Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2122
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:43 am

Virgin Australia Hong Kong Trip Report
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Since there has been little detailed reports on the six months old's Virgin Australia flight between Hong Kong and Melbourne, I have decided to share my experiences in Virgin Australia's business class on this roundtrip. Virgin Australia obviously tries very hard to establish itself as a formidable competitor, especially both Cathay Pacific and Qantas offers a decent onboard product in all cabin classes. It is fair to say that Virgin Australia easily beats both CX and QF, in terms of catering, amenities (pajamas included even in day flights on the return segment), and service. In terms of the individual suites, three of them are comparable and have pros and cons, but both three offer individual aisle access and a good suite product. However, Virgin Australia's A330s are definitely showing signs of wear and tear, despite being five years old or less. It is common among this new generation of seats that are easily scratched. Despite of its superior service, the arrival and departure experience in Melbourne was anything but stellar. I was lucky enough that we had to use bus gates for both flights, and it was just utterly disorganized. I don't know if Virgin Australia is a late gamer or has to switch the aircraft use between domestic and international flights, but parking the plane in the domestic pier and then busing passengers to international terminal is a hassle, not to mention they like to cram those buses. When low cost airlines such as Scoot and Air Asia X are using real gates with jetway, it is just a poor impression when full service premium airlines, like Virgin Australia, have to use a bus gate. My other issue is relatively minor, which is more of a cultural issue. All the written Chinese communications, including entertainment system and printed menu, are in simplified Chinese, despite Hong Kong people use traditional Chinese characters. It is clear that Virgin Australia has its eyes on China, but as of now, they are only flying to Hong Kong, and it is only respectful to use the written form of Chinese that Hong Kong people actually read and write. There is still a Hong Kong Airlines' ambassador [basically interpreter] on each flight and I wonder how long that will last, and I guess it depends when Virgin Australia will start using its own Chinese speaking F/As soon.

January 10, 2017
VA 86 Hong Kong to Melbourne Lv1950 Arr0815 Airbus A330-200 VH-XFE "Manly Beach"

Check-in:
Hong Kong Airlines handles all the ground services for Virgin Australia in Hong Kong, but VA has a supervisor here. Airport Express service was offered at counter 16, which was shared with Hong Kong Express. I believe that you can do early check in but if you have to check in a bag, you cannot do check in the night before, only on the day of the flight. At HKG, it uses aisle G. The HX agent was friendly but it was clear that she was not over familiarized with VA's system. In the end, she managed to enter my SQ Krisflyer's number and checked my bags all the way to Auckland with the priority and international transfer label. She gave me an invitation card to use Hong Kong Airlines' Club Autus in the Midfield Concourse, and addressed me by my last name throughout the check-in.

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Lounge:
Club Autus was basically the official lounge for most of the airlines operating in the Midfield Concourse, except the Star Alliance carriers, which use the lounges in the main terminal building. I wonder if the Lufthansa group has plan to build its own lounge here at the Midfield Concourse. HX's new Club Autus is really a nice lounge with plenty of seating area and an open view of the apron and the parallel run ways. In terms of food, it is still oriented towards Chinese passengers and I like the theme of Hong Kong local food. As a local, the noodle bar is nice and, in some ways,, the variety and portions are better than Cathay Pacific. However, Cathay Pacific is superior in all other areas, including more international selection, better beverage selection, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and better variety of fresh fruit and salad. Service wise, Hong Kong Airlines' lounge staffs are some of the friendliest people you can find, which is better than CX. The staffs are super helpful and are more approachable. They are more proactive. It is clear that they have more to prove than CX, which is suffering from low morale and more subcontracting.

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All HX partners use this lounge too.
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Full bar:
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Noodle bar:
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Food buffet:
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View by windows
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Gate:
The aircraft arrived early from Melbourne and I took some pictures before it got dark at gate 209.
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I went back to gate 209 around 7pm, and "Manly Beach" was getting ready.
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Boarding was very organized with separate priority lanes. The first passenger boarded at 7:08am.
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Cabin:
The inflight manager was already by the door checking boarding passes and I was immediately welcomed back and addressed by my last name. I think there are plenty of Virgin Australia's A330-200 business class cabin reviews out there, so I am not going to say much more. Here are some of the pictures of the cabin the night mode.

