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Etihad Pearl: The Virgin Australia Way  
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 22418 times:



Airlines rapidly come and go in the aviation world. Some leave a major footprint in the industry such as Pan Am or TWA, while others disappear before they even have a chance to start. We can sit here on airliners.net and pinpoint what we would have done differently to salvage the airline had we been the captain steering the ship. In order not to become obsolete, thinking outside the box is required at times. Reinventing the airline as a whole is sometimes a step in the right direction, and that is exactly what an airline called Virgin Blue did back in 2011.

Virgin Blue launched operations in 2000 as a full-fledged low cost carrier for the Australian market. With the demise of Ansett Australia the following year, Virgin Blue grew rapidly to become the second largest carrier in the Australian market. The low cost model proved very successful, and over the next decade under the leadership of Brett Godfrey, the airline flourished.

During 2010 a number of major changes occurred for Virgin Blue. The departure of Godfrey meant a new CEO had to be found, and John Borghetti a former executive at QANTAS was chosen as his successor. This marked a major turning point for Virgin Blue and its subsidiaries, Pacific Blue and V Australia. Mr. Borghetti wasted no time in spearheading a new plan that would create a radical departure from the low cost model the airline had been following since its inception. In February the company announced they would be rebranding Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue and V Australia into one new entity.

On 4th May 2011, Mr. Borghetti held a press conference unveiling the newly combined brand, Virgin Australia. Mr. Borghetti also stated the airline would be introducing business class domestically, and would be seeking at least 20% of the corporate market in Australia. Quite an ambitious plan if you think about the stronghold QANTAS had on the business market in Australia at the time.

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However, re-branding was only part of the strategy. Virgin Australia sought to increase its global presence with new alliances and partnerships. Air New Zealand, Delta and Singapore Airlines, among others all came onboard with Mr. Borghetti, but one partnership in particular would impact Virgin Australia the greatest. Step in James Hogan, the current CEO of Etihad; the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.





Together the two airlines launched a partnership program that saw a number of changes that affected Virgin Australia’s route network. Wide body service to Johannesburg, Phuket, and Nadi were quickly dropped in favor of launching Abu Dhabi and consolidating the rest of the long haul network to just Los Angeles.


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Ever since the re-launch of Virgin Australia, I have become increasingly interested in this little airline from down under. I very much have a love/hate relationship when it comes to the Virgin brand, being that I adore Virgin America but absolutely despise Virgin Atlantic. However, something about Virgin Australia appealed to me from the start. Australia is rarely ever featured in my travel plans so I knew it would be an almost impossible task for me to get on one of their aircraft. However earlier this year, Etihad announced they would be “leasing” an aircraft from Virgin Australia to operate their Abu Dhabi – Kuala Lumpur – Abu Dhabi services every Sunday. The moment I heard about this unique arrangement, I knew I had to take advantage of this rare opportunity.

Ticket in hand, it was time to see if Virgin Australia really had “assembled the best to put the magic back into flying.”




23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 1, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 22420 times:










Etihad 411 (Operated by Virgin Australia)
Kuala Lumpur – Abu Dhabi
Boeing 777-300ER (VH-VPH) (St. Kilda Beach)
Seat: 5K
Scheduled Departure Time: 20:35
Actual Departure Time: 20:54
Scheduled Arrival Time: 23:20
Actual Arrival Time: 23:19

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Photo © Michael J Douglas
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Photo © Mark H


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Photo © Jeff Gilbert - JGPhotographics
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Photo © Sam Chui

Check In: Arriving from Singapore on a rather delayed flight, I proceeded straight to the transit counter once I had disembarked. However I still managed to get a nice look at this relatively new Malaysian A380.

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I approached the counter where a smiling Malaysian Airlines agent greeted me.
“Hello sir, which airline are you flying today?”
“Etihad.”
“May I please see your passport?”
I handed over the ticker and passport and some furious typing ensued. After, the agent picked up the phone and spoke to someone in Malay.
“Sir, I am having a problem printing you a boarding pass. Would you mind please going to gate C12 where they will give you a boarding pass.”

No problem, so I took a stroll over to gate C12, stopping only to take a picture of the aircraft.

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On my way to the gate I passed the crew in their ‘red hot’ uniforms, and I have to say their uniforms are just as eye catching as their commercials.

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Behind the counter was a female agent in the Malaysian Airlines kebaya, and standing over her was an Etihad supervisor in the standard grey and black dress.
“Hi, I was sent here by the transit desk to get a boarding pass.”
“Sure sir, can I please have your ticket?”
“You have seat 3A reserved, is that ok with you?”
“How full is the flight?”
“Not very full today sir.”
“Do you happen to have a window seat in row 5?”
“We do sir. Would you like to sit in 5K?”
“That would be great, thank you.”
“Sir, here is your boarding pass for the flight to Abu Dhabi. Boarding will begin in a few minutes so could you please proceed to the gate.”

