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Virgin Australia's new Sydney Airport lounge extension

By David Flynn     Filed under: Sydney Airport, airport lounges, Virgin Australia, Virgin Australia Lounge

Virgin Australia's new upstairs lounge at Sydney Airport is now open, and it's a taste of things to come as the airline reshapes the current downstairs area to create what CEO John Borghetti has often referred to as the 'flagship lounge' in its network.

Virgin is quick to point out this is just ‘phase 1’ of its Sydney lounge project, and even now the space isn't quite finished – we're told there are still some "design elements" to come in the new year – but the airline opened the lounge this afternoon to give frequent flyers a bit of an early Christmas present.

In fact, the job as a whole won’t really be complete until 'phase 2' is done – that being  a makeover for the downstairs lounge.

This is expected to be finished by the middle of next year, and that's when the two-storey lounge will hit its potential and match up to the chic styling and hip funkiness of Virgin’s other lounges.

For now, the upstairs area seems more about dramatically boosting the bums-on-seats capacity of the overall lounge.

Photo tour: Virgin Australlia's upstairs lounge at Sydney Airport

The entry to the lounge isn't blindingly obvious: it's behind the service desk near the lounge's exit into T2. But the shiny curved walls are a bit of a give-away.

Make your way up an impressive staircase (there's also an elevator nearby) to the upper level of the terminal, which was previously used for airport staff meeting rooms and general storage.

The upstairs area has been given over to a single open space and scores of chairs, which will come as welcome news given the crowding in Virgin's current lounge as the airline wins more of Australia's business travel market from Qantas.

The drawcard, of course, is the view afforded by this upper deck location.

Floor-to-ceiling windows run the length of the lounge, although they stop at the wall which seperates this from the invitation-only The Club (Virgin's equivalent of Qantas' exclusive Chairman's Lounge).

The view extends over T2's boarding gates and tarmac to Botany Bay in the distance.

If you're more interested in getting some work done than checking out the view, but your laptop's running low on juice, we suggest you settle in the seating nook to the left of the'stairway or head for the long padded seating area at the rear of the lounge.

The reason? These are the only places where you'll find AC outlets.

This upstairs lounge duplicates the food and drink servery already seen in Virgin's other lounges.

That includes a barista on duty whenever the lounge is open.

The food on offer is the same spread as you'll find downstairs, including the now-mandatory sandwich toaster.

Swish toilets complete the fitout.

Still to come...

2013 will see the downstairs lounge upgraded in stages and adopting some of the discrete zones such as the bar, workspace desks, quiet zone and 'short stay' area seen in the Melbourne and Brisbane lounges.

We hope that some of those elements – perhaps the snaking work desks? – make their way upstairs, because the space currently feels a bit too cavernous.

But as noted earlier, we suspect Virgin's focus right now is on maximum seating during the renovation of the downstairs space.

When that's complete around the middle of 2013 the two-storey space will boast a total capacity up to 560 passengers – almost double that of today's lounge.

Today also saw the opening of Virgin's upgraded T2 pier at Sydney Airport to handle handle more aircraft – and larger aircraft such as its Airbus A330s – from the terminal.

We're told there will also be a small transit lounge located above the pier, where a shuttle bus service will take Virgin's inbound domestic travellers to Sydney Airport's T1 international terminal for connecting flights on Virgin and its partners including Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Delta.

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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.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 21/12/12 by tronixstuff

Well done Virgin.

2 on 21/12/12 by kash

personally (never been to one) the virgin lounges do not look as appealing as Cathay in HKG or Qantas first class lounge in Sydney.

Perhaps its the white colour?-it seems really bland

3 on 21/12/12 by ianmeyer

How clinical and unappealing 

4 on 21/12/12 by KC

VA don't promote their lounges as First Class or Business Class but merely as Frequent Flyer lounges. They don't operate First class flights and don't have separate J class lounges either. (Except the Club.)

The article and other VA promotional material makes it fairly clear that this new space is designed for max seating at present to offset the closures of areas downstairs for redevelopment.

Interesting to see that the upper deck at the end of the extended pier is a transit lounge, badly needed from my experience, especially with the increases in INT traffic they have had.

Any clarification on the rumour that one or two of the new gates have double aerobridges for A330 ops? Will make boarding in J class very nice.

5 on 21/12/12 by Al

I have to say that 'underwhelming' is the first word that came to mind looking at these photos, I was definitely expecting something 'wow' like Melbourne. But reading this article I can see why the lounge looks like it does right now, as David days this is very much 'Phase 1' and I am sure that when 'Phase 2' is done the Sydney lounge will be like Melbourne but only bigger and better!

In the meantime thank goodness there is at least some extra space available, peak hours in Sydney especially in the afternoon and eatly evening of weekdays the downstairs lounge is surely getting close to 'standing room only' if there are any delayed flights!

6 on 22/12/12 by tt7

I don't usually fly DJ; that said, will this upstairs area be re-configured once the downstairs re-furbishment is complete? In this day and age, designing a lounge that doesn't give most (if not all) seats ready access to an AC outlet is just nuts and a major shortcoming.  If it's going to be ripped apart and re-configured in 6 months then maybe I can understand taking shortcuts now - but a lounge where you have to go hunting for an AC outlet is a pain.  I may not want to "work" but given a laptop, an iPad and a phone, there's almost always something I want to plug in - and I suspect that goes for just about everybody using any of these lounges.

7 on 22/12/12 by traveller

Having just this afternoon experienced the new upper deck I can confirm that it does indeed feel underwhelming. 'Phase 1' feels cavernous and has almost an echo about it. But I trust in DJ that they are focused on delivering an above-average lounge in the future (either equalling or exceeding the experience in Melbourne). Bring it on I say! 

 

1 on 22/12/12 by tronixstuff

Exactly. It's hard to keep people happy while building a new lounge in a space-limited environment. Just like upgrading the E190s or adding WiFi IFE - it won't happen overnight, but it will happen. 

8 on 23/12/12 by aero-seat

Looks very pleasing! But looks small when looking at the panorama image but the stairs look very good. The views that you can see and the bar is very good as well. It does look similar to the Melbourne lounge which I feel is the best lounge in Australia domestically. Can't wait till the full lounge comes out! Good job, Virgin and TZG!

9 on 25/12/12 by AirportAddict

It is a taste of what is to come but it is like a decent coffee which you burn yourself on at the start: a shock at first sight but the rest will be good when it's finished.

Look forward to it all being finished.

10 on 1/2/13 by ezihose

It was actually not too bad. The upper floor tends to have a better feel as you have a better windwo to look out of. No its not the flash style that some people would want but they normally wont walk up a set of steps anyway so they can have the first floor.

11 on 24/4/14 by ezihose

Virgin needs to keep both the top and the bottom lounges open at the same time. It becomes overcrowed very quickly and some silly bugger still has the red tape across the stairs.

The Virgin lounge out does the Qantas Business Class Lounge now which looks out dated 

its a shame as Qantas once ruled but somewher lost the plot about the time Jet Star started up. No one wants a bread roll and a can of coke thrown at you at meal time and the lounge not is starting to feel the same

 

 

 

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