Greg Fleming flies VA152 to Australia.
A Boeing 737-800.
Flight time: Three hours.
Class: Business — my seat was right at the front of the plane. Seats are in pairs, and not angled away from your neighbour. For once I was the first off when we landed. It was an early morning flight and it was full. There was plenty of leg room and although I read and listened to an audiobook most of the flight my neighbour reclined hers and slept soundly. The captain warned there might be a little turbulence but this never eventuated. The flight was on time and smooth.
Service: Okay, although being right up the front I had to listen to the flight attendants' chitter chatter much of the journey until I donned my headphones. No fear of dehydration though; as soon as I finished a bottle of water another one was handed to me.
Food: This was an early flight. Luckily I'd eaten some Bircher muesli in the Koru lounge pre-flight, as the food was disappointing. On board breakfast options — menus designed by consulting chef Luke Mangan — were a muesli and fruit option or French toast. The French toast turned out to be more like a bacon and egg sandwich, the egg had a strange texture and the bacon looked like it had seen better days. No maple syrup. I think there was some fruit on the side — and a croissant — but nothing looked that appetising and I returned most of it. On the way home, the options were an omelette or fruit and muesli. I chose the muesli and it was fine.
Entertainment: No back-of-seat screens here. Business class passengers have a tablet in the seat pocket in front of them or you can use your own — which is what I did. This is a growing trend. I'd downloaded the Virgin Australia app and once on board this gives you access to the various entertainment options. Movie selection was average — certainly not as expansive as Air NZ on the transtasman hop — and the TV series selection was pretty limited too. I listened to an audiobook I'd downloaded to my iPad for much of the flight.
There was Wi-Fi but it didn't work for me — save for the app which functioned well. I started to watch the latest Bourne movie and wondered why Matt Damon looked a lot younger until I realised it was actually the first one — Bourne Identity — not the newer Jason Bourne. On the way back I watched Matthew McConaughey save the world in Interstellar — it's a bit of an epic and nicely coincided with the flight time — with a tail wind we were home in 2 hours 50 — the credits rolling as we landed.
Airport Experience: Seamless. Brisbane is the friendliest Australian city in my experience and that even extends to Customs.
Would I fly again? Brisbane is fantastic — smart, sophisticated and on the up — but when I return I'm not sure I'd fly Virgin Australia.