Flight Review: Virgin Australia – Sydney to Brisbane (VA931)

Welcome to our brand new section AU Abroad where we bring you a birds eye view of the world of travel. As writers for the AU review, we travel for the arts, and so the content in this section reflects that. But in this article series, we just want you to know the best airlines to fly with. We kick things off domestically with an East Coast capital city service from Virgin, who have been kicking things up a notch in recent times to compete with Qantas more aggressively on the domestic market.

Airline: Virgin Australia
Route: Sydney-Brisbane, VA931
Seat: 7A (Window)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800

Flight Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
On Schedule? Yes, departed aircraft spot on 10:30am as scheduled.

Frequent Flyer Program: Velocity, Silver
Lounge Access: Silver status provides two complimentary lounge passes, but neither were used on this flight. 12 months of lounge access available for $300.
Ticket Type: Reward Seat (Redemption via Points)
Mobile Check-In? Yes
Points and Status Credits Earned: None (Reward Seat)

Meal Service: Complimentary Snack (Two mini-cupcakes, choc-chip, and surprisingly tasty) plus tea, coffee and water. Flexi ticket holders and business class given a meal and additional items available for purchase.

In-Flight Entertainment: Wi-Fi based entertainment service featuring Movies, TV Shows and Music. Short flight time by the time you’ve taken off means it’s not possible to watch a whole film, but with selections offering a Morgan Freeman collection (inc. Last Vegas) and the four Bourne films, it’s enticing to give it a go.

I watched part of Ginger and Rosa from the Melbourne International Film Festival section. The airline requires you to stop using your mobile service on takeoff and landing, and once you stop using the service you lose your spot in the film, even if the app remains active, which can be frustrating – but this is a minor flaw in an otherwise stellar entertainment system, which has been busy rolling out across the network.

You can also access details about your journey, fill out a survey and read through FAQs in the mobile app, which you need to download before you fly!

Comfort: Between Tiger, Jetstar and Virgin, Virgin wins hands down. The leather seats are comfortable with decent recline (10.16cm degrees in economy) and there is enough leg room to keep you from feeling squashed in. I imagine the difference between airlines is just a centimeter or so, but it makes all the difference. There’s also the colour scheme, adopted from the US Virgin America brand. The light purples that light the aircraft (and separate us from business class) create a warm, inviting atmosphere, that gives them a notch up on their competitors. It helps make all guests feel like they’re enjoying a little bit of luxury. And often, for the same price or even less than their competitors.

Customer Service: Polite, courteous and helpful both on ground and in the air. I also noticed they allow customers to sleep if they are doing so. Some of my worst experiences have been with airlines who seem to have a policy to forcibly wake you for your meal. If I wanted to eat I would be awake. Anyway, thanks to Virgin for their courtesy (please spread the memo).

Extra: The seat next to me was empty which is always a bonus on a flight, no matter how short. It allowed me to use my table for work and have me tea on the table next to me. Obviously this comes down to luck, but it’s a delightful thing when it happens…

And then there are the views (they come free of charge).

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.