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I settled in 3K soon and the flight was pretty full with only one or two empty seats. Brodie was the F/A in charge of my aisle, and immediately approached me with amenity kit and a tour of the suites, as well as taking order for my pre-takeoff beverage, which is served in real glassware. Menus were passed out, along with breakfast card. Since it was a short overnight flight, Brodie was asking if passengers wanted express service or needed him to set the bed after takeoff. He was also a bit more proactive in asking passengers to fill out the breakfast cards.

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I had some sparkling wine.
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I was happy to report pajamas and a full-sized amenity kit was offered on both Hong Kong to Melbourne and return flights. Here is the amenity kit and its contents. The amenity kit was much better than CX, and designed more towards first class than business class. The bag was pretty sturdy too.

Amenity kit
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Menu:
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Wake up card:
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Bottled water and headset
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Boarding was completed at 7:52pm and we pushed back six minutes later. The airport was in between the early evening and late-night departures, so the queue was not bad at all. We took off from R/W7R at 8:15pm for our nine hours flight to Melbourne.

The routing was fairly typical of Hong Kong to Australia, as we headed towards South China Sea. We first climbed to 33,000 feet, and then further to 37,000feet before passing the Filipino cities of Linapacan and Zamboanga. Then we headed towards Bitung, Teluk Ambon, Milikapiti, and then reaching the Northern coast of Austrlaia by passing over Wurrrumiyanga Bathurst Island airport, Darwin Airport, and Victoria River before climbing to 39,000feet. Then we passed Atitjere before climbing further to 41,000 feet, and then towards Robinvale and Melbourne.

The only hot towel service happened after seat belt sign was turned off at 8:25pm, and then there is the new canape services, which are basically green olive stuffed almonds and Parmesan cheese biscuits. Not sure if I can call them canape, but more like fancy savories to go with drinks. I honestly can live with a bowl of mixed nuts.

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Here is the wine list, which is the same for return flight, so I won't double post.

Champagne
Ayala Brut Majeur, NV France

White Wine
Kirrihill Riesling, 2016 Clare Valley, Australia
Eddystone Point Pinot Gris, 2016 Coal River, Australia

Petaluma 100 Line Chardonnay, 2016 Coonawarra, Australia
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Red wine
Kim Crawford Pinot Noir, 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
St Hallett Duo Shiraz, 2016 Barossa & Eden Valleys, Australia
Billy Goat Hill Cabernet Merlot, 2016 Darling Ranges, Australia

Dessert and Fortified Wines
Grant Burge Aged Tawny NV Barossa Valley, Australia
Petaluma Cane Cut Riesling, 2012 Adelaide Hills, Australia

Dinner service began fifty-five minutes after takeoff, which was pretty impressive, especially each course was served individually.

Here is the a la carte, aka full, dinner menu:
A la carte
Bakery
Your choice of artisan breads

Starter
Pea, broad bean and fennel salad with radish and feta
Salted pork soup with silken tofu, bamboo shoots and ginger
Soba noodles with prawn, wasabi and sesame

Main
Barramundi with Chinese broccoli, shiitake and steamed rice
Barbeque roast duck with vermicelli noodles and mustard greens
Slow-cooked beef short rib with baby potatoes, green beans and paprika butter
Silver beet, globe artichoke and porcini mushroom lasagna

Cheese or dessert
Cheddar, New Zealand
Camembert, Normandy, France
Stilton, Cropwell Bishop, UK
Accompanied with grapes, dried fruit and crackers
Or
A selection of Asian sweets
Vanilla ice cream
Belgian chocolate ice cream

The express menu is basically the same menu without the main course, and everything is served in one single tray.

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I love the salt and pepper shakers shaped on Sydney Opera House!
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I started with the salted pork soup, since it was pretty cold in Hong Kong [well for Hong Kong standard], which was surprisingly hearty and flavorful. It had a nice spicy kick to it. I could use a second bowl. Virgin Australia serves great soups at 30,000feet.
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Then for main course, I went with the Chinese duck entrée, since it was Hong Kong made. The noodle dish was great, but honestly it needs a sauce or even a broth. It is basically a noodle soup dish without the soup.

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For dessert, I was offered only either the cheese plate or ice cream, so I went with the cheese plate. I still think this is where Virgin Australia can step up. A good airline offers choice of cheese or dessert, but a top-notch airline offers BOTH cheese AND dessert. Within two hours after takeoff, dinner service was completed, which was about right.

