TRAVEL | Virgin Australia operates between three to six (depending on the day) flights daily between Perth and Melbourne. There are two planes that are currently used on the route. The Airbus A330-200 (“A330”) and the older Boeing 737-800 (“737”). The plane that is the subject of this write up is the A330, which has more features and amenities than the 737, and is the one you should try and book if you can.
Online check in using your computer, tablet or mobile is the easiest option when flying domestically with Virgin Australia. It opens 48 hours prior to your scheduled flight departure, and close 45 minutes prior. If you can’t check in online, the process at the airport is quite efficient, making use of the fact that Virgin Australia flies domestically out of Perth’s new Terminal 1 with the latest technology and self service check in counters. If you’ve checked in online but have checked luggage, you can use the self service kiosks to print bag tags before dropping them off at the bag drop. If you don’t like any of those options, traditional staffed check in counters are also available.
Checked luggage is included with all Virgin Australia Economy tickets when flying domestic. You can check-in one bag up to 23kg, and on carry-on bag up to 7kg. Silver and Gold Velocity members are allowed to check in 2 x 23kg bags, and Platinum members 3 x 23kg bags.
Service is the typical Virgin Australia service that I’ve experienced over the years. Friendly staff who are find the right balance between being cheerful, talkative and fun without sacrificing professionalism and efficiency.
The Virgin Australia Economy cabins on the A330 that flies from Perth to Melbourne features 247 seats, in a 2-4-2 layout. There are enough flight attendants around so getting the attention of someone should you need assistance isn’t an issue. Colour wise it’s white, grey and purple, keeping in line with Virgin’s branding. Lighting is on the cooler end of the white balance spectrum, and everything nice and clean.
The leather seat has dimensions of about 79cm x 44cm. Like any economy seat, it doesn’t recline that far back, but it’s no better or worse than the competition. It’s a perfectly comfortable seat for this kind of flight.
There are small armrests, and a fabric pocket and a mesh pocket sleeve at the back of the seat in front to place a few things. There’s not much space to get work done with the tray down if you’ve got a laptop, but for a tablet sized device it’s possible to get some productive stuff done.
If you’ve got any USB powered devices, there’s a USB port for charging devices but do be aware that it’s a slow charge – 4 hours in the air got me from 14% phone charge to 65%.
There’s a 22.9cm screen on the back of each Virgin Australia Economy seat which is your gateway to the Red in-flight entertainment system. Unfortunately this plane featured the old, smaller non-touch screen model rather than the newer model we’ve heard about. Red features over 200 movies, along with television programmes, music, games and apps, all of which rotate regularly to ensure that the content remains fresh and current. There’s a good selection of Australian content too – it’s great seeing Virgin support local talent. Provided headphones are acceptable, but if you’re anything like me you’ll bring your own noise cancelling headphones and an adapter for the headphone socket.
A meal is included with all Virgin Australia Economy tickets, with the exact options changing depending on what time of day you are flying. I was on the flight that departed at 12:05pm so it was lunch for me.
There are always too options offered – a vegetarian choice and a meat one. On this flight it was a vegetarian rice dish with sweet and sour sauce vegetables and curry, and a beef and black bean noodle dish. I tried the beef and black bean on the flight to Perth, so opted for the vegetarian option this time around. Both were perfectly acceptable dishes. Small servings, but they do the trick to tie you over until you get to Melbourne. If you think you’re going to be really hungry, eating something beforehand or buying something extra for the flight is advisable.
As well as the main meal you also get a dessert – sometimes it’s the dense and moist sticky date pudding, and other times it’s a chocolate mousse. Both are quite tasty.
For drinks its a selection of soft drinks, juice, water, tea, coffee, beer and wine which are available at meal time and once more later on in the flight. If you want additional food and/or spirits, you can purchase these during the flight. A good tip is to be aware of Virgin Australia’s ‘Happy Hour’ – on capital city flights within Australia that have a scheduled departure time between 5pm and 7pm, Monday to Friday, a selection of complimentary beer, cider and wine is available.
Being a short haul domestic flight, there are no additional amenities provided beyond headphones and Virgin Australia’s ‘Voyeur’ travel magazine.
I tend to chose my domestic flights based on price and flight times, which results in me flying all four of Australia’s domestic airlines over the course of a year. The Virgin Australia experience flying Perth to Melbourne is exactly what one expects from a domestic full service flight with friendly staff, comfortable seats, more than enough entertainment options, and a bit of food to keep you going until you reach your destination. For short flights, the extra cost over a budget airline often isn’t worth it, but when you’re moving up to four hours as is the case with this flight, you appreciate all the little extras a lot more.