Virgin Australia will fly Brisbane-Tokyo from March 2020

Virgin's fresh focus on Japan will include daily Brisbane-Tokyo flights and a partnership with ANA.

By Brandon Loo, November 4 2019

Virgin Australia is gearing up to begin daily flights between Brisbane and Tokyo in March 2020. It's a pleasing alternative to the current Brisbane-Japan monopoly enjoyed by Qantas, with the added advantage that Virgin's flights will use Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which is considerably closer to the city than Tokyo's Narita Airport used by most other airlines.

Travellers headed beyond Tokyo will also welcome the new partnership between Virgin Australia and ANA, which will open up seamless connections at Haneda to some 38 destinations across Japan including Osaka, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Okinawa and Fukuoka.

When will Virgin's Brisbane-Tokyo flights start?

Virgin Australia plans to begin its daily Brisbane-Tokyo flight on Sunday 29 March 2020, with tickets going on sale in December 2019.

The journey will take about 9 hours each way. While Virgin hasn't yet revealed full details of the schedule, the Brisbane-Tokyo leg will run during the daytime with an overnight red-eye on the return.

Get ready for a great new way to fly between Brisbane and Japan.
Get ready for a great new way to fly between Brisbane and Japan.

What aircraft will be used?

Virgin's Brisbane-Tokyo/Haneda route will use an Airbus A330 fitted with 20 business class suites and 255 economy seats (including eight Economy X seats).

CEO of Virgin Australia, Paul Scurrah, revealed that the Melbourne-Hong Kong route will be suspended in 2020, with this Airbus A330 now being free to start the Brisbane-Tokyo service in late March 2020.

Read more: Virgin Australia suspends Melbourne-Hong Kong flights

Virgin's Brisbane-Tokyo business class experience

The 20 business class seats on Virgin Australia's Airbus A330s feature the airline's signature offering, which is also seen on Virgin's Boeing 777s to Los Angeles.

Christened 'The Business', it's a spacious and well-appointed seat offering direct aisle access for every passenger.

Virgin Australia's highly-regarded 'The Business' business class.
Virgin Australia's highly-regarded 'The Business' business class.

Whichever part of the journey between Brisbane and Tokyo happens to take place overnight, travellers will appreciate that the seat converts into a 2m long fully lie-flat bed dressed with a mattress topper, which the crew will make up while you nip into the WC and change into the complimentary business class pyjamas.

Virgin's business class seat transforms into a comfortable 2m-long bed.
Virgin's business class seat transforms into a comfortable 2m-long bed.
Slip into your PJs, slip under the covers and drift off to sleep.
Slip into your PJs, slip under the covers and drift off to sleep.

There's also be the option to stay connected via Virgin's WiFi service – something which Qantas doesn't offer on its international flights.

Based on the pricing for Virgin Australia's Hong Kong flights, inflight Internet on the Brisbane-Tokyo route should cost around $9 per hour or $20 for the whole flight, which is of course much better value.

WiFi speed test onboard Virgin Australia's Airbus A330 (Sept 2019, Domestic).
WiFi speed test onboard Virgin Australia's Airbus A330 (Sept 2019, Domestic).

As for inflight dining, expect the Luke Mangan-designed menu to take on a distinctly Japanese flair, similar to the fusion dishes found on Virgin Australia's Hong Kong flights and now filtering onto the domestic business class menus occasionally as well.

The Tokyo flights are likely to feature two meal services each way, the first being a proper three-course affair with each dish being brought out separately.

Smoked duck breast starter, Virgin Australia A330 business class (PER-MEL).
Smoked duck breast starter, Virgin Australia A330 business class (PER-MEL).

The second service is done before landing, all on one tray. For daytime flights, it will be a light supper (as shown below); for overnight flights, it will be hot breakfast.

Char siu pork noodles supper, Virgin Australia business class (SYD-HKG).
Char siu pork noodles supper, Virgin Australia business class (SYD-HKG).

