Self-service in Virgin lounges: It’s complicated

Posted: 4 April 2022 4:01 pm
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Virgin is gradually opening its lounge options up, 1 drink at a time.

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that while Qantas domestic lounges had shifted back to letting customers grab their own food and drink, Virgin hadn't done so.

Both airlines moved away from the cheaper-to-run self-service model when the COVID pandemic began in 2020, and also cut back on the range of food and drink on offer.

But Qantas has now largely returned to its pre-pandemic model, with customers able to grab their own meals and serve themselves wine and soft drinks. (Coffees and spirits still require a staff member to serve you.)

I wondered how long it would be before Virgin did the same. After all, any chance to cut costs and avoid a return to administration would be welcome.

And now Virgin has followed suit – in a smaller way.

I've been visiting a lot of Virgin lounges in the past couple of weeks (more on that soon). They're all generally still using staff to serve food and drinks, with 1 key exception.

If you want fruit juice or water, you can now serve that yourself. Just grab a glass and pour. This isn't universal – you can't do it in Perth, for instance – but it's a growing trend.

Self-serve drinks area in a Virgin lounge

The 1 big exception I've noticed so far is the Adelaide lounge. That has actually gone back to full self-service for most items. Check out the full serve-yourself breakfast options.

Adelaide Virgin lounge self-service breakfast

The change is still new enough that the toaster still has a "Self-service is currently unavailable" sign on display, even though you can indulge in DIY toast with impunity.

Adelaide Virgin lounge self-service toast

The Adelaide lounge underwent a major renovation during lockdown, so it's not surprising to see it resuming standard service quickly. Here's hoping those changes flow back through the rest of the lounge network soon. Meanwhile, anyone for toast?

Want to keep your frequent flyer points balance growing? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more.

Picture: Angus Kidman

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