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A quick security search ensued before my boarding pass was ripped and I was let into the gate. As it was close to boarding time, the gate area was a bit on the fuller side. In order to get a decent view of the aircraft, I picked a seat by the window. However, the best entertainment came from my fellow passengers in the gate area who could be heard murmuring such things as:
“Is this the correct gate?”
“Why is there a Virgin Australia plane there?”
“Aren’t we supposed to be flying Etihad?”

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Boarding: At 19:30, a Malaysian ground agent picked up the microphone and made the following announcement,
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Etihad would like to welcome you to its flight to Abu Dhabi in partnership with Malaysian Airlines and Virgin Australia. We shall be calling boarding by seat numbers so please listen for your number to be called. First we ask all passengers traveling with small children and those that need assistance to board first. Pearl Class passengers may board anytime.”
Once most of the families with children had boarded, I stood up and walked towards the door. I handed the agent by the door my boarding pass,
“Ah Business Class can use this side sir.”

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I walked down the jetway towards door 1L where Vick and Tina were waiting to greet me.
“Hello and welcome onboard Virgin Australia, may I see your boarding pass?”
“Mr. SR 103, your seat is through the galley and past the bar, your seat will be the window seat on your left.”
I walked on through the business class cabin and passed the bar to find row number 5.

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I stowed my luggage and sat down. Instantly I could feel the seat was lacking a bit in width, but the padding was relatively plush. Before I could have a look at my surroundings, Vick was by side.
“Hello Mr. SR 103, my name is Vick and I shall be your primary flight attendant today. Can I offer you something to drink?”
“A glass of water would be great.”
“Sure thing. Is this your first time onboard Virgin Australia?”
“It absolutely is.”
“Excellent. Let me explain a few things for you. Your seat controls are located on the armrest and the seat is capable of extending fully flat. We have a bar set up here between both business class cabins where we shall be mixing all your drink orders. Tonight we shall also be offering a dinner service after takeoff. If you so wish, we offer a turn down service and would be more than willing to set it up for you at your convenience. So please, sit back and enjoy the flight. If you need anything just let me or one of my colleagues know.”

Vick returned a few minutes later,
“Your glass of water Mr. SR 103 and an amenity kit for you.”

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A zipped pouch containing a headset had already been placed in the side storage compartment of the seat. A closer look revealed a very prominent “V Australia” logo on both. The mood lighting had already been turned on, and the cabin was glowing with a purplish hue during boarding.

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Captain Helder came on the P/A to welcome us onboard this Virgin Australia aircraft and inform us that our flying time today would be a quick 6 hours, and that we would be on our way shortly.
Standing by door 2L was Kevin and Farah, the lone Etihad flight attendants onboard today. As most passengers had boarded, the two of them began to chat. It was evident that it was Farah’s first time onboard the Virgin Australia service. Kevin was quick to point out that he started his career out at Emirates a few years ago and knew the inner workings of a Middle East carrier. They proceeded to share some unique stories with each other that were quite amusing for me to hear.

Once all passengers were onboard, Kevin grabbed the microphone,
“Ladies and Gentlemen, all passengers are onboard and we are finishing up some paperwork and should be on our way shortly. Any ground staff on board, unless you want a quick holiday in Abu Dhabi, it is time to leave the aircraft.”

Once the doors were closed, Michael was on the P/A.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome onboard Virgin Au… Etihad Airways flight 411. Today’s flight is operated in partnership with Virgin Australia. Our flying time to Abu Dhabi shall be a quick 6 hours tonight. So please sit back, relax and enjoy this Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi with your friendly Australian crew.”

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Vick came to my seat and pulled out the PTV from the armrest,
“The safety video is about to start and it will be a lot easier for you to watch it on here than strain your neck trying to watch it on the TV in the middle.”
With that the safety video began playing and Vick accompanied it with a manual demonstration during some key parts.

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With the mood lighting in full swing, we taxied towards the runway. Once we lined up with the runway the two massive GE’s roared to life and we rocketed down the runway.

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User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 22415 times:

The Flight: As we climbed into the night sky, I pulled out my PTV and starting using "RED," a system I had previous experience with on Virgin America.

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There was quite a bit of choice and I settled on “American Reunion” as my entertainment for tonight. However, before I started the movie a trip to the lavatory was in order, though I had to remember that front right one was reserved for female passengers.

