Last week, Virgin Australia confirmed that it will keep most of its airport lounges as it transitions to a new post-covid business model. But when will Virgin Australia’s airport lounges finally reopen?
All 13 of Virgin Australia’s airport lounges shut on 23 March 2020 due to government COVID-19 restrictions, and remain closed to this day. Even though Qantas already reopened some of its domestic lounges in July, Virgin still blames government restrictions for its lounges remaining closed.
The Virgin Australia website currently says:
We know that access to our lounges is an important part of your journey, however following the implementation of Government restrictions and new physical distancing measures, all Virgin Australia domestic lounges remain closed
While we are unable to confirm a date for the reopening of our lounges, we are continuing to monitor the situation closely as domestic travel resumes.
Government restrictions may have been responsible for closing Virgin’s airport lounges originally. But, with the exception of Victoria, the restrictions on indoor venues have since been eased and the airline could reopen most of its lounges tomorrow if it wanted to. The real issue here appears to be that there isn’t enough people travelling, and Virgin is trying to cut costs.
All Regional Express (Rex) lounges also currently remain closed indefinitely.
For the record, Virgin also blames government restrictions for its current lack of business class catering, despite the fact that Qantas resumed serving hot meals and drinks in Business class more than a month ago. The question needs to be asked: exactly which government restrictions are responsible for all these cost-cutting measures?
So, when will the lounges reopen?
Last week, Virgin Australia said it would reopen its domestic lounges “when demand returns”. Although no firm date has yet been announced, it’s now clear that this will happen later rather than sooner.
Some domestic flights are still operating. But domestic air travel is still substantially reduced compared to pre-pandemic levels – even in states such as Queensland and Western Australia with relatively few restrictions on intra-state travel. At this point, nobody really knows when demand will return… but it won’t be next week, or even next month.
Watch this space.
Some lounges will be permanently scrapped
While Virgin Australia will eventually reopen most of its existing airport lounges, three will remain permanently closed. The Virgin Australia lounges in Alice Springs, Perth (Terminal 2) and Wellington, New Zealand are all on the chopping block.
Virgin Australia’s Wellington lounge was the only overseas lounge operated by the airline. After opening in April 2019, it remained in service for less than a year. But, if some of the Wellington Lounge reviews are to be believed, the removal of this lounge won’t be a great loss.
It’s also safe to assume that a Virgin Australia lounge in Hobart – originally announced in 2012 – is no longer on the cards.
Virgin Australia will keep its lounge in Terminal 1 at Perth Airport.
Once lounges reopen, there will be a brand new lounge in the network. Virgin Australia was in the process of building a brand new, vastly improved lounge in Adelaide when the pandemic started. This has been completed and had been due to open in April 2020.
What about Virgin Australia Lounge members?
Back in April, Virgin Australia announced that it would extend paid lounge memberships by six months. But with lounges now already shut for nearly five months – and no reopening date in sight – this may not actually cover the full duration of the lounge closures.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Frequent Flyer that the airline was still “working through options” for paid lounge members, and will provide an update in due course.
It is understood that further extensions are likely to be offered if Virgin’s lounges remain closed for more than six months. We’ll be keeping an eye out for an announcement once there is more certainty about when lounges will, in fact, be open again.
In addition, arrangements are being made for customers who receive lounge passes or other benefits through their credit cards.
“Velocity is working with all partners whose customers receive lounge benefits with Virgin Australia to ensure that these benefits will be available to customers once the lounges re-open,” the Virgin spokesperson said.
Virgin pointed out that Silver, Gold and Platinum members have already had their status tiers extended by 12 months.
Qantas, which has already reopened some lounges, extended all paid Qantas Club memberships by six months and all status tiers by 12 months.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Any Update on VA Lounges?