Review of Virgin Australia flight Melbourne Sydney in Economy

Airline Virgin Australia
Flight VA869
Class Economy
Seat 21A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 01:15
Take-off 23 Nov 23, 18:15
Arrival at 23 Nov 23, 19:30
VA   #64 out of 96 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 73 reviews
Jett Tyler
By GOLD 254
Published on 5th February 2024

Virgin Australia- Branson goes Down Under!


Virgin Australia started out in August 2000 as the first non-European airline venture for Sir Richard Branson, who'd already led UK based Virgin Atlantic to success. He had yet to set up Virgin America and Virgin Nigeria whilst Virgin Express was causing a stir in Belgium.


Initially the airline was set up as Virgin Blue, as a traditional budget airline to disrupt the Australian airline industry which for years had been dominated by Qantas and Ansett Airlines.


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Virgin Blue found themselves taking up the mantle of a leading airline in late 2001 as Ansett Australia suddenly collapsed in the wake of the 9/11 Attacks and subsequent downturn for air travel.


Having kicked off with some older Boeing 737-400, the airline used the "vacuum" left by Ansett to make a huge expansion into the Australian market as well as inking orders for brand new Boeing 737-700 & Boeing 737-800, which still make the backbone of the fleet some 20 years later.


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Branson also helped set up "V-Australia" a long-haul spin-off of Virgin Blue. Both airlines stayed separate until late 2011, when the two airlines merged together to make up one single airline and brand, it also resulted in Virgin Blue being rebranded.


This would become the current Virgin Australia brand we know today. The new airline would use a mix of Boeing 737-NG, Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-300ER in its mainline fleet.


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The 2020 Pandemic shook everything up for Virgin Australia, to prevent its total collapse (similar to what occurred to Ansett in 2001) the airline was sold off to a consortium and restructured into a budget airline, focusing on the short-medium haul operation using Boeing 737-NG and Boeing 737-MAX, the wide-bodies were gone as well as most of the International route network.


So after all is said and done, how is Virgin Australia during the post-pandemic years of the 2020s? Well I was curious to find out and I was not going to skip Virgin Australia during my trip.


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Virgin Australia Lounge at Melbourne Airport


My venture with Virgin Australia started after coming off a Qantas Boeing 737 from Sydney, I was taking the same route back to SYD from MEl albeit on a Virgin example.


I had to go landside at Melbourne Airport and walk through to the Virgin Australia terminal facility at Terminal 3, which was not a long distance by far. Most of the route was done inside, and I quickly made it through the International terminal and into the domestic Terminal for Virgin Australia.



After taking about 20 minutes to clear security I was through to airside, I had noticed a Virgin Australia lounge on my way out of MEL a few days before when I arrived with REX, so I enquired if it would be possible to pay for Lounge Access before my flight to experience that as I had done REX & Qantas lounges on this trip already, be a nice touch to round everyone off, and I was told that I could, luckily the lounge was not too busy.



I accessed the lounge and it look very nice at first glance, I was impressed by the views of the tarmac, just a shame the window seats available were all used up… Still didn't stop me grabbing a nice picture of a Virgin 737 parked right next to the lounge from the Barista Coffee bar!



First port of call was to try out the shower facilities which I found to be very nice. The grey tiles made it look very stone and it made the place look a little on the posh side, a touch of the Virgin Atlantic shining through! The shower products were provided by Appelles, for those who are interested.


After being refreshed by the shower, I went to the Barista café bar and opted to enjoy a chai latte with some dunking biscuits.



Wanting to try something from the buffet area a little later as hot food was offered, I opted to try a serving of soup made with butternut squash and pumpkin, alongside a bread roll rounded off with a GOAT Beer, a brand established in 1997- the same year I was "established"!


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I watched a video on my phone covering the final SAS Boeing 737 flight in Europe which occurred during my trip to Australia, before heading back to the coffee bar to enjoy a final hot chocolate as departure time was crawling in.


Luckily my two hours in the lounge had been extended by a good 45 minutes as this flight was delayed as much as my outbound flight was!



Whilst I would have loved to have covered more of the lounge, I was limited as the place started getting very busy after I showered, so my photo opportunities were limited as not to needlessly annoy anyone with me filming or photographing.


I saw this toward the exit of the Virgin Australia lounge, I found it cheekily amusing and couldn't leave without taking a quick photograph!


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Also before anyone comments, the lounge is listed by the website as "The Virgin Blue Lounge", hence why its being rated under the airline's former brand and not as a Virgin Australia lounge… though technically its the same thing though?