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The lavatory was nothing special featuring some “GROWN” soap and hand cream. With that I returned to my seat and saw Kevin on his knees fiddling with my leg rest.
“This is a slip cover to make the leg rest more comfortable for you.”

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I sat down and thought I would start the movie, however before I could press the play button Vick came down the aisle and knelt down beside me,

“So how is everything so far? You enjoying the entertainment system?”
“I am, thanks.”
“In a moment we are going to setting up the bar so there will be quite a bit of activity around here. Would you like to start off with a drink before dinner?”
“Can I have a rum and coke please”
“Absolutely. With ice?”
“Please.”
“Excellent. Now for dinner we have a couple of choices for you. Again I apologize we don’t have printed menus so I’ll have to explain everything verbally to you. For the appetizer the choices are smoked salmon, some chicken served with a salad and a spiced chick pea soup.”
“Can I go for the salmon, please.”
“Absolutely. Now for the main course we have four choices. The first choice is a braised beef stew served with vegetables and some mashed potatoes. The second choice is a green Thai chicken curry served with some rice. The third option is a seared white fish with rice and vegetables, and the fourth option is a vegetarian tagine.”
“I think I will go for beef.”
“Excellent choice, I would have gone for the same myself. Would you like some wine with the meal or do you want to stick with the rum and coke?”
“I think I’ll go for some red wine.”
“We have some Pinot Noir, some Australian Shiraz and a French Bordeaux.”
“I’ll go for the Australian Shiraz.”
“I shall be back shortly with your drink. If you need anything, just let me or one of us know.”

With the order completed, I began my movie. Tina handed out some hot towels, which were relatively thin but still warm nonetheless; a nice way to freshen up before dinner started.

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The crew first started by setting up the bar with various bottles of liquor and glasses.

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Some chatter as to what drinks needed to be made followed, and I instantly saw Vick grab a glass and a can of coke.

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Kevin first delivered a small ramekin full of salted mixed nuts. Vick was right behind him with my rum and coke.

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The ramekin contained a mixture of salted cashews, almonds, peanuts and walnuts. While the nuts were decent, they were nothing special; however, the rum and coke had been mixed perfectly, not too strong or weak. I polished both off relatively quickly and without even a word Kevin was by my side with another ramekin and a perfectly mixed rum and coke.

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Vick came by a few minutes later,
“Mind if I set up your table for dinner?”

Vick had placed everything ever so gently on the table, including the rather cute salt and pepper shakers resembling the Sydney Opera House.

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Vick was back by my side a few moments later.
“Your Shiraz Mr. SR 103.”
He poured a little into one of the glasses, so I picked up the glass, sniffed it, tasted it and said.
“I have no idea what I am doing, but its tastes just fine.”
“That’s all the matters” Vick said sheepishly with a smile, and poured out an entire glass for me along with some still water.

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Tina came by with a breadbasket and I picked my usual garlic bread.

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The garlic bread was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside (not dried out), which is exactly the way I like it. Vick came by with my appetizer plate a few moments after the bread had been delivered.

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The salmon was fresh, while the chilled onion and tomato salad accompanied it very well. The twisted cheese straws were a nice accompaniment to the salmon. Vick swiftly delivered my main course after my empty appetizer plate was collected.

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At first glance the presentation was not exactly mouthwatering, but after one bite I knew I had made the right choice. The beef was tender and the sauce added quite a bit of flavor to the meat. The mashed potatoes were a bit on the watery side, but had definitely been seasoned and accompanied the vegetable hash very well. The green beans had been cooked perfect al dente but lacked any seasoning whatsoever.

Vick came by once I had completed my meal,
“How was it?”
“Excellent, thanks.”
“Great to hear, will you be going for some dessert?”
“Some dessert sounds good.”
“Today the choices are a sticky date toffee pudding, Belgian or macadamia nut ice cream, as well as an assorted cheese plate with some crackers.”
“I think I’ll go for the Belgian chocolate ice cream.”
“How about an after dinner aperitif?”
“Can I have some port wine?”
“Sure.”
With that, my empty plates were cleared.
Tina came by first with a plate containing my Haagan Daze tub of chocolate ice cream.

Vick was behind her holding a bottle,
“Mr. SR 103, unfortunately we do not seem to have any port wine on this flight. However there is a bottle of sweet raisin wine. Is that all right with you?”
“Sure, sound great.”
With that he poured a glass for me with another apology and wished me bon appetite.

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The raisin wine was excellent and in all honesty it was a refreshing change from my normal port or baileys I usually have. Come to think of it, this may have been the first time I have had raisin wine onboard an aircraft. The Belgian chocolate ice cream was not frozen solid and very easy to dig into with the metal V Australia spoon provided.