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Brodie immediately set up bed for every passenger, who finished their meals. I guess this is the trend now and basically there is a mattress pad, along with duvet blanket, which is still too short. It is one of my pet peeves and I am not even that tall (5 feet 10 inches). Anyway, the pad made the seat more comfortable. I personally just want a bit more room for my feet, and I can notice the narrower suites on the Airbus A330s, compared to Boeing 777s.

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I slept pretty well throughout the night, and woke up a little bit before breakfast service was commenced. The cabin looked pretty quiet with most passengers sleeping. There is a full pantry service but I did not order any. However, it is nice to have noodles available. Here is the pantry menu - also similar for both outbound and inbound flights, so I won't double post.

Nibbles
Savory biscuits
Sun-dried tomato and parmesan

Chocolate
Valrhona milk and dark chocolate

Olives
Almond-stuffed olives

Chips
Gourmet potato crisps with sea salt

Noodles
Express cup noodles

Entertainment:
There is no onboard WIFI and not sure if VA has any plan for it in the near future. The entertainment system is pretty good with a nice selection of international movies and television programs. Everything is touchscreen, and it is pretty intuitive. It no longer models after Virgin America's RED system. It has its own interface and everything is different now. I watched some new episodes of "Big Bang Theory" during both meals.

Breakfast:
Virgin Australia offers a breakfast on demand service. A full breakfast has to be served two hours prior to arrival, with continental breakfast a bit later. The breakfast was pretty served in one tray, similar to its American flights too.
Here is the breakfast card:

Juice
Fresh Orange Juice
Passionfruit Smoothie

Fruit
Seasonal Fruit Plate
With
Natural Yogurt
Or
Fruit Yogurt

Cereal
Cornflakes or Sultana Bran
With
Full Cream milk or reduced fat milk or soy milk

Bakery
Savory Roll
Croissant
Blueberry Muffin
With
Strawberry Jam, honey, vegemite, or orange marmalade

Main
Please choose one of the following options:
Bircher muesli with almond, peach, and maple
Or
Chau siu pork congee
Or
Scrambled eggs with your choice of:
Sourdough toast, bacon, smoked salmon, sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach or fried haloumi

Nespresso
Ristretto, espresso, macchiato, long black, cappuccino, or decaffeinated

Madam Flavor Tea (Mug/Slice of lemon)
English Breakfast, Single Origin Green, Earl Grey, Organic Mint, Or Lemongrass, lime and ginger

Other hot beverages (Mug)
Filter coffee
Decaffeinated Coffee
Hot Chocolate

Milk & Sugar
Full cream milk, reduced fat milk or soy milk
Sugar or low-calorie sweetener

J_HKGKAUS_HB1_WUC_DEC17
VA86

Breakfast
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Breakfast was pretty served at 3:30am HK time/6:30am Melbourne time, and everything was lovely. I had the full breakfast experience and like the scrambled egg dish. The only strange thing was that there was no hot towel before or after. I might have missed one because there was a long queue for bathroom in the morning, especially one of the lavatory before door two (I think right hand side) went inoperative, and economy class passengers had to queue for the single lavatory behind door two left.

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Descent soon began at 7:47am Melbourne's local time, and it was a beautiful morning.
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We landed on R/W27 at 8:13am.
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I was pretty relived, as I only had 90 minutes before my connection flight to Auckland. Unfortunately, here was where Virgin Australia truly dropped the ball. For the past month or so, Virgin Australia basically just put one particular A330-200 on the Hong Kong flights, and just swabbed out once every three to five days. I guess it was to avoid this BUS situation. Unfortunately, today was the last day for XFE to be used on the Hong Kong flight, and the plane would be used for a noon Perth flight. Instead of deplaning passengers at international terminal and then towing the plane to domestic terminal like a normal full-service airline (at least in the US), our plane instead went straight to terminal three, Virgin Australia's domestic terminal, and parked at gate F12. Instead of using the jet way, we deplaned through stairs and then bused towards international terminal. It was an inconvenience but if it was arranged correctly, I was fine with it.

