Look out Qantas, the underdog Virgin Australia is biting at your heels.

Virgin Blue, you’ve changed and I think I like it.

Earlier this week I had to make a quick dash down south to Melbourne for a last minute shoot. My trip was full of surprises.

Simon, my work colleague booked our flights to fit within the budget for the trip. Being a Qantas Frequent Flyer, they tend to be first choice but budget was the main concern this trip. Virgin Australia won the price war over Qantas. OK, so no surprise there.

Our call sheet had us starting early so we red-eyed down on the 6.30am flight. Simon chose the basic non-flexi economy fare. Normally I will pay a bit more to get the extra legroom. I’m a tall guy at 6’7″ and my legs don’t fold up like they used to. Unfortunately the exit row seats were taken. Row 20 here I come.

Surprise 1.

I actually fitted into the seat. There wasn’t much extra room but my knees weren’t crammed up against the seat in front and I didn’t have to stretch them out into the isle. My last Qantas flight to Melbourne was terrible for space.

I knew I wouldn’t get food or entertainment without paying so sleeping for the 90 minute flight was my main concern.

After shooting all day Tuesday around a beautifully sunny Melbourne, we had a great Mexican dinner at Los Amates Mexican Kitchen and back to our hotel for the night. We were staying at The Royce. The stay wasn’t RoomCritic related so I decided to go undercover.

Surprise 2.

My room was not what I expected from “One of Melbourne’s finest designer five star boutique hotels” as they so graciously state on their website. See my next post later this week or next for details of my stay at The Royce Hotel.

Anyways, back to the main story. Wednesday we were back in the edit suite to complete our video. Simon had booked a flexi fare to get us back to Sydney as we weren’t sure of the time we’d finish. We did in fact finish a little earlier than expected, so made our way to the airport a few hours before our flight was due.

Surprise 3.

At the busy Virgin Blue check-in counter the very helpful and cheerful staff member got us on the very next flight out. An hour and a half earlier than our booked flight. Of course, that’s what is supposed to happen with a flexi fare but the big surprise was we didn’t have to pay any extra for the earlier flight which was more expensive.

After downing a quick beer in the bar we made our way to the boarding plane. Not thinking about seating, I ended up with the window. Oh well I thought, I’ll chat to whoever it is in the isle and ask if I could change. The plane must have been one of the newer on the fleet. New leather seats, new interior colour combo’s (Just quietly, I think the purple plexi glass divider to business will date rather quickly). But it looked good.

When I finally made it down to row 15 to my F window seat,

Surprise 4 & 5.

There was even more room than the previous flight. We’re only talking a leg hairs difference, but it was better. I’m not sure I would have been so comfy in the middle seat, but Simon doesn’t take up much room so he was happy to be there. A few minutes into the flight Captain Guy comes over the microphone and announces the details of the flight as well as letting those passengers on flexi fares that there is now a free snack and drink available. Yes Free… The snack was actually a pretty reasonable cheese and something wrap with a water I could have even chosen a beer or wine if I’d wanted it.

I was very impressed with everything about our flight. Virgin Australia have actively been out to attract the business traveller and break the perception they are just another budget airline. With all the service changes they have implemented this year it should be working for them. They have changed my perception.

Virgin Blue, you’ve changed and think I like it. Hello Virgin Australia

Brenton

Have you had any equally surprising positive or negative experiences flying Virgin Australia or any other airline for that matter? If so we’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or tell us about it on our Facebook page.

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