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Once I had completed everything, Vick cleared my tray while asking,
“Would you like some tea or coffee?”
“Not tonight, thanks.”

I reclined my seats and finished up the rest of the movie.

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Stowage between the seats for amenity kits and water bottles.

Vick came by to check on me a little while later,
“How was dinner?”
“It was great thank you.”
“That’s great to hear. Sorry about the whole port wine mix up. It is my first time doing this Etihad Kuala Lumpur – Abu Dhabi run.”
“Don’t worry, I did not even notice. So tell me, how do you guys manage this with only one flight a week? Do you dead head in and out of Kuala Lumpur?”
It looked like I had caught him off guard with that question as he looked at me with a puzzled look on his face.
“We do actually. Do you work in the industry? The only reason I ask is not a lot of people know the terminology of dead heading.”

This proceeded into a 30 minute conversation where I found out that the VA crew actually dead head on a Malaysian Airlines flight from SYD into KUL and vice versa. I learnt how Vick started at Virgin Blue, and how he managed to transfer over to V Australia very quickly. He even mentioned how he was originally from India and had settled in Australia years ago as a child. Once our conversation winded down, Vick asked if I wanted my bed made and I obliged. I left for a quick visit to the lavatory.

On my return, I snapped a few pictures of the bar which had a handful of drinks placed all around it.

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My seat had been reclined into a fully flat position and had been made up with some padding and a white duvet. Vick had even closed the curtain around my set of seats.

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This is a unique feature on the Virgin Australia 777 aircraft. Each set of seats in row 5 have an individual curtain that can be drawn around them. (You can notice the dotted lines in the seat map below showing the positions of the curtains around row 5)

(You can notice the dotted lines in the seat map below showing the positions of the curtains around row 5)

I continued watching some sitcoms on my PTV and eventually drifted off into dreamland with nothing but the stars above me.

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I woke up just as we were nearing the coast of Oman.

Vick had keenly been watching from a far as to when I was going to wake up and was by my side almost instantly.
“Would you like a snack before landing?”
“Sure, what do you have today?”
“There are two choices, the hot option is an omelet served with some potatoes or a fruit plate.”
“Can I go for the fruit plate please.”
“How about something to drink? We have an excellent strawberry, banana and mint smoothie. I highly recommend it.”
“Sounds great.”

Tina came by to set my linens and just as I reached for my armrest she said with a smile,
“Why don’t you let me take care of that, it’s at an odd angle for you.”
Vick was behind her with a tray containing the fruit plate and smoothie.
“Would you like some tea or coffee?”
“Some tea would be great, thanks.”
“Sure, we have English breakfast, Darjeeling, Jasmine and green tea.
“Can I go for the English breakfast one please.”
“Would you like that with cream and sugar?”
“Please.”

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4054.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4055.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4056.jpg

The fruit plate was nicely chilled and contained a few pieces of papaya, melon, and dragon fruit along with a bunch of grapes. The smoothie was really nice, thick and full of flavor. Then again this is one thing I can count on from Etihad, all the smoothies I have tried onboard have been of top quality.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4057.jpg

My plates were cleared and the captain came on the P/A to announce that we would begin our descent shortly into Abu Dhabi. As the cabin was being prepped for arrival, Kevin stopped by my seat,
“Mr. SR 103, I hope the flight was to your satisfaction?”
“It was excellent, thank you.”
“Hopefully we will get to see you onboard another Virgin Australia aircraft soon. Do you have a connecting flight in Abu Dhabi?”
Once I confirmed I was flying onwards to Europe, he proceeded to give me all the details about my onward flight and reminded me to check the flight displays just in case the gate had changed.

Vick followed a few minutes later,
“I hope your first flight on Virgin Australia was a memorable one?”
“It certainly was. I now want to try and fly you guys to Australia.”
“We would love to have you back; Tina, Kevin and I really enjoy passengers like you. It is not often we get to talk about the company the way we did with you.”
“It is obvious to me that you guys enjoy working for Virgin Australia.”
“We do. Thank you again for flying with us today. Hopefully your connection won’t be too tiring in Abu Dhabi.”

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4059.jpg

Arrival: We slowly descended through the night sky as we gradually made our way to Abu Dhabi. The captain had the cabin crew sit down early as he was expecting a few bumps as we got closer to the airport. True to his word, we hit some patches of bumpy air but nothing really out of the ordinary. Soon enough the lights of the UAE started to appear out of my window.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4063.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4064.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4067.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4068.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4073.jpg

We touched down smoothly just shy of a quarter past 11 at night and the crew welcomed us to Abu Dhabi.
“On behalf of your friendly Virgin Australia crew, we welcome you to Abu Dhabi. We thank you for choosing to fly with Vir… Etihad today.”

