On 28 October 2018, Virgin Australia’s messy divorce with Air New Zealand was finalised. It’s now no longer possible to earn or redeem Velocity points on Air New Zealand flights. Gold and Platinum Velocity members, as well as Virgin Australia Lounge members, have also lost access to Air New Zealand’s lounges when flying to or within New Zealand.
But Virgin Australia has announced some major changes to its international lounge network. On the whole, these changes are welcome news to Virgin Australia flyers. New, dedicated Virgin Australia lounges in Sydney and Melbourne have already opened. New lounges are also under construction in Brisbane and Wellington. However, some Virgin passengers remain without access to a lounge in the meantime. And there is no longer any lounge available to Virgin Australia passengers flying from Dunedin to Brisbane.
Here’s what you need to know about the recent changes to Virgin Australia international lounges…
Sydney and Melbourne
From the end of October 2018, the Etihad Airways lounges in Sydney and Melbourne were rebranded as “The House” lounges, operated by No1 Lounges. These are used jointly by Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia passengers. This lounge is also available to Velocity Gold and Platinum members flying Hainan Airlines in Economy or Premium Economy, and eligible Velocity members booked on a VA-coded Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu.
The Etihad Melbourne lounge was also converted to a “The House” lounge. It too is used jointly by Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways passengers.
After opening, there were reports of a 3-hour time limit at The House lounges. This time limit has since been removed by Virgin.
Etihad’s Sydney and Melbourne lounges are not the first to be taken over by a third-party operator recently. Cash-strapped Etihad also recently sold its lounges in London Heathrow and Manchester.
As of February 2019, a new lounge at Brisbane Airport to be branded as “My Lounge” is due to open in May 2019. This will eventually be available to eligible Virgin Australia passengers flying to any international destination.
In the meantime, passengers eligible for lounge access on most Virgin Australia flights to Los Angeles will be given access to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge in Brisbane. An exception is passengers on the Sunday evening VA9 service, who are now being relegated to the Plaza Premium Lounge.
Virgin Australia passengers flying to other destinations are also being sent to the Plaza Premium Lounge in the interim, where capacity permits. If this lounge happens to be full, Virgin will provide a food & beverage voucher to use in the terminal as compensation.
If you’re flying Etihad Airways out of Brisbane, you’ll be sent to the Air New Zealand lounge and Singapore Airlines passengers retain access to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge.
Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown
Instead of the Air New Zealand lounges, Virgin Australia passengers departing Auckland, Christchurch or Queenstown are now being sent to third-party lounges. In Auckland, the Strata Lounge is available. This is located across the hallway from the Qantas lounges and was already used by Virgin passengers flying to Nuku’alofa and Rarotonga prior to the October 2018 changes.
In Christchurch and Queenstown, passengers have access to the Manaia Lounge. The Manaia Lounge is also used by Qantas at these New Zealand airports.
Virgin Australia is building a new lounge at Wellington Airport. This will be the first proper Virgin Australia lounge outside of Australia. However, construction is not due to be completed until April 2019. Until this lounge opens, food and beverage vouchers to use in the terminal will be offered in lieu of lounge access.
A full list of the new Virgin Australia international lounges from 28 October is available on the Virgin Australia website.
Dunedin and Newcastle
Passengers flying on Virgin’s Dunedin-Brisbane service will no longer have any lounge access in Dunedin. A Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Frequent Flyer that it is working on alternative arrangements for Business guests departing from Dunedin. However, nothing was being offered at the time of writing.
Virgin passengers flying on Virgin’s new Newcastle-Auckland route are also without lounge access as there are no lounges at Newcastle Airport.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: New international lounge arrangements from 28 Oct 2018
This article was originally published on 17 October 2018 and updated on 14 February 2019.