Although most prefer redeeming points for longer flights, using your points for shorter domestic flights is still a good option. The extra space, vastly improved food and beverage offerings and personalised service make Virgin Australia’s B737 Business Class experience great.
This article reviews my flight from Hobart to Canberra (stopping in Melbourne) onboard Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737-800 Business Class. Although I purchased this flight outright, you can upgrade from Economy on this route for only 9,800 Velocity points on a Freedom fare or 20K points on a Getaway or Elevate fare. For a points redemption, it would be 31K points and $20 in taxes.
Alternatively you can also use Etihad Guest Miles to redeem Virgin Australia business class — Read our Etihad Guest Miles Guide here.
In this post:
Ground Service & Lounge
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 12:35 PM, however, we had been delayed due to weather in Melbourne delaying our inbound aircraft. Nonetheless, Virgin Australia were forthcoming about delays, notifying me via text and at check-in.
Check-in itself was quick and only took around 5 minutes using the “Priority” queue.
Business Class passengers are able to access Virgin Australia lounges, however there is no lounge at Hobart airport. Unfortunately, our delay meant we did not have time to visit the Business Class lounge in Melbourne, due to our now 15-minute connection.
Virgin Australia B737 Business Class Cabin & Seat
At the door, I was greeted in a professional manner by the cabin supervisor with a friendly “Welcome back, Mr Goward” before turning right into the business class cabin.
The Business Class cabin is arranged in a 2-2 layout with a total of just 8 seats. This means that you should receive fast and personal service.
The seats are quite comfortable, although the width is on the small side when compared to other airlines. I found the legroom to be excellent, being able to fully extend my legs out (I am 5’11” tall).
The all-leather recliners feature great fully-adjustable headrests.
One criticism of this seat is that the tray table folds out from the armrest, and is not strong enough to support a tray of food when fully unfolded. When attempting to cut food, the tray table buckles at the centre.
If you plan to sleep you should go for row 2, this way you can recline without bothering anyone (the bulkhead is spaced so you can fully recline). Row 2 also allows you to store a bag under the seat in front if you don’t want to put it in the overhead bins.
Row 1 is the best for legroom, although storage is limited to the overhead bins and small pocket on the bulkhead.
Food & Beverage
Before takeoff, our meal order was taken and we were offered a range of welcome beverages including orange juice and sparkling wine. For the first flight, we were offered a Chinese Barbecue Pork dish, and for the second we were given the choice between an Asian Salad or Pork Sausage Rolls.
Both meals were great and served promptly, about 15 minutes after takeoff. Although I have had better meals with Virgin Australia, both were good for short Business Class flights.
Inflight Entertainment & Amenities
To access the IFE system you must bring your own device with the Virgin Australia entertainment app installed before you depart. The app is easy to use and features a good selection of movies, television and podcasts as well as information about your flight.
My aircraft was fitted with an inflight WIFI system. You can check if your flight will have access here (look for the symbol next to the flight number). I found the “standard” package to be perfect for regular use such as Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix etc.
The biggest let down with this seat is the lack of AC or USB power as well as a seatback TV screen, which is especially disappointing when considering that Virgin Australia use the B737 for flights over 6 hours. (newer aircraft have been fitted with seat power)
There is a dedicated toilet for the 8 business passengers. The toilets were well stocked and clean. On flights of over three hours, you should receive an amenities kit, along with a blanket and pillow.
I have flown many times with Virgin Australia and not once have I met a crew member that wasn’t cheerful and welcoming. On my second flight, a draw of plates fell out of the galley as we were taxing before takeoff. The crew handled the issue quickly and professionally, whilst joking to make light of the situation with passengers. The staff were excellent throughout the entire trip, certainly living up to expectations.
Virgin Australia B737 Business Class – Conclusion
Overall the flight was excellent. The seat was very comfortable, the food was fantastic and the staff were extremely friendly. However, the lack of in seat power and seatback TV screen would be a deterrent for longer flights.
(Images © Tom Goward)