We taxied past an array of Etihad aircraft on the apron along with an Air Berlin A330.


http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4076.jpg

However we kept on going which only meant one thing, we were going to be on a hardstand today. We taxied in and parked next to another Etihad alliance partner, a Czech A319.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/Virgin%20Australia%20to%20AUH/IMG_4079.jpg

The crew kept the curtains closed and let out all the business class passengers first onto a dedicated bus. On my way out I thanked Vick and Kevin who were by the bar and walked my way up to door number 1L where Tina was wishing everyone good bye.

I bid Tina adieu and proceeded out the door where the heat of Middle East hit me with full force. Thankfully there was an air conditioned bus waiting at the end of the stairs to take us business class passengers to the terminal.

However this little oasis was not to be as the bus went completely dark and silent about half way to the terminal. Turns out our bus had a failure of some sort and we had to wait for another one to come collect us. So we did a bus to bus transfer and were on our way again a couple of minutes later.

I headed straight up the stairs and made a beeline for the Etihad business class lounge. My Virgin Australia experience was now over.


User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 22404 times:

Verdict: Leaving a positive impression on me after a single flight is no easy task, especially with my high expectations. However Virgin Australia seems to have done just that. I have flown a lot of airlines in my lifetime, and they all leave a mark, good or bad. Virgin Australia managed to exceed the high expectations I had quietly set for them. The airline may not have the amazing robotic service of some South East Asian carriers, or the opulence of some Middle Eastern airlines, however what they have is genuine hospitality accompanied by a touch of something special.

In terms of the ground experience, I cannot really comment much as everything was handled by Malaysian and Etihad. To be fair however, there are no complaints from my end about either encounter. I have always been happy with the service I have received from both Etihad and Malaysian, and this was no exception.

Now when it comes to the actual Virgin Australia product, one can easily tell I was impressed. I shall start off with the seats which I found to be very comfortable and very easy to fall asleep in. It went flat and provided more than enough padding to prevent me from feeling like I was sleeping on a bench. While it was not as private as the Etihad business class seats, it was much better than the standard Lufthansa business class seat I find myself in far too often these days.

The IFE system ‘RED’ worked perfectly. The interface was easy to use and there was a decent selection of movies and sitcoms to keep everyone entertained. The noise-canceling headset provided by the airline was not BOSE but still did a great job of canceling out unwanted noise. The amenity kit was definitely more generous than most, and the quality of products on offer were of a high standard. The meals were equally good, but it was a shame the menus were not loaded.

In my opinion however, the cabin crew were the real stars of Virgin Australia. From the moment I boarded till the moment I stepped off the aircraft, I was very well looked after by Vick, Kevin and Tina. The service from Vick in particular was just the perfect balance of efficient and friendly. He took the time to explain everything to me in detail which was much appreciated. My glass was never left empty and he, along with Kevin and Tina, walked by every so often to see if I needed anything. To me the service was genuine and relaxed, not rigid and robotic - something I often miss when flying many of the worlds’ leading carriers.

In my honest opinion, Virgin Australia definitely “put the magic back into flying.”

Score:
Check In: 10 (The MH staff were both friendly and helpful not only at the gate but at the transfer desk as well)
Boarding: 10 (Very orderly with a separate jetway dedicated for business class)
Seat: 8 (A relatively comfortable full flat seat if only a bit on the narrow side)
Service: 10 (A perfect balance of attentive and casual without being robotic or overwhelming)
Entertainment: 9 (RED has to be one of the easiest systems to navigate through)
Food: 8 (The quality and quantity were of a very high standard)
Aircraft: 10 (Looked almost as good as the day it was delivered )
Arrival: 9 (Dedicated bus for J class passengers is always appreciated)

74/80 = .925

Virgin Australia Scored a 93%



Some Previous Trip Reports:
SriLankan: Searching for Serendipity
Royal Jordanian: The Lost Art of Flying
Cathay Pacific: Re-Discovering The Heart Of Asia
The Evolution Of Change: Gulf Air Vs. Jet Airways
A Mile & More With Lufthansa
The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Kingfisher First On The A330: Redefining Luxury
Virgin America Delivering On Grand Promises
Qatar Airways: Your Five Star Airline?
Back To My Roots: KLM World Business Class
Etihad: A Diamond In The Rough
The Art Of Service: Kingfisher & Jet Airways
Air France: The Best Place On Earth?
Korean Air Business: Excellence In Flight?
Skyteam Challenge: Air France Business Class
Did AA Persuade A Skyteam Elite To Switch?
Battle For The Best: Song Vs. JetBlue
Malaysia: Asia’s Best Kept Secret?


