Review – Virgin Australia 737 Business Class Sydney – Brisbane

I’ve flown this product now extensively but never reviewed it so I decided I finally would on my flight from Sydney yesterday. The Boeing 737 is the workhorse for Virgin Australia, it covers over 80% of all domestic and short-haul Trans Tasman flights. The airline also has Embraer 190 aircraft which are currently being pulled out of the fleet. The 737 MAX aircraft will replace Virgin’s current 737’s which will go to it’s LCC Tigerair.

Virgin Australia Domestic Route Network - (Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia Domestic Route Network – (image: Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia business class has a configuration of 2-2 with only 8 seats in the cabin, this means less seats but more space. The competition has 12 seats.

2-2 Config

2-2 Configuration

Row 1 And 2

Row 1 And 2

Good Legroom

Good Legroom

Space Under The Seat

Space Under The Seat

Seat 1F

Personal In Seat Power

Personal In Seat Power

Before the flight took off the friendly crew came around and gave me a Samsung tablet loaded with hours of entertainment.

Samsung Tablet IFE

Virgin Australia serve a full meal on all domestic business class flights at any time which is quite impressive. I find them to be very consistent with the quality of the food they provide.

 

For this flight I departed at 11 and had a Quiche which was very nice. All they meals onboard are designed by the very well-known chef Luke Mangan.

Quiche

Quiche

Coke Zero

It was a beautiful day to fly. The flight tracks along the cost line passing Balina, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast before descending into Brisbane.

View From 2A

View From 2A

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Seat 2A

Coat Hanger

Virgin Logo Planted On The Seat

Summary

As someone who fly’s Virgin Australia very often I very rarely have a bad experience. The crews are always very friendly and provide good service, the ground experience is painless with mobile check-in and premium entry curbside at the lounge and the aircraft are always clean and look fantastic with the purple mood lighting.

 

 

Review – Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong To Tokyo Narita

After my flight from Sydney I was headed to Tokyo Narita. At the time of booking I was happy to find first class availability quite open and grabbed immediately booked the seat. I decided to take CX520 as I then could have some time to review a few lounges In Hong Kong.

The redemption cost me 50,000 AAdvantage miles. To find award space on Cathay Pacific online you can use the British Airways Avios website or the Qantas award search. All Cathay bookings with American have to be done over the phone.

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Today my flight was operated by a 777-300ER which features just 6 first class suites. Various aircraft are put on the route such as the older 747-400 and A330-300. The A330 does not have a first class cabin.

Even though Cathay’s first doesn’t have closing suites they are still quite private. With only 6 seats its very spacious and privacy isn’t a big issue. For solo travel I would recommend seat 1A, 1K and for couples, 1/2 D/K seats.

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Boeing 77W B-KPA

Boeing 77W B-KPA

I was assigned seat 1A which is perfect for solo travel.

Seat 1A

Seat 1A

The first class seat is extremely wide and is extremely comfortable. I’d have to say its one of the more comfortable seats I’ve sat in.

The crew came around and offered a beverage before takeoff, I decided on water. In 2 more years you will see champagne before takeoff 😉

Hot Towel

Bose Headsets

Bose Headset

3 Windows For Each Seat

As we began our pushback there was some nice aircraft to look at.

United 777

United 777

Due to my obsession with Etihad as soon as I saw a newly painted A330 I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Easily the best livery in the sky.

Etihad A330

Cathay 777

Cathay 777

The view from takeoff was incredible, I’ve only ever taken off from Hong Kong at night so I was pretty happy to get a view like that.

As we climbed to our cursing altitude I began to explore the inflight entertainment options. The annoying part about Cathy pacific’s IFE system is they play a lot of ads before you can watch what you’ve chosen.

The crew came around and handed out the Beverage and Menu for the flight as well as offering drinks.

Various Beverages

Menu’s: LUNCH – PRALINES –  JAPANESE MEAL – DRINK LIST – CHAMPAGNE – PROMOTIONAL WINES – WHITE WINES – RED WINES – PORT – APERITIFS AND COCKTAILS – WHISKIES  – COGNAC – LIQUEURS – BEER – SIGNATURE DRINKS

Loch Fyne Salmon, Potato And Dill Salad

Bread Basktet

Bread Basket

Steamed Chicken, Chinese Ham, Black Mushroom, Lotus Leaf, Shanghainese Pak Choy, Carrot And Steamed Jasmine Rice

Steamed Chicken, Chinese Ham, Black Mushroom, Lotus Leaf, Shanghainese Pak Choy, Carrot And Steamed Jasmine Rice

Peanut Butter Cake And Mixed Berry Compote

The view while eating lunch was fantastic, such a beautiful day to fly.

