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Virgin Australia A330 Business Class Review – Brisbane to Perth

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Following from my previous review of using Qantas to get to New Zealand, we decided to use Virgin Australia to get back to Perth. We definitely didn’t have enough Velocity Frequent Flyer points to fly everyone back, so some creativity was required.

The backstory first: I was fortunate to have $500 in travel credit with Virgin Australia after a previous overnight Business Class flight from Perth to Melbourne was downgraded from an Airbus A330 with the new seats to a Boeing 737 with recliner chairs.

Breakfast

Light breakfast on the Boeing 737 red-eye flight from Perth to Melbourne in 2015

This was just after they had launched ‘The Business’ in 2015, so I don’t think they are that generous now. My initial compensation was 30,000 Velocity points + $250 travel credit, but after difficulties with my Velocity account, they just gave me $500 instead.

My dad and I would be flying back to Perth first, so armed with this, I decided to buy full-price, flexible Economy Class tickets from Wellington to Perth via Brisbane and take advantage of the reduced upgrade rate of 9,900 points to Business Class per leg.

Knowing that upgrades book into reward seat inventory, I first made sure there was availability for our upgrades, then booked the flexi-Economy tickets for about $770 per person. We then immediately spent four lots of 9,900 points to upgrade both flights to Business Class for two people, at a final cost of 39,600 points.

Points cost

The aircraft: Airbus A330

Virgin Australia has six A330s, each fitted with 20 ‘The Business’ seats. These planes are most commonly seen on the Perth to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane routes, although that will decrease later in 2017 when some of them are redirected to Perth – Abu Dhabi and possibly Australia – Hong Kong/China routes.

The seats themselves are in the popular reverse herringbone layout over five rows. Middle seats have a retractable privacy divider. For the nitty gritty on the rest of the seat features, see our Virgin Australia A330 Business Class overview.

Pre-flight in Wellington

Our journey began at Wellington International Airport, where the friendly Air New Zealand agent checked in my family with great humour.

Virgin Australia Wellington Check-In

We were given Express Path passes and directed to the Air New Zealand Lounge. There was a reasonable buffet spread and I fixed myself a light lunch.

Express Path and Black Bean Beef

Express Path pass / Black bean beef with rice, mushroom soup, finger sandwiches

Our first flight, VA107 from Wellington to Brisbane on a Boeing 737, was uneventful. The main meal was a chicken satay which was very delicious; I could have easily devoured another.

Chicken Satay

Upon arrival in Brisbane, we couldn’t use our Express Path passes because we were declaring food at Customs. But we promptly retrieved our bags and re-checked them at the Domestic Transfer counter before catching the transfer bus to the Domestic Terminal.

Brisbane Priority Check-in

Pre-flight in Brisbane

Unburdened by our check-in bags, we headed straight for the Premium Entry.

Premium Entry

Directly to the right was a private security lane, and within minutes we were up the escalator into the VA Brisbane Lounge.

Premium Entry 1

An impressive entrance!

Like most of VA’s other lounges, this is light and airy.

Premium Entry 2

It wasn’t too busy on a Friday night. Being a weeknight, they did have some hot supper out, which was a welcome break from the usual salads.

Lounge Buffet

A pumpkin soup and a risotto on offer

Onboard

I took the middle seat 2D, with my dad adjacent in 2G. We were promptly served drinks by the charismatic cabin crew.

Since we boarded early, I asked for (and received) a cheeky ramekin of crisps from ‘The Pantry’ menu to munch on before takeoff.

Chips

The Business cabin was quite empty on this flight, with only about six seats taken out of twenty. We lucked out with our upgrade!

Empty Business Cabin

Dining

Hot towels were passed out just before the starters were served. Here was the menu for the flight:

Onboard Menu

Starters commenced with the king prawns and corn salsa. I’d had this dish on a previous flight, but this time the chipotle sauce was very hot!

Prawns

While I don’t normally like the taste of salmon or trout, I decided to try this since it sounded more interesting than the chicken. And I was right – the quality and presentation of that dish beat anything I’ve ever had on Qantas (or Cathay Pacific), in my opinion.

image alt text

Just WOW!

Unfortunately, my dad was not expecting this level of dining and had eaten too much in the lounge. He passed me his main of the corn-fed chicken breast, which I took a few bites of.

