Review: Virgin Australia Business Class, Cairns – Sydney
While I had a generally unpleasant though only slightly delayed trip on Virgin Australia up from Sydney to Cairns to spend a few days in Port Douglas, near the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, my return to Sydney before flying to Los Angeles went far more smoothly.
We left the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas around 2 hours 45 minutes before our flight. It was a simple 70 minute drive, the day before the Iron Man competition that would have closed Captain Cook Highway and turned it into a three hour-plus journey.
On the outbound we flew economy. There were no business seats available, and no extra legroom coach either. It was peak season and flights were full, as many flights within Australia have been since travel re-commenced.
For this flight we’d be in Virgin Australia business, which was about $100 more than economy for the three hour flight. As a result we skipped the long economy check-in queue and were helped quickly in the premium line.
We were behind only one other person, helped straight away, and check-in with our luggage (my wife, daughter and I were traveling for three weeks) was done swiftly. Then we were on our way through Australian domestic security which is a breeze.
We were airside with about 40 minutes to go before boarding (the flight boards just 25 minutes prior to departure) and there’s no longer a lounge to use. I’ve flown Virgin Australia out of Cairns before but back then they had a lounge. Virgin gave up their largest domestic lounge space during the pandemic to reduce costs.
So we picked up some coffees and a snack for my daughter, and sat in the small food court area until it was time to board. Boarding was called on time, and we made our way just around the corner to gate 21 and onto the aircraft. They board (and deplane) quickly using both the front and rear of the aircraft.
This time we’d be sitting up front instead of making our way to the back. Virgin Australia’s 737s are configured with two rows of fairly standard domestic first class-style seats.
No predeparture beverages were offered, but there wasn’t much time on the plane prior to pushback. We were in the air without a delay, as you’d expect from Cairns, and it wasn’t long before the flight attendant serving business class offered drinks and a packaged nut and chick pea strip snack.
Lunch was then served, and I opted for the chicken parmesan which was surprisingly good? An appetizer of packaged cheese and crackers was a bit sad, and the dessert I took a bite of and decided the juice there wasn’t worth the squeeze. But the entree along with sides were quite tasty.
Since Virgin Australia doesn’t offer inflight wifi, the rest of the time was spent watching shows I’d downloaded in advance to my laptop. I can deal with lack of wifi in Australia far more than the states – because I’m usually flying outside of business hours on the U.S. East Coast. I’d like to be more productive, but I’m not falling behind.
Landing was on time in Sydney. Checked bags started coming out within a couple of minutes of arriving at baggage claim. And all in all this was an uneventful flight, more enjoyable than the last one even factoring that it was in business rather than economy. It wasn’t anything special, but the extra space was appreciated for the 2 hour 55 minute journey.