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Virgin Australia Review: Melbourne to Brisbane return

Virgin Australia delivered solid service for this weekend getaway.

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I lived in Brisbane for four years while studying and, in the midst of Melbourne winters, I still pine for the warmer weather in Queensland's capital city. So, when an opportunity to see some Shakespeare and catch up with friends in Brisbane came along, my partner and I jumped at the chance.

In this case, flying with Virgin Australia was an easy choice, as my partner wanted to use his Velocity Points for the booking. I was happy to keep saving my own, particularly as there was a bonus points promotion running at the time, so I paid for my tickets with cash.

While this meant we were on different bookings and could potentially be in separate seats, it all worked out in the end.

Virgin Australia flight details:

  • Route: Melbourne to Brisbane (return)
  • Duration: 2 hours 10 mins from Melbourne to Brisbane; 2 hours 20 mins from Brisbane to Melbourne
  • Flight number: VA321 and VA328
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800
  • Date travelled: Friday 7 September 2018 and Sunday 9 September 2018
  • Class: Economy
  • Frequent flyer program: Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Points earned: 3,600 points and 40 status credits (based on return fare)

My review, in short:

  • A friendly team member in Melbourne was able to sort out our seating snag just before boarding.
  • The Voyeur in-flight magazine made for some nice, light reading.
  • Both flights were complimented by a well-timed refreshment service.
  • I was disappointed my partner and I didn’t have seats together from the start.
  • A delayed departure in Brisbane made the time drag.
  • Poorly-organised boarding left me feeling tossed around on my way back to Melbourne.

What did I like?

  • Friendly and helpful service. Despite my best efforts to pick a seat next to my partner, I realised just before boarding from Melbourne that we weren’t sitting together any more. So when we got to the service counter, I asked the team member if there was anything she could do. A few minutes later, she had us seated together (shoutout to “Vivienne”, thank you!).
  • In-flight magazine. I find Voyeur usually has such a good mix of articles. As well as Virgin Australia news, it covers travel, business trends, innovations and human-interest stories.
  • Nice refreshment service. On both flights, the team served drinks and tasty snacks in good time. On the flight back to Melbourne, I also noticed Virgin Australia had replaced its plastic drink stirrers with bamboo ones – which is part of the airline’s move towards more sustainable services. That gets a big (green) tick of appreciation from me.

What didn’t I like?

  • Unexpected seating situation. While I remember painstakingly investigating the seat selections more than once when my partner and I checked-in online, we weren’t sitting together before boarding the Melbourne to Brisbane leg. I don’t know what happened, but I’m very grateful that the Virgin Australia team member sorted it out so quickly.
  • Slight delays in departure from Brisbane. We started boarding five minutes after our scheduled departure time and moved out from the gate 18 minutes after that. Maybe it’s me, but that time dragged. The pilot must have made up time in the air because we landed in Melbourne just five minutes behind schedule. Considering the turbulence on that flight, I was pretty impressed by the landing time.
  • Messy boarding from Brisbane to Melbourne. We were seated in row 19, which meant boarding via the rear doors. Unfortunately, there were lots of passengers trying to get to seats behind us, which lead to some awkward manoeuvring in the aisle. I'm used to Virgin Australia staff reminding passengers about which door to board through when they scan the boarding passes at the gate. This time, we only got a reminder over the loudspeaker, so I suspect some of these front-boarding passengers missed the memo. Not ideal for a fairly full flight.

Would I fly with Virgin Australia again?

Most of my domestic flights are with Virgin Australia and I find the service really good. Having said that, I always make a point of comparing the fare prices for Qantas, and Jetstar – just in case there’s a sale that’s too good to miss.

Bonus tip: Book Melbourne SkyBus tickets online to earn more Velocity Points

SkyBus runs a transfer service between Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station and the airport, with single adult fares from $18 one-way. You can earn between 100 and 500 Velocity Points by booking with SkyBus online and entering your Velocity number at the checkout. You could also pay for your SkyBus booking with a Velocity credit card to earn even more points.

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