Unfortunately, the ground service at Melbourne was not ready for our arrival, despite our sliglty late arrival. Despite the staircase being literally a few meters away from us, no one was operating it. We all waited in the plane, and despite the apologies from the crews, things remained stalemate. It was only twenty minutes later that someone realized that they had to push the staircase towards the plane. As usual, they did not have separate van and bus for premium passengers, and they tried to cram the bus as many people as possible. I understand cramming the bus for Scoot or Air Asia, but not a premium airline. Fortunately, the international transit area was not busy and I made it to my Auckland flight. I am not going to write about those Trans-Tasman flights, except that it was pretty bad. The service was wonderful as usual, but the catering was simply cheap and poor. It was way worse than Qantas and Air New Zealand on the trans-Tasman market.
 
Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2122
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:46 am

Anyway, here is the return segment:

January 17, 2018
VA 87 Melbourne to Hong Kong Lv1100 Arr1745 Airbus A330-200 VH-XFE "Manly Beach"

I checked in at Auckland, so could not comment on the check in experiences at Melbourne Airport, which I was sure that it was fine.

Melbourne Airport
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Transit at Melbourne
My flight from Auckland arrived early and we got a real gate. The international transit area was not busy again and I went through security quickly.

Fun FDIS
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Melbourne's Etihad Lounge
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For Virgin Australia's flight to Hong Kong, they use its partner, Etihad Airways' lounge, which is really impressive, especially with a light load in business class. When I checked the night before, there were only four passengers, and on the flight, itself, it only had a few extra non-revenue passengers. With an early arrival, I was the second passenger, who arrive at the lounge. I took the opportunities to take pictures.

Plenty of seating area
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I like this design:
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USB ports and Australian power outlet at plenty of seats
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Shower Room inside the bathroom - here is obviously the men's one.
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Food - there is no sit-down dining for our flight, but a full continental and hot breakfast was offered.
Scrambled egg
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Sausage and hash brown
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Mushrooms and tomato
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Smoked salmon, turkey, and assorted yogurt and muesli parfaits
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Along with a full bar
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There was a bar attendant making drinks for those who can handle alcohol at 9am.

Of course, my favorite part is the large window and the opportunity for plane-spotting.
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Boarding:
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Well as my fate dictates, I was once again caught up with the swap situation. XFG has been working the HKG flights for the past five days, and then today was the day that XFE was to be swapped back. When I tracked the plane, "Manly Beach" actually arrived Melbourne the evening before, and it looked pretty much on time. The plane was parked at a remote area after its arrival. I presume it usually got towed to the international terminal in the morning, but today, something was not going right. There were still no gate numbers for our flight when I arrived at the transit area and even the Eithad lounge, t and even the staff did not know. I looked around and could not spot it. Then I got a thirty minutes delay notification on my phone, and "Manly Beach" had some engineering issues. We were finally assigned a bus gate, 16B, around 10am.

Boarding finally began at 11:01am and there was a separate business class queue.
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But there was no separate bus for premium passengers, and I was lucky to get on the first bus. It was a long ride to the Qantas cargo area, and "Manly Beach" was parked at spot H2. It was clear that it was a last-minute arrangement, as it took a while for the next bus to arrive. Boarding was long, given that it is not particularly busy this afternoon.

One good thing about boarding by stairs are closed up photo ops and at least the lights worked on my favor this afternoon.
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Once onboard, I took a few cabin pictures. It looks nicer with natural sunlight.
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Suite
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Universal power outlets and USB ports
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Aaron, another great F/A, was already talking to the passenger behind me, introducing the suites, explaining the service, and taking pre-takeoff beverage. It was interesting that the passenger asked if the meals are on demand. With a light load, Aaron said that they could save the meals for him. Soon it was my turn and everything went as scheduled.

To my surprise, Virgin Australia did a "wake up card" service for the light meal/dinner prior to arrival too. There were plenty of choices.
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The crews were apologetic for our late departure but with a shorter than normal flight time, eight hours and forty-seven minutes, they were confident about catching up some time along the way.

After waiting for a few more bus loads, we finally were ready at 11:52am, and pushed back four minutes later.
We taxied towards R/W16.
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We took off at 12:12pm for our nine hours flight to Hong Kong.

