Trip Report: Brand New Virgin Australia 737-800

"Bondi Beach" at Sydney Airport
On May 9th, 2011 I turned up at my gate at Sydney's Kingsford Smith to find the plane that was being for the 1hr 36min DJ 818 servic to Melbourne was one of Virgin Australia's brand new 737s: VH-YFC
called: "Bondi Beach".

The plane had landed in Australia four days before, the day that Virgin Blue became Virgin Australia.

I was seated up front in Seat 1A which is  one of Virgin Australia's brand new business class seats (Virgin Blue started as a one class airline). There are eight such seats on the plane -two on each side.

A very stylish plexiglass screen separates Business class from the Main cabin. It looks similar to the Virgin America layout which I love*. In Main cabin: are 168 Virgin Australia "next generation economy seats".  These seats are made by aircraft interior company B/E Aerospace. The lighting is really well done and makes the plane feel bigger.

The flight was very comfortable - I slept for most of it (even thought it was short). Meals, drinks and water are complimentary upfront on Virgin and the new menus are good. You still pay in economy for meals (unlike Qantas which still gives free domestic and international meals. Some Velocity Gold members have reported being given "freebies" in Economy. Anyone able to confirm or deny this?

"Bondi Beach" at Melbourne Airport
It was a very fun flight with a group of very excited cabin staff flying their first flight on this new plane.  I am not a huge fan of the 737 but this one feels amazing. As two of the staff said "we feel like a proper airline now"

They are right. These new planes are a key part of a strategy to capture more business traffic. I have become a huge fan of V Australia and if Virgin Australia emulate their international offshoot, then I will become their fan too! I am looking forward to my August flight to Perth on their brand new coast to coast A330 service (although puzzled why they have begun mixing aircraft types- Ansetts' big mistake)

Ironic that Qantas continues to go down market as Virgin goes up. One wonders if they should have swapped CEOs? Thats another story.

One final question: Why did Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue choose "Virgin Australia" as their new name and not "Virgin Pacific"? Virgin Pacific would complement Virgin Atlantic and it makes more sense to have a flights operating between Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand with "Pacific" on the tail and not just "Australia". Any comments on this?

*Virgin America and JetBlue are my two favourite US airlines

2 Responses
  1. Tom W Says:

    Nice review, unfortunately I didn't get this on the same route.
    Some things I'd like though is more hot food options on board and in the lounge.
    Although Virgin Pacific sounds nice, I'd assume the identity 'Virgin Australia' would be much better at establishing it as an iconic Australian brand.

  2. Sorry Tom re not getting the plane. Thanks for the feedback and comment. Much appreciated. I take your point re Virgin Australia v Virgin Pacific. VA themselves said they got good positive feedback on the Australia name. Whatever they do in the Pacific (and we know a NZ foray will not be part of thei expansion), Australia will remain their biggest market.

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