Every harlot was a virgin once

Virgin Australia Lounge, Melbourne

Virgin Australia Terminal, Melbourne Domestic Terminal

Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge. Photo towards entry.

How does the new Virgin Australia experience stack up? It was a question that had been bugging me ever since I’d received my shiny Frequent Flyer card in the mail (in an effort to poach QANTAS frequent flyers Virgin have been giving out free memberships with matched status). I had been completely suckered in by the slick marketing campaign, the fancy uniforms, the new business class and the easy to understand fares. The flying red roo had burnt me just a little too much recently, and now the elixir of Richard was glistening beautifully in the sun, waiting to quench my thirst.

Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge. Photo looking down from the top level

So I rocked up at Melbourne airport and headed straight for the recently refurbished Lounge. Occupying the old Ansett Golden Wing lounge, it has replaced the crisp 90′s lounge chic with something that resembles a night club. Except you can see everything, and it’s full of old men in company polos. Regardless, I was here for the food.

Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge. Purple lights.

With all the care taken with the rest of the transformation, the food buffet was lacking all kinds of polish. It was confusingly equipped, with plates and glasses stored at convenient knee level along with a smattering of toasters and sandwich presses. The bread itself was so badly cut that I sort of had to hack at it with the tongs before giving up and just grabbing another half mangled piece. Lounge food is eclectic at the best of times, but there was no pattern to what they were trying to do here. The only constant was that it was all looking a little sorry for itself. My Frankenstein creation of corned beef, bocconcini,  tzatziki, cheese and an alleged bean salad was all a little tasteless. I’m sure Luke Mangan, who designed the menu, would have been a little disappointed with the quality and sterility of the food on Friday.

Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge Food
The biggest sin, however, was the lack of hot food (soup does not count). If you’ve ever been to the Canberra QANTAS club on a Friday, you’ll have seen  the rugby scrum of middle managers which erupts every time the pies are brought out.  But alas, there was absolutely none of that to be had here. Don’t get me wrong, QANTAS isn’t perfect either.  Neil Perry’s removal of afternoon scones was as un-Australian as kicking a koala off the Sydney Harbor Bridge, but hot food (soup doesn’t count) is a must, particularly when your biggest competitor is doing it.

Now Boarding
The thing is, when you go to an airline lounge, regardless of the location, you want to feel special. You want something to make you feel better about spending countless hours away from your family collecting airline points. You want a little hot pie to reward you for your loyalty. The problem with the Virgin Lounge in Melbourne is that you don’t feel special; you just don’t get a hot pie.

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