Virgin Blue will begin an extensive three-month upgrade of its lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports next month as the airline gears up for its attack on the business travel market.
In addition to what the airline describes as "a substantial refurbishment programme ... to enhance comfort and space", visitors to the refreshed lounges will also see "new fresh food options throughout the day".
The Sydney lounge will remain open through the renovation period, but the Melbourne and Brisbane lounges will each be closed for short periods.
Refurbishment of the Melbourne lounge begins February 4th but Virgin Blue says a staged overhaul will keep the lounge open apart from an as-yet unidentified two week period "to allow for intensive works". During this period the airline says it will provide all Lounge-worthy passengers with complimentary food and beverage vouchers.
The Brisbane Lounge will close completely during its makeover, which is slated to begin sometime "between the end of February and the beginning of March". A temporary lounge will open with limited services but Virgin Blue pledges the all-important necessities of barista and bar service, complimentary WiFi will remain, along with "refreshments" throughout the day. However, meeting rooms in the Melbourne and Brisbane lounges will not be available during the refit.
The upgrade will be complete by late April, which hints that this is roughly when we will see Virgin Blue launch its new business-class services: there'd be no sense making the big push for business, corporate and government flights without the lounges as a vital part of the mix.
Qantas is readying itself for the challenge, having raised the bar for its own domestic lounges – the flagship business lounge at Sydney plus the new business lounge and Qantas Club at Canberra Airport showcase the 'new look', with a menu designed by Neil Perry menu – and launched its streamlined Next-Generation Checkin programme for frequent flyers.
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.