Virgin Australia's ambitious Melbourne terminal 3 make-over

Virgin Australia's ambitious Melbourne terminal 3 make-over

Virgin Australia’s domestic terminal at Melbourne Airport will be dramatically reshaped over the coming years, with the aim of delivering what the airline promises will be a “world class passenger experience.”

“This isn't just a lick of paint,” jokes Virgin Australia Airlines group executive Rob Sharp. “This will transform the look and feel people will have when flying with Virgin Australia.”

One of the key pain points for business travellers and frequent flyers – the need to go through security after leaving the airline’s lounge – will be removed, with the introduction of a Premium Entry facility with its own kerbside access, checkin facility and security lane which will lead straight into the lounge.

Passengers will then be able to leave the lounge and go straight to their boarding gate without having to queue up for security.

The arrangement will mimic the the popular premium entry facilities already in place at Virgin’s Sydney and Brisbane lounges, but add a baggage drop point for checked bags.

Terminal 3’s general security screening will also be relocated to sit before the Virgin Australia lounge – in effect, moving the lounge ‘airside’ – after a new internal walkway is built between T3 and T4.

However, passengers will need to be patient – this lounge entry revamp will likely take place sometime after 2019, as stage two of the multi-million dollar makeover.

The first stage will see the arrivals zone at T3 reshaped along the same lines as Virgin’s Perth terminal with self-service kiosks, automated bag drop points and a generally more spacious and open design.

"Perth is the feel that we want in our terminals, that modern fresh and spacious feeling," Sharp tells Australian Business Traveller. "It's our future vision of what flying is.

Also on the cards are two additional baggage carousels for arriving flights.

Virgin Australia and Melbourne Airport are currently finalising the designs, with work expected to begin in 2018 and stage one up and running – at least in part – by early 2019, Sharp says.

"This first step is really the ‘front of house’ for us because that’ll make the biggest change. The old-style counters with queuing will go, with automated bag drops being installed at the rear of the terminal."

"That will then allow security screening to be relocated. We’ve got several different security screening points in Melbourne, and some very significant chokepoints... we think this redesign will make such a difference to the flow."

"The Premium Entry timeframe will be worked out over the next six months," Sharp explains. "It won’t be the last cab off the rank but it does depend on the timing of some (other) construction work which is needed to facilitate that."

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.


  • Alex


    4 Dec, 2017 02:38 pm

    About time, VA's MEL terminal is an absolute zoo. Perhaps they'll finally be able to solve the queues that greet passengers at bag drop...
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  • Scott Brown


    4 Dec, 2017 02:47 pm

    Great changes there, kerb side access will be convince plus.
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  • nix584


    4 Dec, 2017 02:58 pm

    what about the disastrous gates with only one toilet block?
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  • Snoozi


    4 Dec, 2017 03:14 pm

    I don't mind the landslide location of the lounge. Having said that, I do much prefer the premium entry in SYD. Having just flown QF into and out of MEL over the weekend, either VA option is better than QF terminal. QF premium check in is furthest from the door nearest the carpark, no functioning premium queue through security. That makes VA my preferred option for SYD and MEL now.
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  • Craig


    4 Dec, 2017 03:16 pm

    All these flamboyant initiatives and VA still haven't turned a dollar of profit, really quite amazing....
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  • russell


    4 Dec, 2017 03:32 pm

    Still wish they would get their catering sorted, cant be that difficult. At least have it on par with Qantas. Sick of bite sized muesli bars...
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  • Steven Beale


    4 Dec, 2017 03:33 pm

    About time. The whole security post lounge thing has always been a pain. Most of my travel is on weekends and the lounge exit is rarely open on weekends.
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  • Stefan

    Too Technical

    4 Dec, 2017 03:44 pm

    That terminal is the worst terminal I've ever been to, about time!
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  • Daryl Horsfall


    4 Dec, 2017 04:08 pm

    A plan to redevelop T3
    It's going to be complicated especially security around the lift
    Maybe a new lift shaft required
    So now I ponder:
    Will Hobart get a VA lounge before T3 redeveloped or will I have retired and no longer impacted?

    Where can we see plans?
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  • reeves35


    5 Dec, 2017 08:45 am

    VA has been after a lounge in HBA for a number of years. Unfortunately the airport management has been very slow in making any space available. It is the same situation in TSV.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    4 Dec, 2017 06:52 pm

    Hopefully the premium entry will be open all the time, unlike the one in BNE which closes during "quiet" times and at weekends.
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  • guy


    4 Dec, 2017 07:02 pm

    ‘The first stage will see the arrivals zone at T3 reshaped...’
    Should that be ‘departures’?
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  • petercr


    4 Dec, 2017 08:00 pm

    Not if it's like the premium entry in BNE and SYD which is actually off street level thus taking up a small portion of the arrivals area
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  • Manni Aquilina


    4 Dec, 2017 07:19 pm

    in view of the fact QF is centralised in SYD VA should make MEL it's done tic and international hub - Often MEL pax need to fly to SYS for connections; VA can make MEL their hub which has more potential than SYD and a large pax base from which to operate. QF treats MEL like a 2nd-class port; Virgin - this is your chance. Lease more long haul aircraft and go BIG.
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  • Shamim Lateef


    4 Dec, 2017 09:22 pm

    Hope we'll still have business arrivals access to the lounge once it is moved airside.
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  • Ilya Isakovich


    5 Dec, 2017 12:03 am

    Much welcome and long overdue! Now please put some effort into the iPhone app (should be lots cheaper then a new terminal)
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  • Shane Tomlinson


    5 Dec, 2017 07:42 am

    At least iPhone users have an app, Android users have to use a digital offering straight from 2004. No app at all.

    Aside from that, these changes look great, and as others have said, long overdue.
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  • reeves35


    5 Dec, 2017 08:51 am

    From the drawings, it appears that premium (Gold, Lounge, Club) will have a very classy separate check-in zone with airfield views followed by their own security check-point leading straight into the lounge. General pax (non-lounge) will go down the new ramp to a separate security checkpoint which will lead them into the T4 retail zone. Of course, there will no longer be a check-point between T3 and T4 so pax will be able to return to the main concourse without feeling like they are moving between terminals.
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  • Daryl Horsfall


    5 Dec, 2017 09:24 am

    Where are the drawings?
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18 Jul, 2019 07:39 pm


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