At last, I've made some flights with Virgin Blue.
All that I've heard about Virgin being streets ahead of Qantas when it comes to punctuality, quality, customer service, and so on, are true. Wow. And a discount airline too. They turned the plane around in 30 minutes in both trips. And it was clean inside too. Why can't other airlines do this? I suppose Virgin Blue load and unload the plane from both front and rear doors, so that must help a lot.
Legroom in the 737-700 was okay, similar to Qantas 737s, at about 32inches. I had about one inch between my leg and the back of the seat in front, and even more impressively, the thick bar that so many airlines use at the base of their seat backs wasn't present on this 737-700. Acceptable legroom, given they are a discount airline. Many full fare airlines should be ashamed, especially Qantas.
Legroom in the 737-800 was much poorer though. I couldn't sit straight, as with the Qantas 737-800. Wonder why this is, given the 700 is just as modern an aircraft. The 800s seats were leather though, so does that make it any better? For me, no, and in fact it reminded me of my horror experiences in Lufthansa economy. Even the Virgin seats had that horrible bar along the bottom, so I couldn't stretch my legs at all. Bearable for 90 minutes, but any longer would give lots of problems sitting skew as I had to do.
There are no free meals on Virgin. If you want anything, you can buy it. And it's not some dodgy mush as many airlines serve for free, but real high street brand name products, albeit with some mark up, I'm sure. But, for domestic flights lasting an hour or two, who cares. Travellers can usually last that length of time without eating, and if you feel peckish, a nice friendly Virgin "host" will come and sell you something tasty.
Decor in the cabins is fresh, the "virgin" and "blue" theme scattered around the terminals and the planes is amusing and light hearted, just making the whole flying thing pleasureable. For example, if you loose your luggage, you go to the "Baggage Blues" desk - nice! Just a shame there is so much red everywhere - it felt a bit overwhelming.
In flight entertainment is restricted to some audio channels and paid for video channels (including live television via their on-plane satellite receiver) - but I didn't bring head phones with me, and didn't want to buy their's so, couldn't sample it. But the programming looked okay.
Would I fly again? Oh yes, most definitely. But probably avoiding the 737-800s if at all possible. Or paying extra for a seat with extra legroom. The Blue seats have that option, and some domestic flights now have "business" seats where the centre seat in the row of three is blocked off to give more room. At a price, of course.
Virgin Blue's answer to the Qantas Club. Used to be AU$5 fee per entry, but now that has been ditched in favour of an annual subscription of around AU$200 - still cheaper than the Qantas Club, but no longer as attractive as it was in the early days. Same as the meals on the plane, you get what you pay for. And inside the Blue Room, you can buy the food and drink you want. And otherwise have the same luxuries that Qantas charges AU$600 per year for membership of the Qantas Club.
Last updated by Philip Smith on Friday, 12-Mar-2010 05:10:24 AEST.