“Please do not fasten your seat belts as the aircraft is refueling”
I’d actually never heard that announcement before, but it makes perfect sense for safety reasons.
It had been almost a year and a half since I had flown Virgin Australia and while the main decision to fly them on this trip came down to schedule and price (my fare was $105) I was eager to try their product with their recent changes to the in flight service regarding meals and entertainment. There has been a move with the airline going almost full service and relegating the low cost model to sister airline Tigerair of which Virgin owns 60%.
Check this out:
Review: Tigerair Melbourne to Sydney
I was travelling to Hobart with a friend for a weekend after having lived there 11 years ago so there was a certain excitement between us as we waited to board the plane and head back to our old haunt.
Virgin Australia operate 68 Boeing 737-800’s, 10 with Premium Economy and 58 with Business Class. This particular a Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft, named Lammermoor Beach with registration VH-YIT, was delivered new to the airline in September 2012 making it less than 2 years old at the time of our flight.
With 8 seats in the forward Business Class cabin and 168 in Economy cabin in a 3-3 configuration, the aircraft looked striking with dark grey seats with purple and red head rests in a random pattern . My seat was locatedat the window in row 30, the last row and thus there was no recline, but this was ok for a mere 2 hour flight.
Being in row 30 meant we boarded through the rear stairs and we were warmly greeted by a flight attendant. This was a full flight today with only a scattering of spare seats in the main cabin. As you will notice there is no seatback entertainment systems or drop down screens and the flight attendants completed a manual safety demonstration. However, there is entertainment in the form of live streaming to your own devices, iPads, iPhones, Android devices and laptops with Microsoft Silverlight.
Passengers need to download the app prior to take off to be able to access the entertainment. There were quite a few movies plus tv shows and an inflight map showing the status of the flight. One thing the map didn’t show was time to the destination which my friend thought would be more useful than the outside air temperature. While watching an episode of Modern Family the food and beverage trolley reached our last row, so we paused the episode for a few moments while we placed our order, then went back and had a quick look at the map to check our progress. This action stopped our episode of Modern Family and we had to start from the beginning, but the fast forward helped us to locate where we were up to. If you dont have a smart phone, appropriate tablet or laptop or have a windows phone then I’m afraid you cant access the entertainment as yet. Oh and make sure your devices are fully charged and you bring your own headphones as the airline provides neither power or headphones in the main cabin.
When it was our turn to order, my friend ordered the Egg and Lettuce Sandwich with a white coffee that was free to all economy passengers bringing his total to $8.
I ordered the mustard chicken sandwich combo with white wine at a total cost of $13 which I thought was quite good value since my last flight on Virgin Australia. Previously, the Luke Mangan sandwiches were $10 and rather larger on artisian bread, but I actually preferred this one. There was a lovely hint of the mustard on the chuncky pieces of white chicken with tomato and leafy lettuce on brown bread. The bread was a little dry but I always find this with the browb variety. It was a bit naughty of me to have the Talinga Park white wine being morning, but it washed down the sandwich perfectly 🙂
After a shorter flight time of only 1hr 34mins, it wasnt long before we were decending into Hobart’s International Airport which is located around around 20 kilometres west of the CBD. The aircraft parked on stand off as there are no aerobridges at this airport and we made our way down the rear stairs and across the apron – in the rather coolish weather – into the warmer airport terminal.
It was a comfortable return to flying Virgin with a polite, if a little perfunctory, inflight service, tasty sandwich and wine and a punctual on time performance. If the fare and scheduling are right for me, I wouldnt hesitate in flying them domestically again.