Well-heeled, and ready to go racing

When it comes to your appearance at the races, details matter. Turn up with scuffed shoes and your expensive, meticulously-planned ensemble can be brought undone.

Sydneysiders flying south for the day may have fewer concerns than the rest of us; Virgin Australia customers with premium lounge access can take advantage of a shoe shining service in the lounge. On selected days there is also a hair and makeup services for the ladies.

Additionally, ladies needn't be concerned about risking the ruin of their precious headwear in the plane's overhead bins – no matter how big the hat or how fascinating the fascinator, it can be checked in at the lounge as part of Virgin's special 'hat valet' service to deliver it on touchdown in Melbourne.

Rise and shine

The shoe-shining service is a new addition to Virgin's Sydney lounge, and will continue to be offered even after the Melbourne Cup has been run and won.

Virgin Australia corporate communications executive Danielle Keighery says men and women lounge patrons can indulge in a shoe shine while they wait for their flight.

"It is the sort of thing where often you don't have time, whereas when you're in the lounge with a little bit of time to wait, it's a great service to have," she says.

The service is provided by , a social enterprise that trains disadvantaged and homeless people as shoe 'artisans' who receive the entire proceeds of their work. A standard shine on regular shoes starts from $8 per pair.

"One lady turned up the other day with a bagful, she wanted to get them all done," Keighery says.

After the first three weeks of operation the airline says the embedded shoe shine service has been an outstanding success, and it is now likely that other Virgin lounges across the country will also get their own Buffed stand.

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"What Buffed is doing is creating businesses to give people employment opportunities. I love the idea of social enterprises, it's a company getting behind something and giving someone an opportunity and helping it to grow."

A head start

Virgin has also reinstated the hat valet service that is mainly utilised by women heading to the races. "Not only do we carry a huge number of customers to the Spring Racing Carnival, we also carry many, many hats," Keighery says.

"We introduced the hat valet service a few years ago and it's been extremely popular. For some people it's their most precious cargo. No one wants to see that not being looked after."