What can you expect when flying economy on this popular domestic route?
As well as being a popular business route, Melbourne to Sydney flights often connect travellers to other regional destinations. In my case, this includes Coffs Harbour, which is the closest airport to my hometown and my family.
There aren’t many direct flights from Melbourne to Coffs (Tigerair is your best bet there), which usually means I fly from Melbourne to Sydney first. I’m currently a Silver Velocity member and was able to book Virgin Australia flights during a bonus point promotion. Originally, I was booked on an earlier flight but, due to scheduling changes to my connecting flight, I requested a later departure from Melbourne (to avoid spending five hours at Sydney airport).
Route: Melbourne to Sydney
Flight duration: 1 hour 25 minutes
Dates travelled: 2 August 2018
Class: Economy (Elevate fare)
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800
Flight Number: VA837
Frequent Flyer Program: Velocity
Points earned: 1,528 points
My verdict (in short)
- Off-peak flight time (Tuesday at 11am) meant it was such an empty flight I had a spare seat to myself
- Speedy flight, despite a slight delay
- Amazing in-flight service, particularly for families
- Lack of announcements at Melbourne Airport meant I was unaware of my flight delay before arriving at the terminal
- Boring safety demo, try to keep your eyes open!
What did I like?
- Scheduled departure time. My departure time was 11am, which meant I missed the morning rush – and also avoided a plane packed full of passengers. While the flight was still busy, there was a seat between me and the other person in my row, which meant a bit more space for both of us.
- Flight time. A flight delay meant that boarding didn’t start until 11:05am. However, we landed in Sydney at 12:20pm and were off the plane at 12:35pm – just 10 minutes after the original arrival time. This means the flight was faster than the original estimate of 1 hour and 25 minutes.
- Service. The staff on this flight have mastered efficiency with a smile, running a swift in-flight service that included complimentary snacks, tea, coffee and a selection of cold drinks. I also saw them going out of their way to help a couple of families that were travelling with small children, which I thought was worth noting for other travellers.
What didn’t I like?
- Lack of airport announcements. My boarding pass said to go to the gate at 10:30am, so when I arrived and saw that the plane hadn’t landed yet, I suspected we’d be late. Despite that, I didn’t hear an announcement about the change in departure until just before we boarded. This could have been frustrating for other travellers who didn’t realise what was going on.
- Boring safety demonstration. I appreciate the need for safety demonstrations but got the sense that staff were just going through the motions, which didn’t exactly make me want to pay attention. I don’t really have a suggestion on how Virgin Australia could improve, but maybe it’s something the airline could explore, considering other airlines I’ve travelled with have found ways to make the safety demonstration interesting (e.g. by using jokes or videos).
Would I use Virgin Australia again?
Yes, especially for this route as I find Virgin Australia’s flights between Melbourne and Sydney more consistently on time than the ones I’ve taken with budget airlines. In fact, this analysis by finder's Angus Kidman in April 2018 showed that Virgin Australia was also the most punctual of any domestic airline flying this route.
Bonus tip: Sign up to the Velocity Frequent Flyer program for free
Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program is free to join and gives you a way to earn points when you fly with the airline as well as with many other partners. You can also get points for any flights you’ve taken 30 days before joining the program by submitting a missing points claim.
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