Review: Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport

Introduction: The Flight Of A Lifetime
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Review: Etihad Lounge Washington Dulles Airport
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For my journey back to the US I was flying from Sydney to Melbourne to Los Angeles. I was supposed to be on the 6:30AM flight from Sydney to Melbourne, but both the 6:30AM and 7:30AM flights got canceled, apparently due to fog in Melbourne.

It’s insane how many flights Virgin Australia operates between Sydney and Melbourne. For example, over the course of three hours in the morning there are flights at 6:00AM, 6:30AM, 7:00AM, 7:15AM, 7:30AM, 8:00AM, 8:30AM, and 9:00AM. Goodness gracious.

I met up with Zac of Points from the Pacific in Sydney (he was also staying at the Hyatt Regency and was on the same flight to Melbourne), so we shared an Uber to the airport at around 4:30AM.

Virgin Australia’s domestic flights leave from Terminal 2.


Sydney Airport Terminal 2

The check-in process was super quick, though I did check my bag for the first time in forever, given how big it was at this point in the journey.


Sydney Airport Terminal 2


Bye bye bag!

The agent also gave me an immigration form and a fast track card for Melbourne.


Express Path card & immigration form

At this point it was around 4:55AM, and Zac pointed out that Virgin Australia’s “Lounge Premium Entry” opens at 5AM, so we figured we’d check that out. Essentially it’s a separate entrance at the far end of the terminal for business class passengers, as well as Velocity Platinum and Gold members.


Virgin Australia premium check-in Sydney Airport


Virgin Australia premium check-in Sydney Airport

I felt a bit weird taking pictures inside since it was also a security checkpoint, but basically it’s a separate check-in facility where you can also go through security, and that lets out directly in the lounge. Since we already had our boarding passes, we could head straight to security.


Virgin Australia premium check-in Sydney Airport

Then just past security was the entrance to the lounge, which is actually the only place to go from this entry. This is a cool concept, especially when you consider that even domestic business class passengers have access to this.


Virgin Australia Lounge entrance Sydney

Inside the entrance was a large hallway, and you could go different directions based on whether you wanted to go to the lounge, to the terminal, to the customer service desk, etc.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport

The lounge itself was surprisingly big, but then again, I guess in Australia a lot of people have lounge access. The lounge had many different seating options, including communal tables, coffee tables with lounging chairs, dining tables, etc.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating

I appreciated the number of partitions that were used in the design of the lounge, because it would feel a lot less private if they didn’t use these.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport seating

In the far corner of the lounge were some PCs with a heavy duty printer.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport business center

The buffet was back near the center of the lounge. The selection and quality of the food was significantly better than what you’d find in most US lounges.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport buffet


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport buffet

There was yogurt, sliced fruit, hardboiled eggs, cold cuts, salad, bread, cereal, etc.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport breakfast selection


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport breakfast selection


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport breakfast selection


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport breakfast selection

There was also a Tasman Sea Salt station, though I’m not sure I totally get that? Are you just supposed to put the salt on a cracker, or…?


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport breakfast selection

In terms of drink, there was a soda fountain, juice, and water. Then there was also a fridge with beer and wine, though at 5AM I didn’t investigate that too much.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport soda fountain


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport drink selection

There was also a selection of tea.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport tea selection

Most impressively, however, there were two coffee stations with baristas who could make whatever you’d like. Why can’t more lounges have barista-made drinks?!


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport coffee machines

I had a flat white, while Zac had a cappuccino.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport cappuccino & flat white

The wifi in the lounge was fast, and we spent about 30 minutes in the lounge. At that point we took the escalator down a level to the main terminal.


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport escalator to gates


Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport escalator to gates

We still had an hour until boarding was supposed to start. The reason we left the lounge so early is because we wanted to try out the Priority Pass options in the terminal.

As I first wrote about a month ago, Priority Pass added seven restaurants and bars at Sydney Airport to the network, so as a Priority Pass member you can get 36AUD of free food & drinks. I had been wanting to test this out, so this was the perfect opportunity.

I shared my experience with this in a separate post. What a cool feature!

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 6:30AM, so we headed to the gate at around 6:15AM. Terminal 2 at Sydney Airport is fairly small, so it was just a short walk to the gate.


Virgin Australia domestic terminal Sydney

Our flight was departing from gate 40. I’m impressed by how well designed Virgin Australia’s gate areas are. There’s plenty of seating, outlets, etc. I also appreciated that they had a separate priority boarding queue that was in a different area from the main queue, which probably helps prevent congestion.


Virgin Australia domestic departure gate Sydney Airport

Sure enough, at around 6:30AM priority boarding was called.

Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney bottom line

Domestic lounges in Australia are significantly better than what you’ll find in the US. On top of that, even domestic business class passengers have access to these lounges (though unlike in the US, Australian airlines don’t offer unlimited complimentary upgrades). The lounge was spacious, had a good food selection, and most importantly (for me), had freshly made coffee. Virgin Australia also deserves praise for their great check-in facility.

