Of Virgin Australia’s seven domestic lounges, I’ve long considered Canberra my pick of the bunch. It has the feel of a ‘big city’ space – but without the crowds. The combination of high ceilings and large windows elevate that sense of space even further. And with fewer travellers to serve, staff always seem just that little bit more relaxed.

Here’s a look at what awaits Virgin Australia’s premium flyers jetting through Australia’s national capital.

Lounge location, layout and seating

As with all of Virgin Australia’s domestic lounges now, its Canberra location sits after security. You’ll find it upstairs, in the same direction as the international departures area. But, of course, the lounge sits on the domestic side. Its position within the terminal unlocks a great degree of natural light, gleaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

As you move on from reception, you’ll pass a collection of shorter-stay seats. They’re handy for enjoying a quick refreshment when it’s almost time to board. With more time to spare, though, my preference is always by the windows or, if I have to work, at one of the long, power-equipped tables.

Speaking of work, if a laptop must come out, the tables with the high stools work best for this. Power outlets are tucked away underneath – not as handy as being at the desktop level, but useful nonetheless. I generally avoid the longer, lower working tables here, though. I find the seats are either too low – or the bench is too high – to type comfortably. When sitting here, my hands end up close to chest height while typing – and that quickly gets uncomfortable.

For a more relaxed vibe, the ‘tub’ chairs by the the window fill up fast. There’s a bigger collection of these in the far right corner. I arrive to find the Titans preparing for their flight home to the Gold Coast. But given their tight one-point loss to the Raiders the night before, I leave them be.

Mirroring Virgin Australia’s other lounges, Canberra opens one hour before the first Virgin Australia flight of the day. The lounge stays open until the last Virgin Australia flight is called for boarding.

Food and beverage in Virgin Australia’s Canberra lounge

On the dining front, you’ll find everything available from the main buffet and bar counter of the Virgin Australia Lounge in Canberra. It’s been an early wake-up for me today, so my first stop is the coffee station. a skim latte is quickly in hand.

I arrive at the tail end of breakfast to find fresh fruits, yoghurts, breads, cereals and juices. There’s also bacon, scrambled eggs and a pancake machine for a few hot selections. Late morning, this transitions to the all-day dining offering.

Today’s lunch and dinner picks include chilled and warmed pasta, felafel, salads and pre-made chicken wraps. There’s also a tasty Thai creamy chicken soup – perfect for a cold Canberra day. Finishing out the food offering is cheese with crackers and an appetising collection of accompaniments.

On the dining side of things, barista-made coffee is available throughout the day. Bar service begins at noon, with beer, wine and cider served – although you won’t find spirits here.

Lounge amenities

Virgin Australia’s Canberra lounge keeps a couple of other features tucked away. For one thing, there’s a meeting room hidden out of sight. Given Virgin Australia no longer has a private lounge in Canberra (previously, The Club), the national capital’s meeting room can be popular with Beyond cardholders requiring a little more privacy. But if you’d like to use it and aren’t among those ranks, ask staff whether it’s available on the day you fly, and you might be in luck.

Meeting room reservations in Canberra are currently charged at $50 per hour or $300 for a day rate (six hours or more). I’ve prebooked the room and appreciate how much noise the well-built door keeps out. It’s easy enough to open for staff delivering water and coffee but appears suitably ‘do not disturb’ to others passing by.

Otherwise, shower suites are available here – just ask for a towel at reception. There’s Wi-Fi, too, although I find that speeds vary quite significantly. The lounge is a little busy when I arrive, and the best download speed I can achieve is shy of 5Mbps. Uploads aren’t much better, sitting at 5.4Mbps. An hour later when the crowds thin a little, downloads climb to around 17Mbps with uploads turbocharged to 65Mbps.

Still, ‘Canberra busy’ is akin to ‘Sydney quiet’ – and ‘Canberra quiet’ is perhaps five people in the lounge. If Virgin Australia ramps up its flights from Canberra in future, a faster connection will be needed.

Accessing Virgin Australia’s Canberra lounge

Virgin Australia’s lounge in Canberra serves eligible passengers travelling on three airlines. That’s Virgin Australia itself, as well as FlyPelican and Link Airways. Given the trio of carriers using the space, it’s worth understanding the rules and being sure to book an eligible service and flight number if you plan to stop by. Here’s a rundown of the entry rules.

  • Included by booking: Virgin Australia Business Class (departing or arriving). Entry is also permitted on departure for Link Airways Economy Flexible and Economy Freedom fares (FC flight number, fare letters Y, B, H and K only). Access is also granted on departure with FlyPelican (FP flight number, fares Y and B only).
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer status or lounge membership departing or arriving on Virgin Australia, or VA-coded Link Airways flights:
  • Airline partner frequent flyer status when departing on Virgin Australia (although not VA-coded Link Airways flights):
  • Eligible American Express Cards, prior to a Virgin Australia flight, including VA-coded Link Airways flights (must present physical Amex Card; access on arrival not permitted):
  • Single entry pass holders: when departing on a Virgin Australia flight or VA-coded Link Airways flight.
  • Paid access at the door: $65 per person, subject to space availability. From 1 July 2024, this decreases to $45 for children aged 2-17 years. Adults will remain priced at $65 per person.
Entry kiosk for the Virgin Australia Lounge in Canberra
Many eligible travellers will be able to admit themselves into the lounge by scanning in at a kiosk.

Summing up

The Virgin Australia Lounge in Canberra is quite a calming space. Its sizeable entry foyer creates a real transition away from the scuttle of the airport terminal. You waltz on in, emerge into a flood of natural light and settle in to relax. Unlike the larger capital city lounges, I’ve never found this lounge exceedingly full over the years – it’s comfortable.

On the food and beverage front, Virgin Australia is in an interesting position when competing in the domestic market. Unlike its kangaroo competitor, which operates tiers of public lounges, Virgin blends Business/Platinum and Gold/Lounge members into one space. In essence, it has to be everything to everyone, all in one room. That’s even truer of Canberra, where Virgin Australia Beyond members share the same lounge, too.

Those at the ranks of Gold (and similar) are the biggest winners of Virgin’s lounge strategy here. That’s because the airline generally positions its domestic lounge offering as somewhere between a Qantas Club and a Qantas Business Lounge. In other words, a step above a Qantas Club and a step below a Business Lounge.

The appeal of Virgin’s strategy will differ between travellers. But the Canberra lounge ticks the boxes that many high-flyers look for. It offers somewhere (and something) to eat, somewhere to work – with power and Wi-Fi – and space to relax. It gets the job done – and helps travellers do the same.

Also read: Virgin Australia’s Link Airways codeshare deal unlocks greater lounge access

Photography by Chris Chamberlin, who accessed the lounge on arrival from a Virgin Australia flight using his (earned) Velocity status.

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Virgin Australia Lounge, Canberra was last modified: June 6th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin