Virgin Australia Lounge Cairns

If you have been following this trip report, then you know our last experience at a Virgin lounge in Brisbane was… shall we say… less than ideal.  It was crowded, busy, and didn’t have very friendly people working that morning.

NOW – for a complete 180 degree turn, we have the lounge in Cairns, which was one of the best lounge experiences that I’ve had in quite some time!

Introduction
Alaska Airlines First Class from Seattle (SEA) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Star Alliance Lounge Los Angeles
Virgin Australia Business Class from Los Angeles (LAX) to Brisbane (BNE)
Virgin Australia Lounge Brisbane
Virgin Australia First Class from Brisbane (BNE) to Cairns (CNS)
Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, and Surrounding Areas
Virgin Australia Lounge Cairns
Virgin Australia First Class from Cairns (CNS) to Melbourne (MEL)
Westin Melbourne and the Press Club
Garuda Indonesia Business Class from Melbourne (MEL) to Denpasar, Bali (DPS)
Sheraton Kuta, Bali (Wow, Wow, Wow!!)
Korean Air Business Class from Denpasar (DPS) to Seoul (ICN)
Korean Air Lounge, Seoul
Free! Cultural Experience in Seoul
Korean Air Business Class from Seoul (ICN) to Seattle (SEA)

The checkin and security process was brilliant.  The line for the coach checkin was LONG and there were two attendants waiting at the Premium checkin line, which we approached and were cheerfully greeted, handed our boarding passes, lounge invitations, and directed to security.  Total time from entrance to security?  3 minutes.  Exactly what a “premium” experience should be.

Admittedly I was not prepared for security as I had a 1 liter bottle of water in my bag, and almost jumped through the xray machine to stop the water bottle from going through but turns out (as I probably should have remembered) that this is not a domestic US flight, it’s a domestic Australian flight, and there are no restrictions on liquids or gels 🙂  #fail

Just about a 2 minute walk from security and up the stairs we found the Virgin lounge.  It was down a LONG hallway that passed the Qantas lounge.  Upon entry there was a short line forming but we noticed that there was a machine to scan boarding passes for entry.  Virgin allows their elite members into the lounge and also business class passengers.  When you scan the boarding pass it asks how many people you would like to bring as guests, beeps, and allows you entry.  Pretty great feature if all you want to do is get in right away (or you’re just anti social).  Sometimes the lounge queues domestically in the states are extreme, and I welcome this technology stateside!

View from the Brisbane lounge on the Tarmac

View from the Brisbane lounge on the Tarmac

Virgin does a great job of making their lounges look chic, hip, and cool, yet still manage to not go overboard.  The windows to the tarmac let in a ton of natural light and its not crowded at all (unlike the Brisbane lounge…)

View from the entrance

View from the entrance

I gotta hand it to Virgin, they know their target market.  Dozens of different beers, wines, liquors, ciders, and drinks are available for the asking, and from what I could tell, there was no shortage of stock in the fridge…  Love the fact that they don’t try and nickel and dime you with charges for beer, food, and liquor (ahem, American Airlines).  A lounge should be just that, a premium experience and an escape from the screaming children, loud passengers, and overall mess that is the boarding area and terminal of the airport.

Liquor and Wine and Beer, oh my!

Liquor and Wine and Beer, oh my!

Virgin also employs a full-time Barista to make your coffee to order, and we had the pleasure of being served by Zach.  When we brought our luggage into the seating area Zach came over and took our order for coffees, and, noticing out Scuba gear, started asking us about our experience on the reef.  Turns out that he just finished his certification and was looking for some dive advice.  We chatted for probably longer than we should have, but it was really refreshing to have a human experience inside the lounge with nice people.  We shared some of our dive sites and plans for Bali, and he brought over one of the best Mochachinos I’ve had in a very long time.  Kudos, Zach!  Thanks!

Our AWESOME bartender and scuba diving fan, Zach!

Our AWESOME bartender and scuba diving fan, Zach!

Sandwich, salad, and mochachino

Sandwich, salad, and mochachino

The lounge was well stocked with a lunch time selection of items including soups, salad, sandwiches, and sweets.

Lunch soup options with bread

Lunch soup options with bread

Fresh sandwich fixins

Fresh sandwich fixins

More sandwich fixins

More sandwich fixins and sweets

Not that you would want to do any work inside a lounge at the airport, but if you did, there’s a conference area with plenty of seating, whiteboards, and phones (work, yawn…).

Available conference room

Available conference room

Tiger Airways A320

Tiger Airways A320

View heading back into the lounge

View heading back into the lounge

In perhaps what should be started as a series of photos called “strange signs from other countries” we have the Male Ambulant Toilet!  So when you’re on crutches walking around, you can… go?  God help you if you need the braille as well.

He doesn't look very ambulant to me...

He doesn’t look very ambulant to me…

I love airport lounges.  It’s a perfect place, in my opinion, to escape the chaos that is the typical airport terminal and find some peace.  Virgin puts up a good offering in their clubs, and this one did not disappoint.  A huge selection of drinks, a great lunchtime selection of foods, and warm service from people who actually take the time to get to know you make this lounge a must visit.

Also, it’s a great place to score some free food and booze while you’re at it 🙂

After we left the lounge we headed down the long hallway back to the main terminal as it was time to board our flight to Melbourne. We no more than approached the terminal for boarding and were bombarded by the screams of over 60 teenagers for a local football team screaming and yelling in a small confined concrete lined corral boarding area and I found myself going back to the zen of the lounge wishing I had waited just 5 more minutes…

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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