What a pleasant experience all around!

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Comments

  1. Premium Entry is a godsend, I am VA Platinum and use the facility often and it just makes everything easy, I have never had to wait at security there.

  2. I thought it would be fun if there’s a shared review between you and Zac. Each can show appreciation of critique in different view of something you both review altogether.

  3. It’s not one of the busiest air routes in the world for nothing (3rd or 4th depending on aircraft movement, passengers or seat capacity).

    On Mondays and Fridays QF have flights going every 15mins between 6-8am and evenings. They have to specify departure times in the lounge there are so many flights going at the same time

  4. We used this lounge last month when we were traveling from LAX-SYD-CNS. As we were a bit stale from the long flight over we used the showers that are available in this lounge. The shower rooms were private with plenty of room for your belongings. Just ask the front desk for a time slot.

    Being our first trip down under and to ensure a smooth connection we took the early afternoon flight. While that had us ‘stuck’ in the lounge for over 5 hrs, it gave us the unique opportunity to sample both breakfast and lunch. Both were much above par for USA lounges.

    Another worthwhile tip: VA does not give away Biz seats like they do in the US. We booked at a very good rate using Etihad miles (from another Lucky post). There were 3 in our group and we had the front to ourselves in an otherwise full plane.

    Thanks for yet another great review!

  5. There is also an upstairs part to this lounge that they seldom open. Generally by 7am on a weekday the lounge is packed of what looks like hundreds of starving hyenas, I normally just grab a drink and get out of there before they mistake me for a piece of ham.

  6. Syd-Mel top 3 busiest routes in the world. Mel-Bne, Syd-Bne top 7 busiest. Sometimes refered to the air conveyer belt. Qantas often shuttles A330 on this route on the half hour with 737 on the quarter hour. Often with international configeration best domestic business class on the planet.

  7. My wife and I went through the VA lounge as a result of a points upgrade on the last leg of ZUR-SIN-SYD-BNE. Arriving at T2 at about 7am on a Friday and having gone through the ‘back door’ (air-side) of the valet entry (which has stupidly slow even though there was only 8 of us to go through security again?!?!) it was a bit crowded but we managed to tuck into breakfast #2 and a good coffee for my wife while waiting for our 9am connecting flight.

  8. Lucky, the beer and wine is only served after 11am so you wouldn’t have been able to get anything in that department. It’s amusing being in the lounge as the clock strikes the eleventh hour as everyone descends on the poor bartender.

    As for the barista made coffee, Australians expect nothing less. The swill that Americans call coffee can never match our own. Little wonder that most Starbucks stores in Oz closed their doors in years past. Besides Italy, if you want good coffee then Australia you must go. Sadly they don’t serve it on domestic flights.

  9. I spent a good chunk of a year commuting between Sydney and Melbourne every other week and the Virgin Lounges were an absolute treasure! Being able to get work done right up until flight time with high-speed Internet and good charging for my phone and surface meant that I would always board relaxed, well-fed and with a full stomach of the delicious food they serve.

    It isn’t a patch on International lounges but in preparation for a usually sub-2 hour flight I think Virgin has done an amazing job.

  10. @Dale – Did you go to the lounge at LAX ? My husband has an 8 hour layover at LAX and flying Virgin to Sydney . Curious if you went to Etihad lounge ? Thanks.

  11. After 6 am there is also hot breakfast in the lounge – either bacon or sausage.

    There is also hot lunch from 12-2 (usually a risotto or similar) and hot dinner from 530 to 7.

    Much, much better than domestic lounges in the USA.

    All Business Class ticket holders welcome, plus Gold and Platinum Level frequent flyers (including from Delta, NZ, SQ, Etihad and South African).

    I’m a Virgin Platinum frequent flyer: I only get a Business Class upgrade by burning at least 6,000 miles or bidding cash in an eBay style auction – which usually requires at least $300.

    There’s no such thing as a free upgrade, except Virgin Platinum’s get four per year applicable only on very expensive flexible fares. So if I pay $380 instead of the usual $100 for a SYD-MEL one-way fare, I am eligible to be upgraded “free” into a $450 Business Class seat!

  12. For passengers flying VA from LAX to Australia…….

    Business Class passengers are sent to the Etihad lounge. Great lounge, but VA – not Etihad – do the evening catering and it is cheap garbage. Much worse than VA’s own lounges in Australia.

    Top tier elites are sent to the Emirates lounge. Equally luxurious, but it has the “real” Emirates catering, so is far better than the Etihad offering.

  13. Good Lord, that fridge ( if I can even call it that!) looks like my local Dan Murphy (that’s a chain of liquor stores in Australia). How much beer is in there?

  14. Been there many a time- recommend anyone make a grilled ham and cheese sandwich using the hot press! And yeah, great cappuccinos. Also, do avoid at peak times as it seems like everyone else there is chomping at the bits to get their fill of free food and drink

  15. I agree fantasic lounge when I am commuting between Perth and Sydney this lounge is always a very nice start to the journey

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