Comparison of the week: Qantas Club vs Virgin Lounge

Posted: 17 June 2019 10:45 am
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Which airline offers the cushiest lounges and the best value?

We compare virtually everything at Finder and our comparison of the week isn't afraid to tackle the big questions. This week we put two airline rivals head-to-head.

Qantas and Virgin Australia compete fiercely, especially for business travellers (that's where the big bucks are made, folks). One of the core requirements for business travel is an airport lounge where you can recharge, grab a snack and a drink, or get some work done.

Qantas offers the Qantas Club, while Virgin has Virgin Australia lounges. Let's dive in and see how the two lounge networks stack up.

The comparison

Note for frequent travellers: we're only comparing domestic lounges which you can access through a membership fee in this table. That means Qantas' domestic business lounges and international first-class lounges, luscious as they are, aren't part of the mix.

Basics you can expect across both Qantas and Virgin lounges: free Wi-Fi, power outlets to charge your devices, daily newspapers and flight announcements. Most lounges will also offer shower facilities too, except for a few of the smaller regional ones.

Qantas Virgin
Number of locations Qantas has 30 domestic Qantas Club lounges, covering every capital city and many regional centres. Virgin operates 12 Virgin Australia lounges, with the majority in capital cities.
Joining and membership fees To join the Qantas Club you'll need to pay a one-off joining fee of $399, then an annual fee of $540. You can optionally pay either fee using Qantas Points, though that isn't a very good value use of those points. Multi-year memberships score a slight discount, and Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers get free access. Occasionally Qantas runs special offers and discounts the membership fee. Virgin Australia lounges require a $330 joining fee, and an annual membership fee of $420. Silver and above frequent flyers get the joining fee waived. Virgin offers a lifetime membership option but it's not a good deal. Gold and Platinum frequent flyers get free lounge access.
Paid casual visits Qantas doesn't offer any casual visit options. You can pay $65 for a one-off Virgin lounge visit. Note this won't always be available, especially during busy periods.
Credit card access Several credit cards offer Qantas lounge passes as a perk, including the Qantas Premier Platinum, St.George Amplify Signature and Qantas American Express Ultimate. Credit cards which offer Virgin lounge passes include the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures and Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer.
How many guests can you bring? You can bring one guest into a domestic Qantas lounge with you. Higher status flyers are allowed additional guests. You'll also generally be able to bring 2 children under the age of 17, though in busy periods this may be a challenge. You're allowed one guest into the Virgin lounge, plus 2 children under the age of 11. Higher status flyers are allowed additional guests.
Food and drink Frankly, there's nothing to differentiate the lounges on this score: both offer a similar range of food and beverages, including barista coffee, toasted sandwiches at breakfast, a range of hot meals later in the day, snacks, beer and wine. Smaller regional lounges will generally have a more restricted range and no hot food options. It's a dead heat! See previous discussion about food and drink options.
Extra facilities Some larger capital city Qantas lounges have separate play areas for small children. Qantas also has meeting rooms connected to its lounges in 9 cities (separate charges are payable for these). The Sydney Virgin lounge has its own dedicated Premium Entry security scan area, though you have to be a Gold or Platinum member to use it. Virgin offers meeting rooms (for a separate fee) in 7 of its locations.

The lowdown

Your choice of lounge is ultimately going to depend on your choice of airline. If all your flights for work are on Virgin, then the Virgin Lounge will obviously be your choice. If you're a determined "only Qantas for me" passenger, then the Qantas Club comes in first.

The lounge experience with both airlines is similar. Qantas has a definite edge in terms of the number of lounge locations but also costs more up-front. Its official policy on kids as guests is a little more generous than Virgin on paper, but in practice you'll usually not have problems getting kids admitted with either airline. Happy travels!

We're all about helping you make better decisions. Do your own comparison by heading to the Finder home page to compare credit cards, savings accounts, shopping deals and much, much more. Go on, be a Finder.

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