We take a look at Virgin Australia’s largest lounge, last refurbished and doubled in size during 2014 to cope with the increase in passenger load. It serves all the Virgin Australia flights leaving Melbourne from Terminal 3 and is unique in its design as it is located before security.
Lounge Location and Details
After check-in, head down the escalators and keep an eye out for the lounge before the security line—the signage is somewhat discreet.
There is a wide reception area in the centre of the lounge. Turn left for the food and beverage buffet, or turn right for additional seating and the Premium Exit.
There is plenty of seating in this wide-open space, with many different seating configurations. The estimated capacity of this lounge is around 600 people. The most common configuration is a pair of chairs around a table, found scattered throughout the lounge and along the windows.
Winding through the lounge from left to right are these long benches, perfect for eating and working on the go. The centre of the benches contain alternating power points and USB charger slots.
To the left of the lounge is the food and drink bar, additional seating, and a smaller satellite bar (although this was closed during our visit).
Also on this end of the lounge, you’ll find the quiet and well-equipped business centre and meeting rooms, the bathrooms, and a standard exit to Pier F, Gates 11-17.
On the other side of the lounge is the tended barista bar, and the Premium Exit to Gates 1-10, which is open Monday to Friday.
There’s a great ambience to the lounge in general, thanks to the different zones integrated into the lounge design. There are also sweeping views of the tarmac along the whole lounge.
A view of the tarmac at dawn
Food & Drink
You can expect a decent selection of items during main meal hours. Breakfast items include pork chipolatas, cheese and corn fritters, fresh pastries and boiled eggs, in addition to the standard machine-made pancakes and continental offerings.
Lunch and dinner can include simple rice-based dishes and soups, as well as the salad bar. Sometimes staff will walk around with finger food, such as arancini balls and pies.
After 11am, there is also a selection of beers and wines to choose from.
The barista bar makes great coffees all day round, and there is a large selection of Madame Flavour teas for the taking.
Finally, Virgin Australia are trialling Grab and Go packs in the Melbourne lounge, aimed at Economy passengers who are looking to eat something more substantial than a muesli bar or apple slices onboard.
Options include pre-packaged fruit and muffins, as well as sandwich bags so you can toast your own sandwich.
Shower and Bathroom Amenities
The size of the bathrooms is relatively small compared to the capacity of the lounge. There are just a handful of showers available to guests, although this is typical for domestic lounges.
Showers are available in both male and female areas, as well as the accessible/unisex bathroom.
Premium REN hand wash and skin-care products are used.
In addition, the ladies’ bathroom has a handy area where you can sit and have a quick touch-up. Grown Alchemist hand cream is also supplied here.
Lounge Access Options
Our other Virgin Australia Lounge overviews
Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge: our take
This is a big lounge designed to accommodate lots of travellers, especially those flying the triangle route to Sydney and Brisbane.
Although the lounge gets packed during peak periods, overall it’s a decent offering that sits somewhere in between the Qantas Club and Qantas Business Lounge. There are plenty of charging locations for those using their tech, and the free wifi is usable, though not terribly fast for large uploads/downloads.
The main downfall is its location before security—it’s a hassle for transiting passengers to leave the secure area after their flight and re-do the security check afterwards. However, the Premium Exit is a step in the right direction and hopefully, this is something Virgin Australia can rectify as Melbourne Airport continues to expand.