Sunny day in Melbourne (and I am glad to leave before the heat wave arriving the next day!)
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The routing was pretty the reverse of my inbound flight. We headed towards Charlton before reaching 36,000ft and then passing Australian cities of Manna Hill, Leigh Creek, Lake Eyre, Alice Springs, Katherine, Pine Creek, Tiwi Islands and Milikapiti Snake Bay Airport, before leaving the Aussie airspace. We headed towards Tepa and Ambon before climbing to 38,000 feet, which was our final cruising altitude. Then we passed Bitung, Isabela City, and Linepacan before reaching the South China Sea and heading towards Hong Kong.
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With a light load, the service was very personal and things were smooth. Aaron remained attentive and friendly throughout the flight. The service was obviously nicely paced as there were only three passengers on this side.

As usual, there was a hot towel service prior to beverage and canapes, which can only be used loosely here. We got the same savory snack items - sundried tomato and Parmesan biscuits and green olive stuffed almonds.

Lunch service began with a fresh linen covering the tables and then Aaron set up each table individually. No tray was used for the first service.

Here is the transcript for the lunch a la carte service and I won't post the express menu, since it is basically the same menu without the main courses that can be served in one tray.

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A la carte
Bakery
Your choice of artisan breads

Starter

Summer salad of asparagus, broad bean and parmesan with lemon vinaigrette
Braised beef noodle soup
Poached prawns with cashew puree, coconut and nam jam

Main
Steamed barramundi with noodles, bok choy, shitake mushrooms and ginger
Malaysia style curried chicken leg with jasmine rice
Chargrilled lamb cutlets with rosemary potatoes, peas and mint pesto
Eggplant and borlotti bean moussaka

Cheese or dessert
Quickies Oak Smoked Cheddar, Devon, UK
Woombye Triple Cream Brie, Queensland
Berry's Creek Riverine Blue, Victoria
Accompanied with Luke Mangan's fig paste, grapes, and crackers
Or
Apple tarte tatin with crème anglaise
Super Fudge Brownie ice cream
Mango Sherbet

For this segment, I could not resist the attempt of the braised beef noodle soup, so that was my choice. It was actually very good and one of the only few successful Chinese dishes served on this return segment. Honestly it can be a main course item if they have more noodles on it.

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For main course, I decided to go with the lamb cutlets, which were delicious and nicely presented. The quantity and quality were both excellent.
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For dessert, I had the apple tart, which was a bit sweet, but in general, it was a nice meal.
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I still think both cheese and dessert should be offered and I was pretty sure that I could request a cheese plate on this light flight, if I was still hungry. Due to the delays, I ate a bit more than usual in the lounge, in case if this was a rolling delay.

Then Aaron offered me a pajama and despite being a big guy, the medium size fit very well. Then he made up the bed for me.
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I slept for the next few hours, as I was pretty exhausted after having only a few hours of sleep the previous night.

I had a bowl of chips mid-flight too with a glass of the new Coke with no sugar.
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The rest of the flight went by pretty quietly. We hit a couple rough spots, and in a few occasions, the crews had to be remained seated.

Around 4:18pm Hong Kong local time, the flights were turned on and the second meal service was served in mostly one tray. Unfortunately, the food was a bit less stellar. The fruit bowl and the chocolate muffin were delicious but both the dim sum and the Asian sweets were pretty bad.

Here is the transcript for the menu:

Wake Up Card [For Light Meal/Dinner]
Australia to Hong Kong

Juice
Fresh Orange Juice

Fruit
Seasonal Fruit Plate

Bakery
Soy Linseed Roll
Provencal Herb Roll
Chocolate Muffin


Main
Please choose one of the following options:
Heirloom tomato salad with goat's feta, black olives and basil
Hummus dip plate with almonds, smoked paprika and flatbread
Steamed dim sum with chili and soy
Barbeque roast duck with egg noodles, shiitake and bok choy
Corned beef toasted sandwich with smoked cheddar and pickled zucchini

Dessert
A selection of Asian sweets

Nespresso
Ristretto, espresso, macchiato, long black, cappuccino, or decaffeinated

Madam Flavor Tea (Mug/Slice of lemon)
English Breakfast, Single Origin Green, Earl Grey, Organic Mint, Or Lemongrass, lime and ginger

Other hot beverages (Mug)
Filter coffee
Decaffeinated Coffee
Hot Chocolate

Milk & Sugar
Full cream milk, reduced fat milk or soy milk
Sugar or low-calorie sweetener

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Fake Egg tart
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Cappuccino
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Descent soon began at 5:08pm and the ATC hold wasn't too bad.
We were using R/W25 today so great view of sunset over Hong Kong.
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We landed on R/W25R at 5:54pm and parked at gate 214 in the Midfield Concourse seven minutes later.

