While you can’t earn Velocity status for life, there is one alternative for a lifetime of recognition. That’s Virgin Australia’s Lifetime Lounge card. Yes, there really is such a thing – but no amount of flying can get you there.
Instead, the membership comes at a hefty cost. But once you’re a Lifetime Lounge member, you’ll never again have to pay for another year of Virgin Australia Lounge access. Whether or not the outlay is worth it, though, is another question.
What is Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge membership?
Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge membership offers exactly that – ongoing access to the airline’s lounges, without an expiry date.
Mirroring the rules for those who subscribe annually, access is available to the Virgin Australia Lounge before or after a Virgin Australia flight. Travellers just need to present their same-day boarding pass for entry. Lifetime Lounge members can bring one complimentary guest with every visit – and that guest doesn’t need to be travelling.
Virgin Australia offers airport lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth and on the Gold Coast. However, these are all domestic lounges. There are no separate international lounges available to Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge members.
Paid-up lounge membership also isn’t as powerful as Velocity Gold or Platinum. While these frequent flyers can access a host of international partner airline lounges, for Lifetime Lounge, it’s the domestic set of seven only.
(In prior years, Virgin Australia Lounge and Lifetime Lounge members could access Air New Zealand lounges too. But once that partnership came to an end many years back, this benefit was discontinued).
There is one sweetener with Lifetime Lounge that isn’t offered to annual Lounge members, though. That’s access to Virgin Australia Premium Entry in Sydney and Brisbane, when open and available. It’s otherwise reserved for elite members of Velocity and Virgin Australia’s partner airlines, and for Business Class passengers.
How much does Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge cost?
As you might expect, Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge isn’t cheap. Here’s the current asking price, as of March 2023:
- Lifetime Lounge membership: $9,750
- Senior Lifetime Lounge membership: $6,750
No separate joining fee applies, but that’s still a hefty asking price. There’s a respectable discount afforded to seniors though, who can qualify for a reduced rate when joining on or after their 60th birthday.
Now, to crunch a few numbers, we should highlight that annual Virgin Australia Lounge membership currently costs $399. Or if you’re a Virgin Australia Business Flyer member – or work for a business that participates – it’s $379 p.a.
This makes the full asking price, $9,750, equal to around 24.5 years of annual Lounge membership at the full retail rate. For those eligible for Business Flyer discounts, it’s on par with around 26 years of annual memberships at current pricing.
For seniors, the $6,750 cost instead clocks in at roughly 17 years of annual membership – or 18 years for Business Flyer members.
As a reminder, Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge membership can’t be earned by any amount of flying or any quantity of Status Credits. You can’t even use your Velocity Points to help offset the purchase cost. Paying the sticker price in dollars is the only way you’ll get yourself an airport lounge pass without an expiry date.
It’s also worth noting, there are no rebates if you otherwise qualify for complimentary Virgin Australia Lounge access after buying the Lifetime Lounge pass. For instance, if you reach Velocity Gold or Platinum status, or get your hands on the Amex Platinum Card.
Is Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge worth it?
Whether or not a purchase represents good value is always very subjective. For instance, some people are happy to pay top dollar to enjoy the act of flying, while others would rather save some coin and simply ‘get there’. There’s no right or wrong answer – and the same can be said of buying (or not buying) a Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge card.
But here’s one way to look at it. If you’re a regular traveller with Virgin Australia in Economy Class and never quite make it to Velocity Gold, a paid Lounge membership can be useful. If you expect that pattern to continue for many, many years, a Lifetime Lounge card could start to make sense. But it’s still a tough call.
Let’s say you’re 30 years old. And based on current costs, a Lifetime Lounge card is akin to 24 years of paid annual membership. Or 26 years, if eligible for the Business Flyer discount. It’d therefore take until after your 54th or 56th birthday just for this purchase to break even.
Only then – when you’re in your mid 50s – would the Lifetime Lounge card start providing value beyond what you paid upfront. Until that point, you’d have been better off simply buying an annual membership, if you weren’t going to continue travelling (and in Economy, at that).
For those with the senior discount, the Lifetime card won’t pay for itself until 17-18 years after purchase. And given you can’t qualify for that discount until you’re 60, that takes you to 77 or 78 years of age, before breaking even.
By that age, regular travel might not be your biggest priority.
Should you buy a Lifetime Lounge membership?
There are many arguments for and against buying a Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge pass. Here are some of the reasons you might consider it:
- Your current travel pattern lends itself well to a paid lounge membership, and you expect that to remain constant.
- You don’t regularly fly Business Class (where lounge access is included with the ticket).
- Based on your travel patterns, Velocity Gold status is out of your reach.
- You’re always flying Economy Class using Velocity Points, which means you’d never earn status for free lounge access.
- You regularly travel to or from airports at which there’s a Virgin Australia Lounge.
- If you expect the investment won’t just break even, but will significantly pay for itself.
- You want to protect against any future changes in price, if annual lounge memberships were to increase in cost over time.
- The time-saving benefits of being able to access Virgin Australia Premium Entry will, over time, bring you value.
- You intend to regularly access the Virgin Australia Lounge on both departure and arrival, to get the most value out of each journey.
Whether Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge makes sense for you is a personal decision. And of course, it’s also quite a catch-22. The more often you travel – and by extension, the greater value you’re getting back from the membership – the more likely you are to qualify for Velocity Gold or even Velocity Platinum status.
Reach those tiers and you’d otherwise be enjoying Virgin Australia Lounge access for ‘free’, for at least a year. But when you’ve bought a Lifetime Lounge pass, you pay upfront, and that’s that.
Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge may be a useful card for some. And of course, the younger you are when you purchase it, the greater the value you could extract in return over the many years ahead.
But all lifetime memberships carry some element of risk. The year 2020 would have been a particularly stressful time for Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge members, for instance. We’re past that period now, but it goes to show, nobody really knows what lies ahead.
Here’s another way of looking at it, though. To reach Qantas Lifetime Silver, a traveller generally needs to spend over $100,000 in flights. For Qantas Lifetime Gold – which is what you need to be for a lifetime of Qantas lounge access – it can take over $200,000 in travel spend to get there.
By comparison, a lifetime of Virgin Australia Lounge access costs $9,750. That’s less than 5% of the typical outlay needed for Qantas Lifetime Gold. Of course, Qantas Lifetime Gold comes with a raft of other benefits, but it’s one way to weigh things up on paper.
For somebody who’s hit that target with Qantas, getting a lifetime of lounge access with Virgin Australia could become the next goal. And hey, if you’re hard-pressed to find a gift for a person who has everything, Virgin Australia Lifetime Lounge is a pretty special one.
If it’s for you, call Virgin Australia on 1300 287 202 during business hours. Or for more information, send an email to [email protected].
We do wish you could pay for the membership using Velocity Points, though. For somebody overloaded with points, an asking price in the region of one million Velocity Points seems a lot more reasonable than spending nine thousand, seven hundred and fifty dollars in cold hard cash. Don’t you think?
Feature image courtesy of Virgin Australia.
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