I’ve just returned from a breathtaking trip to Uluṟu – the type of adventure that will remain seared in my memory for years to come. But more on that another time. Today, we’re jumping to the ending.

Virgin Australia has just launched new routes from Melbourne and Brisbane to Uluṟu. On our way back to Melbourne, I was given the opportunity to try out Virgin Australia’s revamped winter menu and also see how the Business Class experience has evolved since my last review in 2021.

Ready to board Virgin Australia’s flight back to Melbourne.

Check-in and boarding

If you’re taking the transfer service from the nearby Ayers Rock Resort, you might want to try getting on the coach early and sitting near the front. With a whole busload of passengers flooding the check-in desks, you could be standing there for a while. Luckily, there is a priority check-in line for Business Class passengers (but even that fills up).

If you’re driving yourself over, I suggest heading to the airport after the rush of resort passengers. For this 5 p.m. departure, you should look at getting in after 3 p.m. since the transfer service arrives at 2:30 p.m.

There’s not much to do after security, and there’s certainly no lounge here for any airline. If you’re peckish, the terminal has a small café selling warm and cold snacks.

As usual, priority boarding is enforced for Business Class and other eligible passengers – I’d much rather spend more time settling into my seat with a glass of bubbly!

Seat and cabin layout

Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737-800s are the airline’s workhorse. This time, we’re flying on one of the airline’s newer jets, which features the modern Boeing Sky Interior, AC charging ports in Business Class, and Wi-Fi.

The oversized leather recliners come in a 2-2 layout over two rows. My preference (especially on the longer transcontinental flights to/from Perth) is Row 2, as I can stretch my legs out further, recline my seat guilt-free and keep my bag stowed under the seat in front.

But today, I’m in 1F, and there’s still enough legroom. Putting my bag up isn’t too much of a hassle, either.

Food and beverages

Pre-departure drinks

While my recent Qantas domestic Business Class flights have been hit-and-miss with a pre-departure drink, Virgin Australia still consistently offers water or sparkling wine before take-off. It’s a small ‘tradition’ that I always appreciate – one of the small, simple ways to elevate the short-haul Business Class experience.

Once we’re in the air and the sun casts its golden hues through the windows, the cabin crew come around to offer another round of drinks before dinner. I’m still enjoying the buzz of the sparkling wine, so who am I to refuse a top-up? It sparkles in the sunset as I re-read Catching Fire on my Kindle.


Soon, it’s time for dinner. Virgin Australia’s new winter menu features hearty, warming dishes. Today’s flight has a cheese tortellini or butter chicken with rice and naan. If you’re after some comfort food, the mildly spiced butter chicken is sure to please – I demolish it in no time. It comes with cheese and crackers, and a small brownie.

It’s a saucy dish that reheats well, and the rice and naan aren’t overcooked either. Virgin Australia’s food presentation has consistently received top marks from me over the years, as the crew still individually plates and garnishes each dish.

With dinner, I enjoy a glass of St Hallett Black Clay Shiraz 2022 – a tasty, full-bodied drop that’s perfect for flying. But if you fancy something else, here’s the beverage list on this flight:

  • Sparkling wine: Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV
  • Red wine: St Hallett Black Clay Shiraz 2022, Petaluma Pinot Noir 2023
  • White wine: Wise Wolf Chardonnay 2023, Tatachilla White Admiral Pinot Grigio 2023
  • Beer: Green Beacon Wayfarer Tropical Pale Ale, Pure Blonde
  • Spirits: Johnnie Walker Red, Bundaberg Bourbon, Gordon’s Gin, Vodka
  • Soft drinks: Coca-Cola mixers and soft drinks, still and sparkling water
  • Tea: Jasmine, Green Tea, Peppermint, Earl Grey, English Breakfast
  • Coffee: Filter coffee

Whilst you’ll usually find me trying various wines onboard, there’s also something to be said about a warming cup of herbal tea in proper tea cups. It’s now another one of my rituals when I fly VA Business.


