So a few months ago I tried Virgin’s brand new Economy X on their B737-800 aircraft and I thought I might share some insight on how their brand new slightly better than normal Economy product is
Flight details: VA437 Adelaide to Sydney, 11th July 2017, departure time of 6:25 pm but we left 9 minutes late due to slow boarding, that didn’t matter though we arrived in Sydney at 8:37 pm instead of the scheduled 8:45 pm due to generous tailwinds, flight time of 1hr and 33min
Check-in: No special perks here, however, it only took about 3 minutes waiting time until I was served due to the lack of flights departing Adelaide compared to Melbourne and Sydney
Boarding: With Economy X you get a special priority boarding lane which you share with high tier Velocity members, high tier partner FF members, and business class guests, it was quick, very quick, I only had 1 person in front of me compared to the about 50 I would have to stand behind in the normal line. I typically prefer to be one of the last people on the plane but I’ve changed my opinion on that now, it’s quite nice to get to your seat get settled and get those final “chat to you on the other side” messages through before the plane actually starts moving
Comfort: I was in the exit row in the window, with Economy X Virgin have made the choice to allocate rows 3-5 (up front behind Buisness) and rows 13 and 14 (exit rows) for guests. Comfort was good, I’m 6ft 3 and the legroom was generous, I could stretch my legs pretty much and the way out without touching the seat in front of me, after being cramped in like a sardine on the reverse flight I was extremely happy with the amount of space, the seat’s don’t recline but on a 1.5 hour flight do you really need that. Before I boarding I thought the tray table might be an issue considering how far away (in food eating terms) the seat in front of me was, it wasn’t an issue because it could extend from its normal position. The seats are comfy and getting up mid-flight (I had someone on the aisle) was a lot easier due to the legroom. When we started the descent into Sydney I was pretty surprised because I was so comfortable and relaxed
Food: In the past couple of years Virgin has been trying to copy Qantas in a lot of areas, food is one of them, in the Virgin Blue era it was a budget airline and you had to buy anything you wanted but now it’s different. I got some free nimbly things cracker-like things as well as a cup water, tea, coffee or orange juice (I chose water), considering I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch I bought a sandwich and can of Coca-Cola which I recall being $7 for the both of them which was tasty and I actually ran out of time to eat because I was too busy relaxing and simply just enjoying the magic of flight. All free drinks were available throughout the flight, I politely declined when they offered seconds.
Service: After all my years of flying with Virgin I have come to expect quality service (with the exception of one Sydney to Perth jaunt), this flight didn’t disappoint, considering I was in the exit rows they came to me just before the last cabin door had been closed to tell me what to do an emergency (which thankfully didn’t happen), they were kind and offered to answer any questions I had, I had none but I would assume some other first time visitors to the exit row might have. Food serving was a breeze in which they handled serving the 100+ pax onboard efficiently yet while also being courteous and friendly. Captain gave us good information instead of just the standard “welcome onboard blah blah fly Virgin” with info about the late pushback and departure when we were still at the gate among accurate flight time and estimated arrival time into Sydney, he also got out of the cockpit and stood at the front of the cabin when we were leaving the aircraft with the cabin crew to send us on our way into the cold Sydney conditions with a smile. Full marks to the crew
Entertainment: Ah the good old days with personal seatback TV’s with Foxtel and Austar beamed from satellites have definitely passed. Virgin offers a free app on iOS, Andriod and Windows computers (sorry Macbook users your out of luck) in which you can download before the last cabin door has shut and stream music, TV, movies, the news and flight path among various other lesser viewed content (like signing up the Velocity), it’s BYO device unless you’re in Business Class, I, unfortunately, forgot my iPad when in a mad rush getting ready to leave Sydney 5 days previous so I had my not too shabby iPhone 7 Plus entertaining me, I can’t focus myself to watch movies or TV shows so I stalked the music and flight path section the whole flight. No USB chargers so if your device was dead, bad luck. Virgin Australia also offers a complementary Voyer magazine which I never read but I would assume someone does, maybe.
Aircraft and flight itself: Aircraft was fitted with the new sky interior and illuminated purple light throughout the flight which was very relaxing and also cool to take photos of, minor turbulence departing Adelaide but that’s pretty much the last we saw of it, one of the smoothest flights I’ve been on in a while. Because you’re in an exit row and responsible for getting the door open in an emergency I really felt as though the safety standards put into the airplane where would class, if we did go down I feel like it would have been a lot better outcome than say we would be on a Dash 8 for example.
Overall: $35 extra is a little steep for a 1.5-hour domestic hop, however, being 6ft 3 it was worth paying up for and I would definitely do it again. Virgin does it well, very well. Service, food, comfort, pre-flight experience was high quality, complimentary iPads would be a bonus however it’s not needed too much
My rating: 9.5/10
I also took some photos along the way, if you have any questions feel free to ask them :)