Virgin Australia VA869 (MEL-SYD)



My first proper experience on Virgin Australia was to be hosted on Boeing 737-800 VH-VON, this aircraft was delivered brand new to Virgin Blue in September 2003 under the same registration but named "Scarlett Blue". The airline was not retired during the pandemic during the downsizing like some of its stablemates but during 2011 it was repainted into Virgin Australia identity and renamed "Greenmount Point".


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Boarding eventually got underway and as I was sat toward the back, I was able to board via the aft stairs, which provided an excellent open boarding and some amazing photos of today's star of the report: VH-VON!



Getting into the plane, I was hit with a smidge of "Deja Vu" as it was almost identical to the REX Boeing 737 cabin, mainly as REX acquired some older Boeing 737-800 which Virgin Australia offloaded.


Unlike the REX 737 though, the Virgin 737 I was on provided all the trimmings including their inflight magazine and the menu for their buy on board offerings as well as some travel extras.



We pushed back and taxied to the departure runway. Eventually departing a good hour behind schedule. 


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Whilst filming the take off, my GoPro ran into a problem and it corrupted the file containing my footage of the take off, which annoyed me somewhat, but that's nothing toward the flight and airline. Luckily I took some photos on my phone of the take-off, which preserved some of it.


We had a very scenic route out of Melbourne Tullamarine, as we flew out of Melbourne making a big turn around Sunbury, we then flew across the Australian state of Victoria, but unlike my inbound Qantas flight, we made a diversion around the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) heading North towards the town of Wagga-Wagga before making the course changes toward Sydney as we flew across the state of New South Wales (NSW). I don't recall there being an announcement by the pilots about us flying around weather or a major event occurring in Canberra?



Overall the flight went quite smoothly and there wasn't any issues with turbulence during the flight. The diversion added an extra 10 minutes to the flight, which I found out later on after checking the flight on FR24…


Virgin Australia offered free tea, coffee or water, but anything like snacks, cans of soda or booze was going to cost extra, which I contributed a small amount by buying a Kit-Kat to enhance my free cup of tea… It might be all in my head- but I thought the Australian KitKat chocolates were better than the ones I get in my native UK.



I quickly visited the loo during this flight, and I bagged a quick "Loo Review" pic to showcase the Virgin Australia toilet, which wasn't much to write home about, its as standard as the Boeing 737-NG toilets come!


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Whilst I wasn't able to buy a Virgin Australia Boeing 737 model plane on this flight, I was however able to acquire this cool amenity kit for only $12/AUD (£7) which I've now blissfully retained in my collection!


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We flew in toward Sydney from the South-West, our flight then made a North bound turn to fly parallel to Sydney before turning for final approach just south of Castle Hill and Hornsby, lining us up for landing on Runway 16R.


As we descended through the low cloud, I could barely see Sydney's skyline or the Opera House. I did see the skyline briefly just before we landed and snapped a quick phone picture of it.



We touched down in weather that was even more miserable than the previous afternoon on the Boeing 717 flight I took, but as the rain pelted our Boeing 737-800 the aircraft taxied over to the Domestic Terminal and the Virgin Australia stands so we could depart. By the time we got to stand at SYD we were 50 minutes delayed.


Once most of the other passengers had left, I grabbed my carry on bag and departed the Boeing 737-800 snapping a few more cabin shots of economy class as well as the now vacated business class seats. I then left the plane to find my way back to the Ibis Budget hotel for the night.



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Verdict

Virgin Australia

7.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi5.5
Meal/catering6.5

Virgin Blue The Lounge

7.5/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services8.0

Melbourne - MEL

8.3/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Sydney - SYD

8.8/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Overall it was an overall good inflight experience with Virgin Australia, the flight being delayed was the only major drawback on this short city-to-city flight between the two largest cities in Australia. The lounge was a nice way to spend a few hours before my flight, though if I was a local Australian flyer I wouldn't pay all the time to use the lounge.
Overall it seems Virgin has it together (at least in economy class) for a stronger future post-pandemic for better and for worse.

Information on the route Melbourne (MEL) Sydney (SYD)

Les contributeurs de Flight-Report ont posté 34 avis concernant 4 compagnies sur la ligne Melbourne (MEL) → Sydney (SYD).


Useful

La compagnie qui obtient la meilleure moyenne est Qantas avec 7.8/10.

La durée moyenne des vols est de 1 heures et 43 minutes.

  More information

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