Corn-fed Chicken

We finished off the meal with a rich flourless chocolate cake. The crème fraîche tasted a bit sour to me, but it was still a yummy dessert.

Rich flourless chocolate cake

You might be able to tell from my previous reviews that I love to focus on food. Once again, Virgin Australia blew me away with their catering on the Perth – East Coast flights.

Now full to the brim and with three hours still left to kill (the Brisbane – Perth route is one of the longest domestic ones, topping out at 5½ hrs), I reclined my seat into a bed, snuggled into the comfortable doona, and had a lazy nap the rest of the way to Perth.

Laying Down

Laying down for a comfy snooze at a spare seat by the window

Summing up

As this was my fifth Virgin Australia flight in ‘The Business’, I’ve become very familiar with the service flow and dining. However, each time, I’m constantly reminded by just how good everything is.

I really feel they pull out all the stops for their Airbus A330 routes. It is an exceptionally enjoyable and great value experience, either by upgrading or redeeming points outright.

The cabin crew on all the flights have been really good as well, so no complaints there.

I will be sad to see the frequency of these services decrease on domestic routes this year, so it is definitely worth it to try and book on the remaining available Airbus A330 flights.

Supplementary images courtesy Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia A330 Business Class Review – Brisbane to Perth was last modified: December 4th, 2017 by Brandon Loo

Comments Expand Comments

  1. Misch

    Hi Brandon,
    Did you have success flying BNE-PER on VA476 by any chance? I recently booked this flight advertised as “The Business” (Booked in May 2017 and it is still sold as “The Business”) for the flatbed seat.
    When I checked in online the seat selection was that of the 737 plane (meaning 8 seats in business with recline functionality only). Virgin does add a small disclaimer that in unexpected events the airplane might be changed, but I was hopeful that this wouldn’t happen.

    In the lounge I asked if there had been unexpected plane changes and was told that there were none. Upon boarding it turned out that there was indeed the 737 and not the Airbus! I asked the flight attendant if the airplane had been changed from Airbus to the 737 and was told that this route for the past 6 weeks was serviced with the 737 and there was no change of plane.

    3 other people in business also asked if the plane had changed stating that they had booked “the business” on purpose instead of the earlier flight. We were advised that this route was being sold as “the business” but infact was always planned to be serviced with 737 aircrafts.

    Seems dodgy to me that Virgin can falsely advertise this ticket as a flatbed seat when it is a recline only seat!

    • Brandon Author

      Hi there Misch,

      Unfortunately the Brisbane Perth route is the least serviced by the A330.

      If at booking selection, the aircraft was a 737 with 8 seats, then it’s definitely not ‘the business’. I think it might have been an IT glitch on their website, but still unacceptable.

      In your case, you would have booked onto a 737 flight and at no point were you ever going to get onto an A330.

      There’s really not much that can be done for this, apart from booking a connecting flight via Sydney or Melbourne which does feature their A330’s more regularly.

  2. MattJ

    The crème fraîche has ruined the desert for me too on a few occasions… was it orange flavor? I’ve had something with orange on it which was a delight!

    Might have to remember no crème fraîche next time!

  3. Lee walker

    Do you have any idea when they will start decreasing these planes on the domestic routes? I’ve got four trips to Perth in the next couple of months, so will look to use my remaining complimentary upgrades and points for these.

    • Well AusBT were reporting that Hong Kong may start in June, with the route announced in March (Melbourne or Sydney). Assuming they don’t get any new aircraft to operate that, that’s at least one plane gone from then. Perth – Abu Dhabi is starting at some point soon and I think that’s on an A330 too. In short – go for it ASAP!

  4. Matt

    I have been lucky enough to use a platinum upgrade a few times on work trips on coast to coast flights and agree that the food is exceptionally good. On one flight it was a duck curry which was honestly one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten. And I’m including fancy restaurants in that list! I’ve got enough points that I’ve booked our honeymoon flights on business class later this year but unfortunately schedules mean we only fly the A330 on the outbound leg. I hope the B737 food is just as good even if the cabin isn’t.

    • Brandon Loo Author

      The B737 menus are the same as the A330’s on coast to coast flights, but you’ll get less choice (one less main course to choose froom).

      With the menu in the article, the things marked with an asterisk (ocean trout and Nespresso) aren’t available on the 737.

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