The flight between Brisbane and Sydney is such an easy and quick trip – around 75 minutes in the air – it’s almost a daily commute. Business travellers, who make up the bulk of passengers on those quick turnaround early morning and late afternoon flights, have a choice of Business, Economy X and Economy class seats on domestic Virgin Australia services as well as a selection of fare types (Getaway, Elevate, Freedom, Business Saver and Business). The fare types vary according to flexibility and privileges in the air, on the ground and with fare changes. Gold and Platinum members of Virgin Australia’s frequent flyer program Velocity can also enjoy lounge access as well as priority check-in, boarding and baggage.
I flew from Brisbane to Sydney on an Elevate fare, which allows passengers to purchase Economy X seats – Virgin Australia’s premium economy product – and access a raft of enhanced options to make your journey seamless from check-in.
Route: Brisbane to Sydney, VA 908
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Class: Economy X
Seat number: 3E (middle seat of 3x3 configuration)
Duration: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Baggage allowance: 1 piece of checked luggage up to 23kg
Online check-in is available via the Virgin Australia app, making check-in with hand luggage only a breeze. Priority check-in, boarding and baggage is also available to Gold and Platinum Velocity members, but for a 6am flight, there’s not a queue in sight. Economy X passengers are able to use priority screening lanes for domestic flights as well.
Access to the Virgin Australia Lounge is available to Gold and Platinum Velocity members, Virgin Australia Lounge members and Business class passengers. At Brisbane Domestic Airport, the lounge is located in the Virgin Australia Terminal opposite Gate 41. The light-filled and inviting space provides barista-made coffee, snacks, a buffet menu, free Wi-Fi and places to work with access to the Brisbane lounge up to 90 minutes before the first flight departure of the day. Economy X passengers can also use the Priority Boarding queue to board the plane at any time once boarding has commenced.
My seat, 3E, was the middle seat within a row of three – just behind Business class and separated by a plastic barrier. Located right at the front of the Economy cabin, row 3 offers amazing legroom – a whopping 40 per cent more than a standard Economy seat. While seated I couldn’t even touch the pockets on the barrier in front of me, and the seats have a fold-out table. Economy X passengers also have access to preferred overhead lockers for a seamless entry and exit from the plane. Note: With row 3 you’ll have to stow your carry-on luggage in the overhead lockers as there’s no seat in front of you.
Virgin Australia’s domestic services offer wireless inflight entertainment – hundreds of hours of movies, TV shows and music – via the Virgin Australia Entertainment app to be viewed on your personal device.
On my flight there were three cabin crew, with one team member servicing the Business cabin. Flight attendants were attentive (offering to hang up suit jackets and retrieve luggage on landing) without being intrusive. As it’s such an early and quick flight, the atmosphere in the cabin was calm and business-like.
Food and beverage
Complimentary snacks and a selection of beverages (tea, coffee or water) is available on this service as well as the option to purchase from the onboard retail menu. Economy X passengers receive the same complimentary snack and beverage options as the main Economy cabin – on my flight, a vegan protein ball and a choice of hot or cold drink from the aforementioned options. Note: On the 5pm return flight from Sydney to Brisbane, complimentary wine was also available.
With the ability to enhance your check-in and onboard experience within the affordability of an economy fare, Economy X is a great option for frequent travellers who don’t mind paying a bit extra for a more seamless flight and airport experience. Depending on your route, prices to upgrade to Economy X start from $20 (per person, one way), and can be booked during the initial booking process, before your flight or even during check-in (online or at the airport counter). The extra legroom and expedited queues are well worth the extra cost for a smoother experience all round.