The long wait is over for Virgin Australia, with the airline's shiny new terminal at Perth Airport opening on Sunday November 22nd, 2015.
Domestic travellers will find two new lounges plus a new fast-track check-in system with kiosks and bag-drop channels, plus be shorter transfer times to both regional WA and international flights.
Variously tagged as the T1 Domestic Terminal, T1 Domestic Pier and the Virgin Australia Pier, the airline's new home is an extension to the international T1 terminal.
The spacious and slick-looking terminal was built especially for Virgin and designed by Australian-based international architectural practice Woods Bagot, whose work will already be familiar to many frequent flyers via the Qantas First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, the Qantas Chairman's Lounges and the Qantas Business Lounge at LAX.
"This terminal is the centrepiece of our commitment to Western Australia and will deliver an outstanding travel experience for all of our customers," boosts Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti.
Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches believes the terminal "sets a new standard of passenger experience in Australia."
"The contemporary design and use of glass allows expansive views across the airfield; we expect the new terminal will become a favourite viewing area for plane-spotters!"
Two Virgin Australia lounges
Open to business class travellers plus Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, Virgin's main Perth lounge follows the same contemporary design as its east coast siblings.
It will be slightly smaller than the airline's Brisbane Lounge (below) but feature hallmark touches such as an Espresso and Wine Bar, as well as great views.
There will also be a WA outpost of The Club, Virgin's exclusive invitation-only lounge for VIPs and influencers.
New check-in system
The new terminal will also see the debut of a new check-in system which will later be extended to Virgin Australia's east coast hubs at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Travellers will be able to choose between computer-assisted check-in desks and familiar check-in kiosks, 28 in all, or a more ‘traditional’ check-in experience where everything is handled by staff.
“Our new check-in service will enable us to tailor the experience to the needs of different customers, combining cutting-edge technology with the personalised customer service for which Virgin Australia is renowned," Borghetti says.
“We believe the new Virgin Australia ground experience will raise the bar for airport services around Australia and help to ensure that Virgin Australia is the number one choice for travellers on the all-important trans-continental routes."
But Borghetti is quick to differentiate Virgin's system to that of Qantas.
"I think there are two extremes here" Borghetti told Australian Business Traveller last year, as the system was still in development.
"There's the old fashioned checkin where people line up in a Disneyland queue, and there's the other extreme of being fully automated, no humans, which arguably is the one Qantas uses."
"Some passengers actually want people to look after them, and some passengers don't want to talk to anybody, so one model doesn't fit all. What we believe is that neither of them are right and both of them are wrong," Borghetti suggests.
"What is right is something in the middle – but when it's in the middle you've also got to be able to flex it one way or the other depending on the port."
"And I think that's the mistake many airlines have made, they’ve either tried to force everybody up the technology path or stayed in the 1980s."
"What we're rolling out in Perth is something that is flexible and can cater to everybody’s needs."
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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.