StevePER From Australia, joined May 2004, 74 posts, RR: 0 Posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 16218 times:
These flights were provided by Virgin Australia as part of a competition on Australian Frequent Flyer. With four others, I was selected to travel to Sydney for an "intimate lunch" with representatives of Velocity Rewards and a new partnership which was being announced to us on the day.
Virgin Australia DJ572
Perth (PER/YPPH) - Sydney Kingsford Smith (SYD/YSSY)
June 13, 2011 Departure: 23:55 (scheduled) 00:15+1 (actual) Arrival: 06:05+1 (scheduled) 06:45+1 (actual) Seat: 3B (moved to 3A) - business class Aircraft: Airbus A330-243 VH-XFB Cable Beach Load: 10/29 in business class
As this was a red-eye flight, I focused on sleeping as much as possible rather than writing a good trip report.
I took the bus to the airport rather than paying a grumpy taxi driver (I live close to the airport so it's not a good fare for them). I went through security (also grumpy), got "randomly selected" for the explosives scan, and spent a bit of time in the Lounge where I met jdevereux3 from AFF who was taking part in an ambitious JQ/DJ status run. After a big meal earlier in the evening to celebrate my birthday, I stuck to drinking water.
Waiting for the bus
As we boarded, I was impressed. The A330 has a completely different feel from the usual DJ 737s. Boarding was through door 2, so business class passengers could turn left into a relatively private cabin.
I found the seat uncomfortable, primarily due to my inability to raise the headrest. I later found that it could be raised quite easily, so I don't know why I found it difficult. In any case, after taking off, and waiting for the seatbelt sign to be switched off, I reverted to the fully reclined position to get as much sleep as possible. This seemed a bit uncomfortable, particularly with the person in front fully reclined and restricting foot-space, but regardless I slept quite happily for about 3.5 hours so in hindsight it can't have been too bad.
Business class seats
I awoke shortly before we began our descent into Sydney. I had a drink of water, but I was generally happy to do without the usual business class service and meal in favour of additional sleep. Consequently it was difficult to judge the crew on this flight, but my impression was that they were pretty good.
Upon our arrival in SYD, jdevereux3 had Lounge access on arrival as a Velocity Gold member, and he kindly guested me into The Lounge.
Virgin Australia DJ565
Sydney Kingsford Smith (SYD/YSSY) - Perth (PER/YPPH)
June 14, 2011
Departure: 17:30 (scheduled) 17:52 (actual) Arrival: 20:45 (scheduled) 20:53 (actual) Seat: 2K (moved to 2J) - business class Aircraft: Airbus A330-243 VH-XFA Cottesloe Beach Load: 7/29 in business class
We arrived back at SYD airport and were dropped off at the premium entry for The Lounge. This is available to Gold Velocity members and Business Class and Premium Economy passengers, and is a great way to bypass the main check-in area. The dedicated security screening people here are unusually friendly! Inside, we had snacks and drinks.
There wasn't a huge wait until boarding was announced, but after walking down to Gate 40 it turned out that boarding hadn't actually commenced at all. But once it did start I walked straight past the queue and through the premium entry.
After boarding was announced, I went to the gate to find that boarding had not commenced and I had to wait a bit. Subsequently, I used the Priority Boarding lane to bypass the queue. As we were using the first door for all passengers, all the economy class passengers had to walk through the business cabin. Normally I don't like that, but tonight I had the pleasure of hearing the economy class passengers' comments on the business class cabin:
"imagine sitting here!"
"wow this is nice!"
"that's some serious legroom!"
"is this first class?"
VH-XFA Cottesloe Beach Other DJ aircraft on the ground in SYD - these one's could do with a new paint job! Mandatory legroom shot - also showing the "pilot view" on the screen
It took me a little longer to be truly impressed, but once the meal service was underway I was convinced. This was easily the best domestic flight I've ever taken (though I've only had one previous domestic business class flight, QF ADL-SYD on a 734). Furthermore, it was an excellent business class experience and comparable to similar length flights on renowned regional airlines such as SQ and CX. A few minor mistakes were made, which was understandable given that this is a new product. For example, the placemat on my tray was initially forgotten and the bread roll was served upside down. But these things are trivial, both were acknowledged appropriately, and will be perfected over time. What was obvious was the genuinely friendly, attentive and professional service, and the excellent quality of the product.
