Review

Virgin Australia 737 Domestic, Trans-Tasman, and South Pacific Business Class overview

Virgin Australia's 737 Business Class is a key points redemption opportunity for longer domestic and short-haul international flights

For anyone with a growing Velocity or Etihad Guest points balance, and looking for a extra space and service on domestic and international short-haul flights with Virgin Australia, the experience of flying in their Business Class cabin is very good.

Many people understandably wouldn’t choose to redeem points for Business Class travel on shorter flights – but if your travel preferences see you wanting the Business Class experience then you shouldn’t be disappointed. I’ve redeemed hundreds of thousands of points across tens of flights and have generally always come away impressed.

As a comparison, you may also be interested in our Qantas 737 Domestic Business Class overview.

Virgin Australia 737 Australian Domestic, Trans-Tasman, and South Pacific Fleet & Routes

If you’re flying Virgin Australia within Australia, across to New Zealand, or to some South Pacific islands, there’s an over 80% chance you’ll be on one of these Boeing 737s.

On many flights between the East and West Coasts of Australia, and now to Hong Kong, you’re likely to be on a Airbus A330, and if you’re going to the US, you’ll get the same ‘The Business’ seat but on a larger Boeing 777. Both are in a 1-2-1 configuration.

‘The Business’ cabin on A330s and 777s

Finally, if you’re travelling to a smaller airport in Australia, you may be on an Embraer 190, which is essentially the same seat as on a 737 but in a narrower 1-2 configuration.

Here’s the route map for direct Virgin Australia services from New Zealand:

Virgin-Australia-NZ

Business Class passengers can check two 32kg bags and Velocity Platinum status holders can add an extra one.

The Virgin Australia 737 Cabin: Seats & Seatmap

There are just eight recliner seats in the Business Class cabin, arranged in a 2-2 configuration:

The small eight-seat cabin is one of the reasons the Virgin Australia domestic and international short-haul Business Class experience is usually pretty good – with only two rows you should receive good and prompt service from a dedicated crew member or two.

In comparison, Qantas has an extra row with 12 Business Class seats in total, meaning there is less attentive service but more cash and award seats to go around.

Some aircraft in Virgin’s fleet are now starting to show their age though – I am yet to have a non-functioning seat, but a few loose hinges and components here and there have given away that these have been in the sky for several years now.

I’d suggest avoiding seats 1D and 1F to stay away from the galley in front of you, and row 1 generally if you want maximum legroom as row 2 allows you to slot your feet under the seat in front of you, versus the solid bulkhead in row 1.

If you want to sleep on your flight, go for a seat in Row 2 as the wall behind you will prevent the back of your seat being moved by the passenger behind you.

View from 1F

The seats are made of leather and are wide enough to feel comfortable with a stranger next door:

View from 1F

Legroom at 1F

As there is no place to hang a tablet (supplied on request), it can be hard to watch something whilst you have food on your tray table:

View from 2F

You’ll get a 38-inch seat pitch (distance between your seat and the seat in front):

Legroom at 2F

Service – Food & Drink

You’ll get a full meal on every Virgin Australia flight, regardless of the duration or distance.

Salad

Soup

Breakfast

You’ll get a three-course meal on flights over 2 hours 45 minutes.

Barista-style coffee is only available on Airbus A330 aircraft.

I have found Virgin’s domestic crew and the quality of the Luke Mangan menus to be generally excellent, with tasty main meals on offer, plus proactive drink top-ups and offers of snacks.

Inflight Entertainment

Virgin has rolled out complimentary Samsung Galaxy tablets and wifi on selected routes.

Amenities

On flights of over three hours, you’ll get an amenities kit, blanket and pillow.

How to redeem points for this flight

The five main points currencies New Zealand-based travellers can use on Qantas flights are:

Here is a comparison of redemption rates on direct routes from New Zealand:

RouteVelocityKrisFlyerEtihad GuestAmerican Express Membership Rewards Points
Queenstown - Sydney35,50035,00013,80041,900 one-way Etihad Guest
66,700 return Etihad Guest
Auckland - Nuku'alofa35,50047,00013,80041,900 one-way Etihad Guest
66,700 return Etihad Guest
Auckland - Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney35,50035,00021,80060,700 one-way Etihad
115,200 return Etihad
Wellington - Brisbane35,50035,00021,80060,700 one-way Etihad
115,200 return Etihad
Christchurch - Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney35,50035,00021,80060,700 one-way Etihad
115,200 return Etihad
Dunedin - Brisbane35,50035,00021,80060,700 one-way Etihad
115,200 return Etihad
Queenstown - Brisbane35,50035,00021,80060,700 one-way Etihad
115,200 return Etihad
Auckland - Rarotonga35,50047,00033,80071,000 one-way Velocity
142,000 return Velocity

Queenstown to Sydney, and Auckland to Nukuʻalofa are particularly good sweet spots, requiring only 13,800 Etihad Guest miles. Check out our Etihad guide to making miles redemptions.

If you’re looking to make a redemption through Velocity, check out our guide on how to make a Velocity Points booking.

You may also be interested in using your Velocity Points to upgrade an Economy Class ticket bought with cash.

Lounge Access

New Zealand guests flying Trans-Tasman will have access to Air New Zealand’s top-notch International Lounges in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Auckland-air-new-zealand-lounge

Air New Zealand Auckland International Lounge overview

If you’re flying from Dunedin or Queenstown, you can visit Air New Zealand’s Regional Koru Lounges.

Auckland-Strata-Lounge

Air New Zealand Koru Regional Lounge, Queenstown. Image courtesy of Air New Zealand.

If you’re flying to the Pacific Islands from Auckland, you’ll have access to the Strata Lounge.

Auckland-Strata-Lounge

Auckland Strata Lounge overview

There is, unfortunately, no lounge access for Business Class passengers in Nukuʻalofa or Rarotonga.

In Australia, Virgin Australia have dedicated lounges in almost all the major Australian capitals, along with some at regional airports.

Virgin Australia Sydney Domestic Business Class Lounge overview

Most lounges are visually engaging and a nice space to spend some time before your flight, and in my visits, have all offered a very consistently good experience.

In Sydney, you’ll also get access to Premium Entry, where you will have priority check-in and security screening, direct lounge access and optional valet.

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Summing up: why choose this flight?

Virgin Australia Business Class is a great option for domestic Australian or short-haul international travel.

I would strongly consider using points for flights above two hours, or on flights where Economy pricing is particularly expensive and a Business Class award seat is available.

With a little planning, it’s relatively straightforward to find pairs of seats in Business Class on Australian domestic flights, and often three or even four available. This can however be more difficult on South Pacific and Trans-Tasman flights where frequency is less, and demand is high.

Given Velocity Points are easily earned from everyday spend on American Express Membership Rewards cards, for those who value the space, service, and food on offer, this all makes it an appealing way to use points.

Virgin Australia 737 Domestic, Trans-Tasman, and South Pacific Business Class overview was last modified: December 11th, 2017 by Daniel Kinnoch

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