User currently offlineglobetraveller From Germany, joined Apr 2008, 379 posts, RR: 20
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 22245 times:

A sensational TR! Excellent pictures, great detail and an interesting airline.

User currently offlineojas From India, joined Mar 2008, 2988 posts, RR: 25
Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 22090 times:

Hi SR 103,

Yet again a brilliant TR from you!!! Talk about flying Etihad mainline flight numbers without EY aircraft involved.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
“Ladies and Gentlemen, all passengers are onboard and we are finishing up some paperwork and should be on our way shortly. Any ground staff on board, unless you want a quick holiday in Abu Dhabi, it is time to leave the aircraft.”

I like that!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
Each set of seats in row 5 have an individual curtain that can be drawn around them. (You can notice the dotted lines in the seat map below showing the positions of the curtains around row 5)

That is something unique.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
Leaving a positive impression on me after a single flight is no easy task, especially with my high expectations. However Virgin Australia seems to have done just that. I have flown a lot of airlines in my lifetime, and they all leave a mark, good or bad. Virgin Australia managed to exceed the high expectations I had quietly set for them.

True, seems an extremely positive impression for the first time. Now for sure you need to try VA on VA flight numbers!

Thanks for sharing.



A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2467 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 21816 times:

Excellent TR, great pictures- outstanding!

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Wide body service to Johannesburg, Phuket, and Nadi were quickly dropped in favor of launching Abu Dhabi and consolidating the rest of the long haul network to just Los Angeles.
Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Etihad announced they would be “leasing” an aircraft from Virgin Australia to operate their Abu Dhabi – Kuala Lumpur – Abu Dhabi services every Sunday.

So, Virgin Australia is having 5 B777 and 5 A330 - would be interesting to know, what they do with such a huge widebody fleet and only 2 routes!


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Reply 7, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 20514 times:

Hi SR103

Thanks for posting this report, I greatly enjoyed it! I saw that bird in KL a while back and wondered what it was doing there. So thanks for clarifying that one!

The entire Virgin Australia brand looks very appealing and attractive, and so does their inflight product. About those curtains: does every row have them or were they only on your row in case they need to use those seats as a crew rest?

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6456 posts, RR: 38
Reply 8, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 20306 times:

Fantastic TR Anosh! Got to be the best VA TR I've read. Service looked excellent - as you'd expect from the full service airlines down here. And the hard product was definitely sufficient for the KUL-AUH flight as it probably would be for a SYD-AUH flight too. Interesting to hear about the curtains.. I'd presume that an area could be partitioned off for a crew rest area?

Quoting debonair (Reply 6):
So, Virgin Australia is having 5 B777 and 5 A330 - would be interesting to know, what they do with such a huge widebody fleet and only 2 routes!

They use the A330s on the Australian transcontinental routes, namely SYD/MEL-PER and other flights like SYD-MEL. It's not just two routes either as the 77W operates to LAX from SYD and BNE.


Cheers,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlinejulio777 From Indonesia, joined Jan 2012, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 19816 times:

Great TR, love every detail of it. I do love Virgin's cabin when the led light in full swing, looks awesome.

Cheers


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1946 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 19792 times:

Lovely trip report!

Virgin Australia is a nice carrier and I am glad that it has partnered with Etihad.

Thanks for sharing!
Too bad there is no printed menu!

Carfield


User currently onlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8588 posts, RR: 54
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 19300 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi SR 103,

Great report and pictures, great reading on this Saturday evening.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
we don’t have printed menus so I’ll have to explain everything verbally to you

- Odd there were no menu's, if the flight was full taking orders could have taken some time...

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
the rum and coke had been mixed perfectly, not too strong or weak. I polished both off relatively quickly and without even a word Kevin was by my side with another ramekin and a perfectly mixed rum and coke.

- Good to see the crew keeping an eye on passengers.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
At first glance the presentation was not exactly mouthwatering, but after one bite I knew I had made the right choice. The beef was tender and the sauce added quite a bit of flavor to the meat. The mashed potatoes were a bit on the watery side, but had definitely been seasoned and accompanied the vegetable hash very well. The green beans had been cooked perfect al dente but lacked any seasoning whatsoever.

- Agreed, presentation is lacking but if the flavour was there that is what matters.

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 12, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 18664 times:

Hi SR 103!

