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The catch in Virgin’s free lounge access offer for Qantas frequent flyers



Lounge wars are brewing, but this deal hasn't quite fired me up.

I'm a travel tragic and lounge aficionado, so when I heard that Virgin Australia was offering free access to its lounges to some higher-tier Qantas frequent flyers, I was definitely tempted. I'm a lifetime gold Qantas member, so I qualified, but on closer examination I'm not sure the deal is worth it.

Here's how it works: if you book a seat on a Virgin Australia flight between for travel between 13 June and 31 August this year, and you're either a Qantas Club member or a Gold or higher frequent flyer, you can use the Virgin lounge in your departure city before your flight. However, there's one big additional criteria: you have to book an Economy X seat. This offers extra legroom and priority boarding, but it also costs you between $29 and $59 more, depending on the duration of your flight.

Welcome to Economy X, or perhaps not

Given the extra expense involved, I'm not sure this is enough to tempt me to book my next work flight on Virgin. To make it worthwhile, the flight is going to have to be considerably cheaper than the Qantas equivalent. I'd also have to factor in the value of the points I'd earn on Qantas (where I have a decent stash) versus Virgin (where I have close to zero). Ultimately, I suspect I'd get better value by buying a drink at an airport bar: even at inflated prices, that could prove a savvier deal.

Maybe I'm just greedy. A few years ago, Virgin offered a one-year status match for Qantas Platinum flyers. I was Platinum at the time, so I signed up, and that did influence me to fly Virgin a little more often than I might have otherwise. But that didn't require me to buy a particular type of ticket, and it ran for a whole year.

The fact that Virgin continues to launch these kinds of offers underscores the rivalry between it and Qantas to attract business flyers. That's where the big bucks are, not with a cheapskate like me.

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

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