After lunch I decided to go and explore the cabin and seat a little more. The seat is extremely comfortable and I am really wanting to fly it long haul now.

The ottoman can be another seat for couples wanting to dine together. Underneath is where your bag is stored.

Cathay use Aēsop products in first class, the same as their first class lounges which is a nice. The bathroom is very spacious and clean.

 

As I went back to my seat they came and delivered a drink to my seat. I thought that was a nice gesture.

Perrier And Still Water

Reading Material Holdler

Reading Material Holder

Duty Free, Discover Magazine and Safety Card

What A View!

Unfortunately I didn’t get ant arrival shots of Narita. I was too busy trying to find Mt Fuji 😉

Summary

After trialling Cathay Pacific First I really want to try it on a long haul flight. The seat was extremely comfortable, the food was prepared very well and they offer a fantastic long haul menu and the crew were outstanding.

 

Review – Etihad A340 First Class Tokyo Narita To Abu Dhabi

As you can probably tell by now I am heavily obsessed with Etihad Airways. I’ve flown them 6 times in first and business all on their A380 and 787 however I hadn’t flown their older first class product or an A340 before so this was a perfect opportunity.

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

Booking

For this flight I used 60,000 AAdvantage miles. To find Etihad availability you go to Etihad Guest Availability Search. The seats you want to look for are ‘Guest Seats’. All Etihad redemption through American Airlines have to be done over the phone. If the agent can’t find it on the phone ring the Australian line on 02 9101 1948, For some strange reason the Australian line can find more Etihad first award space than others.

Etihad Guest Availability

Etihad Guest Availability

Lounge

For premium passengers Etihad uses the ANA business class lounge. Interestingly first class passengers cannot use the ANA first lounge.

The lounge was very crowded as all premium passengers on ANA, various Star Alliance airlines and Star Alliance gold members use the lounge.

I made my way to the gate to then find out we were delayed by 30 minutes. As I looked out the window I noticed the A340-600 operating my flight was the Formula 1 livery which looks amazing!

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

Soon after boarding started the excitement was getting pretty high. At check-in I checked the loads and saw I was the only passenger booked in First which was pretty cool however 3 more passengers arrived in the cabin just as the doors were about to close.

I was given seat 1A which I was very happy with.

Suite 1A

Suite 1A

As I sat down the cabin service manager Belinda came around and welcomed me onboard and introduced the crew who would be looking after me.

IFE Screen

IFE Screen

As with every first class flight on Etihad you get a welcome tray with dates, a hot towel and a signed welcome letter. A few minutes later the menu’s were handed out.

Dates, Hot Towel and Welcome Letter

Dates, Hot Towel and Welcome Letter

Etihad also provide Pyjamas, Slippers and a Le Labo styled Amenity kit.

The ottoman storage can hold my 22’’ suitcase and still has a lot of room to move around.

Underseat Storage

Underseat Ottoman Storage

The suite also has a minibar. The minibar drinks are warm not chilled, so it’s basically a storage compartment for water.

Minibar

Minibar

Etihad provide noise cancelling headphones however I prefer to use my personal Bose headsets.

Etihad Headphones

Etihad Headphones

In Seat Power, IFE Controller

In Seat Power, IFE Controller

Light Controls Panel

Light Controls Panel

Seat Controls Panel

Seat Controls Panel

Each suite has sliding doors providing maximum privacy for passengers in first class. Interestingly these type of suites are fitted on 777-200LR, 777-300ER, A340-600/500 and selected A330 aircraft.

Coat Storage

Coat Storage

Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors

Closed Suite

Closed Suite

Mood Lighting

Mood Lighting

As our takeoff was at night I wasn’t able to grab good departure photo’s so I’ll skip to the dinner service.

Inflight Menu’s:

À LA CARTE – FROM THE GRILL – TASTE OF JAPAN – ALL DAY DINE – JAPANESE BREAKFAST – CHEESE – DESSERT – DESSERT WINE

Alcohol list. (Sorry for the Japanese menu, that what they handed me)

To start off I was given a tray containing Arabic coffee, Mixed nuts, Olives and Vegetables. I also had a ginger ale.

Arabic Coffee, Dates, Mixed Nuts, Olives And Vegetables

Amuse-Bouche

Amuse-Bouche

Spicy Arabic Bean And Tomato Soup

Spicy Arabic Bean And Tomato Soup

Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin

Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin

Dessert Taster

Strawberry And Chocolate Ice-cream

Strawberry And Chocolate Ice-cream

After the beautiful food I wanted to get some sleep and the crew came and made the bed.

