Review: Virgin Australia Cairns Lounge and Business Class, Cairns – Sydney

I had a quick 2 days and 3 nights up in Port Douglas. It wasn’t the point of the trip – I was ‘really’ going to Sydney for a cousin’s wedding – but I’ve always enjoyed North Queensland (not so much Cairns proper) and made a lot out of the time including a helicopter trip into the Daintree rainforest where we landed on a rock beside a waterfall and had a champagne breakfast, and went sailing out to the Great Barrier Reef.

Quickly enough it was time to leave for Sydney, so we made the hour long trip to the Cairns airport where we’d visit the Virgin Australia lounge and fly Virgin for the short 1200 mile trip.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction: Virgin Australia and Delta Business Class, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney
  2. Concourse Hotel LAX, a Hyatt affiliate
  3. Virgin Australia Check-in and Star Alliance Business Class Lounge
  4. Virgin Australia Business Class, Los Angeles – Brisbane
  5. Virgin Australia Brisbane Lounge and Business Class, Brisbane – Cairns
  6. Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas

After arriving at the terminal I checked in with Virgin Australia and checked my bags. This time they didn’t insist on weighing my carry on bag (though it was within allowable weight).

After proceeding through security I made my way through the shops to the lounge.

As I entered I was prepared to use the automatic kiosk where you scan your boarding pass to determine access, but the agents at the entrance insisted on giving it the personal touch (they weren’t at all busy).

I’m not in the habit of publishing all the wifi access codes I come across but this one is just too precious.

There’s fantastic views of airport operations.

And while not the most extensive food offerings, certainly generous by US standards, at an outstation no less (though in no way comparable to the food in Brisbane).

They called boarding in the lounge and I headed to the gate. Everyone was already queued for boarding, and moments later they began accepting business passengers.

Though they boarded via a jetway there was also boarding from the rear via air stairs.

I was back in a two row business class configuration not unlike domestic first in the U.S.

We boarded and pushed back on time, and it was a gorgeous takeoff from Cairns.

Shortly after reaching our cruising altitude lunch was served. Once again I was surprised and pleased by the quality and taste of the meal (although the presentation wasn’t especially attractive).

I didn’t avail myself of the inflight entertainment app on this trip. The crew did offer tablets for first class passenger use, but I had my phone (for the airshow) and my laptop (where I watched my own television for the duration of the flight).

And after about two and a half hours we were in Sydney. Enroute to baggage claim I made a stop at the men’s room and was impressed by the shopping opportunities even there.

Qantas and Virgin Australia are hammering each other really hard on domestic routes within Australia, and it’s great to the extent that it’s meant improved inflight experiences. On my two domestic Virgin Australia flights and my international long haul segment I came away extremely impressed – by the overall offerings, the food, and especially the friendly service.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “hammering” right after the condom picture? Me thinks it’s not a coincidence… 😉

  2. So glad you enjoyed yourself in our wonderful part of the world, Cairns, Port Douglas, the rain forests and of course The Great Barrier Reef, and with no pollution and a fantastic USD/AUD exchange rate the USA visitor numbers are rapidly increasing.

    The Cairns domestic terminal rebuilt for about M$50 a few years ago has it all, very modern with every amenity. The domestic airline lounges from Virgin and Qantas are right up there with the best.

  3. is the port douglas to CNS drive on a safe highway? asking because our CNS-BNE flight leaves at 550AM, which would mean a 300AM drive from Port Douglas to CNS.

  4. In general I value a CONDOM at about 75 cents — just over the price they’re selling CONDOMS through this promotion. If the price were lower I would be a buyer. Personally I’d rather hold cash than CONDOMS at this price and only buy CONDOMS with a specific use in mind, especially since it’s long been possible to buy CONDOMS at 75 cents apiece whenever one wishes. The gain by acting right away is marginal (just over one-tenth of a cent per point).

    But you likely won’t get hurt at this price. And it’s the lowest price I’ve seen, though something they’ve offered before (such as last fall).

  5. @listen it’s windy, you’re along the water, doing the drive is safe but be alert for other drivers of which there won’t be many at that time. you can of course rent/return a car in port douglas and pay for an airport shuttle

  6. @listen did a very similar trip last November and we rented a car in Cairns and drove up to Port Douglas. This was our first time driving on the opposite side of the road too. It was a little nerve-racking, but the drive is a straight shot and you drive along the coast, which is beautiful.

  7. I just love the consistency of VA lounges across Australia. Consistent decor, brightness, fresh foods and range of soft and alcoholic drinks.

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