Review of Virgin Australia flight Brisbane Canberra in Economy

Airline Virgin Australia
Flight VA1206
Class Economy
Seat 12A
Aircraft Fokker 100
Flight time 02:00
Take-off 28 Oct 23, 06:30
Arrival at 28 Oct 23, 09:30
VA   #65 out of 96 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 73 reviews
CX146
By 287
Published on 30th October 2023

Welcome aboard a very compact F100, and a very compact F100 trip report.

It was late August 2023 when I came across an odd charge checking one of my credit card bills. $450 dollars? What? I literally don’t use this card, what the hell? I will admit I felt like an absolute clown when I realised it was the annual fee coming due on the card. Although I was now 450 dollars out of pocket, it meant I had the opportunity to redeem my complimentary round trip! I’ll be absolutely honest with you and admit that I forgot to check the cash price – however when looking on google flights a week below, this same trip was going for $878 aussie dollarydoos, so I consider the redemption a win.

Now my favourite thing to do with these “complimentary flights” is generally to go as far as possible and normally that would mean Darwin – circa 1771 miles and roughly 3 to 3 and a half hours of torturous flying on a 737. Unfortunately I struggled this trip with finding a reasonable flight schedule, or in fact, any flights between Brisbane and Darwin that were covered under the card’s complimentary flight policy.
So I ended up ticking another rarer aircraft off the list… The Fokker 100, although not the smaller 70 Series is definitely a rarer aircraft these days outside of Aus. Alliance Airlines operates approximately 37 of the joint type, which are used on their own operations, as well as on behalf of Virgin Australia, with Virgin Australia Regional Airlines formerly operating the type in combination with ATR-72s in a variety of routes. No use covering legroom being in an exit row, suffice to say I believe these Fokker aircraft are configured pretty comfortably compared to their VA companions.


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On a side note, I really enjoy all the whinging and moaning online about VA’s lounges, the raft of Karen’s with their gold status expecting champagne and caviar who really need to stop and remind themselves that VA in its current state is basically a hybrid budget airline. One can easily snag gold status and lounge access with 6 or so sectors, four of which in business class. I think I first did it for c. $1400 dollarydoos when prices were at rock bottom? Pretty achievable isn’t it. Now honestly, in my experience, the lounge is acceptable, the Qantas Club in Brisbane, although significantly larger, doesn’t really offer a better value proposition in my opinion. With a the duopoly in the Australian aviation industry there really isn’t much incentive for either party to push the envelope. Rex is the third player in this kind of market, however all three operate in different segments:

- Qantas operates as the full fare, full service carrier. You incur a significant premium domestically travelling with them, and in my opinion it is absolutely not worth it. Personally I refuse to fly internationally or domestically on them unless it is via a redemption ticket, even then I have to really ponder its worth. They full service offering is an absolute shadow of its former self domestically. Being based in Brisbane, their international routing is also a joke. QF15 between Bris and LA is run by A330-200s that feel like they’re straight out of 2009, prior to the pandemic the 787 operated this route, massive massive downgrade.
- Virgin – also a shadow of its former self, prior to the pandemic Virgin, Virgin Regional and VA International had a growing route network, and was finally showing itself as a proper competitor to Qantas. Post-pandemic, their domestic routing feels almost recovered, but they are yet to entertain international expansion (I really hope this comes post IPO). As it stands currently, they solely exist and operate in hopes driving the IPO price up as much as possible before Bain’s exit.
- Rex – Now I have not flown rex, but have only heard fantastic things. Their jet offering is also an effect of the pandemic, with flight offerings beginning in … with the airline acquiring ex VA 737s. Pricing is incredibly competitive and seems to go toe to toe with VA. Rex also has an extensive domestic network served with SAAB 340s – Noel’s video showing the milkrun, and even running into CBRFlyer (I think it was CBRFlyer) shows a good insight into the traditional role of the carrier domestically. They’ve just announced a loyalty program (finally) and have an active partnership with Delta. A large portion of Australia’s population hoped that this would shake up the industry and force action on QF and VA’s part, but it has been disrupted by slow role out of new routing, staffing issues etc – but jet operations have begun to show profitability. Keep an eye out for trip report on them in the future. 


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I ran into VA's first 737 Max 8 (or 737-8 however you want to name it) before it headed off on its morning run up to Cairns. Would love to try this one out, really pushing the envelope would be trying out their CNS-HND offering.


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Today's aircraft is VH-FGB, a 30 year old Fokker 100 originally delivered to American Airlines in 1993. Its most recent configuration before Alliance was with Austrian Airlines, hence the red accents across the cabin!

Although not the smaller 70 Series is definitely a rarer aircraft these days outside of Aus. Alliance Airlines operates approximately 37 of the joint type, which are used on their own operations, as well as on behalf of Virgin Australia, with Virgin Australia Regional Airlines formerly operating the type in combination with ATR-72s in a variety of routes. No use covering legroom being in an exit row, these aircraft are tired. Very tired. They need a nap, or retirement. Hopefully the latter - so good to get a trip in on them before they're gone.


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Seating was old and tired, much like the aircraft itself. No IFE is offered, tea and coffee is however complimentary.


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Dust and dirt was everywhere, with tape and even a tissue being utilised in the side panel….


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Exit row legroom - you should note that there is a handle placed somewhat annoyingly on the window to help with its removal that will get in the way. Still better than one of the cheap seats!


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Bathroom was small and quite dirty, I don't even what to think what I've got on the bottom of my shoes now…. bit frustrating as this was early into the flight after an overnight layover….


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Overall an okay flight on an interesting aircraft - happy to say that I've flown on this one! I think I will look out for the VA 737 or the QF E190 in future.


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Verdict

Virgin Australia

2.8/10
Cabin4.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi0.0
Meal/catering0.0

Brisbane - BNE

7.3/10
Efficiency7.0
Access6.5
Services7.0
Cleanliness8.5

Canberra - CBR

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Overall an okay flight - as I mentioned above in future I will definitely seek out more modern aircraft....

Cheers

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1 Comments

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  • Comment 638807 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6573 Comments
    Cool to see a review on the Fokker 100! They're so rare these days everywhere else in the world, but still going in 'Straya! Definitely looking old and beat up on the inside. I can't see these getting new cabins so they'll need to be retired soon. The one good thing about the Fokkers is they have huge legroom compared to other aircraft these days.

    I found the comment about the Karens and the VA lounges hilarious and not surprising in the least. VA are not what they used to be and honestly people should be happy they even have lounges period anymore. With the shift back to their LCC roots, I could have easily seen them get rid of Business class and lounges, but they've kept them--albeit in a downgraded form. VA were on the brink of disappearing altogether, which would have been terrible for competition in the domestic Australian market, where prices are already high.

    Thanks for sharing!

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