I managed to get around 9 hours of sleep which I was very happy with. Considering the age of the seat it’s extremely comfortable and find it on par with the bed in the A380 apartments. I woke around 2 o’clock and didn’t really feel like eating but ordered something just to fill me up slightly.

Scrambled Eggs

One thing I love with mood lighting is the LED stars. They may be hard to see in the photo but it’s a pretty cool effect.

LED Stars

LED Stars

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I love the windows in the bathroom, what a view!

I was surprised at the size of the bathroom, it’s quite spacious and a lot of space to move around if need be.

Sink

In first Etihad offer my favourite amenity brand Bergamote 22. I absolutely love the product and always keep the small tubes included in the amenity kits.

Unfortunately the flight was faster than usual and our decent started as I finished taking pictures of the washroom. At 3 in the morning there isn’t too much to see in Abu Dhabi however I do love looking out at the lights and seeing how different the scenery is to other cities I’ve flown into. As we arrived in Abu Dhabi we taxied to a hard stand as gates were taken. I was hoping for a BMW tarmac transfer which they do sometimes for first passengers, platinum and exclusive members however not this time.

The best thing about the hard stand is the view, what an amazing aircraft!

Summary 

I absolutely loved my time on the A340 and cannot wait for another opportunity to fly on one. I was very satisfied with the onboard service by the crew and how comfortable the seat was. I find Etihad to be constantly consistent and amazing in first class.

Review – Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong To Sydney

After my short trip in Hong Kong I wasn’t really ready to leave as I wanted to see and explore more of the city however I was excited to finally review Cathay Pacific business class to Sydney.

Cathay currently have the most popular business class seating known as Reverse Herringbone which is very spacious and private and it offers direct aisle access. They have an updated model for their A350 aircraft.

For this trip I met up with some family as they were flying to Newark so we checked in at the same time, 11 hours early for my flight…

Check-in was painless and we existed security within minutes and mad our way to the lounges.

For premium passengers there are many lounges you can choose from. The Wing, The Pier, The Qantas lounge and the Dragon air G16 lounge.

As a Oneworld Emerald I used the Pier and Wing First lounges.

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The Wing Cabanas

 

The Pier First Class Lounge

The Pier First Class Lounge

Reviews of both lounges can be found here: Review: The Wing – Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge & The Pier – Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge.

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The Pier First Entry

After my very lengthy lounge visit’s I made my way to the boarding gate 10 minutes before boarding.

I made my way to seat 21A which is in the second section of business class.

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The seat was excellent. Privacy is a big factor for many travellers and this seat does well in the privacy category.

However, the bottom half of the seat was very firm and was quite irritating while laying flat but for lounging it was perfect.

The drink list was quite extensive for a 9 hour flight.

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Grilled lamb rack

The meal was very nicely cooked but servings were on the small side.

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For breakfast I have the omelet with bacon and sausage which was ‘ok’

Considering the duration of the flight no pyjamas were provided which made some passengers quite frustrated. I think that’s fair, some airlines wont give them out on 12 hour flights even.

An amenity is provided.

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The amenity kit has your basic items and is branded by Jurlique.

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Cathay feature a 15.4 inch IFE screen which hundreds of hours of entertainment. The biggest complaint was the ads every time I wanted to watch something. It showcases ads for their ‘Life well traveled’ slogan.

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The IFE remote, Recline buttons and power outlet are on the side of the seat.

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Summery

I am sorry for the lack of photos as one of my SD cards for my camera stuffed up loosing half of the images. I loved the seat and slept for a full 7 hours and felt fantastic when arriving into Sydney.

Review – Qantas (Jetconnect) Sydney to Auckland Business Class

Disclaimer: I didn’t even plan on reviewing this flight at all as I was booked in economy however due to my very lucky Interesting upgrade I was able to review it.

I arrived at the airport 1 hour and a half before my flight as I knew It would be very busy due to being school holidays but surprisingly it wasn’t busy at all.

Security was a breeze due to the Express Lane which can be accessed with either an Express pass or American Express Platinum Charge card. I then made my way to the lounge. Business class guests, Oneworld Sapphire and elite members of Qantas’s  partner’s can access the Qantas business class lounge however Oneworld Emerald can access the first class lounge.

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Qantas First Class Lounge

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Flip Style Departure Board

I sat in the lounge until when boarding was supposed to start however when I walked down to the gate they announced that the flight was 30 minutes delayed, usually the lounge does an announcement but not this time.