Melissa, editor of the Voyeur in-flight magazine, recommended "The Australian" cocktail, and it didn't disappoint... to the extent that I had two, which was perhaps overdoing it but enjoyable nonetheless. It was served with warm nuts.
'The Australian' Cocktail
by Luke Mangan
Our new signature cocktail is a delicious aperitif, with the hue of an Australian sunset and the fresh lively flavours of our country. A blend of white spirits, cognac and cranberry juice, freshened with ginger and lime syrup. A delicious way to begin your culinary journey today.
The mushroom soup was rich and delicious, and served with a tasty bread roll (unfortunately visually similar to the rock-like QF economy rolls, but this was much softer and tastier). It came with olive oil and dukkah.
Your choice of warmed bread served with Luke Mangan's extra virgin olive oil and dukkah.
King smoked salmon with creme fraiche, salmon caviar dressing and grissini
Rich mushroom soup with chives
The main, in comparison, was a bit of a let down. The flavour of the beef and the sauce that came with it was uninteresting though it was well cooked and tender. Note I didn't notice the presence of mushrooms in this dish.
Fillet of beef with parmesan polenta, Swiss brown mushrooms and French beans
Basque style barramundi fillet with braised calamari, saffron potatoes and capsicum
Vegetarian tartlet of mushrooms, zucchini, parmesan, basil and cauliflower puree
For dessert, I chose the cheese plate in favour of the cheesecake. Each of the cheeses were very tasty and a worthy finale to the meal.
King Island Triple Cream, King Island, Tasmania
Cobram Vintage Cheddar, Cobram, Victoria
Roaring 40's Blue, King Island, Tasmania
Served with dried apricots, walnuts and crackers
Orange and cointreau cheesecake, with almond and lemon biscotti
The seat was comfortable in the upright position once I got the headrest sorted out. The noise-cancelling headphones were very effective. We had a choice of video options on the Rockwell Collins entertainment system, consisting of several movies and several TV shows plus a map display (which didn't work on the way over) and and a pilot's view. The reason I swapped seats on this flight was that the screen in 2K wasn't working. I also noticed the screen in 3A was a bit dodgy on the flight over... they should have bought the IFE system from my company instead!
There was a small Bvlgari amenity kit, which contained eyemask, earplugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, body lotion and lip balm. I used the eyemask and earplugs on the flight over to help me sleep. Finally, the crew took my jacket when I boarded and gave it back to me on arrival, complete with a Virgin Australia branded suit bag. This struck me as very professional, and I liked this little touch. But ultimately, it's not the suit bag or the amenties kit that made this an excellent flight. It was the friendliness and genuine warmth of the cabin crew, combined with the great food and comfortable seat.
Based on this trip, I consider Virgin Australia to have the best domestic business class product in Australia. They have been working long and hard on their partnership with Singapore Airlines, they totally deserve to be part of such a partnership - their business class product really is comparable to SQ's A330 regional business class. I would quite happily spend my own money or Velocity points to upgrade to Virgin Australia business class in the future; I just hope I get an opportunity to do so because it really was fantastic.
Thanks to Velocity Rewards and Virgin Australia for providing the flights as part of this memorable day, and to the Virgin Australia crew for being so fantastic on this trip; thanks to pshepvic, malmacdowall, Travel Guru and oz_mark for making the AFF Five; and big thanks to jdevereux3 for guesting me into The Lounge on arrival in SYD.
vieri From UK - England, joined Jun 2011, 27 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 12782 times:
Quoting StevePER (Thread starter): I found the seat uncomfortable, primarily due to my inability to raise the headrest. I later found that it could be raised quite easily, so I don't know why I found it difficult. In any case, after taking off, and waiting for the seatbelt sign to be switched off, I reverted to the fully reclined position to get as much sleep as possible. This seemed a bit uncomfortable, particularly with the person in front fully reclined and restricting foot-space, but regardless I slept quite happily for about 3.5 hours so in hindsight it can't have been too bad.
They have kept the original J seats from EK, in a 2-3-2 configuration. The IFE system is the same hardware, though on some of aircraft, EK had installed a hybrid version of their ICE with AVOD. Does the Virgin system have AVOD?
Agree that the seats arent the last word in J class comfort, however it is comfortable for lounging. Thankfully the 2 occasions i had in these seats on EK were both op-ups, so was more than delighted with the extra comfort. Not sure I d feel the same as a paid j customer though!