Brillant trip report, DJ's product looked good already and this review just confirmed my taughts.
Virgin Australia's product is indeed top notch, from the service to the great crew. Definate an airline than can compete against SQ,TG,...


Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinethegivenone From Austria, joined Jan 2008, 193 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 18381 times:

SR 103, thank you for the fabulous TR -- a perfect Sunday read  

I'm glad you had such a positive experience on Virgin Australia. It really seems like the airline is on an amazing pass to success under John Borghetti's lead. I was interested to see how effectively the airline would be able to make the transition from a low-cost to a premium service oriented carrier. From your accounts, it appears to be doing splendidly.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to fly them any time soon as I don't travel in Australia and am also tied to the hip with StarAlliance. But until then I will live vicariously through you  


User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 14, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 18239 times:

Quoting globetraveller (Reply 4):
A sensational TR! Excellent pictures, great detail and an interesting airline.

Thank you, very glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Quoting ojas (Reply 5):
Yet again a brilliant TR from you!!!

Thank you for the compliment, always nice to hear from you Ojas.

Quoting ojas (Reply 5):
Talk about flying Etihad mainline flight numbers without EY aircraft involved.

It's definitely unique, but these days its looking like you can fly to quite a few places on an EY flight number without stepping foot on an EY aircraft.

Quoting ojas (Reply 5):
Now for sure you need to try VA on VA flight numbers!

I really have to!

Quoting debonair (Reply 6):
Excellent TR, great pictures- outstanding!

Thank you debonair.

Quoting debonair (Reply 6):
So, Virgin Australia is having 5 B777 and 5 A330 - would be interesting to know, what they do with such a huge widebody fleet and only 2 routes!

Actually the 77W's fly 4 routes from my understanding. SYD-AUH as well as LAX-SYD, LAX-MEL, and LAX-BNE. The A330's are also doing a lot of domestic flights from PER to SYD and MEL.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 7):
Thanks for posting this report, I greatly enjoyed it!

Thank you William, always nice to hear from a fellow writer.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 7):
I saw that bird in KL a while back and wondered what it was doing there. So thanks for clarifying that one!

I remember you asking about it in your Egyptair trip report. Glad I could answer that question for you.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 7):
About those curtains: does every row have them or were they only on your row in case they need to use those seats as a crew rest?

Only row 5 has them on the 77W. I am not sure for the reason, but I suspect it may have to do with crew rest on the longer LAX flights.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
Fantastic TR Anosh! Got to be the best VA TR I've read.

Thank you Nicholas, I am really glad to see you liked it.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
Service looked excellent - as you'd expect from the full service airlines down here. And the hard product was definitely sufficient for the KUL-AUH flight as it probably would be for a SYD-AUH flight too.

Service was definitely something special. Hopefully this kind of service exists on most VA flights.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
Interesting to hear about the curtains.. I'd presume that an area could be partitioned off for a crew rest area?

I think this is the case, but I am not entirely sure myself. Maybe someone more familiar with VA can comment.

Quoting julio777 (Reply 9):

Great TR, love every detail of it. I do love Virgin's cabin when the led light in full swing, looks awesome.

Thank you, the cabin really is inviting.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 10):
Lovely trip report!

Thank you Carfield, always nice to hear from you.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 10):
Too bad there is no printed menu!

Vick did mention there was a mix up and they should have been loaded but for some reasons were not on today's particular flight.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 11):
Great report and pictures, great reading on this Saturday evening.

Thanks Mark.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 11):
Odd there were no menu's, if the flight was full taking orders could have taken some time...

Vick did mention it was odd. Someone messed up and they were not loaded that day.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 11):
Good to see the crew keeping an eye on passengers.

The crew really were brilliant on this flight and really took care of everyone. It seemed so effortless on their part rather than the standard "forced" service you get on a lot of the Asian and Middle Eastern carriers.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 12):
Brillant trip report,

Thank you Marc.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 12):
Definate an airline than can compete against SQ,TG,...

I could not agree more!

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 13):
SR 103, thank you for the fabulous TR -- a perfect Sunday read

Thank you for taking the time to read it.

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 13):
I'm glad you had such a positive experience on Virgin Australia. It really seems like the airline is on an amazing pass to success under John Borghetti's lead.

I could not agree more. John Borghetti's leadership really has taken the airline in quite a different direction and from my experience it seems to be working.

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 13):
Unfortunately, I won't be able to fly them any time soon as I don't travel in Australia and am also tied to the hip with StarAlliance. But until then I will live vicariously through you

You know, I am a big Star Alliance flyer myself but sometimes you just have to break away for a change. A departure from the norm is what keeps you from going crazy sometimes.


