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Virgin Australia review: Sydney to Melbourne

A short and ever-so-sweet trip flying the world's second-busiest flight route.

Having been invited to fly the inaugural Cebu Pacific flight out of Melbourne, I booked myself on a one-way flight from my hometown Sydney at midday on a Tuesday to make the connection.

Were there any bumps? I'd call them hiccups, but overall everything went very smoothly – and I even scored free in-flight Wi-Fi!

Virgin Australia flight details:

  • Route: Sydney to Melbourne
  • Duration: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Flight number: VA838
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800
  • Date travelled: 14 August 2018
  • Class: Economy
  • Frequent flyer program: Velocity
  • Points earned: 800 base points and 5 status credits

My review, in short:

  • Online check-in allowed me to bypass the counters and go straight to security.
  • Free in-flight Wi-Fi meant I could work in the air.
  • Velocity points and status credits accrual.
  • Flight was slightly delayed with no announcement on how far away boarding was.
  • Free drinks were limited to tea, coffee and water.
  • Plane was packed despite being a mid-Tuesday flight.

What did I like?

  • Online check-in. Admittedly I was running late, having only ordered my Uber to Sydney Airport for 11am (I live around 20 minutes away). By the time I arrived it was close to 11:30am but I'd managed to check in and receive my QR code while in the car. This allowed me to skip the check-in counters, as I was running purely on hand luggage, and head straight to security, which was quick as could be. I arrived at my gate at 11:40am and my plane hadn't even arrived yet.
  • Free in-flight Wi-Fi. This was announced at the start of the flight and a card in the back of seat pocket provided succinct instructions on how to connect. It's absolutely free, although limited to general search and select chat apps like Facebook Messenger. For faster speeds and capabilities you have to pay a fee. Still, it was more than enough for me to use my hour flight to do a little admin and work.
  • Velocity points and status accrual. Velocity's earn rate is based on the cost of your seat. Essentially you earn 5 points for every $1 you spend and I managed to come away with 800 Velocity points and 5 status credit points from my flight.

What didn’t I like?

  • Flight was delayed. This worked in my favour as I was running late anyway, but there was no announcement at the gate as to when the flight would arrive or that it was delayed at all. On a positive note, the flight left around 15 minutes late but still arrived on time.
  • Limited free drinks. For my short flight a snack was provided as well as a drink, however I was surprised to discover that this was limited to tea, coffee and water. Beer, wine, cider and even soft drinks cost extra, unless you're flying from 5-7pm Monday to Friday, which I found quite stingy.
  • Packed flight. By the numbers, midweek flights are the cheapest days to fly and the quietest to travel. This didn't translate on my flight, which was almost sold out. I was hoping not to have a neighbour beside me but I acquired two. This was not the airline's fault at all, it just would have been nice to stretch out.

Would I use Virgin Australia again?

In a heartbeat. Aside from a super minor delay and the limited refreshment options, mine was a smooth ride from Sydney to Melbourne that I'd take to zip between both cities any day.

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Stephanie Yip was the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for a range of travel publications including Thomas Cook Magazine and Showpo. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping consumers stretch their travel cash while on holiday. See full bio

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