Review: Virgin Australia Sydney to Hong Kong, Airbus A330 business class

Getting around Haneda Airport and Tokyo

The flight from Brisbane will arrive and depart from Haneda's International Terminal (soon to be called Terminal 3). There are two other domestic terminals – JAL uses Terminal 1 and ANA uses Terminal 2.

Two rail links connect Haneda Airport to Tokyo Station: the Tokyo Monorail goes via Hamamatsucho and the privately-run Keikyu Railways line connects via Shinagawa. Both journeys take around 30-40 minutes and will cost you around ¥600 (A$8).

By road, travellers can take 'limousine buses' (from 50 minutes, ¥930/A$12.5) or taxis and private cars for the most direct transfers (from ¥5,000/A$66 depending on the final destination).

Railway links around Tokyo Haneda Airport. www.japan-guide.com
Railway links around Tokyo Haneda Airport
www.japan-guide.com

Passengers connecting between Virgin Australia and ANA domestic flights can transit through special airside buses organised by ANA, or get a free pass to use the Tokyo Monorail or Keikyu Railways train between the terminals.

Lounge access for Virgin's Brisbane-Tokyo flights

Virgin Australia's business class guests along with Velocity Gold and Platinum members will begin their journey at the recently-opened and independently-operated My Lounge in Brisbane's international terminal.

It features a wide range and high quality of food, albeit in a slightly cramped space.

Review: Virgin Australia 'My Lounge', Brisbane International

Ahead of the return flight from Tokyo, those same passengers will be able to enjoy some time as ANA's Haneda business class lounge.

The ANA Lounge at Tokyo Haneda Airport, used by business class passengers.
The ANA Lounge at Tokyo Haneda Airport, used by business class passengers.

Review: ANA business class lounge, Tokyo Haneda

Benefits of the Virgin Australia-ANA alliance

Virgin Australia's partnership with ANA will include a 'codeshare' arrangement which will let Virgin Australia customers book flights from Australia to their final destination in Japan (if they're travelling beyond Tokyo) on a single ticket, all under Virgin Australia flight numbers – flying Virgin from Brisbane to Tokyo, and then ANA to their next destination.

Also on the cards are Velocity Frequent Flyer points on ANA flights, along with access to ANA's domestic lounge network across Japan.

Read more: Virgin Australia and ANA partner on flights to Japan

Brandon Loo

Brandon divides his time between Perth and Launceston, with ample hours spent in airport lounges in between. He recently picked up photography and tries to capture the beauty of Tasmanian landscapes, aeroplane cabins and in-flight food, to varying degrees of success.

DownSouth

DownSouth

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 106

Sounds very appealing.

bmc

bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 139

Here here. I predict many a ski trip to originate from this partnership. I'm planning one already ;)

Jgrae

Jgrae

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Sep 2018

Total posts 5

With the current deficits that VA is running, this is sure to help them with some much needed income. Good on them. Competition on this route and another appealing international destination, are positive signs for VA

Albinoni1967

Albinoni1967

01 Nov 2018

Total posts 40

So if Virgin are going to be using A330's for its Japan leg flights, what will they use for Perth to Melbourne or Perth to Sydney

DanV

DanV

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 124

It may be one of the SYD-HKG or MEL-HKG routes (both loss making) that could be axed in favour of BNE-HND.

Lmc

Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 56

737-800!

Tonym

Tonym

07 Feb 2018

Total posts 16

Qantas enjoys a monopoly but in fact is the pioneer of this service, and again gets ignored for its efforts by regulators, and as it seems “experts” such as ourself. I've noted previously Virgin is again being rewarded for no effort. It's foray to Japan should commence at Narita. The guys that have opened up the Japan market (Qantas) should have got both new slots so they could improve their already excellent schedule. virgin just shuffling planes from one loss maker to another. A typical scatter gun and opportunistic play by the red ink airline

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 553

As was previously explained a number of times in the other thread covering this subject, IASC has a mandate to promote competition. Unless there were compelling reasons to do otherwise, and I don't think incumbency is a compelling reason, the rights were always going to be split between the two applicants. Qantas fully understood this which is why they made no attempt to appeal the interim decision when first announced.