In conclusion, Virgin Australia offered a superior premium class product on the Hong Kong market, which easily makes Cathay Pacific and Qantas Airways look pretty average. I am pleasantly surprised that Virgin Australia offers the full long-haul service on the Hong Kong market, which is a much shorter flight than its LAX flight. I appreciate the pajama and full-sized amenity kit. Catering is also impressive, apart from some so-called Asian food on the return Australia to Hong Kong flights. My main issues are first, the language issue and it is not that big of a deal, but at least get the written language right. There is honestly no path for VA to fly to Shanghai anytime soon with lack of slots at major Chinese airports. At least respect the culture of the people that you are serving. Second, the ground experiences at Melbourne were simply unacceptable for any airline. I still don't understand why they can't just deplane us in the international terminal and then tow the plane to a domestic gate. They have almost four hours before the flight heading to Perth. If they are stuck with the bus gate, shouldn't they make it as smooth as possible? It should take the first load of passenger to deplane twenty minutes after we parked at gate. Finally, these Airbus A330-200s need to be better maintained with functioning bathrooms and less defects in the galley. I can't also be a little bit concerned with their loading especially in business class. VA really needs to step up its promotions about its superior onboard service and I notice that some passengers were connecting to London on Virgin Atlantic, and maybe it is time to really have a premium economy cabin. I think they need to do better in appealing to local Hong Kong passengers, which are necessary to have a profitable operation. Stop this simplified Chinese character nonsense and use a local Hong Kong celebrity to promote the service. There are actually a good number of Hong Kong actors and singers, who have ties to Australia.

I hope you enjoy the trip report, and sincerely wish Virgin Australia success in this flight to Hong Kong!

Carfield
 
Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2122
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:16 am

Here is the full album link for those who want to go through pictures that I took during this particular trip to New Zealand!
Full album link:
http://s1213.photobucket.com/user/Carfi ... HKGJan2018
 
igtrader88
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:52 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:59 am

Great TR! Thank you for the photos, comments. Very enjoyable read.
 
debonair
Posts: 3095
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:29 am

Nice TR, lovely pictures - well done!

All HX partners use this lounge too.


Quite funny, that AIR EXPLORE an ACMI broker/airline is flying to HKG, maybe it should read Palau-Pacific-Airways...

For the arrival process, is VA using at least a separate bus for Business Class passengers - or just one bus for all? Also, any idea how long ETIHAD will keep the lounge open? It seems that ETIHAD is cost cutting - so I can't imagine that the lounge will survive any longer... Doesn't have VA it's own international lounge?
 
mickster
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:56 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:18 am

Mate, amazing stuff, thank you very much for sharing. With me living on the other side of the world, there is very little chance I will ever get to fly VA, but as the poet has said, hope dies last. Hands down though, this is a far superior business class experience than what I have experienced on any carrier I have flown out of Europe to US, Africa, Middle East or Asia. QR would probably be close to that, but not there yet ... If you do not mind sharing, how much did the ticket cost (but if you would rather not, no worries)? Thanks again though.
 
Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2122
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:58 pm

Thanks for all your comments!

No there is no separate bus for premium passengers, which definitely make the experience pretty bad.

The ticket price wasn't too bad! It is a RT from Hong Kong to Auckland via Melbourne, and costs me around $2200USD. I can't remember the exact figure since I obviously paid HKD.

Virgin Australia does not have its own lounge over at the international terminal and for its Trans-Tasman flights, it just uses the Air New Zealand lounge, which is VA's main partner here in Australia. For this Hong Kong flight, Virgin Australia actually makes a deal with Etihad, so it makes the service special. Etihad will not likely back off from the lounge after investing so much money in fixing it up. It has two daily flights now and I presume Virgin Australia sharing it during times when EY does not have a flight make sense. For its proposed Shanghai flights, I think VA will keep it a late morning/early afternoon flight, before Etihad's first flight to AUH departing around 4pm.

