Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to the Virgin Atlantic Lounge policy I describe below as apartheid. I now realize that the use of that word was not in good taste. Therefore, I have updated this story to avoid any confusion. I recently visited the Apartheid Museum in South Africa and the word was on my mind, but it was not constructive to even imply a link between the Virgin Atlantic policy and the policies of the South African state from 1948 until 1994. Thanks all for holding me accountable.
Those who gain entry by credit card are now second-class citizens at the Virgin Atlantic Lounge in Washington Dulles. Hopefully, this is a fluke and not a sign of things to come in the chain of Virgin lounges outside of London run by Plaza Premium.
Second Class Citizenship For Credit Card Guests In Virgin Atlantic Lounge
I specifically chose the Virgin Atlantic Lounge (via my Capital One Venture X card) because of its a la carte menu, which I was looking forward to after skipping breakfast and lunch.
After checking into the lounge, I headed over to the restaurant and had a seat. I asked one of the staff members if there was a menu and she responded that there was only a buffet (and a very limited buffet at that…).
Others seated around me were being served food from the kitchen and I cannot imagine Virgin Atlantic suddenly deciding it would no longer offer menus in its lounges.
I had a QR code from a previous visit and pulled it up. Sure enough, the menu. I put in my table number, ordered a soup, salad, and plant-based burger and submitted my order.
It promptly arrived, with the same lounge staff member saying, “Oh, I didn’t know you were flying on Virgin today.” I told her I was not. Then she asked me how I ordered food and I said that I had the QR code. She responded that about a month ago the lounge eliminated a la carte dining for those entering via American Express or Plaza Premium…
Treating certain guests as second-class citizens at the same time in the same lounge is not only annoying, but pretty devious considering Plaza Premium sells one-time access to this lounge and specifically praises the a la carte menu:
Passengers who don’t know better might also walk away disgusted at Virgin Atlantic, which reflects poorly upon their brand as well.
It’s one thing to say that a la carte dining is only available during certain hours, but it is quite another thing to cheapen out on credit card guests, something so many of us, unfortunately, predicted when Plaza Premium took over management of these lounges.
I’m tempted to share the QR code here and encourage everyone to order off the menu, but I’m going to reach out to Plaza Premium first. It isn’t clear if this is an IAD-only policy or will apply across the Virgin Atlantic lounge network operated by Priority Pass.
p.s. The food was very good…