As it happens, AFF member scubabe was the first customer to use the new lounge. This member’s experience was so poor that they’ve vowed never to fly with Virgin Australia out of Wellington again.
At check-in this morning I was extremely happy to be advised that the new lounge would be open today for the first time. I was excited to try it.
That is the end of the happy story.
The Virgin Australia Wellington Lounge opens 90 minutes prior to the departure of each Virgin Australia flight. scubabe arrived at the lounge around 4.40am ahead of an early morning trans-Tasman flight. The staff did not even notice that a guest had arrived, and when they did, scubabe describes them as “rude”.
It felt awful, a very nasty greeting to what was actually really exciting for me, being the first ever passenger into the first ever VA international lounge.
Located above Gate 48 in Wellington’s international terminal, the Virgin Lounge has enough seats for just 32 people. Entry is available to Business passengers, as well as Velocity Gold & Platinum members and paid-up Virgin Lounge members flying with Virgin Australia to Sydney or Brisbane.
Due to space constraints, Virgin is not allowing entry to frequent flyers with any of Virgin’s partner airlines. Single-use lounge passes are also not being accepted, and access is not being offered for sale at the door. (At all other Virgin-operated lounges, you can purchase lounge entry for $65.) Given the size of the lounge, this is completely understandable…
It’s tiny. Super tiny. Maybe 30 seats? Only the bar seats have charging capacity, the window seats where I was have no power points. The fridge is open, and very noisy, it was really annoying to listen to the fridge for an hour. Nothing like the quiet stillness in lounges I’m used to at this time of day. Also, because it’s upstairs from two gates, it’s an open mezzanine and you can hear ALL the terminal noise : announcements, boarding calls, screaming children, phones ringing, the lot. I’ve never been in such a noisy lounge. And it’s not even 5am yet…
Virgin advertises that the lounge will have a buffet with a rotating menu of hot food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The catering is to be provided by the Rydges Wellington Airport Hotel. However, there was no hot food on the lounge’s first morning of operation; only pastries, yoghurt, muesli and fruit.
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available in the lounge, as are reading materials. Wifi is offered too, but the password had not been set up correctly on the first day. Hopefully this has now been fixed!
There are runway views, but no toilets or shower facilities in the lounge. Lounge guests that wish to use the bathroom will need to head downstairs and use the airport facilities.
Some of the service issues raised about the Virgin Australia Wellington Lounge are teething problems that will (hopefully) be fixed over time. But the fact remains that this is a very small lounge with limited facilities. For scubabe, one visit was enough.
I don’t think I’ll ever fly VA ex WLG again. What a thoroughly unimpressive introduction to their first ever international lounge.
Prior to Virgin’s Wellington Lounge opening, Virgin Australia passengers had been without lounge access in Wellington since losing access to the Air New Zealand lounge last October. Virgin still has no lounge access arrangements in place at Dunedin Airport.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Virgin International Lounge, Wellington [Poor start!]