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Virgin Australia Review: Sydney to Coffs Harbour

Virgin Australia makes light work of this short flight up the NSW coast.

I grew up around Coffs Harbour and frequently go back to visit my parents. Coffs Harbour is one of the major airports on the mid-north coast of NSW, so most flights I take there include a mix of locals (past and present), as well as tourists keen to explore the region.

As direct flights from Melbourne are limited to Tigerair, I usually fly with Virgin Australia via Sydney (or occasionally with Qantas on the same two-stop route), which was the case with this trip. What I like about booking with Virgin Australia is that you usually have options for both short or long waiting times in Sydney (in case you want to visit a lounge, for instance). So, in this case, I enjoyed a relatively short stopover of around one hour.

Virgin Australia flight details:

Route: Sydney to Coffs Harbour
Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes
Flight number(s): VA1167
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800
Dates travelled: 02 August 2018
Class: Economy (Getaway fare)
Frequent flyer program: Velocity
Points earned: 768 points, 5 status credits

My review, in short:

  • Punctual departure - a sign of a very good start, especially with everyone on the plane within minutes!
  • Spare seats between passengers, which is always a perk no matter how short the flight.
  • Early arrival in my destination (by 10 minutes)
  • Slow baggage collection meant that my gained 10 minutes was no grand gain at all

What did I like?

  • Punctual departure. Boarding in Sydney started on time and was very fast. Regardless of the airline, I usually add about 5-10 minutes onto the estimated boarding time to account for basic delays. But for this trip, everyone was on the plane in minutes.
  • Spare seats. Similar to my Melbourne to Sydney flight earlier in the day, there were a few spare seats between passengers – although I did notice that most of the Economy X seats were taken.
  • Early arrival. The estimated flight time for this route is 1 hour and 5 minutes but I usually find it’s faster. In this case, we arrived at 3:30pm, which was 10 minutes earlier than estimated.

What didn’t I like?

  • Slow baggage collection. This isn’t a reflection on Virgin Australia, but it is something to be aware of when you’re visiting Coffs Harbour airport. As a regional airport, the infrastructure isn’t as good as it is in capital city airports, which meant I had to wait around 30 minutes before my checked bag came out.

Would I use Virgin Australia again?

There are only three airlines that offer flights from Melbourne to Coffs Harbour: Qantas, Tigerair and Virgin Australia. I tend to stick with Virgin Australia unless I’m flexible with my schedule and can risk delays by flying direct with Tigerair. Mind you, after hearing that my colleague Angus Kidman’s Tigerair flight to Coffs Harbour was changed to a Virgin Australia one, I am tempted to look at those budget fares again.

Bonus tip: Checked baggage connections

If you're flying from another city to Coffs Harbour and have to stop in Sydney, any checked baggage should go straight through from your first departure point (Melbourne in my case). This means you don’t have to collect it in Sydney or deal with security, leaving you with more time to get to your gate and relax in Sydney Airport.

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