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Virgin Australia’s new Perth terminal a seamless passenger experience

written by Chris Frame | January 18, 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks largely to a revitalised and business-focused Virgin Australia, Perth Airport is now home to what is possibly the best domestic terminal in Australia; Virgin’s T1 Domestic Pier.

Over 4,200 people were involved in the construction of T1 Domestic. The project took 1.8 million man-hours, resulting in a concourse that stretches 250 metres; longer than the height of WA’s largest skyscraper.

So how does the new terminal stack up from a customer perspective?


The first thing that you’ll notice at T1 Domestic is its size and space. Compared to the existing domestic facilities at Perth, the new terminal feels huge!

The check-in area is situated next to the T1 International check-in desks. It has the same high ceilings, bright lighting and large windows as the international airport; as well as easy to read, Virgin Australia signage.


The back wall is lit in purple while large Virgin Australia logos dominate the surrounding walls.


Virgin’s new self check-in and bag drop system has been installed at Perth. It is simple to use and very efficient. Twenty-eight self-check kiosks are supplemented by six dedicated premium kiosks for Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, as well as business class passengers.

Virgin has also included a dedicated group check-in area, with four individual kiosks and plenty of space for large groups to mingle during the check-in process. The layout of the check-in area greatly reduces queues and almost eliminates any waiting.

Virgin’s self-check kiosks are easy to use, with extra wide touch screens and simple, intuitive instructions. If you’ve checked in online and have bags for the hold, simply scan your electronic boarding pass at the kiosk; select the number of bags you’re checking and the system prints your bag tags for you. If you haven’t checked in already, your Velocity card or booking reference number is all you’ll need.

The whole process is very simple, especially for the tech savvy. It took around 1 ½ minutes from entering the terminal to seeing the bag disappear onto the conveyor belt. However, there were plenty of staff on hand to assist passengers unfamiliar with the touch screen kiosks.

Some of the 14 bag drop desks were manned for face-to-face check-in, while seven manned desks at the self-check area ensure staff are always on hand.

Security and lounges

After check-in, customers make their way upstairs to a spacious security screening area. It includes a dedicated premium screening queue as well as a separate screening area for Virgin Australia employees. The design makes screening a breeze, reducing queues and waiting.

Just after security you’ll find a stunning new Virgin Australia lounge. The first thing that stands out here is the space. It is significantly bigger than Virgin’s former T3 lounge. It includes all of the design features from Virgin’s other flagship lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, such as a stylised ceiling and purple lighting.

P1066797A coffee bar is situated in the centre of the lounge, facing large windows with views over the apron. Hungry lounge members will enjoy a selection of hot and cold food in the form of a buffet, while the bar has a great selection of beer and wine.

As expected, the lounge has free Wi-Fi access and a business centre. There are also two large meeting rooms, equipped with video and teleconferencing facilities as well as views of the aircraft!


If the terminal hadn’t impressed up to this point, the main concourse is sure to wow even the most frequent traveller. It is the biggest departure from Perth’s existing airport design. Stretching over 200 metres in length, the building is crowned by a high, arched ceiling set atop floor to ceiling windows.

Twelve aerobridges are available accessed from eight separate departure gates. Each sports a dedicated priority lane; dressed in Virgin’s premium colours of purple and dark grey, while the standard boarding lane has a red carpet.

Four of the gates offer dual boarding (two aerobridges) and are used by the ‘coast to coast’ Airbus A330s. These gates can also operate as separate aerobridges for smaller aircraft, effectively handling two 737s in the space that a single A330 can occupy.

One of the gates is operated as a ‘swing gate’ – allowing it to be shared with the T1 International terminal. An Air New Zealand 767-300 occupied the bay during my visit, while later it was open for Virgin domestic operations.

The concourse has retail offerings including the first WH Smith in WA, Relay, and Hub Convenience, plus a variety of eateries ranging from Hungry Jacks to a pub.


Arriving into T1 Domestic was as pleasant an experience as departing. The terminal sports Perth Airport’s first moving walkway, as well as a link to T2; Virgin’s regional terminal. This is a great improvement for travellers transiting to Virgin Australia Regional Airlines-operated services, as it eliminates the time-consuming and frustrating bus ride between T2 and T3.

T1 Domestic’s arrivals area houses two baggage carousels. Each one is big enough to efficiently handle the luggage from several aircraft at a time. The carousels are very long, offering lots of space for passengers to wait for their bags, while providing easy access to the carousel. Nearby, car hire desks make the transition from aircraft to vehicle easy.

The only criticism I could find for this terminal design relates to the parking. While T3 and T4 have a covered ‘premium’ car park right near the terminal, T1 Domestic shares an expansive open-air car park with T1 International. This means travellers short of time, as well as those wishing to protect their cars from the elements, have less convenient choices at T1 Domestic than at T3 or T4.

T1 – The Edge

T1 Domestic gives Virgin Australia a definite edge in Perth over its main rival, and for many travellers, it is the terminal Perth has been waiting for.

Bold, spacious and customer-friendly, the ease of transition through the building, excellent retail offering and simple connection to T2 Regional are tangible plusses.

Another great feature of the new terminal is its proximity to T1 International. This gives Virgin Australia an extra bonus when compared to rival Qantas, as passengers transferring to and from international flights, either on Virgin aircraft or partners such as SAA, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, don’t have to endure bus rides between terminals.

