Melbourne to Brisbane
- Fare prices typically below Qantas – although that's reflected through the inflight experience
- Anything more than tea, coffee and water is now chargeable
- Inflight Internet remains switched off
- Baggage, entertainment, points, seat selection included with every economy class fare
Repositioning itself as a 'mid-market' airline rather than a close competitor to Qantas, Virgin Australia is charting its own path back to profitability.
This translates into fare prices that are often lower than Qantas, but with a pared-back inflight service to match.
Here's what to expect on your next Virgin Australia Boeing 737 flight in economy class, whether it's a quick hop, or a longer cross-country trek.
- Frequent flyer program: Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Checked baggage allowance:
- 1x23kg: standard allowance (all fares)
- 2x23kg: Velocity Silver, Velocity Gold
- 3x23kg: Velocity Platinum
- Carry-on baggage allowance:
- Most guests: 7kg combined total weight across two small pieces, or across one standard piece plus one suit pack.
- Velocity Gold and Platinum: 14kg total, split either as 1x7kg standard piece plus 1x7kg suit pack, or 2x7kg small pieces.
- Plus: One personal item for all guests, such as a laptop satchel, handbag, umbrella, overcoat, or camera.
Virgin Australia offers lounge facilities at seven domestic airports:
When flying economy, pre-flight access is available to Velocity Platinum and Gold frequent flyers, Virgin Australia Lounge members, single-visit lounge pass holders, and AMEX Platinum Charge Card and Centurion Card holders.
Entry is also granted to eligible frequent flyers of Delta, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic when travelling with Virgin Australia.
While the food and beverage offering currently varies between lounges, travellers can still expect barista coffee all day, along with beer and wine from 12pm, and something to eat.
At Melbourne Airport, a simple sandwich, latte, and chilled water was an easy go-to in The Club – currently welcoming Velocity Platinum and Velocity VIP members – with similar options served in the airline's separate pop-up lounge, for Gold frequent flyers and lounge members.
Plated options are also available in selected lounges, such as salads and wraps, as well as toasted sandwiches.
When travel is unrestricted between Victoria and Queensland, Virgin Australia runs 61 flights a week from Melbourne to Brisbane, and vice versa.
Economy class comes in a 3-3 layout aboard Virgin Australia's Boeing 737s – so for most travellers, it's a simple choice between an aisle, middle, or window seat.
With a pitch of 31 inches (78cm) in the standard rows, the knees of this tall traveller came close to – but weren't touching – the seat in front.
That wouldn't be true if the passenger in front reclines, or if the seat pocket is loaded up with large items, as this also sits at knee height.
Seats measure a standard 17 inches (43cm) wide, and offer a recline of four inches (about 10cm).
A 'buy on board' menu covers everything else, but the current choices lack variety and freshness.
The most substantial bites include muffins, cups of noodles, or cheese and crackers. Soft drinks cost $3.50, and the wine selection ($12/glass) is an exact match of the drops served in the lounge at no charge.
Spirits are available too ($8.50-$10 ea.), and present better value when travelling with a companion.
That's because each spirit bottle is 50ml (just about enough for two standard pours), so when buying one spirit each – plus a mixer each – and paying for those four items together, Virgin provides a $5 discount.
This reduces the retail price from $24 to $19, which is then $9.50 each, or $4.75 per drink, as enough spirit and mixer is provided to make two drinks each.
Still, this positions Virgin Australia's economy cabin service below that of Qantas, as well as Rex – which continues to include a complimentary snack – and besting Jetstar only for those seeking water, tea or coffee.
If you are making an inflight purchase, payment is accepted by card only: you can use AMEX, a Mastercard credit or debit card, or a Visa credit or debit card, with no minimum purchase or surcharge.
Entertainment & Service
Even though this flight departed with every single seat filled, the crew progressed through the cabin quickly to offer refreshments, and the opportunity to buy anything extra.
There are no seatback or overhead screens on these jets for inflight entertainment – you'll instead need to bring your own device.
Travellers with Android and iOS gadgets may be able to watch content through the Virgin Australia entertainment app over WiFi, although this option isn't available to MacBook users.
Virgin Australia's inflight entertainment also routinely fails to work on many Windows devices too, including the popular Microsoft Surface tablet – requiring Silverlight to be installed, which Microsoft will cease supporting this year in any case.
For users of most Windows devices and MacBooks, this renders Virgin's inflight entertainment unusable: and with no desire to watch that content on a smartphone when a larger screen stands available, generally BYO entertainment.
Virgin's inflight Internet service also remains disabled for now, in contrast with Qantas, which offers complimentary inflight WiFi aboard most of its Boeing 737s.
With Virgin Australia no longer targeting premium business travellers, its domestic economy class experience now sits closer to Jetstar than Qantas, but still in between the two.
Virgin bests Jetstar by including complimentary tea, coffee and water on every flight, as well as inflight entertainment (for those who can access it), checked baggage, standard seat selection, and frequent flyer points (and status credits) with every fare.
However, Virgin ranks behind Qantas for inflight food and beverage, with snacks and meals being free on Qantas, along with all non-alcoholic drinks, plus wine and beer on selected routes from 5pm.
Qantas also provides free inflight WiFi where available: something Virgin is yet to reactivate following its initial 2020 shutdown.
Overall, booking Virgin Australia economy makes the most sense when fare prices are below that of Qantas – but still worth paying a slight premium over Jetstar, for Virgin's broader list of fare inclusions.
Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Virgin Australia and Visit Victoria.