As a regular traveller to Australia I have often taken domestic flights, yet until now never with Virgin Australia. Thankfully now my curiosity has been satisfied.
My previous internal flights have tended to be with Qantas or Jet Star.
Until now I mistakenly thought that Virgin Australia was primarily a low fare/discount airline to rival Jet Star (the low fare version of Qantas). This confusion was caused by Virgin’s low-cost airline Virgin Blue.
However on seeing my ticket issued from work I was pleasantly surprised to see that my ticket was classified as Business/Premium and with Virgin Australia, not Virgin Blue.
I’m also able to earn some frequent flier miles with Singapore Airlines so that is a bonus too 🙂
My flight was from Brisbane airport to Melbourne on a Sunday morning. In spite of tired morning eyes it was easy to find where to go to check in.
Initial check in was performed on one of those modern touch screen terminals which most airlines seem to use. The odd terminal was out-of-order but this didn’t stop me from finding a free terminal straight away. The check in with Virgin Australia was pretty straightforward.
I then proceeded to the bag drop area. There was quite a long queue at the economy ticket end yet thankfully I skipped most of this and had a short wait at the Business/Premium check in desks.
Certainly the rather large lady in front of me in the queue seemed like a school kid with great excitement. I’m not too sure if this is because she was going to Melbourne, using Business Class or just that she was flying with Virgin Australia.
The staff at check in like at the rest of the journey were very friendly and seemed genuinely interested when they asked how I was “going”.
Airport security did not indicate any preference for business class travellers. This wasn’t a problem because there wasn’t a queue when I arrived and I was straight through.
So off I went to find Gate 41 which is where the Virgin Australia Lounge is based.
On arrival the receptionist enquired if it was the first time that I’d used a Virgin Australia Lounge. It is quite novel for me nowadays to actually say it but my answer was yes.
I’ve flown the UK-based Virgin airlines a number of times and really like their level of service and even their element of quirkiness. However when it comes to Virgin Australia I was definitely a virgin on this occasion.
The Virgin Australia Lounge at Brisbane Airport
The lounge whilst appearing a little smaller than Qantas lounges which I’ve used was very clean and comfortable.
Okay I appreciate it was Sunday morning but thankfully the lounge was not overcrowded, as I tend to find lounges in the US can often be.
There were a number of screens showing sport (Aussies love their sport) and news channels. There were also plenty of flight information screens.
It was close to 10 am so a breakfast buffet was available.
Food included cereal.
A range of cheese and fruit.
Hot pancakes at the touch of a button.
There were also a range of cookie style biscuits and some apples.
Drinks included orange or apple juice plus a carbonated drinks dispenser.
The lounge even had a barista service. I didn’t choose to opt for this. I find ordering coffee in Australia so confusing as they have so many options and nothing is quite as straightforward as ordering a coffee at home.
There is also a bar which is available from 11 am.
The lounge had free wi-fi and a few spare computer terminals for those who didn’t have a computer or tablet with them.
I found the wi-fi relatively quick and reliable. I was informed of the password on arrival (before I even enquired about wi-fi). There were also a few visible signs with the password just in case you forgot it.
I’m also pleased to report that I was able to just fit my plug with international adaptor into the power socket. This is a bit of a gripe of mine since Qantas lounges tend to place the plug socket right beside the floor and international travel adaptors never have enough room to fit into the socket.
So after a relaxing stay in the lounge I was now ready to catch one of these!
My Virgin Australia flight experience
Boarding was quick and organised. On board staff certainly seemed very jolly, I don’t remember a moment when the two stewards in my part of the cabin didn’t have a smile on their face.
The décor inside was of a novel Virgin style with plenty of red and blue. The Business Class cabin was just eight seats and they were wide and comfortable. Some airlines don’t give you anywhere near as much room on short-haul so Virgin definitely scores points for this.
The plane didn’t have fitted TV screens in the Business Class cabin so I was offered the use of a Virgin Australia Galaxy Tablet.
The tablet was pre set with Virgin Australia branding and pre loaded with a selection of audio-visual options. No games though.
Whilst there were movies, TV shows and music I found the selection relatively uninspiring. They did offer (as you can see on the left hand side above) an episode of An Idiot Abroad so I was happy to watch an episode I’ve seen before.
Having the tablet was okay but a little bit of an issue when this arrived.
Thankfully the seat beside me was free so I was able to move the tablet and continue to watch Karl Pilkington. By the way the food was very nice.
The flying time was just over 2 hours and it was all in all a very comfortable experience. To be honest I’ve never had a problem with Qantas and I found the two comparable and couldn’t really pick a favourite between the two of them for domestic flights.
Well I suppose I’ve overcome the Virgin issue and have now taken my first flight with Virgin Australia.