Australian Short Haul Domestic Business Comparison : Part 3 - Virgin Australia (Brisbane to Sydney)
Following on from my first two articles detailing Qantas' short haul domestic business class offering, let's have a look now at what the competition is doing. Virgin Australia only went 'premium' a few years ago and I was yet to try their offering in business class on short haul. With that in mind I booked an award ticket Brisbane to Melbourne (via Sydney). This article covers the first sector, flight VA960, the 3.30pm service from Brisbane to Sydney on a Boeing 737-800.
I arrived at the airport a little after 2pm and headed to the kiosk to print my boarding pass, I had pre-selected seat 1F, a bulkhead window in the first row. Virgin Australia only offer 8 business seats on the B737, 2 rows of 4. This compares to Qantas who offer 3 rows of 4 totaling 12 seats. Both Qantas and Virgin seats are quite similar in terms of width and pitch, however Virgin do not offer a foot/leg rest. We will look at the seat later but for now it was off through security and to the Virgin lounge.
|The fairly attrative Brisbane Domestic Terminal Entry
|Virgin Australia Check-in Zone
|Check-in is available at the kiosk if you like
I had been out and about all day so I decided a shower was in order. I headed to the bathroom section and found there was only 1 shower in the whole place for men. It was in the handicapped toilet and was basically an attachment out of the wall. It was woefully inadequate and rather pathetic not to have a proper shower cubicle. I hope this will be addressed in the new upgrades. Anyway once I was out I headed into the very crowded lounge and grabbed some dim sum and a glass of wine.
|Rather awful shower facilities
|Lounge surrounds - soon to be expanded
Eventually it was time to head to the gate and board, fortunately the gate in use for my flight today was right outside the lounge.
There was a very warm welcome from the cabin crew at the entry and I was directed to my seat...
A welcome beverage was offered, water and juice, same as Qantas basically.
I was lucky enough to have the seat beside me free, the second row was full and in total 6 out of 8 seats were taken. We departed on schedule at 3.30pm and made our takeoff towards the north before a series of right hand turns to head south in the direction of Sydney.
This was an afternoon flight so just a snack was on offer. I had a bolognese tart, I do apologise that I have forgotten what the other option was. There was a choice of THREE different white wines, this was quite surprising as Qantas only ever has one. The tart came with a side of leafy salad with dressing and a warm bread roll. Overall meal presentation I would rate as very good, and it tasted nice too!
|Luke Mangan is Virgin's version of Qantas' Neil Perry
|Standard lavatory with no extra's for business class
It wasn't long before we were on descent and following a Qantas jumbo jet on a parallel approach into Sydney.
|Amazing view of this 747 on parallel approach
We arrived on schedule and made our way to the Virgin Australia terminal at Sydney. It was just a 65 minute flight but it was very pleasant and I was really impressed with the meal presentation and wine selection. The crew were great and they are providing great competition to Qantas. I will review the next sector in part 4, Sydney to Melbourne, and then offer my final thoughts.