As I walked back to the lounge for the time being I noticed that the roof of the airport was leaking quite severely. The weather wasn’t bad just showers at the time, defiantly embarrassing for the airport.

Apologies for the terrible photo quality

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When boarding finally started we were transported to our aircraft by buses as the aircraft was parked at a hard stand. Qantas also have a huge problem understanding the meaning of ‘priority boarding’ but I’ll leave this rant for another day 😉

The best thing about getting a bus ride to the aircraft is the view!

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I boarded the aircraft and settled into my seat I was supposed to be in (4C), sorry for the lack of photos of the economy cabin.

However…

The full story of what happened can be found here: My First Qantas Op-up But Not Caused By Over Booking. Basically for those not wanting the read the other post, I was given and op up due to the passenger next to me having a broken seat and no status so I was given a business seat while he was moved to my previous seat.

The business cabin is split into 2-2 and have a total of 12 seats so 3 rows.

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The seats are fabric but Jetconnect are phasing them out and are going to have leather seating just like Qantas.

As the meal service started I thought I wasn’t going to eat as they wouldn’t have catered for extra but that wasn’t the case. I was provided a full 3 course’s and got to try the new winter menu.

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Coke and Brazil nuts and Pretzels

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Rye bread, hand crafted butter and green salad

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Entrée, Main and Dessert menu

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Beverage Menu

To start off I had the Buffalo mozzarella as an entrée.

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For the main I had the duck which was brilliant!

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And finally for dessert I had the Ice-cream which was also very nice.

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I was feeling very hungry so I also had the cheese plate.

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The tray table is well sized and fits everything nicely.

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Despite the age of the seat it still has ‘somewhat’ modern features such as the IFE. The system pulls out of the side armrest of C seats.

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IFE remote

The leg room is quite generous, and the seat also includes a foot rest which doesn’t work too well if your tall. I am quite small so it didn’t affect me.

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Recline and foot rest controls

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Summery

For the short flight this product is perfectly fine. I’m sure a lot of people will prefer to have the leather seating and updated cabin but I enjoyed my time on Jetconnect. That was extremely rare for that upgrade situation to happen and I heavily appreciated the move by the crew.

 

 

Review – Qantas A330 Business class suite Brisbane to Hong Kong

For some time now I have wanted to trial the new Qantas business suites on a longer flight as I’ve flown them on domestic flights a few times now. They currently operate into Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila and Jakarta and very soon Honolulu. Occasionally  they will have some flights to Auckland and Wellington but that is very rare and usually seasonal.

Their A330 fleet were in much need of an upgrade so when Qantas released this product a lot of people were very happy.

This is their new suite which is a customised Vantage XL seat in in configuration of 1-2-1 which should be the industry standard in business class products.

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Interestingly the seats on the A330-300 fleet are covered in a mesh fabric instead of leather which is featured on the -200 aircraft that do domestic flights and occasionally international. In all honesty I do prefer the mesh as the leather can get quite warm on summer flights.

The suites feature a 16 inch Panasonic Avionics system which is also found on the newer generation of business class and first class on Singapore Airlines.

The screen is very clear and extremely responsive which is fantastic.

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For Asia flights a Jack Spade amenity kit is offered. There is both a male and female version of the kits. No pyjamas were offered as its a midday flight.

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The kits are quite basic but for 9 hours they are more then sufficient. They feature ASPAR products which are quite nice.

IMG_2995Amenity kit contents

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To start off I had Sourdough bread with handcrafted butter as well as a coke zero and assorted nuts.

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IMG_3004Lamb Biriyani

IMG_3006Baked vanilla custard

Both the main and dessert were absolutely fantastic. These meals would easily be one of the nicest I’ve had on a flight, so thank you Neil Perry!

The suite offers quite a few different seating options. One significant feature of the seat is the half reclined setting for takeoff.

The seat also has a massage feature and Do not disturb functions which I didn’t use for this flight.

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The suite also includes in seat power which is great and a USB port.

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The seat also include a small reading light which is quite bright when needed.

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The business cabin is in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration. If I was to recommend a seat I would say all of the even numbered seats as they are next to the window and have a lot more privacy then the odd numbered seat.

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Overall I would definitely fly this on this product again. Unfortunately Qantas have no plans to use these suites on their long haul fleet. I’m was impressed with the comfort and food onboard.

I’m sorry if this isn’t a in depth review as I wasn’t planning on reviewing this flight. In the coming days you will see a few more reviews from my small trip to Hong Kong including the Pier and Wing first lounges and cathay pacific business flight to Sydney.