Tonym

Tonym

07 Feb 2018

Total posts 16

I do think incumbency is very compelling, it's called loyalty, trust and rewarding for past efforts, not a regulator trying to conjure up competition from a failed enterprise. We have become snowflakes allowing regulators regulate the free market forces. Qantas probably rolled their eyes at another dumb decision

Brandon Loo

Brandon Loo

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 83

Hi Tonym, it didn't make it to the final edit of the article, but Virgin Australia does have a specific reason for not wanting to start flights to Narita.

In its application to the IASC on 24 September 2019, Virgin Australia stated that, “[we] would not be prepared to commence services to Japan if our only option to serve Tokyo was through operations to Narita, as we would not have the ability to leverage our partnership with ANA (ANA offers 38 domestic codeshare connections to/from Haneda, compared to only five at Narita)”

Tonym

Tonym

07 Feb 2018

Total posts 16

Hi Brandon, understand Virgin's submission and took that into my thought process. Doesn't alter my view, not saying my view is correct......

nix584

nix584

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 250

You love QF, hate VA, we get that. But VA isn't being 'rewarded', they were rightly awarded a slot to open up competition and additional routes through Japan. There is zero reason they should have to start Japan services through NRT.

The argument that QF should get rights to operate a fourth and fifth Tokyo service from Australia just so they can fly different schedules is absurd. Where's the competition in that? Where's the benefit to the Australian and Japanese passengers? And IASC isn't in the business of rewarding 'loyalty', particularly to an airline that currently has a monopoly on a route. They need to make strategic decisions that benefit Australian airlines and the travelling public.

Tonym

Tonym

07 Feb 2018

Total posts 16

Qantas doesn't get a good go in comparison to its protected global competitors is my much misunderstood point here. It's in Australia's interest to have the strongest presence in an open skies global environment. Qantas is best placed to do that and our regulators are best placed to assist that. They can find a new mechanism to check pricing and frequency. I don't hate Virgin at all, I occasionally fly with them and find them good too.

DanV

DanV

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 124

So in other words, you hate and despise VA and you rather have them go broke, send people out of a job, and have the QF group be the monopolistic airline in Australia.

We get it, just admit you'd rather have a domestic monopoly with the QF group being the only domestic major.

Tonym

Tonym

07 Feb 2018

Total posts 16

Not true, they just don't try hard anymore. Ever since ex Qantas dropout led them down this path of copy Qantas at all costs they've fallen off the perch, that's all. What's wrong with sticking up for Qantas? Most people on these forums enjoy throwing mud at a fine Australian icon that does its thing from a small end of line market whilst it's subsidised Middle Eastern and Asian “competitors” have either government subsidies and low labour costs or both. Virgin is part owned by a number of these subsidised airlines, so to me it seems they have an unfair way of doing things. Add that Virgins shareholders originate from places like Singapore, China and the Middle East, areas that have atrocious labour laws and reprehensible human rights records generally, I can't see the point of seeing positives in Virgin. Just my opinion of what constitutes a good Aussie company.

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 105

Isn't the attempt to launch service to Tokyo Haneda, deepening partnership with ANA, trying hard for the airline? Just because Virgin has shareholders come from different backgrounds does not mean they are being 'unfair'. The airline has shown time and time again that it is trying to be profitable and not just sucking money from all their big daddy investors. The careful analysis and decision to launch this route proves that.

DanV

DanV

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 124

2 of VA's "investors" doesn't exactly have the capacity to fund VA of the moment either due to their own financial problems (Etihad and Hainan Group).

