Virgin Australia inflight experienceNEWS: Baggage allowance on Virgin Australia is changing. The biggest change is that on the saver fare you used to get no bags: now you get one free to 23kg. Good news for Velocity Silver card holders: you get an extra bag when on a Saver or Flexi fare. However velocity Platinum used to get two bags to 32kgs - now you get three bags to 23kg.
Service on Virgin Australia can be very different depending on whether you are on the ultra low cost ultra cheap domestic fares, or in Business on the long-haul International flights, as you might expect.
|Virgin Australia Flying lady logo|
In economy on domestic services, Virgin Australia is still almost - but not quite - a low cost carrier. Indeed, it's charming to see an airline bucking the trend and moving away from its low-cost routes. There are free meals on some flights, free drinks on others, and your bags are free on some - but not all - international flights. Which is why, on Virgin as no other, it is vital to work out what you are going to get when you book your ticket. Virgin Australia is very consistent in its inconsistency.
Also, make sure you are really on a Virgin Australia flight! It may sound simple, but many Virgin Australia flights are run as code shares by other airlines. What you get on those flights is dependent on that airline, although it is good to see that Virgin have 'sort-of' aligned themselves with a similar onboard service for the Trans-Tasman flights with Air New Zealand, so most of the time you get something similar: which is to say no free luggage, no drinks and no meal.
Virgin Australia International Business Class ExperienceThe Virgin Australia International Business Class Experience on the Boeing 777 is pretty good. Indeed if anything it is the seat which lets down the service, rather than the other way around. While lie flat, the seats are in a 2-3-2 layout, rather than Virgin Atlantic's herringbone, which means that you have to step over your neighbour to get out of the seat unless you are in row 5, the famous row of seats behind the bar, which also have unimpeded legroom, and a curtain so you can shut yourself off into the mini-cabin.
As you get on board you are shown to your seat, and handed a menu with pictures of the celebrity chef Luke Mangan. You must remember to ask for an amenity kit however. There is a welcome drink of Sparkling Wine, but after that you are left to fend for yourself until an hour into the flight when first drinks are served, and meal orders taken. It can then take two hours for starters to come around. Alas, you can't get anything yourself during this time: the bar opens after the first meal service (about three and a half hours into the flight), and in that time you are rather stuck, with the only action from the crew being tray tables covered with white tablecloths, along with salt and pepper pots shaped like the Sydney Opera House.
|Domestic Economy Virgin Australia is really only one step up from a pure low cost carrier in economy|
After the meal service the bar becomes very popular: get there early if you want a seat. It can get almost rowdy during the flight, and very boisterous, for a good six hours after the meal. The Sparkling Wine goes very quickly, as do the selection of snacks, including the famous spiced pumpkin dip.
Virgin Australia Domestic Economy Class ExperienceIf ever there was a mixed bag for inflight service, it is on Virgin Australia on domestic or Trans-Tasman flights. The basic rule is that on most 737 flights there is one trolley which slowly makes its way down the economy aisle offering free tea and coffee, followed by another one selling three different types of sandwiches or meat pies: this is the much heralded Luke Mangan menu.
|Virgin Australia The tea trolley starts its run|
The exception is the East-West coast transcontinental services, from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne to Perth where there is a free hot meal and one free beer or wine (after midday). Here there is one trolley from the front, and one from the back.
Also on flights from Canberra to Sydney or Melbourne (called Capital Connect flights) there IS a free snack, which is also offered on rural flights in Western Australia (but no beer).
And on flights between the state capitals (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane) there is one free beer or wine offered between 4pm and 7pm: this is on the tea trolley as it rolls down the aisle: make sure you grab it as there are no second helpings.
|Domestic Economy Virgin Australia offers little in economy|
Virgin Australia Amenity KitIn Business Class the same Bulgari amenities kits are used on both Virgin Australia's East-West A330 service and on the International Boeing 777 flights, but it is crucial to know that these are only provided on request.
Virgin Australia Baggage AllowanceVirgin Australia has a pretty standard Luggage allowance for a low cost carrier: none at all. If, that is, you are on the cheapest of economy fares, with no status, flying on a domestic or Trans-Tasman route.
|Baggage Check Make sure your bag fits|
The Baggage allowance on Virgin Australia is changing. The biggest change is that on the saver fare you used to get no bags: now you get one free to 23kg. Good news for Velocity Silver card holders: you get an extra bag when on a Saver or Flexi fare. However velocity Platinum used to get two bags to 32kgs - now you get three bags to 23kg.
Cabin Bags: On all domestic and international flights, the carry-on Baggage Allowance is the same for Economy and Business Class of one bag, to a maximum of 7kg: on domestic you can either take one large bag (up to 114cm long), or two small briefcase type bags (up to 48cm long): note that neither of these are the size of a standard airline rollaboard of 55cm, and if you take two of these to the gate, you'll have to check one.
|Baggage Checkin At Sydney International|
Check in luggage: There is a really complicated chart on domestic of what you can check in, which is dependent on the fare you paid, and your Velocity status. The vital bit to remember is that if you have no velocity status, and you buy a Saver Lite fare, you get no inclusive luggage allowance.
As always, these rules can change. Virgin Australia's website has details of exactly what you can take onto a flight.Next page: Virgin Australia frequent flyer loyalty scheme >>>
|Virgin Australia Experience|
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