Virgin Australia makes Sydney-Perth 'A330-only' on weekdays

By David Flynn, June 6 2013
Virgin Australia makes Sydney-Perth 'A330-only' on weekdays

Virgin Australia will raise the transcontinental business class bar in October by putting its big Airbus A330 onto the Sydney-Perth route for all weekday flights.

The smaller and less comfortable Boeing 737-800 will still trundle on some transcon flights on the weekend, but from Monday through Friday every flight between Sydney and Perth will be on Virgin's big bird.

The move will be made possible by Virgin's purchase of a seventh Airbus A330, which like four of its predecessors will be fitted with what is easily Australia's best business class cabin – spacious angled lie-flat seats with plenty of nooks for keeping personal items at hand, plus a large seatback screen with video-on-demand.

Virgin's international-grade A330 'Coast to Coast' service, which also includes Luke Mangan meals and an amenity kit, already serves all weekday flights between Melbourne and Perth, plus two out of three Brisbane-Perth weekday services.

Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton says that "the launch of our new state-of-the-art domestic pier at Perth Airport next year will see Virgin Australia lift the standard of air travel in Western Australia to the next level."

Earlier this year Qantas also switched its weekday Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth flights to the A330, with Brisbane-Perth flights on Qantas' refurbished Boeing 767s.

However, Qantas' latest A330 business class seat comes in a clear second to Virgin Australia's, with a premium economy-style recliner which has the middle seat blocked off by a plastic 'working table' shroud, as reported in Australian Business Traveller last November.

Qantas' now-infamous "workspace" seats are seen on its newest domestic A330s.
Qantas' now-infamous "workspace" seats are seen on its newest domestic A330s.

The stark difference between those seats, and the super-competitive nature of Australia's east-west route, which feeds regional flights to WA's resource hubs, will see Qantas upgrade its entire 30-strong fleet of Airbus A330s with a new lie-flat business class seat from the end of 2014.

The airline will adopt an all-new seat design rather than stick with the Marc Newson Skybeds found in its Airbus A380s and upgraded Boeing 747s.

"They're very exciting, there's plenty of legroom and we're very confident that they will get an amazing reaction" Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce told Australian Business Traveller earlier this year, joking that "I certainly swim in the seats given my size!"

"They'll be the best domestic product anywhere in the world, and it leapfrogs anything our competitor's doing" Joyce continued. The refit will also include a new inflight entertainment system plus a refreshed economy cabin.

While the new seats are still almost 18 months away, Qantas has already stepped up inflight dining on flights between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

The new east-west business class menu is based on Qantas' latest international menu designed by Aussie superchef Neil Perry and built around a range of of small and main plates as well as ‘small bite’ starters.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 699

That's good news for Sydney-siders. The new A330's Virgin has serving these coast to coast services are hands-down the most comfortable domestic business class set-up. Spacious seats, with power for everyone, and international food and wine service, and an amenity kit to boot (the vallina and watermelon Grown lip-balm is great). Definately my preferred way to travel!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 171

I wish they would upgrade those ex EK birds though.  Having travelled them twice before in Business Class to Perth, they have a very dissapointing hard product compared to the new aircraft.

Qantas - Platinum One

18 Jan 2011

Total posts 82

Interesting - Qantas often flies the International A330's to Perth from MEL and SYD with Skybeds - and Virgin has an older ex EK config?

Seems like the two are currently kind of on par then, and that the Qantas upgrade might improve things a lot for QF flights...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Aug 2012

Total posts 171

Totally agree DGP, the new product is amazing but it's a real let down when you get the old EK birds.  Service is still great but seat is not as good and IFE on a loop is horrible.

They need to upgrade these aircraft for consistency..

20 Oct 2011

Total posts 77

... from when?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

From October.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2012

Total posts 268

I absolutely love Virgin Australia's A330s, they truly deserve the award for Best Domestic Business Class and this will be very good for travellers in Sydney. I just hope Virgin might consider retiring or refurbishing its older A330s because they really let them down after you tried both. Nevertheless, the A330 has a bright and distinctive feel when you step in as well as Virgin's excellent staff service.

I'd say it is a bit unprofessonal to offer a glitzy PR shot of the Virgin Australia seating and then a poor amatueur shot of the Qantas seat in this article. I am sure that the Qantas PR Shots of the seats portray it in a much more estemed light and similarly an unflattering amatuer shot of the Virgin seat could easily be taken.

01 Dec 2012

Total posts 46

The 'amateur shot' is actually quite flattering, in that it does not indicate the tight legroom (for busiess class) or the tiny and flimsy tray tables. Suggest you try a Qantas transcon flight then a VIrgin flight and tell us what you think. The difference is amazing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

I think the QF seat shots do justice to them. They are the pits and a big step backwards from the recliner style seats they had on the original A330s. Looking forward to the new QF A330 bus seat, but a shame they announced it almost 2 years before they plan to make the change. 

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