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Virgin Blue opens innovative new lounge at Sydney Airport

Travel News Asia 6 August 2003

Virgin Blue continued its onslaught into the corporate market today with the opening of the new Sydney airport 'Blue Room', extending its rollout of the next generation of airport lounges across Australia.

One of Australia's hottest new music sensations, Duncan James, helped Virgin Blue's Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, kick off the celebrations today with a special performance of his hit debut single "Speed of Life".

The new lounge has been 'Virginised' to offer travellers a modern, high-tech and business friendly facility that is both relaxing and fun.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, "In the same way that Virgin Blue has helped revolutionise air travel in Australia, we plan to transform the expensive and dated product currently in the market, by offering a refreshing and affordable alternative to the traditional airport lounge."

He continued, "During 2003 there has been a coming of age for Virgin Blue as we are now making a solid impact on every segment of the market due to our high frequency, friendly service and on time departures. The only niche that we are struggling in seems to be a few Commonwealth agencies who appear to be less concerned about getting good value for the taxpayer than our growing list of major corporate clients."

Virgin's Blue Room is its latest innovation in terms of choice for both corporate and leisure travellers and part of its ongoing strategy to enhance the Virgin Blue experience for airline Guests without increasing fares.

Anyone can access the Blue Room facilities by paying an introductory pay-as-you-go A$5 entry fee or by snapping up a special 'early bird' annual Blue Room Passport* for A$175 before 30 September. The A$195 standard annual membership fee will apply thereafter.

Guests can also choose to buy exclusive Blue Room Voucher* Booklets containing 50 prepaid A$5 coupons that can be redeemed for entry and/or massage and beauty services, food or refreshments in any Blue Room.

The vouchers can be used by both members and non-members of the Blue Room and are designed to give companies the freedom to supply cash equivalent coupons to travelling staff so they can take advantage of the convenience of the lounge when they please, without having to worry about blowing the budget nor filing numerous detailed expense claims to their boss.

Other complimentary services in the Blue Room include:

State of the art surround sound Sony Wega Theatrette with movies on the big screen (popcorn optional)

Workstations where travellers can 'plug in' and go about their business

Comfy armchairs to relax in while watching the large plasma or digital televisions

A 'play-zone' incorporating Sony PlayStation consoles for big kids looking to brush up on their game skills

A quality selection of newspapers and magazines

Express Check-in for those with hand luggage only

Courtesy fax and photocopier

For a reasonable fee the Blue Room also offers:

Convenient valet parking service**

A 'Chill Out Zone' where Guests can relax with day spa treatments including beauty and massage therapy

A caf serving meals and gourmet coffees

A private bar offering bubbles, beer, bourbon and other alcoholic beverages at pub prices

Sydney is the first Virgin Blue port to offer a Valet Parking Service for busy flyers who want the extra time and the personalised service and convenience.

This service is provided in conjunction with Sydney Airport and offers short or long term parking while operating on a 'user pays' basis to ensure it has no impact on the airline's operating costs.

Concluding his comments on the both the Blue Room and Valet Parking, Brett Godfrey noted, "This is clearly the best and most efficient way forward for us to allow the airline to continue passing the savings onto the travelling public, while sticking with the same low fare strategy we've maintained since day one."

In addition to providing further service enhancements, Virgin Blue has also added a number of technological innovations. The newest Virgin Blue innovations and enhancements include:

Changes on the Net

Virgin Blue has recently introduced a new update to its award winning website called "CHANGEonline". Launched on 4th July, this feature allows Guests to change their bookings online rather than calling the Guest Contact Centre.

On top of providing this convenient and easy to use system, Virgin Blue is also passing on the saving to travellers by offering a reduction on the change of booking fee from A$30 to A$25 for changes made over the net on discount 'Fair Fares' and 'Mid-Week Mini Fares'. Virgin Blue 'Fully Flexible Fares' for the business traveller continue to allow free changes even thirty minutes before departure as the airline ensures its products meets the needs of those with fluid schedules.

'Blue Zone' To Go Network Wide

Following the success of Virgin Blue's trial of 'Blue Zone' seating options on long haul sectors, Guests can now pre-reserve an extra roomy exit row or front row seat on every flight network wide for an introductory price of just A$30 extra per flight for any 'Blue Zone' seat purchased by September 30.

The Blue Zone seating offers Guests the equivalent of a 40 inch (100 cm) seat pitch and is available on every flight from today.

Brett Godfrey said, "Corporate travellers have told us they like the space of business class but clearly cannot justify the cost. As a result, Virgin Blue now  allows Guests to pre-book 'Blue Zone' seating for a fraction of the cost of our competitor's business class fare.

The airline also hinted that guests should stay tuned for Virgin Blue's soon to be launched Melbourne Blue Room which will be accompanied by other network wide service and online enhancements.

* Blue Room Passports and Voucher Booklets can be purchased at the Blue Room Welcome Desk in Sydney or Brisbane or by calling Virgin Blue's award winning Guest Contact Centre on 13 67 89.

** Valet Parking is located at the east end of the T2 Domestic Terminal and accessible via the departures road way. Follow the blue road signs to T2 Valet Parking and turn left from the domestic departures roadway. Bookings are not required (although they are accepted) and rates start from A$49 for one day parking.

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