Virgin Australia started life in Australia in 2000 as Virgin Blue. They aimed to break the duopoly of Qantas and Ansett, starting with just one aircraft. However with Ansett's demise the next year, Virgin Australia were able to rapidly expand and became a dominant carrier. In 2004, Pacific Blue was launched which enabled Virgin to launch flights to and from New Zealand. Domestic flights were started, and later ceased, but flights across the Tasman and to the Pacific Islands remain strong, thanks in part to an alliance with Air New Zealand. The airline rebranded all airlines as Virgin Australia in 2011 and focused on becoming a full service carrier. Tigerair was purchased the next year and has become the carriers low fare brand. Virgin operate a large fleet of modern Boeing 737 aircraft on New Zealand flights, as well as other Airbus, Boeing and Embraer aircraft in Australia.
Name: Virgin Australia
Hubs: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland
Rewards Program: Velocity Frequent Flyer
Partners: Strong cooperation with Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines
Classes of Travel: Economy, Premium Economy, The Business and Business Class
Meals: Not included as standard on TransTasman flights, but available for an extra fee. Snacks and non alcoholic beverages included on Australian domestic flights and full meals with alcoholic beverages included on longhaul flights from Australia.
Entertainment: Available for free via an app (see details below). Tablets with movies, TV shows and music available for hire. Seatback entertainment is included on longhaul destinations aboard A330 and B777 aircraft.
Luggage Allowance: One piece of carry on up to 7 kilograms included as standard, extra luggage allowance available for purchase.
Seat Selection: Available for an extra fee.
*Please note all the above info is for flights to and from New Zealand.
- Virgin offer free movies, TV shows and music via their app which must be downloaded prior to travelling. When onboard their Boeing 737-800 or Embraer E190 aircraft, the content is then beamed to your device like WiFi (but it’s not normal WiFi, so you can’t go on the internet etc). If you do not have a device, you can rent a tablet. Normal seatback entertainment units are available for free on A3330 and B777 flights (mainly on flights to Asia and North America).
Similar to Air New Zealand, Virgin offers a number of different fare types which allow you to choose what services you would like as you travel.
Saver Lite: The most basic fare includes your seat and one piece of carry on luggage at up to 7 kilograms. Food and entertainment available for purchase onboard.
Saver: Same as above, but also includes one checked bag at up to 23 kilograms.
Flexi: Includes the checked and carry on luggage as above, as well as a meal.
Premium Economy: In Premium Economy you’ll have a larger seat with more legroom, full entertainment system, priority check in and boarding, food and beverages, amenity kit and a USB slot and laptop power point. Checked luggage allowance is one piece at 32 kilograms, cabin is one piece at 7 kilograms.
The Business: The Business is a unique service offered by Virgin Australia on their domestic A330 services (mainly to and from Perth). It includes a private pod like area with aisle access, partitioning from other seats, two metre fully lie flat bed/seat, amenity kits, full entertainment system with 16 inch screen and noise cancelling headphones, USB and power outlets, priority check in and boarding, lounge access and full meals service from an a-la-carte menu. Checked luggage allowance is two pieces at 32 kilograms each and a cabin piece at 7 kilograms.
Business Class: On routes operated by B737 or E190 aircraft (most New Zealand and Australia domestic routes), Business Class is the same as the above but does not include a lie flat seat/bed and has a smaller screen with the entertainment system. On the larger A330 and B777 aircraft for flights to Asia and North America, Business Class is the same as the above but also includes complimentary private transfers to and from the airports.
INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS FROM NEW ZEALAND
Sydney: Direct from Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Melbourne: Direct from Auckland and Christchurch.
Brisbane: Direct from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.
Gold Coast: Direct from Auckland.
Rarotonga: Direct from Auckland and Christchurch (from June 2016).
Nuku’alofa (Tonga): Direct from Auckland.
Auckland Airport: Auckland Airport is by far the largest airport in New Zealand by numbers of passengers received, number of direct destinations served and by number of airlines flying there. The international terminal is large, modern and well set out, with lots of shops and eateries. The domestic terminal however, is not so flash, although it is under renovation. It's important to note that the international and domestic terminals are not connected, but are linked by a five minute free shuttle ride, or ten minute walk. Be sure to allow for this when connecting.
Sydney Airport: Sydney Airport is Qantas' main hub and the largest airport in Australia. The airport has the distinction of being the oldest airport in the world, although it has of course undergone many renovations. That being said, the airport is overutilised and queues/delays are common. If you're just transferring through to another international flight, you'll have no worries. However if you are transferring to a domestic flight, you may need to catch a bus to another terminal which can be a process. We recommend a minimum of three hours between flights, as well as checking in three hours prior to your departure flight. Sydney does have Smart Gates for those with the new passports. Free WiFi is available.
Melbourne Airport: The second largest of Qantas' hubs is Melbourne. Unfortunately, much like Sydney, Melbourne has notoriously long queues (even worse than Sydney). Again, we recommend three hours for checking in. However transferring between flights is less cumbersome. One big thing to watch out for is that your flights are from the right airport. The main international airport is called Melbourne Tullamarine. There's another airport in the south of Melbourne called Avalon Airport which handles a small number of domestic flights, mainly with low cost carriers like Tiger and Jetstar. It takes a good two hours to travel between airports, and there is no direct public transport link. If you're staying in Melbourne, we recommend booking an airport shuttle as the taxi fare to the city is considerable.
Brisbane Airport: Brisbane Airport has been going through a bit of a boom recently and now has many international connections. At the moment it's probably the easiest airport to transfer through. Check in is also seamless and the normal two hours is plenty. There is train transport to the city and on down to the Gold Coast.