Not much more than a skip across Australia, the Adelaide to Sydney Virgin Australia flight is a comfortable way to transport oneself to the east coast. I will admit: I have read Sir Richard Branson’s autobiography three times, and I am a fan. Branson’s charisma, daring nature, and customer-first philosophy are evident through the smiles and care from all Virgin Australia crew which extends beyond the luxurious comfort of Business Class…but for now let’s talk about travelling, Virgin style.
Route: Adelaide to Sydney
Aircraft: Virgin Australia 737-800
Flight Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Check-in: Smooth sailing despite arriving at the airport during the morning rush hour. With three priority check-in counters open for Business Class guests, there’s no waiting in line and we merge immediately to the counter where a bright-eyed, big-smiled staff member greets us cheerfully. The entire process takes under ten minutes, and our luggage is checked right through to our final destination, Abu Dhabi.
The Lounge: Virgin Australia Lounge Adelaide
Crisp and modern with a subtle hint of formality, the Adelaide lounge is a fitting addition to the reborn airport. Spacious without being overwhelming, charcoal interiors dull the splashes of white walls and natural light that filters into the lounge through west-facing oversized glass windows, providing an intimate feeling and not a bad place for airport relaxation.
Guests are perched comfortably in form-fitting horseshoe shaped leather seats that continue the grey theme; simple work stations are in place for anyone looking to login to the office whilst on the fly. A small-scale business area holds two PC computers and a copy machine, tucked away from the main dining area.
A maroon mosaic-tiled bar serves barista coffee and alcohol (no booze early in the morning), while herbal teas are on offer for self-service beside a petite buffet serving up cold ham, boiled eggs, cheese, yoghurt and fruit. On the sideline you can find a basic selection of breads ready for toasting; three kinds of cereals; and a fresh juice dispenser. I find myself nibbling away at everything while secretly wishing for a big cooked breakfast. Hubby settles for toast.
For the tech savvy, there’s enough to keep you connected: free wifi, flat screen TVs playing the latest news, power points, and a printer/copy machine. If you must bring children into the lounge (I’d prefer you didn’t – especially when I’ve left mine at home with the relatives and am trying to enjoy a second honeymoon), there are high-chairs but no play area. All lounge guests are welcome to browse a decent selection of magazines and newspapers.
The staff are close to perfectionists in customer service and I can’t fault a single one of them during my lounge visit. Or maybe I can…they forget to call us out for boarding and when we finally venture out ourselves to the gate we find the plane well into preparation for take-off. Whoops…
Punctuality: The flight ends up taking-off 15 minutes behind schedule, but we catch the time up in the air and arrive in Sydney a touch early.
Seat and cabin layout: Dark grey leather seats make up the 8-seat compact Business Class cabin, in a 2 – 2 configuration.
Baggage allowance: Checked baggage allows up to two bags totaling 32 kilograms, and 2 pieces (ie small bag or briefcase) with a total weight of 7 kilograms.
On-board entertainment: This gets my tick of approval for a short haul flight. A Samsung tablet loaded with enough entertainment to keep you busy: 10 movies, 10 TV shows, 10 music videos, 25 music albums, and 3 radio channels.
Service: Virgin crew have a certain style and flair that I am just in love with. Call me biased, but I’m addicted to Virgin’s sex appeal. It’s simple really: they look good, smile, are attentive, put the customer first, and treat you just as good in cattle class as if you were up front among the VIPs (talking from experience!). The coat check service is a nice touch, and our jackets are kindly stored and returned upon arrival.
The meals are served a mere 27 minutes into the flight, after we’d lapped up fresh orange juice upon boarding (champagne was not offered at 9am - bummer). And as swiftly as it is served, my tray is cleared right as I finish, following with the offer of coffee and tea.
When I need a little attention from the crew, a head pops out of the curtains quicker than I can lower my hand from the call button above my seat; a smiling, red-lipped cabin attendant here for my every beck and call. Geez I love this special treatment – business class really is fabulous.
Food and beverages: We get the short haul selections off the Luke Mangan menu: bacon, tomato and spinach frittata shaped like a pout little muffin; a raspberry muffin; and a fruit bowl consisting of strawberries, rock melon and juicy lychees.
Alcohol is finally allowed and I’m given the choice between the 2010 Alkoomi sauvignon blanc and the Golding chardonnay and can’t decide so go for both with a glass of sparkling mineral water on the side. I’m a little disappointed there’s been no bubbles, but the crew are again quick to clean up my tray with smiles bigger than the seats themselves. I get over my desire for champagne and throw open the complimentary newspaper for a read.
Flight Frequency: Virgin Australia flies daily from Adelaide to Sydney, with one-way Business Class fares starting from $499* (fares are constantly changing and were correct via the Virgin Australia online booking system at time of publication).
I love love love Virgin Australia’s Business Class. From check-in to the lounge to the service on board, the comfort, flair and sexy smiles really made the short trip luxuriously comfortable. My only erk was that there was no Champagne on offer throughout the flight, or even a glass of wine at take-off. I also expected more food - both in the lounge and on board - and I definitely made the most of the extensive buffet in transit at the Air New Zealand international lounge.
The writer flew as a guest of Virgin Australia