Cameron McMillan and family fly aboard Virgin's flight VA111 from Auckland to Gold Coast.
The plane: A Boeing 737-800.
Price: $3044 for two adults and two children return.
Flight time: 3 hours and 25 minutes, five minutes ahead of schedule after leaving on time.
My seat: 22D. A three-three seats split is not ideal for a family of four with myself, and a number of other dads, lingering on the other side of the aisle. Legroom was fine.
Fellow passengers: No business travellers on this flight two days before Christmas. Plane was full of families and holiday-goers, in the festive mood.
The airport: Leaving on the third busiest day of the year for Auckland Airport, I had visions of long lines and two frustrated kids. However, it was a near-perfect experience.
There were plenty of parks available. We didn't breeze through Customs but it didn't take too long, and we found a nice spot in the Koru Lounge to relax before our boarding call. A five-minute walk to the gate and a 10-minute wait before boarding. Too easy. At the other end, Gold Coast Airport was also prepared for the increased traffic with hardly any lines at passport control.
Food and drink: With a coeliac in the family we find it easier to bring our own food (so it was home-made pumpkin pancakes and bacon instead of the Mexican chicken on offer).
But there were six gluten-free options on the fairly basic menu if we did want to order.
Entertainment: No screens in each seat but we took our iPads and had already downloaded the Virgin Australia app where you can access movies and a handful of TV shows. The selection was fairly small and not many blockbusters or critically acclaimed films. Peppa Pig kept the kids entertained. Music choice was much better.
Luggage: We had two bags which were chokka with presents, so very glad they turned up at the Gold Coast. The possibility of stuffing the Christmas stockings with Gold Coast Titans' merchandise or stuffed echidnas from the airport shops wouldn't have been ideal.
Despite a full flight we had no trouble finding space in the overhead lockers for carry-on.
Would I fly again? No longer afraid to fly on a busy day at Auckland Airport as they seemed to be ready for the expected carnage. Happy with Virgin for a short-haul flight and would use again.