Virgin Australia 737 Economy Review: Sydney To Brisbane

There are only four airlines operating domestic services in Australia (apart from the odd fifth freedom Middle Eastern carrier, but you can’t actually join them for the domestic leg). These are Jetstar (review here), Qantas (review here) and Tiger Airways (shudder… review here). However, one review that has been absent has been the Virgin Australia domestic journey in economy.

Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800. Photo: Simple Flying

You can check out another review of the Virgin Australia business class here, and watch a video of this flight below:

Boarding

Virgin Australia boards their plane backward, with passengers in the back rows invited to board first followed by the front rows. There is a priority queue at the gate for business class passengers to board at any time (which actually happened as this reviewer was boarding, with the gate agent stopping to serve a business class customer first).

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Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737-800 is laid out in a standard 3×3 configuration, with a business cabin in the front. Photo: Virgin Australia

The seat

Virgin Australia has found a sneaky way to one-up rival Qantas, by having their seats offer 31 inches of legroom compared to 30 inches. Qantas operates the same aircraft with economy in the same configuration (although apparently the flying kangaroo has 0.2 inch wider seats).

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Virgin
The legroom. Photo: Simple Flying

Another massive perk is that the headrest not only could be adjusted to lock in your head side to side but also raised up and down. A perk for someone who is taller than 6-foot!

The aircraft also has an ‘economy X’ seat situated further up the cabin that has extra legroom. Business-class has already been fully reviewed so I won’t go into full detail here.

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There is no onboard entertainment unless you include the gossiping business travelers who seem to populate the eight AM service up the coast.

The flight

When it came to the services onboard, Virgin Australia seems to be unsure if they are a low-cost carrier or a full-service airline. You are given a small snack and a drink (a choice of savory or sweet, which is great compared to Qantas’ one option) but then you are also prompted to order food from the menu.

Simple FlyingVirgin
The food menu. Photo: Simple Flying

It is actually rather flexible (depending on how hungry you are) and for such a short flight there was no need to part with coins to get some grub.

Virgin
The free sweet choice, a PowerBar, and an apple juice. Photo: Simple Flying

However, I did notice that on the buy inflight food menu there was no listed price for a coffee. Yet coffee was given for free by the flight attendants during service. Does this mean that coffee is given free like water (especially useful for business people jetting around all day)? Or not at all?

Virgin Australia
The savory choice paired with some hot tea. Photo: Simple Flying

But this was completely overshadowed by the surprise that Virgin Australia provides free internet onboard their domestic services. This allowed me to stay connected and even publish this article whilst in the air! Qantas does also provide this service, but at the time of publishing, this reviewer had yet to test the speeds.

Virgin
The standard free internet was pretty high speed itself. Photo: Simple Flying

Virgin Australia’s internet was fast, but it did seem to get capped around the 50mb mark when downloading photos.

One downside is that there are only two bathrooms for approx 168 passengers, with the third bathroom exclusively reserved for the eight business class passengers on board.

Overall

The bottom line is that Virgin provides an excellent counterpart service to Qantas, with a few little differences that show that they are listening to their customers. You get two choices of a snack during meal times (although perhaps not as big meals as provided on Qantas), one extra inch of legroom and free *fast* internet throughout the whole flight! Plus the hipster part of me loves the feeling like you are part of a cooler, more hip airline (all about that marketing!).

In the past, I would have said that Qantas was the best airline to fly domestically, but now I’ll look to Virgin before buying my ticket.

What do you think? Have you flown Virgin domestically? Let us know in the comments.

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Jethro

funny you say all that i travel around australia a lot and i have always found qantas to be better the crews are nicer and there lounges leave virgin in the dust and there planes are cleaner
when it come to business class qantas is better by lots of miles
plus qantas point program is better

B B

Nah, wouldn’t pay for Virgin, Qantas seems to beat them in everything from service quality to reliability. And if I wanted something cheap, I’d just choose JQ.

Jack Sharpe

Tea, coffee, juice and water are always free. Beer and wine included on the happy hour flights. Doesn’t matter all that much for short, domestic hops. Free wifi is a great perk tho, I’ve found it much more reliable than the network QF use.

All the carriers are much of a muchness on the triangle flights but VA service and FF program trump the lot for sure. Also the most reliable when the occasional cancellation comes about.