Grant Bradley flies on Virgin Australia VA30 from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

The plane:

A 5-year-old Boeing 777-300.

The airport experience: Runway work and terminal expansion is going on at Abu Dhabi Airport, which can't come soon enough. It does, however, have one of the coolest-looking control towers around.

My seat: 3D in Business Class. An older style of seat but comfy and roomy, which transformed into a 195cm fully flat bed at the press of a button. The configuration 2-3-2 is older style, but Virgin is upgrading all its long-haul Business Class cabins to new suites which will mean a 1-2-1 configuration and more privacy.


The fare: A little over $6000 when booked at short notice

How full: About two thirds of the 33 seats in Business Class were taken.

On time: A high volume of air traffic in Abu Dhabi and neighbouring Dubai meant our departure was delayed 50 minutes, but we made up time on the flight.

The service: Chatty and friendly with one of the four attendants dedicated to the cabin patiently running me through what was on offer in the cabin and explaining food and drink options.

Extras: The amenity bag came with all the requisite goodies, plus PJs. Tip: go for a size down.

Food: A dodgy currywurst the day before in Berlin meant I was a bit off my tucker. However, it's fairly much on demand if you wish, and much of it is prepared fresh in the galley. The duck leg I did try was just fine.

Drink: Again there's gallons of it, plenty of nice-looking Australian wine and a comprehensive top shelf, but I broke the habit of a lifetime and abstained.

The bar: Another nice feature of this plane and wide open during the flight. It's in an area two-thirds of the way down the Business Class cabin, and with four stools and room for six comfortably, they're good boredom busters and a great place to meet people. Virgin Australia's planned new bar will provide more room and a crew member to serve from behind it.

Entertainment: Screens are not huge but Virgin's newer cabins have larger gesture-based touch screens and 300-plus hours of entertainment.

Baggage: Up to 40kg in the hold.

Bottom line: This is less formal flight than its codeshare partner Etihad, which carries the bulk of the traffic on the route. The seat is grander on Etihad and you get more privacy along the window side, but the more open feel about the Virgin plane and bar makes it easier to interact with others.

Grant Bradley is the Business Herald's aviation reporter and flew courtesy of the International Transport Forum.