Melbourne could get its own twist on of Virgin Blue’s ‘fast track’ Sydney lounge when Melbourne Airport’s renovated lounge in Terminal 3 re-opens next month.
Australian Business Traveller has been tipped that the new lounge may provide streamlined lounge-to-gate access with a dedicated security channel for the benefit of Virgin Blue’s premium passengers.
Unlike most airport lounges, including all of Virgin Blue’s Australian lounges, its Melbourne facility is located before the security checkpoint.
This means guests must currently exit the lounge and join the queue at the security checkpoint before moving to the boarding gates inside Terminal 3.
The time-consuming and many would say time-wasting arrangement has been a long-standing annoyance to business class passengers, high-status members of Virgin Blue’s Velocity frequent flyer program or those who have paid for lounge access through through annual membership or with a Priority Pass.
But according to our source, when the lounge reopens in May - after being closed from April 8 for an intensive building and refit programme – passengers will be able to cool their heels for longer in the refurbished lounge and then make their way straight to their flight’s boarding gate through an exclusive security lane.
The lounge’s re-opening is likely to coincide with Virgin Blue’s relaunch as a more full-service airline, which will include a new name (the smart money is on Virgin Australia) and the debut of its new Boeing 737 fitted with the slick Sky Interior, new seats and an in-flight entertainment system which will put a video screen into every seat.
Those advances come on top of recently-announced changes including
- the launch of Sydney-Perth services on May 26, fitted with new business class seats with 62 inches of legroom and seat-back video screens
- an extensive overhaul for Velocity Rewards, including a points tie-up with Coles' FlyBuys programme
- stylish new uniforms for Virgin Blue flight attendants and crew which play up the airline’s palette of red, silver and purple
- and Aussie masterchef Luke Mangan's promise to create inflight meals "that travellers actually want to buy
The introduction of the dedicated ex-lounge security channel is certain to be welcomed by Virgin Blue’s most frequent flyers as well as new business travellers sampling the airline as it goes up against Qantas to boost its share of Australia’s business and corporate travel market.
That said, it won’t appease some Melbournites who would like nothing more than a complete replication of the kerbside valet service and straight-to-the-lounge express lane which Virgin Blue opened in Sydney earlier this week.
However, that’s rendered impossible due to Virgin Blue’s Melbourne lounge being located far inside the airport, next to the entrance to Terminal 3.