Cool, hip, new, fun, and luxurious. These are the words often associated with anything possessing the Virgin name. The newest airline to the Virgin group, V Australia, is unsurprisingly attempting to mold itself perfectly to the above adjectives. V Australia definitely adds a new flavor to international Australian aviation, challenging traditional operations such as Qantas. Only time will tell if they succeed.
This Australian trip served two main purposes: To check out the country with my family and spend time with an Australian girl I once dated in the Gold Coast. V Australia was an easy choice, as it offered the best fares originating in TPA, with the domestic flights in the U.S. operated by DL.
Ticketing was done via Orbitz, which went flawlessly as usual. I would also like to note that their price of a combined DL & VA itinerary was cheaper than booking the tickets separately or from VA’s website where you can book U.S. connections. Anyways, I was able to log onto DL’s website with my confirmation number, and view my whole itinerary including the VA flights. I was only able to choose seats for the DL flights online. A quick call to Orbitz, however, and my friend and I had secured seats 46A & C for the V Australia flights.
V Australia’s website is extremely basic. You cannot do anything except book flights and view information about their product offerings. There is no online check-in, no seat selection, and no option to manage your booking. Quite sad considering how modern they try to seem.
I was leaving Australia with mixed emotions; however, I was definitely excited to get home. The drive from Gold Coast went smoothly, and we were able to reach BNE in roughly 1:15.
Check-in had just opened upon our arrival to the terminal. The check-in agent was very pretty and slightly friendly, but seemed quite distant and removed from her job. We asked her about changing seats from our pre-assigned seats, but she just told us to be patient. Nonetheless, she was able to tag our bags through to TPA and print our connecting boarding passes on DL. Very nice!
While clearing immigration, I noticed that our seats were not the ones we had reserved. Nice. I then angrily went completed the departure formalities, and immediately tried to find a V Australia service desk to fix our seating issue. I found a desk that serviced several airlines, and asked the agent about moving seats. She told us that seat assignments can’t be changed at the airport, and there was nothing she could do. She said that you can’t actually reserve seats, but can only “request” them. She also said that people are often moved to make room for families. Not cool at all.
My friend and I accepted that would not score the seats we wanted, so we proceeded towards the gate. Our passports and boarding passes were checked before the entering the gate area, which was at the very end of the terminal.
Boarding was announced for premium passengers at about 9:40, 40 minutes before departure. We followed shortly after, and our boarding passes were torn despite there being a scanner at the gate.
Date: 4 April 2011
Airline: V Australia
Flight: VA 7
Aircraft: Boeing 777-3ZG/ER
Aircraft Reg: VH-VPE
Departure City: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Departure Airport: Brisbane Airport (BNE / YBBN)
Arrival City: Los Angeles, California, USA
Arrival Airport: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX / KLAX)
Scheduled Departure Time: 10:20 AM
Actual Departure Time: 10:25 AM (5 min late)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 6:25 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 6:25 AM (on-time)
Load Factor: 100% in all classes
As I stepped onto the 77W, my anger over the seating debacle quickly dissipated. I love 777s, and it’s truly a special feeling every time I enter the cabin. We were immediately welcomed onboard by cheery and attractive flight attendants, who pointed us in the direction of our seats.
Pop music was playing throughout the cabin, which created a very relaxed environment. The mood lighting was also activated a very low setting. We were seated in row 27, which was located just one row behind the emergency exit over the wing. In my seat there was a pillow, a blanket, headphones, an eye shield, and a pair of earplugs. Legroom was standard at about 32”, and the seats were firm, but still comfortable and quite wide. Unfortunately, this flight was to be 100% full.
Boarding took a while, but was still efficient enough. Just a few minutes after the scheduled departure time, we pushed began and began a long taxi to the runway. The safety video was then shown, which was well done with a cartoon version of Richard Branson.
Takeoff was powerful but quite long, although unsurprising considering our full load and flight duration. We were granted fantastic views of Brisbane as we climbed.
Our departure was relatively turbulent, but nothing too bad. The main screens throughout the cabin were huge, and displayed a moving map with information regarding our flight. Water bottles were handed out by the cabin crew during this time as well.
The captain made an announcement to welcome us onboard and give the standard information about our journey to LAX. He also extended a special welcome to some friends of his who were apparently onboard the aircraft.
