Written and photographed by Johnny Jet
G’day from Australia! I’m back in one of my favorite countries and getting here was seriously half the fun…and half the price! I flew Richard Branson’s newest airline V Australia, which recently entered this lucrative route once dominated by Qantas and United. Along with Delta, they have ruffled all kinds of feathers and fares have been slashed as the competition heats up.
WHY V AUSTRALIA?
I used to be 1K (a very frequent flier) on United Airlines for years but when they started getting into financial trouble, I began to spread my love to all the carriers. These days, I fly about 30 different airlines in a calendar year but even if I was still a United Airlines mileage collector, why would I want to fly them to Australia in their dated 747s? Likewise, why fly Qantas for double the price when I can travel on the newest and most hip planes out there with the friendliest flight crews around? Hello?!
V Australia offers three classes of service: International Business Class, which has 33 seats and features fully horizontal flat beds (six-foot-two long) and 77 inches of legroom in a 2-3-2 configuration. Premium Economy has 40 seats with 38 inches of legroom and a nine-inch recline. These seats are set up 2-4-2 while the 288 economy seat section is 3-3-3 and has 32 inches of legroom and a six-inch recline. All seats come with the same Virgin America entertainment system called RED. This one doesn’t have live TV or Internet (yet) but it has movies, popular TV shows, games, music, flight mapping and seat-to-seat chat on a 10.6-inch screen. In business, the screen was bigger than my laptop (14 inches). There’s also a power outlet that fits US and Australian type plugs and a USB slot.
As soon as passengers sit down, they serve drinks in designer glasses and even ask if you want “a topper” when finished.
In all classes, they offer a self-service bar. In coach it’s just one little cubby hole with some snacks. In Premium Economy, it’s supposedly everything in business class except no space. Business Class’ has a bar with bolted in stools attached to it. Actually, the bar was disappointing in terms of offerings — maybe I just got there late but the Premium Economy Bar was more stocked than Business. Either way, it’s not as elaborate as Emirates, with their flat screen TVs and bartender, but it’s a great place to work or chat. I sat there for hours on my laptop, chatting with the crew who really were amazing.
Overall, V Australia was amazing. The flight was a 10 out of 10. I flew Business class but I’m flying Premium Economy home and one of my buddies flew down in coach. He’s a freak when it comes to space (like me) and he was going to pay the $100 extra (each way) to get the exit row but it had already been sold. He said it turned out to be a good thing because it would have been a waste of money since economy was so very comfortable. All in all: V Australia — Good on ya, mate! n