One of the reasons why 2 of VA's debt-ridden investors still have their stakes as an "ongoing concern" of the moment is that there's no-one credible that wants to purchase those stakes.

The new CEO record has also been on record as being aware that VA can only work within their means because the stakeholders have chosen to remain hands-off in the day to day running.

As for SIA, they are also on record that they haven't been happy with their VA stake for sometime (only maintaining their stake for feed access) and VA isn't exactly a priority for SIA as they've been putting in their investments in other "loss-making" carriers such as Vistara in India. I would not be surprised if SQ was actually looking at exiting VA themselves.

Ozshanel

Ozshanel

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2014

Total posts 34

Absolutely 100% agree. Thank you Tonym for saying what not enough people in this country are thinking.

I find it puzzling that so many Australians consider a cheap fare more important than supporting an Aussie icon trying its best against foreign government owned and financed airlines.

Longreach

Longreach

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 140

Well said, DanV.

Those who rubbish VA forget where it started and still lives: it's where Qantas started and flourished.

Rod H

Rod H

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 121

It's a long time since I have see such utter bias and crap but To...m sure has posted some. QF have been the most protected Airline in aviation history in this neck of the woods for a great many years. They were always nicknamed " the Gods of the skies " because they always thought they were and still are. QF are a good Airline but so are so many others equally as good and quite a few vastly better. Didn't see much Aussie support from many for another now defunct Aussie Icon " Ansett ". When Ansett tried to operate Internationally QF pulled out all stops and tricks to stop them at any cost. They Didn't want competition!!! Competition is great for the customer and the Airlines respond accordingly.

Tonym

Tonym

07 Feb 2018

Total posts 16

C'mon, you cant use language like that and I'm perfectly entitled to express my opinion and i do so without bad language sir

Rod H

Rod H

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 121

I really don't think the word " crap " is bad language at all. It's very descriptive and used very commonly.

You certainly are entitled to express you opinion just as we are who don't agree with it.

QF have been mollycoddled for far too long in this country . Competition never hurt anyone and it's great for the traveller.

There's been far too much protection for so called " icons " . If they can't stand on their own two feet then let them fall.

Ozshanel

Ozshanel

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2014

Total posts 34

But Rod H, isn't that the point. Qantas is the only carrier in the region that is trying to stand on its own feet. Every other airline that it is having to "compete" with has unlimited funding from government owners and can flood the market with cheap airfares because they are not required to make a profit.

Sure this may be great for the consumer but do not pretend that Qantas is in any way in some sort of privileged position.

dm12

dm12

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 44

Same article reposted....

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 259

I think it's great to see more options on Japan and irrespective of shareholders, VA is still an Australian based carrier employing many Australians, so I think the above argument/s are not the right place to start. Isn't great to see more than one Australian carrier giving it a go, well I think so. But in saying all that, VA's track record on their long-haul international network, (albeit LAX), isn't exactly stellar. Hopefully Japan will be that turning point where they have longevity and growth, and that may probably mean less A330s for Australia domestic.

Rod H

Rod H

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 121

Opinions are always good to see but they very rarely change so I can't be bothered voicing mine any further.

I do wish VA the very best luck in providing a great service and will try them out soon on this route.

Jacobs_trains_666

Jacobs_trains_666

02 Nov 2019

Total posts 1

I vote we send in Billy M Murray to host a fight to the death..

Cagie

Cagie

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2014

Total posts 5

People tend to forget the years when Qantas was getting government funding etc etc. I have flown Qantas since the late 70s and every flight I've had with them has always had poor staff.

Give me competition Any time and I will personally prefer to fly with VA,SIA, Air NZ and even SAS over Qantas.

Tonym

Tonym

07 Feb 2018

Total posts 16

Qantas received government funds when it was owned by the government, not since. As they owned it, they funded it. There's heaps of competition, you have named but some!


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Australia will fly Brisbane-Tokyo from March 2020