Brisbane to Melbourne
- Inflight dining is back, and the meals are tasty
- No priority security at Brisbane Airport
- Sharp fare prices deliver a $500+ saving per return trip, compared to Qantas
Virgin Australia's refreshed business class service is now available on every flight, with true sky-high dining bidding farewell to the unfortunate days of snack boxes and noodles at the pointy end.
At almost 2.5 hours, Brisbane-Melbourne clocks in as the longest flight in Australia's 'Golden Triangle' of business travel – here's what to expect when that's in Virgin Australia business class.
- Frequent flyer program: Velocity Frequent Flyer. Miles can also be earned and spent on Virgin Australia through Etihad Guest, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and other partnered programs.
- Checked baggage allowance:
- 2x32kg: standard business class allowance
- 3x32kg: Velocity Platinum members
- Note: These allowances apply when booking business class outright, or after upgrading from economy using Velocity Points or UpgradeMe Platinum certificates. Upgrades processed through UpgradeMe Premium Bid/Bid Now retain the economy allowance.
- Carry-on baggage allowance choices:
- 1x7kg bag: maximum dimensions of 115cm
- 2x7kg bags (14kg total): maximum dimensions of 105cm each
- 1x7kg bag + 1x suit pack: maximum bag dimensions of 115cm, maximum suit pack dimensions of 185cm
- Plus: One personal item for all guests, such as a laptop satchel, handbag, umbrella, overcoat or camera.
- Airport fast-track: Dedicated priority check-in counters are available at Brisbane Airport, but there's disappointingly no priority security screening options for Virgin Australia's premium passengers at Brisbane Airport, as the priority lane at the primary checkpoint has disappeared, and Premium Entry remains closed. Priority boarding is clearly signed and announced, however.
A business class ticket provides access to Virgin Australia's Brisbane Airport lounge, which is also shared with Velocity Platinum and Gold frequent flyers, lounge members, and all other eligible guests.
With Virgin Australia Premium Entry remaining closed, the Virgin Australia Lounge can be accessed by venturing through the regular security screening point (where there's also no longer a priority lane) and heading towards Gate 41.
Be aware, queues at Brisbane security can be very lengthy early in the mornings, so if your flight departs before 9am, allow lots of extra time.
By contrast, rival Qantas reopened its similar Premium Lounge Entry facility at Brisbane Airport in late 2020 (below), so the return of even one priority path for Virgin Australia passengers between check-in and the lounge is now long overdue, and its absence puts Virgin at quite a disadvantage at its own 'home hub' airport.
Once you are inside Virgin's lounge, a selection of simple hot and cold food is served at the counter – the hot option being ready-to-go toasted sandwiches.
However, as inflight dining has returned to Virgin Australia business class, a quick coffee sufficed until boarding.
That barista service is available throughout the day, with the bar opening at 12pm.
Virgin Australia currently offers 8-11 daily return flights between Brisbane and Melbourne, with a service departing every 1-2 hours.
These are all served by the airline's Boeing 737 fleet, providing a choice between business class, Economy X, and standard economy.
As domestic travel demand continues to rise, Virgin is also ramping up its Brisbane-Melbourne flying, climbing from 61 weekly return flights at present to as many as 84 weekly return services by October.
The airline competes with Qantas and Jetstar on the route, but not Regional Express (Rex), which counts the Gold Coast as its only Queensland jet destination.
Virgin Australia's Boeing 737 business class covers two rows in a 2-2 layout, for a total of eight seats.
Identified as A/C-D/F, this places the 'C' and 'D' seats either side of the aisle, and the 'A' and 'F pods against the window.
Each seat comfortably reclines: best-enjoyed in row 2, which has a bulkhead wall behind. You'll also find the tray in your side armrest.
That bulkhead doubles as a space for jackets and coats – particularly appreciated when venturing from warmer Brisbane to chillier Melbourne, with the crew offering to hang these before departure.
With a comfortable pitch of 38 inches, there's more than ample space around the knees, with passengers in the second row able to store small bags underneath the seat in front.
For those in row 1, there's space again to stretch forwards, but with bags belonging in the overhead locker for take-off and landing.
A single pouch proves large enough for items like laptops or tablets, (BYO) headphones, water bottles, and other bits and pieces.
As there isn't a dedicated tablet holder, the lip of that pouch can be a great place to hang a tablet for viewing with wireless headphones, when your device's stand or case is sturdy enough.
Some Virgin Australia Boeing 737s are equipped with inflight power, but others aren't: and whether a socket-sporting jet arrives at your gate is down to luck of the draw.
Unlike Qantas' Boeing 737 business class, Virgin Australia's seats don't offer leg rests.
Service begins before take-off with an offer of water, fresh orange juice, or sparkling wine.
Being an 11am departure from Brisbane, lunch is served with two options provided:
- Turkish vegetable and pesto sandwich, or
- Roast vegetable and smoked salmon farro salad
Opting for the lighter dish, the salad was tasty, fresh, and enjoyed with a glass of Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV sparkling.
While the cheese and crackers were a nice way to finish, the presentation of these doesn't match the main course – but at least, serving them this way minimises handling.
Beverages remain available until descent, including tea and coffee.
While it's no Nespresso, a Snowy Mountains cookie on the side is a nice touch.
Entertainment & Service
Movies, TV shows and music are available to stream via your own device after connecting to Virgin Australia's WiFi network – but inflight Internet remains suspended for now.
However, viewing on laptops and some tablets (including Microsoft Surface) can be hit and miss, with MacBooks currently unsupported, and Windows devices requiring Internet Explorer with Silverlight: which Microsoft will also stop supporting in October 2021.
If this describes your gadget, a better plan is pre-loading your laptop or Surface with content: which serves as a great backup even if you're normally able to get the inflight entertainment working.
Service on today's flight was friendly and efficient, with passengers addressed by name upon boarding and at meal time, with no need to press the call bell.
Serving as a tough competitor to Qantas and offering a more premium inflight dining experience than Rex, Virgin Australia is undoubtedly charting ahead in that 'mid market' territory.
Its sharp business class fare pricing will also be attractive to many, with one-way Virgin Australia fares from Brisbane to Melbourne selling from $549 in mid-July, versus $818 on the same dates with Qantas.
That's a difference of over $500 per passenger, per return ticket.
However, Virgin Australia (and Brisbane Airport) are doing passengers no favours by removing all priority security options in Brisbane, and we sincerely hope this changes sooner rather than later.
Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Virgin Australia and Visit Victoria.