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Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Wed May 15, 2013 7:59 am

I made a switch to fly aboard Virgin Australia last year after a status match, and I've been extremely glad I did. The Virgin Australia A330-200 Coast to Coast service is truly superb.

There are two types of VA A330-200's - two older aircraft which once belonged to Emirates (I am told one of these has recently left the fleet) and the rest are new builds. Flying in the Business Class cabin, I've always been lucky enough to get the new aircraft until this service where I got to experience the ex-Emirates aircraft (I'd flown it once before in Economy back when Qantas grounded their fleet).

The route was PER - MEL.
The date was 13/05/13.
The aircraft was VH-XFA (ex F-WWKB A6-EAB) "Cottesloe Beach".
The seat was 3B.

Here she is - at first I didn't like the new VA colours but now they have grown on me and I think the fleet looks very smart indeed:

I spent about an hour in the Virgin Australia lounge, which is in the same spot that the old Ansett Golden Wing Lounge was, except it's been expanded and upgraded. The lounge is pleasant and has a 24 hour barista so I had a coffee. Boarding was about 40 minutes before the flight and I made my way to the aircraft.

A sign in the aerobridge offering suggestions to those boarding:

On boarding, the cabin crew escort you to your seat (in Business Class) and a short while later the flight attendant looking after the seat I was in introduced herself and brought me a comfort pack (international standard with eye mask, socks, tooth bush, tooth paste, deodorant and a pen). This is followed by a printed menu, as well as a printed wine list.

This was my seat 3B:

Lots and lots of leg room:

The old style recliner must have been top of the line when it was introduced into Emirates service, there were so many choices. The seat was comfortable upright, but in the recline mode it was hard to find a comfortable configuration, but it was better than a standard recliner (not as good as the new aircraft though):

Here's a view of the retro style air-vents and lights of the original Airbus style:

I checked out the Virgin Australia Voyeur magazine - the fleet is certainly much larger than it was a few years ago. Virgin Australia recently acquired Skywest so added Fokker 50, Fokker 100 and A320's to the fold - switch the 777 and A330 with 767's and it kind of reminds me of the old Ansett Australia fleet!

Here's a shot of the cabin once the mood lighting was turned on:

After take off, the chief cabin steward brought me a Galaxy Tablet as the ex-Emirates aircraft only have a loop entertainment system. By now I had moved across to 3A and used the tray table next to me to watch some movies:

I love flight - here we are soaring over the Great Australian Bight:

After hot towels, the cabin crew offer a drinks service. I had a Fat Yak beer (highly recommended) and they bring out warmed nuts in a ceramic bowl:

The menu was pretty impressive, with several options for entrée, three main options and sweets. For entrée I had the wild mushroom soup which comes with bread. Rather than just butter, Virgin Australia offer olive oil and dukha:

The lamb shanks came highly recommended. Other mains options included a chicken dish, fish, and a vegetarian option:

And for sweets, a delicious caramel white chocolate cheese cake - wow!

So, I guess all that was left was time to sit back, relax and enjoy the Virgin Australia service:

Other observations:
- The cabin crew are an absolute delight on every Virgin service - I've never had a grumpy onboard flight attendant.
- There is a bottle of natural mineral water at every seat.
- The seats are embossed with the Virgin logo.
- There Galaxy tablets come with iPad style headphones rather than sound-cancelling ones used on the newer aircraft.
- Bathrooms - there's one at the front and one at the rear of the business cabin for exclusive use of business class passengers.
- The A330 is quiet! Especially up the front here, but the RR engines really do make a glorious noise on take off!
- Cabins was quite empty, 6 seats occupied - though Economy looked full.

Looking very much forward to the next Virgin flight in a few weeks time. Will post something of the newer A330's when time permits.
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RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Wed May 15, 2013 9:38 am

Great TR! It would seem that even the ex EK a330 service is light years ahead of the QF 767's. The food looks to be well beyond anything i've seen from QF domestic- Kudos to VA!
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RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Fri May 17, 2013 11:21 am

It certainly is a pleasure to fly VA; the A332 new builds are miles ahead of the EK birds and the EK birds are better than QF's 763, and domestic configuration A332's (EBM-V).
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RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Sat May 18, 2013 4:53 pm

Great TR, just goes to show how competition benefits the consumer on this route. Our domestic business class leaves Euro Business including Moscow - EU Business miles behind. All they get is a block middle seat.

Oh yes! I love Fat Yak, and i discovered it after my J flight from DRW-MEL.

I hope VA would eventually put this A330 to service on the medium haul to Asia, because the 737 business 38" pitch seat recliners are not comfortable for an 6-7 hour flight to Bali. And Garuda is sometimes cheaper than VA on that route, but they have a lie flat bed.
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RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Sun May 19, 2013 10:22 am

Wow, that food is so much better presented than your Qantas food on the outbound!

Really impressive!
I do quite enjoy a spot of flying - more so when it's not in Economy!
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RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Mon May 20, 2013 9:19 am

Three things. 1) great report 2) John Borghetti has done wonders with Virgin Australia & 3) we should all count our selves lucky we have Qantas and Virgin as our choice for domestic air travel.  
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RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Mon May 20, 2013 11:39 am

Nice insight into Virgin Austrailia. Seems like they have come a very long way in a short space of time since the all 737 fleet of the Virgin Blue days!
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RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Mon May 20, 2013 7:47 pm

Nice report and pictures, the Virgin Australia experience on their A330's looks superb - I am most impressed.

The sure are kicking it to QF in domestic Business Class, good stuff, healthy competition!


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Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:10 am

RE: Virgin Australia's Retro A330 Coast To Coast

Fri May 24, 2013 5:56 am

I'm looking forward to Qantas' response, but as of this week it's all status quo!

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