AIRLINE: VIRGIN AUSTRALIA
FLIGHT NUMBER: VA 693
AIRCRAFT: AIRBUS A330-200 VH-XFH
ROUTE: MELBOURNE TO PERTH
SEATING: “THE BUSINESS” (BUSINESS CLASS SUITES)
FLIGHT TIME: 4 HOURS AND 8 MINUTES (scheduled 4 hours 20 mins)
SKYTRAX AIRLINE STAR RATING: 4 STARS
Five rows in a 1 x 2 x 1 layout.
Check-in can be done online, via mobile or at the airport. I used mobile check-in, which was quick, intuitive and results in an electronic boarding pass.
A business class ticket comes with access to the Virgin Australia Lounge. The lounge in Melbourne is excellent, newly refurbished and expanded, it has an array of options for travellers. Services include two barista stations, a hot and cold meals buffet, a well-stocked bar and free Wi-Fi throughout. Large windows afford excellent views of the apron. On this flight, lounge staff made a special effort to welcome passengers travelling on VA 693, explaining the new “The Business” offering to them.
While there are a full range of alcoholic drinks to choose from, I stuck with Ayala Brut Majeur NV Champagne.
There were two options for dinner, à la carte or an express service. I chose à la carte, which has two starter options, three mains and two dessert choices; as well as breads and salad. My starter, smoked salmon with coconut, papaya, Asian herbs and lime dressing was nice, but the main, braised short rib with carrot and cumin puree, was a bit fatty. I should have listened to the recommendation of the cabin crew and selected the barramundi fillet with pearl couscous, peas and eggplant. The lemon meringue roulade was divine; the coffee from an on-board Nespresso machine. Starter: 9/10; Main: 6/10; Dessert: 10/10; Coffee: 10/10
With only 20 seats in a 1-2-1 layout, “The Business” business cabin feels spacious and exclusive. Each seat has direct aisle access. I had seat 3A, which felt very private. It was soft and comfortable with plenty of back support. The seat can be adjusted to various pre-set positions using a small touchscreen within easy reach. The leg rest, back support and headrest can also be adjusted to a custom setting.
Each passenger is presented with a Mandarina Duck amenities kit.
PYJAMAS OR NOT
None on this flight.
There are 16 inch touchscreens and plenty of movie and TV choices – although only a few of the films on offer are new releases.
QUALITY OF HEADPHONES
Each seat comes with noise-cancelling headphones. Top marks for sound quality and comfort. 10/10
There are two bathrooms dedicated to the business class cabin, one forward and one aft of the cabin. They were kept spotless throughout the flight. 10/10.
Two checked bags per business class passenger, each up to 32kg. Platinum frequent flyers are welcome to check one extra bag of the same weight. Carry-on allowance is two small bags or one larger bag no more than 7kg in total.
Velocity Frequent Flyer is free to join and it’s easy to redeem points for upgrades or free flights. Status is relatively easy to attain and maintain compared with rival programs. Status benefits include lounge access, extra frequent flyer points, priority check-in and express boarding lane.
With the exception of my main meal choice, I had no gripes. The service was friendly and the cabin crew took time to show me all the features of the new seat. The meal service was great with crew well-informed in the meal options and wine list.