Virgin Australia also offers complimentary snacks in Business. The onboard pantry is stocked with:

  • Crisps
  • Rice crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Byron Bay Choc Macademia cookies
  • Tim Tams
  • Biscoffs

For a 2-hour 30-minute flight, I certainly wouldn’t want or need any more food or drinks.

Wi-Fi, entertainment and service

Not all of Virgin Australia’s fleet is fitted with Wi-Fi, but when it works, it works well. Business Class passengers can access fast, free connectivity simply by entering their last name and seat number. I run a speed test onboard and it delivers a reasonable 1.5 Mbps in download speeds and a high 9 Mbps in uploads.

Each seat comes outfitted with an AC power port (no USB, though). With my multi-functional AC adaptor, the seat delivers enough juice to keep my phone and laptop running smoothly.

I spend the rest of the flight comfortably working (when in Business Class…), but Virgin Australia also offers free streaming entertainment to all passengers. You just have to connect to the onboard WiFi and follow the prompts to access it on your mobile, laptop or tablet.

There’s ample content to watch, including new releases (Dune 2, Anyone But You), full TV seasons, audio, podcasts, the moving map and more.

The Customer Service Manager (CSM) on this flight is Chris. He looks after the Business Class cabin on his own, very efficiently and with a smile.

On arrival

Another perk of Virgin Australia Business Class is that all passengers can use on-arrival access to Virgin-operated lounges for up to 60 minutes. These days, I use this benefit to have a quick drink or freshen up before my bag hits the carousel. The Virgin Australia Melbourne lounge is serving salads and a light dinner when we land.

Thanks to Virgin’s integrated baggage tracking on the app, I also know exactly when my bag starts to whiz around on the luggage belt downstairs, so that’s my cue to head out.

In comparison, Qantas offers domestic on-arrival lounge access to its Platinum members, not those in Business Class without Platinum (or higher) status.

How to book this flight with points

If you’re angling to fly to Australia’s spiritual centre in comfort yourself, I’ve got some good news. The Melbourne-Uluṟu flight just scrapes into ‘Zone 2’ of the Velocity reward table by a mere 15 miles.

You can redeem a Business Class seat outright from 23,500 Velocity Points + fees and taxes. Want to upgrade? It’s only 7,400 points from an Economy Flex fare or 17,500 points from an Economy Choice ticket.

Virgin Australia tends to release one Business reward initially, then more before departure if seats are unsold.

It seems that Virgin Australia is currently releasing one Business Reward seat in advance. In the past, I’ve seen that once that seat is booked, another one is sometimes released separately. Of course, I can’t guarantee this will always be the case, as it depends on flight loads.

Otherwise, if you’re happy to upgrade last minute, I’ve also seen Virgin release most unsold Business seats as a reward on the day of departure. On the flight I flew, three seats showed up, and all were available for upgrades. If you have a paid Economy Choice or Flex ticket, you should be able to upgrade with Velocity Points immediately.

Virgin Australia now flies four-times a week between Melbourne and Uluṟu, and three times a week between Brisbane and Uluṟu. Economy fares from Melbourne start from $119 one-way (Economy Lite) or 9,400 Velocity Points + fees and charges one-way (Tier 1 Economy Reward seat).

Our verdict

Virgin Australia has positioned its Boeing 737 product just right for domestic Business Class. I know that for a longer flight, such as VA’s routes to Denpasar or Tokyo, the recliner seat wouldn’t be ideal, but that’s a different story. For this length of journey, it’s perfectly fine.

Considering that Uluṟu to Melbourne is a 150-minute flight, I’ve sipped on three glasses of wine, tucked into a tasty dinner, and still managed to comfortably get some work done with free Wi-Fi and snacks on the side. That’s a productive Business Class flight if you ask me.

And that’s a wrap on the Uluṟu trip!

Photography by Brandon Loo, who flew as a guest of Virgin Australia. All opinions remain his own.

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Virgin Australia Boeing 737 Business Class (Uluru-Melbourne) was last modified: July 11th, 2024 by Brandon Loo