B737-700 VH-VBA "Brissie Lizzy"
STD 1830 (1030z)
ATD 1832/1848 (1032/1048z)
STA 2000 (1200z)
ATA 2001/2006 (1201/1206z)
Flying Time 1:13 Block Time 1:35
I checked in at 1715 after the 20 min taxi ride from Sydney City Centre. The Express Terminal was the first terminal that one came to on arrival at the domestic area of the airport and was obviously recently built to accomodate Virgin Blue and Impulse (Cockatoo sadly shot down - what a great colour scheme!)
The check in area along with the rest of the terminal was small and functional and the check in area was suprisingly quiet for this time of the day, so there was no queuing for my 1830 departure. Check inwas completed quickly and efficiently with one receiving a supermarket-style till roll receipt which comes in two portions. The first and smaller portion is given to the gate staff for headcount purposes, and the second one is used as a boarding card with seat number and baggage receipt.
The Express Terminal was hot and packed and lacked air conditioning, there was a mix of businessmen, holidaymakers and families. There was a bookstand, small snack bar and toilets.
There was obviously a degree of congestion both on the ramp and within the terminal causing boarding delays to some flights. Some of the Impulse staff seemed to be quite offhand when questioned about Virgin Blue flights saying stuff like "you'll have to speak to Virgin - if you can find any of them!"
Boarding of our flight commenced shortly before 1815, we were processed through the gate to board our new Next Generation Boeing 737-700 VH-VBA "Brissie Lizzy".
Boarding was via front and rear steps as per boarding announcement with no jetway. This actually speeds boarding I find, even though one does not have the comforts of not being exposed to the elements.
Once on board, I was greeted enthusiastically by one of the Virgin Blue flight attendants and directed to my (19F) blue leather upholstered seat with read head trim. The newness of the seats gave off a really nice smell. The seats offered a seat pitch of 30-31 inches which was no real hardship for the 1hr 30 m sector.
Pop/Rock boarding music was provided - thankfully at a reasonable level. The seat next to me was empty, however I had an infant on lap kicking we from behind.
The flights are obviously proving popular, my seat was booked well in advance from the website and was incredibly cheap at around $66 (around £25).
Again like all of the other flights I have taken within Australia the cabin crew kept a low profile out of the cabin until virtually all of us had sat down. (Are British cabin crew the only ones that are generally pro-active during boarding?).
Once sat down we were welcomed aboard by our Cabin Supervisor, who told us we were going to Darwin!, you could feel an ir of puzzlement bordering on panic from some before she said "no I'm only joking we're not going to Darwin, but where would you like to go?". This then received votes from the "Guests" for places such as Bali, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It was eventually decided that they could offer us "Bris-vegas" instead.
The Cabin Crew went into their demonstration positions within the cabin, and when each was introduced individualy to the crew they each had to wave to their guests. The safety demonstration was then carried out with a school/bedtimetime story angle.
We were then told in a seductive manner that for our "personal comfort and pleasure" the cabin lights were about to be dimmed and that we could find reading lights in the panel above our heads, we were given directions on how to find this - some people accidentaly hit the cabin crew call buttons "no silly - they're for after take-off" we were told. So the cabin ceiling lights and the reading lights were on, so I couldn't see the point about them being dimmed.
Our taxi out to the Runway was lengthy and during this
time the cabin supervisor decided to get some friendly rivalry amongst the guests by getting them to shout out for their favourite Sydney or Brisbane footie teams.
I'm not altogether sure they were that focused on their roles as safety personnel.
Once airborne we were offered warm and friendly cabin service from the range of "Tucker"- hot and cold drinks plus snacks available for purchase (I had some pringles, a kit kat chunky and some fruit juice at $7, the magazine was a good read. Headsets were offered on request for the audio entertainment (only this fitted, no video) for a price of $5 - the headsets could be taken away.
There was a second opportunity to purchase drinks and snacks as the cart from the front made it's way rearwards back to the galley.
The sale of Virgin Blue merchandise was offered after this, I think they were trying to charge $35 for a plastic 737 model!
We cruised at 37,000 feet in a straight line from Sydney up to the Gold Coast where descent was commenced through a storm cloud filled sky, the lights of Surfer's Paradise visible passing beneath the wing.
It was quite bumpy.
We were then asked by the Cabin Supervisor if we had heard of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) prior to her initiating an in flight exercise session "right I want to see everyone's arms stretching up!" she said.
The way the aircraft was bouncing around we must have looked like we were riding a rollercoaster. I wasn't sure how this was all going down with the businessmen on board?
After the in-flight aerobics we were treated to the Virgin Blue flight attendant's song they made up in groundschool to the tune of Madison Avenue's -Don't Call Me Baby. This was directed at QANTAS and Ansett Australia - "Don't think that we're not strong, we're the ones to take you on, don't under-estimate us boys, you'll be sorry you were born, were Virgin Blue" etc
This was sung at us through the aircraft PA system.
We landed at Brisbane at 2001 (1201z) and taxied onto a jetway at 2006.
As we taxied in, one last joke was played "ladies and gentlemen your baggage reclaim area for this flight is belt number 6
All in all the wackiest flight I've ever been on, a very friendly crew, but I'm not sure that the guests will put up with the constant joking around long term. I'm not sure it does the image of flight attendants an good and may compromise safety at times. But full marks for taking on the big boys and making air travel affordable in Australia.
Anyone else experienced a Virgin Blue flight, any opinions on their 'creative' service. What did you think?