After a gloomy day weather and flight wise on the east side of Australia, a new day west brought sunshine and lots of positive surprises. I never expected Perth to be such an amazing city. With today's climate hovering at 78 degrees (25c), not a cloud in sight and no wind, it reminded me of the summer weather in San Diego. Perfect. A great day to stroll the streets of Perth.
Maybe I was in San Diego?
Or was I in the Black Forest along the Rhine?
Or was I in New Orleans?
Being a judge in Australia's Western Supreme Court has its advantages.
Of course my Perth visit ended up here, at this gorgeous modern terminal used by Virgin Australia.
Carrier: Virgin Australia
Date: November 2016
Flight #: VA694
Aircraft: A330-200 #VH-XFE
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Rating: 8.2 out of 10 ✈
A bit of luck
While Virgin Australia rewards from the US (LAX) to Australia are difficult to procure unless you get them last minute, VA makes domestic reward flights readily available. If you are going to Perth take this flight!
Value for Reward per redemption point:
✔︎Sky High: >.08
I ticketed this reward using Etihad Guest points. The business class fare for this route is 21,800 points and the taxes were $14.00. However I really only spent 17,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for this ticket as I took advantage of a frequent Etihad transfer bonus. This bonus was 30%. So my 17K AMEX points became 22,100. (Note: The Etihad chart for VA is mileage based and the SYD-PER flight is over 30,000 points.)
The retail fare for this flight in J was $1,391.00. Therefore a standard redemption conversion at 21,800 points is 6.4 cents, but mine was 8.1 cents. You can also ticket this using 40,000 Delta Skymiles.
All partner rewards must be booked via the Etihad Guest services call center. The two agents I spoke with during this process were very nice and accommodating. The only issue is Etihad's phone number listed on their website is incorrect. (Even months later it has not been fixed.) The phone number to call in the US for Etihad Airways is 1-877-238-8555.
Stay at Gate
Virgin Australia's lounge in Perth is beautiful. Subtle highlights using their colors of white and red give the lounge a positive feel. It was clean, had a view of the airfield along with waiters passing out hors d'oeuvres like you'd find at a cocktail party. When is the last time you saw that in an airline lounge? (Missed getting a photo of this.) For a business class lounge this is one of the nicer ones I've seen.
Mid-afternoon fare. Soup and salad.
Time to go.
What were they thinking?
Having seen photos of the new Virgin Australia cabin I was anxious to see if the real thing lived up to my expectations. Those expectations were blown away.
The stunning front cabin is small, only 20 seats in 5 rows. Today's flight was half full. (The Qantas flight to Perth was full.)
There are two lavatories located behind the 2nd door in front of economy as well as a single lavatory behind the cockpit. The front lav was larger than standard.
✔︎Just like home
Get me off this plane
Virgin Australia outfitted their new cabins with the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat that is currently in use by Air Canada, Qatar Airways, China Airlines and is American's new business class seat. Having logged close to 30 hours in this seat with AC, QR and now VA, it has become my favorite business class seat.
If there is a criticism then it would be very tall people might find an issue with the footwell as it does narrow towards the back.
Center seats have a privacy divider. Smartly the slider opens half-way and allows you to look at the person sitting next to you. Otherwise it's completely private.
On the side of the pod that has the table there are 2 compartments. The upper one shown below can store your phone and has a USB charging port inside.
The lower one houses the video controller, which isn't needed as the IFE is touch screen.
On the back of the pod in front of you is a coat hook.
A two-way adjustable reading lamp.
Plus the overheard lamp along with air vents.
There is also an ambient night light which I did not operate.
The touch screen seat control has 3 pre-sets which can be further adjusted. This single screen has the light control switches as well.
Now the genius part.
Placard holder encased by a compartment.
Press the button and it opens.
Slide in your tablet. Now you have easy access to it or close the door and get it out of the way. It's padded in case of a bumpy ride.
The aisle side armrests on the Super Diamond are height adjustable. If you want more width to the seat or to your bed, push it down.
Or raise it for an armrest.
Flip the top and head phones in a nice case are stored inside, out of the way.
A better tray solution. In the up position is partially extends from under the monitor, for stuff.
Pull it out and the tray slides down a rail to a mid-way position, for more stuff.
Slide it all the way down, open it up and it becomes your meal tray.
And if you prefer their instructions as opposed to mine, find this handy seat guide.
Cabin/Seats Rating: 8 out of 10 ✈
An extensive menu was provided.
Champagne featured Ayala Brut Majeur which is about a $40 bottle of champagne here in the US.
I choose the Coriole Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lighter fare menu:
And if still hungry. I can't remember a short business class flight having a snack menu along with a full dinner offering. I wanted so bad to try a couple of these items but it was only a 3 hour flight and after dozing off we were descending.
Already I'm looking forward to this meal.
And the award for the coolest salt and pepper shaker goes to Virgin Australia.
✔︎Compliments to the Chef
Fine dining with a miss or two
No rave reviews
Get me a meal from economy
Almonds to start, which I almost finished before pressing the shutter button.
This was the starter, not the main meal. Chicken fattoush salad. Fattoush is a middle eastern salad. The Australian version was excellent.
Seeing Baramundi on the menu was a pleasant surprise. Baramundi is an Australian mild sea bass and I frequently get it here in the States.
Except I don't prepare it quite as well. No, in fact I don't come remotely close to preparing anything like this delicious meal. This was expensive restaurant quality food, with huge portions.
Could they even do better with dessert?
This vanilla and mascarpone roulade was unbelievable. It was light and airy, not overwhelmingly sweet, creamy and delicious.
This meal was so unexpected. It was on par with Austrian. Ultimately I gave Austrian a notch higher rating but that's only because there were two meals on that flight, both outstanding.
Food Rating: 9 out of 10 ✈
IFE: Rating: 8 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Can I stay and watch some more?
Watched a favorite and went to sleep
400 cable channels and nothing to watch
Glad I brought my tablet
Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it does. Great monitor with little glare when the windows were open before departure. Touchscreen, easy to navigate. Movie content was about 50 movies.
And one of the best airshow I've seen. Flight details in a panel, beautiful color and detail. Metric or Imperial conversion. It doesn't flip screens on its own, you broaden or narrow the view. Very nice.
Flight Attendants: 9 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Made the flight special
Did their job
Did they board?
And to top it all off, two outstanding flight attendants on this trip. Once in my seat the Cabin Manager Diane introduced herself and presented me with a bottle of water. She was super friendly and spoke to everyone in the cabin. Frances was my flight attendant, a lovely younger woman from Perth. She had worked for Emirates but now flew for VA and was excited for VA's new route to Abu Dhabi from Perth which she will work. Both of these attendants really enjoyed working this flight and that means alot to the passengers like me.
Aircraft: 7 out of 10 ✈
Didn’t realize was on a plane
Time for a trade-in
The aircraft was 4 1/2 years old and in excellent condition. It's first flight was in May of 2012 and was MSN 1319 for Airbus. One of the nicer A330's I've flown.
Comments: This flight was one of those you wish wouldn't end. It was a perfect flight from arrival at the beautiful airport in Perth to the "thank you for flying with Virgin Australia" from Diane at the gate in Melbourne.
My only wish is that Virgin Australia would move to the US.
Plane watching in Perth.
Do you have any Virgin Australia experiences you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.