Alexander Robertson flies Melbourne to Darwin on Virgin Australia's VA1465.

The plane:

737-800 series

Class: The special one that cuts off the blood to your legs.


On time: I guess we all have our bad days. We were 20 minutes late with a surprise stop-off in Adeleide; it should have been a direct flight to Darwin.

My seat: 28F, third from the very back on the right, with no pretty skyline lights out the window. For a 6ft 4" middle-aged man born with the burden of daddy long legs it's highly advisable to pay extra for an exit row seat. Nice, stiff leather seats with two inches of recline. I left this flight with the posture of a 1920s police detective.

Price: You get what you pay for in life.

Fellow passengers: Most seemed in high spirits despite Virgin announcing 30 minutes before departure that we'd be detouring to Adelaide to pick up passengers. A mix of real everyday people from all walks of life; young parents holding twins in an arm each, semi gangsta homeboys, young teenagers doing what teenagers do — giggle for some unknown reason — and lots of grey-haired seniors most likely escaping for some sun.

How full: Half-full, I guess that's why we were picking up some cobbers from South Australia.

The service: Tired. Staff scanning our tickets at the gates were snappy and cold. Cabin crew also seemed like they had been around the world in 90 days, but seemed genuinely warm and helpful. Adelaide got emotional, an extra hour on the journey turned it into an extra two-hour slog. Terrible customer service as they kept passengers in the dark and didn't communicate about the situation they were in. No complimentary grovel-up wine either: what is this airline? All my life I've been saying "Screw it, let's do it," but maybe Richard Branson was wrong, maybe they need to talk about a few things internally before they screw their reputation completely.

Food and drink: Complimentary tea, coffee or juice via our first detoured destination of Adelaide, but I opted for a uniquely ice cold 2016 Hayburner Shiraz. Wowee — that wine was almost frozen, with notes of blackberry, coffee and fruit, for only $9.80.

The airport experience: Terrible self-check in service as no machines worked once you started the process; counter staff checked me in the old (and I might say should be the only) way. Security screening was relaxed, efficient, and I was lucky enough to get a private explosive swab of all my gear by an officer who was really hardcase and asked me to lift my leg up to swab my shoe. It's the law.


Would you fly this again: I've got Scottish in me, if the price is right I can suck up anything.