Flight Review: Virgin Australia – Perth to Melbourne (VA 694)

Flights between the East and West Coasts of Australia have long been supported by all our major airlines in Australia – however when Virgin introduced an overhaul to its service to the route, it changed the way we travel between. Moving away from the “budget” approach it had taken under the Blue moniker, the new Virgin Australia A330s started flying full service between our coasts, to rival the similar service offered by Qantas – while still keeping costs competitive. Larry recently flew on their service from Perth to Melbourne and brings us this Flying with the AU feature:

Airline: Virgin Australia
Route: Perth to Melbourne
Seat: 16A (Window)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Class: Economy

Flight Time: 4 Hours 5 Minutes
On Schedule? Yes
Frequent Flyer Program: Velocity Rewards (I’m a Gold Member)

Lounge Access: Lounge access is available by membership if you’re on Silver status or below. Gold or above have membership included. The Perth lounge is sizable and comfortable, with sandwiches, pies and drinks available at the ready (the pies even have peas and gravy ready for you). There’s also a sizable selection of drinks at the bars and excellent customer service.

Web Check-In? Yes
Mobile Check-In? Yes
Points and Status Credits Earned: Yes

Meal Service: There were two hot meal choices on this evening flight. The Moroccan chicken with cous cous or the mushroom and pea risotto. I went for the chicken, which was served with carrots and beans. The cous cous was surprisingly thick, but did the trick, and the meal was accompanied by a bread roll with butter, water and some chocolate mousse, which was pretty delicious I must admit. Before the meal was served, there was a beverage service, with beer and wine complimentary and spirits served for $8. A second drink service came after the meal under the same conditions. Though I didn’t press for more, the vibe I got was that you may have been charged for any additional alcoholic beverages, other than water. But with a flight time of just over 4 hours, two services is more that plentiful for most!

In-Flight Entertainment: The RED entertainment systems that were introduced on the Virgin service to the USA is included with every ticket, regardless of price type. Though the domestic service does miss out on some of the Hollywood blockbusters that we get flying over international waters, it’s still a very, very sizable selection. I went down the classic route though and relived Austin Powers. Look out for random facts in the descriptions of the films, too – I hadn’t spotted that before. Some are quite entertaining.

Comfort: Classical music was playing on entry, as we all got comfortable. And the A330s are just that – very comfortable. More than enough leg room for economy – about as much as you’ll get anywhere – and the entertainment systems will ensure you’re well distracted even if you’re seated in between two larger beings. I was lucky enough to have the two seats to myself (it’s a 2-4-2 configuration on the A330-200s).

Customer Service: Boarding started just 15 minutes before scheduled departure, but with a small number of passengers, it filled up pretty quickly and we were on our way at the scheduled time. The crew were as courteous and responsive as you’d expect a Virgin team to be. It was a late evening flight, landing as one of the final flights into Melbourne, so lights were dimmed for you to enjoy your food and entertainment with limited interruption. It’s one of the best flights to catch time-wise! After close of business, landing before bed time…

Baggage: 1 piece is included at 23KG, plus a 7KG carry on. Gold Velocity members get an extra bag, too, included.

The writer covered his own costs for this flight.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.