An informational video about our flight was shown throughout the plane, which offered tips on how to stay healthy on a long-haul flight.
Not too long after reaching our cruise altitude, the meal service began. I opted for some sort of chicken. It was a pretty horrible airline meal in my opinion.
While consuming my meal, I took some sort of sleeping pill given to me by my parents. I began to feel almost drunk, and immediately felt extremely tired (I only slept for 3 hours the prior night as well). I put everything on the meal tray and passed out for a few hours.
I later awoke to find us almost over the middle of Pacific, with the sun setting.
I fell back sleep for quite some time, and later awoke in the middle of the night. I decided to get up, stretch out, use the lavatory, and re-fill my water bottle. VA’s 77Ws actually have water fountains throughout the plane, which is fantastic. They also have snack stands with chips and such for passengers to take. I would also like to add that pop music was played in the lavatories throughout the flight. Can’t say I’ve experienced that before.
Feeling fairly well-rested at the point, I chose to explore the IFE system, known as “Red”. It has a plentiful and fantastic selection of movies, TV shows, games, and music. “Red” offered more than enough for this trans-Pacific crossing. I watched “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”, “127 Hours”, and a few episodes of Modern Family.
Breakfast was eventually served, and I honestly have no clue what I ate. They didn’t say what it was, but I think some sort of potatoes may have been in there. Like dinner, it was not particularly tasty at all.
Eventually, our descent into LAX was announced! Despite my love for flying, I was ready to get off this plane. An arrival video specific to LAX was shown on the IFE system, which was nice. The cabin crew did the standard landing preparations as the sun began to rise.
Our 777-300ER touched down gracefully on runway 6R, bringing our long trans-pacific crossing to an end. Taxi to the gate was extremely short, and of course they were having trouble connecting the jetway to our aircraft. Thankfully, it didn’t take them too long to figure out how to operate it.
Clearing immigration / customs was a lengthy affair. It took about 30 minutes to get through the immigration line and another 10 to get through customs. Rush hour is no fun at LAX. After dropping our bags on the conveyor belt, we made our way to the Delta terminal for our flight to ATL, thus bringing our V Australia experience to an end.
Overall, I had a nice flight with V Australia. They have top-notch amenities, a brand-new fleet, young and motivated employees, and definitely rock the cool Virgin image. However, their IT system is horrendous for an airline of this caliber. The fact the airline routinely changes people’s seat assignments for 15 hour flights is extremely disappointing, and a huge turn-off. The food was also of poor quality, which was a shame. All-in-all, however, I was pleased with my V Australia experience, and would definitely recommend them.
Thank you for reading, and feel free to view some of my prior Trip Reports:
Taag Angola 737-700 Windhoek-Luanda In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Sep 12 2010 in Trip Reports)
Taag Angola 777-200ER Lisbon-Luanda In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 29 2010 in Trip Reports)
Asiana Airlines 777-200ER ICN-LAX In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Apr 16 2010 in Trip Reports)
Thai Airways A340-500 CNX-BKK In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Apr 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
Bangkok Airways A319 BKK-REP In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 30 2010 in Trip Reports)
Asiana Airlines 747-400 LAX-ICN In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 28 2010 in Trip Reports)
Delta 737-700 ATL-SXM In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
Air India 777-200LR DEL-JFK In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jan 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
Drukair A319 PBH-DEL In Y W/TONS Of Pix/Vid (by MHTripple7 Jan 10 2009 in Trip Reports)
Air India 777-200LR JFK-DEL In C W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jan 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
South African 737-800 JNB-CPT In C W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Sep 21 2008 in Trip Reports)
South African BAe 146-200 LVI-JNB In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 13 2008 in Trip Reports)
Delta 767-400ER JNB-ATL In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 1 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air Botswana BAe 146-100 JNB-MUB In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air France 777-300ER CDG-JNB In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air France A330-200 DTW-CDG In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 22 2008 in Trip Reports)
Delta 737-800 JFK-TPA (Pix And Vid) (by MHTripple7 Apr 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 777 DEL-JFK Mar 28 2008 Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 29 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 9W707 W/Diversion (Pix) (by MHTripple7 Mar 22 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 777-300ER JFK-DEL ( Pix) (by MHTripple7 Mar 21 2008 in Trip Reports)