams, Kit Kats and Mars Bars.
Need to wet the whistle? The selection of cold beers will be a hit with mid-Queensland travellers...
... as will the red and white wines.
Other must-haves for business travellers include free wireless, newspapers and magazines.
Directly off to the left of the reception desk is a combined workspace nook which can also serve as a sort-of-quiet zone, with two Windows workstations...
... plus two desks with AC outlets for your laptop (plus a printer/fax that's out of shot).
The two long workstation benches (with handy AC outlets) near the servery provide a more social space to work.
There's also a private meeting room that seats up to eight.
Or just sit back and relax.
Just don't expect any sweeping tarmac views.
Qantas also plans to open a new Qantas Regional Lounge at Mackay Airport, but this remains under construction and won’t be open until early next year.
Virgin's regional push
Also open today at Mackay Airport is a new Priority Boarding lane for business class passengers as well as Velocity Platinum & Gold members.
The Mackay lounge is Virgin Australia’s latest move in wooing travellers from the mid-Queensland city.
Starting 5 March 2012, Virgin will add a sixth daily service between Mackay and Brisbane during weekdays (with four on Saturday and five on Sunday).
Most of the Brisbane-Mackay flights are made on Boeing 737-800s, which will offer business class across all Virgin Australia services from 18 January 2012.
The new weekday service will depart from Brisbane at 6.30am for arrival into Mackay at 8am, with the return leg leaving Mackay at 8.am for wheels-down into Brisbane at 9.50am.
The airline has also taken up naming rights for three years at the local Mackay Stadium.
"Mackay is an extremely important market for Virgin Australia" says Martin Daley, Virgin Australia Group Executive of Product and Guest Services, citing the region's "strong mining industry which attracts corporate and government travellers."
"This is all part of the game change program" Daley told Australian Business Traveller.
"We've done lots of work in the main ports such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but regional growth is very important in us becoming Australia's airline of choice, and that includes having a growing presence in regional Australia."
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.