T1 Domestic has elevated the Virgin customer experience to a new level. It offers space for growth, seamless connectivity to onward flights and a design and décor reminiscent of the best airports around the world.

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Comments (15)

  • Keef


    Excellent facility that puts that other mobs terminal with the kangaroo on it on the the side of the airport to shame. Great move Virgin!

  • Oh very nice!!

    Now I wonder if their staff will receive as nice of a makeover in their current EBA negotiations !?

  • Cris.


    Had the same experience today as the article. It is superb well done VA!

  • Goeff


    The bogans can travel in ‘style’ now! Unfortunately they still live in Perth though, no changing that :@@@@

  • Mia


    I have to disagree. Due to it’s length, the terminal takes for ever to get out of, and then trying to get a taxi with the 2 x 777s that have just landed at the international takes even longer. If you have parked in the long term parking, you have to drive for kms before you even get to the exit.

    The baggage claim is also low an dingey which detracts for the light feel of the rest of the terminal.

    I still think the Qantas offering is better with a full meal, new releases on the inflight entertainment, more comfortable seats and better lounges (where I can get my G&T).

    Virgin is getting there, but still has a few little things to improve on.

  • Chantelle


    I think Virgin has made some incredible improvements over the past few years and their innovative ideas are beginning to outshine other airlines such as Qantas in a variety of areas. The efficiency of their very own check in facilities, new lounge and ‘World Class’ business class suites are fantastic. The offerings of full meal and drink service has also helped launch them from a once budget airline to a premium airline. It is good to see a bit of brand competition between airlines and I can’t wait to see where Virgin will be in the next 5-10 years.

  • Theo


    I agree with Mia. My elderly mother visited from Sydney over Christmas, and she found the sheer size and length of the terminal very difficult. Virgin has been using a golf cart inside the terminal to transport people who find the distance a problem … but both on the day she arrived and on the day she departed, there was no-one driving it.

    Which leads to the obvious question: if Virgin requires a golf cart in the terminal to transport older and less mobile passengers, is the terminal really as good as it could/should be? And why was there no-one to drive the cart?

    The bottom line: a brand new terminal should take the elderly, disabled and less mobile into account. This terminal doesn’t. That, for me, makes it a badly-designed terminal.

  • Nigel


    The terminal is great but who ever designed the merging traffic at the beginning of the Terminal should be sacked, the bottle neck created by the pickup/drop off cars (2 lanes), Taxi Rank lane, bus lane and service lane all merging to 2 lanes is absolutely insane!
    Why do the Taxis and buses need to merge with cars trying to drop-off or pick up?
    They don’t pickup at the Terminal so they should have been routed away from the front of the terminal so traffic could moves smoothly.

  • Cris.


    How else do you fit 12 gates into a terminal? It’s length isn’t a lavish design it’s the requirement to accommodate the number of bays.

  • K


    On Saturday morning I found the bag drop to be awful. The queues were more than seven deep at some stages as more and more bag drops terminals became ‘unavailable’. With only four staff present, no help was available. At one stage none of the bag drops at all were working! There was nowhere to line up for assistance as there is only an international counter and priority counter. Further, the bag drop terminals themselves aren’t very easy to use, my colleague’s bag was not accepted more than seven times across multiple bag drops for several different reasons. Overall a very negative experience.

  • Nigel Daw


    Good luck to the new Virgin Australia terminal in Perth. It will go a long way to match the Adelaide Airport Terminal which has been in use for ten years. Easy check in, security checking area large, and the terminal has plenty of light and is spacious. It has a mixture of gates with some used for both international flights and later domestic flights when appropriate. I have used Adelaide a lot and on most occasions my luggage is ready for collection when I arrive. All the best Perth.. Nigel

  • Dalene


    Sadly long walks are part in parcel with airports these days. A long walk is not a unique feature of T1.

    Try walking from the remote gates at T4 to the furthest end of T3 and then complain about the long walk at T1 Domestic.

    At least VA are offering golf buggies (per Singapore, Dubai, Sydney…) and the airport has a moving floor also.

  • Geoff


    This terminal is a very good design. Virgin and guests have finally got what they needed. Well done Perth Airport and Virgin Australia.

    The icing on this cake would be to improve the ambience with some samples of native flora and scenic murals similar to leading Global airports, such as Changi or Schiphol. Hudsons and 6000 acres are good examples downstairs.

    This is a proven concept. The more natural the surroundings, the better the business!

  • Malki


    Positive and negative criticism is part and parcel for any new Airport Terminal building, but I just look at the positives because the size is relative to Gate numbers. All out to a great design that I can see but doubt I will ever try it out in person. Well done Virgin but read comments for improving service where necessary…

  • Richard


    Will Baggage Claim be more efficient than my last trip from Melbourne? In January 2015 my baggage hold suitcase with all my medication was not made available to me until the following day, a trip to a chemist for emergency medication and a trip to the airport to collect the bag which was at the airport because Virgin was too inept to arrange delivery to me. The intervention of the senior Perth Airport official did not speed the process.

    Is there wheel-chair availability to be a feature of the check-in process at Perth? I am unable to stand for long periods or walk any distance.

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