Having flown Virgin Australia’s A330 business class suite more than 10 times since it launched, I’ve never gotten around to actually reviewing it on Flight hacks. When Morgan emailed me asking if he could share his recent experience on Virgin Australia, of course I said yes.
It turns out Morgan is 14 years old and already a savvy frequent flyer! His job at the local IGA allowed him to splurge on a premium bid upgrade which he successfully won for $490 flying from Perth to Sydney. I’ve taken the liberty to add in some photo’s I’ve taken over the years but other than that… over to you Morgan!
Virgin Australia A330-200 “The Business” Review Perth To Sydney
Booking The Flight:
I already had an economy ticket booked on Virgin Australia (Perth to Sydney) on an elevate fare using cash. I wanted to upgrade to business class so started exploring different ways to do so. As I was on an elevate fare, upgrading using my points would have been a waste of points, considering it was 30,000 points to upgrade + my original $360 ticket. And the I could have booked a confirmed business reward ticket from the start for about 35,500 points (plus about $20 in taxes and fees, or 38,700 points outright, no taxes or fees).
I investigated Virgin Australia’s ‘upgrade me’ premium bid system, which essentially lets you bid a cash amount of your choosing (in-between a minimum and maximum amount, go to VA’s website for the specifics) for a spare seat in a premium class (premium economy only on international flights). The highest bidders get the spare seats (though not all seats are made available, go to VA’s website to see if you are eligible). I checked my eligibility and was eligible! I put in a bid of $490 (it had to be in-between $300-$600), then three days before my flight I got an email saying my upgrade to business class had been successful (if your upgrade is not successful you will receive an email stating this).
- Virgin Australia Flight VA552Perth (PER) – Sydney (SYD)
- 27 December 2017
- 4 Hours 10 Minutes
- Depart: 05:35
- Arrive: 12:45
- Aircraft: A330-200
- Seat: 3K (Business Class)
Virgin Australia Business Class Pre flight:
VA operates out of T1 at Perth airport, which is otherwise used for international departures. After self-checking in and dropping my bag I headed up to security. As I was flying business class I could use VA priority screening, though the line in the normal queue was non-existent anyway.
(The first few pictures were taken on my phone, and then I switched to my Canon Eos 550d for the majority of the review.)
After clearing security to the left I found the VA lounge. Whilst I am not doing a lounge review, in summary, it’s a solid, above average lounge with good seating options,
natural light, decent food, fast wifi, showers and the best feature is the barista who can freshly make coffees, hot chocolates or other hot drinks.
Boarding didn’t start until 5:20 am and there was a priority line for business class passengers, gold and platinum members of VA’s Velocity frequent flyer program and the equivalent status on Virgin’s partner airlines (e.g. Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Delta, Air New Zealand).
At the door, I was welcomed by two flight attendants and directed towards the business class cabin and the aisle on the far side of the plane, I walked past the cockpit to my seat 3K.
VA has B/E Aerospace Super Diamond reverse herringbone business class seats on their A330’s (1-2-1 configuration meaning all passengers receive direct aisle access and the seats convert into a fully a lie-flat seat). These are widely regarded as one of the best business class seats. There are five rows of seats in one cabin,in total 20 business class seats.
VA’s finishes are super stylish and sleek, I far prefer their designs to other airlines. VA has a privacy shell that wraps around the seat with a wing coming out the side and when you combine that with the fact that the seats are angled away from the aisle they are really private seats. I far prefer this design to Qatar’s as theirs is more open and doesn’t have as much privacy and lacks any sort of shell or privacy wing/widget.
Already at my seat was a purple small-medium sized rectangular pillow, which was great for lounging and sitting in the seat, though the pillow was pretty bad for sleeping as it was quite thin. I was also offered a great blanket which was large, soft and not too thick. That being said, on red eye flights to and from Perth between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne more substantial bedding is offered with mattress pads, duvets and large thick pillows.
Several storage areas are located throughout the seat. Two on the inner side of the seat, when pulled up, you will find that one houses the entertainment controller and the other has a reasonably deep storage area as well as a USB port, 110v power outlet and headphone adaptor/plug. Above, there is a magazine holder already housing the in-flight magazine and safety card. Next to that is a compartment for storing tablets or even phones especially while charging.
