While perfect for domestic short hops, I found Virgin Australia’s 737-800 Business Class product a bit constraining for a six hour journey to Bali.
I understand that Bali is a leisure destination for Australians and most are far more concerned with the journey’s end than the journey itself. Furthermore, I understand that not all six hour flights are created equal. So before I even begin, I note that my gentle criticism must be properly contextualized.
Brisbane is such a quiet airport in the morning. No one lines up to board early and when boarding was finally called (15 minutes late), everyone lined up almost nonchalantly.
Virgin Australia 43
Brisbane (BNE) – Bali (DPS)
Tuesday, July 23
Depart: 10:10 AM
Arrive: 02:25 PM
Duration: 06hr, 15min
Distance: 2,789 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 1A (Business Class)
Virgin Australia 737-800 Business Class Seat
The 737-800 has only eight business class seats compared to 168 in economy class. The seats are similar to domestic flights class seats in the USA, with limited recline but slightly better legroom and width. With limited exceptions, I will always avoid the bulkhead. With long legs, I almost always find the bulkhead wall constraining. Today, however, I had no choice since it was thee only seat left when I booked!
The armrests were fairly worn.
Power outlets were located between seats.
Newspapers were also offered:
Even with a pillow and blanket (different than the superb bedding on my Los Angeles to Brisbane flight) I really struggled to get comfortable. Part of it may have been the coffee, part of it the jetlag, but this was one of the flights that I could not wait to bolt from.
Virgin Australia 737-800 Business Class IFE + Wi-Fi
While the aircraft does not have built-in IFE screens, Samsung tablets were distributed after takeoff. The library included much of the same as the built-in system on the 777-300, with movies, games, music, TV shows, and a moving map. Disposable headphones were offered with the tablet.
After takeoff, I watched Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which was a movie about serial murderer Ted Bundy. Zac Efron did a great job…it was a very interesting movie.
After that, I was just twiddling my thumbs for awhile, too tried to work, too jetlagged to sleep. Eventually I found a new show that quickly hooked me…HBO’s Big Little Lies, which stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon and is filmed in Monterey, California, one of my favorite places in the world.
I tried to connect to wi-fi, but it did not work. Eventually, a flight attendant made an announcement apologizing that wi-fi would not be available on this flight today due to technical difficulties.
Virgin Australia 737-800 Business Class Dining
Just after boarding, I was offered a drink and menu. The menu highlighted a three-course lunch. Orders were taken prior to pushback.
An express menu was also offered the same food sans main course served on a single tray:
After takeoff, a hot towel was offered with mixed nuts and beverage.
Lunch began with cauliflower and white bean soup, which was the best course of the meal and hit the spot, even on an unseasonably warm winter day. The sourdough roll was perfect for dipping in the soup.
For my main course, I chose pasta with chicken, kale, and walnut pasta, which also had mozzarella cheese and raisins.
Finally, I concluded the meal with an Australian cheese plate, which included Gruyere from Tasmania, Brie from Victoria, and Blue from Victoria. The Gruyere was especially good.
Later in the flight, a snack basket was offered with nuts, chips, olives, trail mix, and candy.
Virgin Australia 737-800 Business Class Amenity Kit
A small amenity kit was offered that included socks, eyeshade, dental kit, ear plugs, tissue, and Hunter beauty products.
Virgin Australia 737-800 Business Class Lavatory
The lavatory was very standard for a 737-800 with no additional amenities except an air freshener.
Virgin Australia 737-800 Business Class Service
Service started out so promising. The flight attendant was friendly and proactive. Lunch was quickly served after takeoff…so quickly that everything had been cleared away only about 40 minutes after takeoff. Drinks were refilled.
But then the flight attendant disappeared for a couple hours. Eventually she made an appearance again, offered the snack basket, then again disappeared to the back of the aircraft. Since drinks were not self-serve, at one point I did ring the call button…and it was ignored.
We landed a bit late in Bali and I was happy to step off the plane. In fairness, it was a good flight…I cannot objectively argue otherwise. But the flight did remind me that there are easier ways to reach Bali.