Carfield
 
smi0006
Posts: 1686
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:45 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:41 pm

Looks like a great poruct, hopefully VA are able to carve out a niche for themselves.

In fairness to VA, the bussing and gate situation sadly sits with Melbourne airport entirely. Bay allocations are based on aircraft size and if the flight is on schedule, slip and the contact gate gets allocated to someone else, aircraft tows are also the lowest ATC priority so sit at the bottom of the list.

Sadly Melbourne airport has not expanded anywhere near fast enough, and passengers are left with the congestion for the next 5-10years.
 
brucetiki
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:36 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:43 am

Remote gates at Australian airports are quite rare for domestic/international flights (they're common for regional flights - and it appears the return flight departed from the regional H stands). So rare that I think it throws staff when they get one. I had a similar experience in Sydney when my flight ended up on a regional stand - very slow deplaning, delays finding buses etc.
 
benbeny
Posts: 202
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:44 pm

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:08 am

I did not know that GA flies to Melbourne with their A330!

Nice pics and nice foods, they made me hungry :D
 
BNEFlyer
Posts: 207
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 6:41 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:29 am

benbeny wrote:
I did not know that GA flies to Melbourne with their A330!

Nice pics and nice foods, they made me hungry :D


MEL and SYD (CGK and DPS) and PER (DPS).
 
benbeny
Posts: 202
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:44 pm

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:17 pm

BNEFlyer wrote:
benbeny wrote:
I did not know that GA flies to Melbourne with their A330!

Nice pics and nice foods, they made me hungry :D


MEL and SYD (CGK and DPS) and PER (DPS).

I see. Thanks!
 
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JBusworth
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Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:22 am

Thanks for the great review! It is very rare for an international flight to leave from a H stand in Melbourne which probably explains the delays. I know VA are currently in the middle of a wifi rollout that is coming to the HK flights later this year alongside all other A330 flights. I wouldn't expect PE on the A330, the will be replaced in the next 5 or so years anyway and the replacement will likely have PE.
 
sq256
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Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:37 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:46 am

brucetiki wrote:
Remote gates at Australian airports are quite rare for domestic/international flights (they're common for regional flights - and it appears the return flight departed from the regional H stands). So rare that I think it throws staff when they get one. I had a similar experience in Sydney when my flight ended up on a regional stand - very slow deplaning, delays finding buses etc.


Hardstand gate usage for international flights are pretty much frequent at SYD and MEL including the use of buses, though parking International Flights at the regional stands does seem pretty rare.
But QF and VA parking international flights at their domestic terminals and busing the passengers from their domestic terminals to immigration at the international terminal is pretty much semi-frequent.

BNE also currently is building extra Hardstand gates for international flights as part of the international terminal expansion (but next to the international terminal, thus not requiring buses).
 
F9Animal
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Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:13 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:34 am

Wow!!! Awesome TR!!! Looks Like Virgin Australia has a solid product. I won't lie.... I got hungry after seeing the food they serve. I mean, it looks edible! LOL!! I do have to ask. What the heck is a fake egg tart? What is that surrounding the center? Is the outer shell edible? Gonna go check Google after this.
I Am A Different Animal!!
 
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ClassicLover
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Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:05 pm

Quite a nice report - the food looks delicious! Shame about the egg tart - the ones in Hong Kong are really very delicious :)

Seats look good and those soups look amazing. Great report, thanks for sharing!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
767747
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Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:08 am

Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:54 pm

Great report and photos! It looks like you had two great flights with Virgin Australia. The food looks really good and nicely presented.

Thank you for sharing.
I love to fly!
 
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RyanairGuru
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Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:54 pm

brucetiki wrote:
Remote gates at Australian airports are quite rare for domestic/international flights (they're common for regional flights - and it appears the return flight departed from the regional H stands). So rare that I think it throws staff when they get one. I had a similar experience in Sydney when my flight ended up on a regional stand - very slow deplaning, delays finding buses etc.


It’s not at all rare to see remote stands used for international arrivals at both SYD and MEL. It happens for multiple arrivals every single day, at both airports.
Worked Hard, Flew Right
 
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11725Flyer
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Re: Virgin Australia Business class between Hong Kong and Melbourne January 2018

Sun Mar 25, 2018 12:22 am

So many pictures - thanks for sharing them all with us. And the lamb - it looked so good!

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