Virgin Australia to retain, re-launch its ultra-premium Club lounges across the nation

by James Wilkinson

Virgin Australia is keeping its ultra-premium ‘The Club’ lounges in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for its most loyal frequent flyers, following an extensive review and survey of the offering.

Speculation was rife in industry circles The Club would disappear, however, Australia’s second largest carrier has vowed re-open the venues in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

Virgin Australia Group Chief Commercial Officer, Dave Emerson, said some changes were afoot though, with ‘The Club’ brand name set to be retired for a new and fresh name that reflects the airline’s future direction, alongside lounges in Canberra and Perth not re-opening.

He said the new brand, along with updated loyalty benefits and eligibility criteria, and the future premium lounge offering, will be announced soon and while Club lounges have remained closed, members have continued to enjoy the airline’s domestic lounges throughout Australia as well as Club loyalty benefits, including a dedicated phone concierge service, and complimentary Business Class upgrades.

“While Virgin Australia continues to be impacted by the pandemic, we know we need to keep planning ahead, ready for clearer skies,” Emerson said.

“As the nation’s vaccination rates increase, so too will our opportunities to travel more freely, and we are working hard to be in prime position for when that day comes.

“One important element of planning for the future is making sure we have the right product for our customers, and therefore we have recently undertaken an in-depth review of our Club loyalty program.

“As part of the review, we asked a group of our most frequent flyers what they valued about The Club loyalty program and we’ve been blown away by the passion and enthusiasm they have for the program and our wonderful airline.

“The deep appreciation for the Virgin Australia personalised service and the joy they get from travelling through our exclusive and premium lounges has been humbling, and are a key reason why many of our Club members choose to fly with us.

“Overwhelmingly, 95 per cent of these frequent flyers said they would recommend the Club loyalty program to their friends or colleagues and that really demonstrates just how important the program is in our business eco-system going forward, particularly with our corporate and government clients.

“As Australia’s most loved airline, we are committed to listening to our customers. Therefore, we are going to re-open premium lounges in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane by the end of the first quarter of 2022, when we expect that business travel demand will have recovered.

“And with Virgin Australia corporate airfares now up to 67 per cent cheaper than our competitor, it’s going to be hard for any business leader to consider travelling with another airline,” he said.

Emerson said while The Club lounges would not re-open in the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia, premium offerings would still be available.

“Unfortunately, while Canberra and Perth are a really important part of the Virgin Australia network, standalone premium lounges in these airports are not commercially feasible and regrettably they will not re-open,” he said.

“We are currently exploring some fantastic options to provide a premium service dedicated to our most loyal members travelling through these cities, and of course, they will continue to have access to our domestic lounges in these airports.

“We will also retire The Club brand name for a new and fresh brand that reflects our future direction and our heartland customers, which will be launched at the same time our premium lounges re-open.

“Loyalty works both ways and we’re extremely focussed on delivering to our customers the best value and the best experiences when they choose to fly with Virgin Australia. Our unrivalled corporate airfares and premium loyalty program are a testament to that,” Emerson said.

Since the relaunch of Virgin Australia in November 2020, the airline has conducted a month’s long review of its loyalty programs and Velocity Frequent Flyer has entered into new partnerships with household name brands, including 7-Eleven, Youfoodz and Medibank.