Also on the inner side of the seat is an additional armrest and next to this are the seat controls which were easy to use. Beside that is the in-seat reading light, which was quite bright (to turn off, select off in the controls panel or just push the light in).
On the outer side of the seat there is an armrest which can be moved up or down (it can’t be moved in between, only fully up or fully down). Inside this is a compartment which houses a pair of good quality noise-cancelling headphones.
In front is the entertainment screen which is fairly high resolution. A decent sized movie selection is available but it overall it wasn’t fantastic, the flight show was at least OK. The tray table is also in front and to release you pull it towards you. You can either keep it folded or fold it out to create a table double the size.
Once I settled into my seat a flight attendant (the lovely Carla) came by and introduced herself and said that she would be taking care of me. She then offered me a pre-departure beverage with a choice of still water, sparkling water, orange juice and apple juice.
About 5 minutes later the cabin supervisor Poppy came by my seat, shook my hand, welcomed me aboard, introduced himself (as he did with all other business class passengers individually) and told me the estimated flight time of around 3 hours and 50 minutes.
Carla came back to ask if I had flown Virgin Australia business class before and if I would like to be shown the features of the seat, which I gladly obliged to. She handed me the menu for the flight and said she would take my order just before takeoff.
We were delayed on the ground for about 30 minutes which was announced by the captain over the PA. Poppy also came to personally tell each passenger (in business class) separately of the delay and kept providing us with updates. Carla then came by to take my breakfast order. I ordered the yoghurt and muesli, the egg tortilla wrap along with a glass of water and orange juice. At this point, Carla also offered the blanket I mentioned earlier.
At around 6:15 am we started our pushback and taxi to the runway during which the safety video was screened. As Virgin’s domestic terminal is next to the international terminal, we taxied past a fair bit of international traffic, including a Singapore Airlines A330 that I was on only two weeks prior!
After a relatively short five-minute taxi we were on the runway and cleared for takeoff. We were treated to a spectacular view of Perth city and its surroundings, especially the new stadium. During takeoff, I browsed the entertainment selection, which was not as good as I was expecting. About 8 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and we were at cruising altitude.
The meal service started about 25 minutes into the flight, my table was set and I was given the water and juice I had ordered. The yoghurt and muesli were brought out along with a selection of bread; I chose a classic white roll. This was all placed directly onto my table, no trays or carts were used which is fantastic. I also love the detail of the Sydney Opera House salt and pepper shakers.
I didn’t love the muesli and yoghurt, but the egg and bacon and bean tortilla wrap was delicious and I absolutely enjoyed it. I was also offered more bread from the bread basket and selected a croissant. When I finished my breakfast, Carla instantly cleared my plate and glasses.
After breakfast, I headed to the lavatory to change into some more comfortable clothes. I then reclined my seat into a fully flat bed, closed the window shades and tried to get some rest. The seat in flatbed mode (though it could be softer) was quite comfortable, the foot area is large and wasn’t restrictive. They are very private thanks to the seat being angled away from the aisle and more importantly have a high large privacy shell.
I lay half asleep in the bed for half an hour and realised I wasn’t getting any actual sleep…it was 8:00 in the morning and I had just slept the night before! This didn’t particularly bother me as I just wanted to test out the bed.
After I got up from my rest, I decided to order something off “the pantry” snacks menu, I pushed the call button and was promptly answered within 30 seconds. I ordered a glass of coke with ice and a chocolate bar. Although, I feel I should also note that the second time I pushed the call button, it took 5 minutes to be answered which was disappointing.
Whilst watching TV, writing notes some notes and doing a bit of work, the crew passed through the aisle twice with a snack basket offering chips, popcorn, chocolate, muesli bars etc. I selected a bag of chips and at the suggestion of the flight attendant some caramel popcorn for something sweet to go along with it (why not!), once again great service.
Once the captain announced we would be beginning our descent into Sydney shortly, I went to the lavatory to freshen up and asked the crew for some water and was offered a bottle.
Eventually we came into view of the beautiful Sydney coastline. After a smooth descent, the plane touched down at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport where we had a short 5-minute taxi to the gate.
Virgin Australia A330 Business Class Conclusion:
Overall this was a fantastic flight! The seats were top notch, the food was great, though the thing that made the flight so fantastic was the crew. They were amazing and gave attentive service with warm kind genuine hospitality. Highly, highly recommend this product.