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 9 Reply 6, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 12609 times:
Thanks for sharing and I have been waiting for a nice Virgin Australia transcontinental flight report in business class.
It is a very nice product and offering amenity kits is a good feature. I believe QF does not offer amenity kit on any domestic flights in J (but that might change soon). I like the suit bag idea and from a branding perspective, it is a relatively low cost and smart advertisement idea. Everyone at the airport will spot the bag.
I think I am just disappointed at the 2-3-2 configuration and I hope it will go back to a 2-2-2 seating.
I know you sleep through the redeye flight, and am wondering if a meal is offered or not. In the US, most airlines offer a snack meal on these redeye coast to coast flight, and I am wondering if Virgin Australia offers a snack or a breakfast prior to arrival.
StevePER From Australia, joined May 2004, 74 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 12154 times:
Quoting Planemad1 (Reply 4):
So you went on a 6 hour flight there and back for "an intimate lunch" ? Sounds a bit drastic lol.
Only four hours, there is a two hour time difference between PER and SYD. Perhaps it's a bit drastic, but how often do you get the opportunity to personally discuss important aspects of an airline's frequent flyer program with the General Manager of Loyalty? It's not for everyone, but I enjoyed it very much!
Quoting Carfield (Reply 6):
I think I am just disappointed at the 2-3-2 configuration and I hope it will go back to a 2-2-2 seating.
I agree - on this flight it was fine due to the light loads but I would hate to be stuck between two other people when travelling on my own - especially if I was paying $1300 for the privilege. I believe QF recently went to 2-3-2 in business on their domestic A330s, but changed back after the backlash. I heard on the flight that DJ's future A330s will be configured differently; not sure if this will affect the seating configuration but it might.
Quoting Carfield (Reply 6): I know you sleep through the redeye flight, and am wondering if a meal is offered or not. In the US, most airlines offer a snack meal on these redeye coast to coast flight, and I am wondering if Virgin Australia offers a snack or a breakfast prior to arrival.
I think there was both a light supper (soup) and a hot breakfast for those who wanted it. There was only one person having breakfast when I woke up, so I think everyone else was asleep.
Quokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 8, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 11436 times:
First of all, congratulations on winning the competition. It's always good to get a little boost like that
Nice to see that DJ have named the aircraft "Cottesloe Beach",too.
The presentation of the meals appears attractive, although the missing mushrooms would bea let down.
Quoting StevePER (Thread starter): But ultimately, it's not the suit bag or the amenties kit that made this an excellent flight. It was the friendliness and genuine warmth of the cabin crew...
Spot on: no matter what other factors may be involved a crew can make or break a flight.
I know that 2-3-2 configurations are not popular and that no-one likes the middle seat (myself included and I have on going to DXB next month ), but having to step over someone equally applies to those in window seats. Unless the person next to you is asleep it is usually not too much of a drama, but I agree that extra aisle and seat width is an advantage in 2-2-2 configurations.
Dare we ask, and can you reply, what items were discussed at the meeting?
StevePER From Australia, joined May 2004, 74 posts, RR: 0 Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 11158 times:
Quoting Quokka (Reply 8): Dare we ask, and can you reply, what items were discussed at the meeting?
I certainly can, and it has been discussed at length on AFF. The main purpose of the meeting was to announce a new partnership with American Express, and a range of co-branded cards. But the real benefit was that we could discuss matters of interest to frequent flyers with representatives from Virgin Australia/Velocity Rewards and American Express. All sorts of things were discussed including airline partnerships (eg EY, SQ), lounges, the name of the rewards program, credit cards, and lots of other things.
Coal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1770 posts, RR: 6 Reply 11, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 10525 times:
Epic TR! Looks very nice indeed, and I must say the suit bag is something very new. I guess given the lack of shells, when the seats are reclined it blocks the person behind you like the old style J seats, correct?
DJMEL From Australia, joined Oct 2008, 138 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 8480 times:
Thanks for the Trip Report and reporting on DJ'S new J Class Coast to Coast Service and the A330 - Yes it certainly a step in the right direction for Virgin Australia (The Bvlgari Amenity Kit, Suit Bag and 1999 Lanson Gold Label Chanpagne) are all new first's to be done on Australian Domestic Routes - The Restaurant style full silver service was implemented by Ansett Australia in the late 1990's so something thats been done before, however great to see back in the Domestic Skies!!!