Virgin Australia resumes international flying, jetting off to Fiji
Virgin Australia spreads its wings and looks abroad once again.
What we'll be covering
Virgin Australia is back in international skies, with non-stop flights to Fiji taking off from today. Beyond repatriation flights throughout the pandemic, it marks the airline’s first overseas passenger service since March 2020.
With daily flights between Sydney and Nadi, travellers can once again zip to and from Fiji using Velocity Points. Bula!
Virgin Australia is always one to celebrate in style, with a pre-departure event for passengers at Sydney Airport. Point Hacks was there to share in the festivities.
Virgin Australia’s Sydney Airport party
Virgin Australia’s first COVID-era flight from Sydney to Fiji is no ordinary departure.
Greeting travellers at the gate, Fijian-Australian and 2022 Eurovision contestant, Paulini Curuenavuli, hits the high notes. Singing Like a Virgin and a traditional Fijian song, it’s a great way to settle into ‘Fiji time’.
But things don’t stop there. A long-serving member of Virgin Australia’s Melbourne pit crew takes the chance to DJ for travellers, in perhaps an unintentional nod to the airline’s history. Of course, back in its Virgin Blue days, the airline used the airline code ‘DJ’, before switching to ‘VA’.
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka also swings by the mixing desk, momentarily putting her at the helm of both ‘DJ’ and ‘VA’.
With typical Virgin Australia flair, cabin crew take the opportunity to party at the gate with the tunes pumping. Passengers prove equally as enthusiastic, and are up for a chat.
We’re definitely very excited! It feels like we’re pioneering travel again a little bit. It feels almost like back to the early days of travel.
(The whole process) has been very easy and straightforward too, which is nice. I thought the hoops we were going to have to jump through would have been harder than this, but it’s actually been pretty easy.
We’ll get back in time for Christmas – a good way to wrap out the year really. It’s nice to get away again.– Harley Ingleby and Carlos McCarthy, passengers travelling to Fiji with Virgin Australia, 16 December 2021
Cutting the ribbon on Virgin Australia’s international future
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka is ready and raring to mark the return of international flying. Cutting a ceremonial ribbon, it’s about the only time you’ll see a long pair of scissors after airport security.
It’s great to be back at Sydney Airport. I can’t tell you the emotions walking in here today. Everybody around me is feeling the same thing. It’s just great to be able to fly internationally again, to go to Fiji.
Australia is hungry to be open and reconnected. We’re ready.
As the international markets settle down and consumer demand comes back, we can start to see a path towards the new normal. Then we’ll start to figure out where things stand for us to fly directly (beyond Fiji).– Jayne Hrdlicka, Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer, 16 December 2021
Virgin Australia also has an extra surprise for passengers bound for Fiji on this first flight. Just before boarding, travellers learn they’ll all be gifted a free flight anywhere on the Virgin Australia domestic network. Two holidays for the price of one!
Fiji, of course, is the first of several international destinations for the relaunched Virgin Australia. Bali and Queenstown are both on the horizon for 2022, as the airline keeps its focus on short-haul flying for now.
On board Virgin Australia’s international flights
Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737s serve as the springboard for the airline’s international flights, including Fiji. They’re the same aircraft you might expect at the gate for a short domestic hop.
At the front, there’s a cosy Business Class cabin of eight seats. All passengers here enjoy complimentary meals and drinks. Wide seats and generous legroom also make for a comfortable flight.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to Business Class, there’s also Economy X. This covers 30 seats across five rows of the aircraft, all with additional legroom. Expect the same standard of cabin service as Economy Class, but with more room to stretch out.
The rest of the aircraft is given over to Economy Class. The cabin adopts a standard 3-3 configuration, with complimentary tea, coffee and water for all. Just be sure to pack your own device for inflight entertainment. That’s because there are no fixed entertainment screens on these planes. You may be able to access streaming video through the plane’s Wi-Fi intranet. But there’s no access to the broader World Wide Web.
After roughly 22 months as a ‘domestic-only’ airline, Virgin Australia returns as an international carrier. Fiji flights are just the start, with more routes to come.
That’s great news if you’re sitting on a pile of Velocity Points. Both Business Class and Economy Class can be booked using those hard-earned rewards. For Economy X, just make a standard Economy Class booking. Then when it’s time to select seats, choose a perch in Economy X, and pay the fee. Or make sure your Velocity Platinum membership is linked to the booking, to nab yourself an Economy X seat for free.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Sydney as a guest of Virgin Australia. Photography by Chris Chamberlin for Point Hacks and Carly Ravenhall for Virgin Australia.