Virgin Australia’s new “The House” lounges at Sydney and Melbourne airports opened just a week ago. Replacing the old Etihad Airways lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, these lounges are available to Virgin Australia Business Class passengers, Velocity Gold & Platinum members and Virgin Lounge members when departing on an international Virgin Australia flight.
The lounges are a nice space for Virgin Australia passengers to wait for their international flights. But there’s one catch that an AFF member has discovered this week… you can only enter within 3 hours of your flight departing.
If you arrive at the airport early – or perhaps you have a long layover in Sydney or Melbourne – you can still enter a “The House” lounge more than 3 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time. But you’ll be asked to pay $25 per hour, per person. This is exactly what happened to CPMaverick earlier this week:
I dropped into the new ‘The House’ lounge today, in MEL and was surprised to find out they have a 3 hour time limit.If you arrive more than 3 hours before your flight (not sure if departure or boarding?), they will charge you $25 for each person (guests included) per extra hour. Not sure how lenient they are on this, as I arrived several hours before the 3 hour cutoff.
This AFF member offered to pay for the additional hours, but the lounge’s credit card facilities were not working. Cash payment was requested but they were eventually allowed in for free.
I offered to pay and then the agents said the CC system was down and they only accept cash. I balked at that a bit, and they let me in for free as a one time courtesy, because they couldn’t accept CC payments. Agents were very polite and apologetic, and voluntarily called management to confirm the rule, but this seems to be a hard and fast rule going forward. Or at least once they get their CC systems sorted.
Virgin’s The House lounge is operated by No1 Lounges on behalf of Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways. Under this arrangement, Virgin pays the third-party lounge operator for each guest that is admitted into the lounge. But it seems that Virgin is only paying the lounge operator for up to 3 hours of lounge access per passenger.
Unlike an actual Etihad or Virgin lounge (where they’d cover the full costs to operate the lounge), this lounge would instead work on a per entry basis. Virgin is probably only paying No1 lounge for 3 hours entry per person (probably written in some agreement somewhere) hence the additional fee has to be covered by the passenger instead.
The 3-hour time limit is standard for all airport lounges operated by No1 Lounges. But Virgin Australia could have chosen to cover any additional time itself. Instead, the airline is expecting loyal frequent flyers and Business Class passengers to pay for this out of their own pockets. There is no time limit when accessing Qantas lounges – nor most other airline lounges, for that matter. Most airlines just require that you have a same-day boarding pass to enter the lounge.
At the time of writing, there is no mention on the Virgin Australia or Velocity websites of the 3-hour time limit at The House lounges. Until this is clarified, it’s likely more Virgin passengers will be caught off-guard.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: ‘The House’ lounge 3 hour time limit