User currently offlinebobloblaw From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 1725 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 18102 times:

I am sorry, were you the only one in business class?

User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 16, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 18020 times:

Quoting bobloblaw (Reply 15):
I am sorry, were you the only one in business class?

No, there were about 20 passengers in the front business class cabin (rows 1- 4.)


User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1965 posts, RR: 24
Reply 17, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 17996 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great report, SR 103!

It looks like you had a great flight with Virgin Australia. The food looks really good, and what a cool thing that you can surround your seats with a curtain! How unique!

I'd love to try flying them sometime; thanks for sharing!

Best,

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlinestipica From Croatia, joined Feb 2011, 427 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 17466 times:

Hi SR 103 !

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
However I still managed to get a nice look at this relatively new Malaysian A380.

relatively new ??? you are joking hehehe but I am lucky man ... just a few days ago I was wondering what kind of service DJ offer ... and one of my favorite writers writes a report hehehhe
thanks for the wonderful report stipica  



Open your eyes and think
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 19, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 16984 times:

Quoting 767747 (Reply 17):
Great report, SR 103!

Thank you Matthew

Quoting 767747 (Reply 17):
The food looks really good, and what a cool thing that you can surround your seats with a curtain! How unique!

It definitely was a unique experience.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 17):
I'd love to try flying them sometime; thanks for sharing!

If given the chance, I can only recommend.

Quoting stipica (Reply 18):
relatively new ??? you are joking

Well it was at the time relatively new.

Quoting stipica (Reply 18):
and one of my favorite writers writes a report hehehhe
thanks for the wonderful report stipica  

Thank you for the compliment, I really appreciate it.


User currently offlineBNEFlyer From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 229 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 16446 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Fantastic trip report SR103! I love Virgin Australia, in particular the 77W. You were lucky enough to be on VH-VPH, the only 77W with the new livery and new seat coverings.

As an Aussie it makes me really proud and happy to hear that you enjoyed the VA experience so much. And I totally agree with your sentiments regarding the service on VA in J, the crew are always absolutely brilliant. As is the food, entertainment and seat.

Quoting debonair (Reply 6):
So, Virgin Australia is having 5 B777 and 5 A330 - would be interesting to know, what they do with such a huge widebody fleet and only 2 routes!

Virgin Australia flies SYD/BNE/MEL-LAX and SYD-AUH, so the 5 77W's get plenty of work! The 5 A332 operate SYD/MEL-PER and the occassional SYD-MEL-SYD.

The curtains at Row 5 aren't for crew rest, the 77W has crew rests, the curtains are there to make Row 5 more private. It's the row that celebrities and VIP's are seated in, or those that just like some privacy for 14 or so hours.


User currently offlinekaran69 From India, joined Oct 2004, 2893 posts, RR: 18
Reply 21, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 15742 times:

Hi Anoosh,

Another gem from you,

It's so good for all of us that you like these rare and exotic airlines , as we get to read your trip reports about them and get more than a fair idea if they are worth it or not,

I finally managed to finish reading most of your trip repors I had missed , as usual all were we'll written,

Look fwd to reading more from you

Karan


User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 22, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 14967 times:

Quoting BNEFlyer (Reply 20):
Fantastic trip report SR103!

Thank you BNEFlyer.

Quoting BNEFlyer (Reply 20):
You were lucky enough to be on VH-VPH, the only 77W with the new livery and new seat coverings.

I was definitely very lucky to get VH-VPH. All the pieces just fell into place with this flight.

Quoting BNEFlyer (Reply 20):
The curtains at Row 5 aren't for crew rest, the 77W has crew rests, the curtains are there to make Row 5 more private. It's the row that celebrities and VIP's are seated in, or those that just like some privacy for 14 or so hours.

Thanks to for the clarification. I was wondering what the answer was.

Quoting karan69 (Reply 21):
Another gem from you,

Thanks Karan, always nice to hear from you.

Quoting karan69 (Reply 21):
It's so good for all of us that you like these rare and exotic airlines

I fly a lot of non exotic airlines these days so its always special when I get on an airline like this.

Quoting karan69 (Reply 21):
I finally managed to finish reading most of your trip repors I had missed , as usual all were we'll written,

Thank you Karan, I am really happy to hear you enjoyed them.

Quoting karan69 (Reply 21):
Look fwd to reading more from you

There is one coming very soon...  


User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5129 posts, RR: 55
Reply 23, posted (2 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 13354 times:

Pretty impressive service (though, missing menus are to me a sign of polish missing). Sounds better than EY where I have had very mixed service. It will definitely be interesting to see how their relationship evolves. Thanks for writing about this unique route.

Saludos,
A.



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