Adelaide-Melbourne in Economy X on Virgin Australia: decent service, unexplained delay

Virgin Australia’s Economy X (premium Economy) product offers very good value for money and is a more reasonable alternative to business class, but a major delay marred the overall experience.

For my domestic flights in Australia, Virgin Australia is beginning to be my airline of reference. I’d love to try Qantas, but the prices are so prohibitive that I’m quite content with its young competitor. If I had travelled in business class from Sydney to Adelaide to discover this product, this time I opted for Economy X (premium economy), whose value for money had particularly seduced me on a previous trip.

For the record the air routing of this trip.

You’ll find a summary of the articles about this trip to Australia at the bottom of the page.

Booking

I booked my ticket about 3 months before my trip. After comparing prices, Virgin Australia offers me a one-way ticket between Adelaide and Melbourne for 64 euros in economy and 230 euros in business class. Qantas charges me 450 euros for business class!

So I’ll stick with Virgin Australia for this flight. I have no desire to travel in economy and business class seems too expensive for the length of the flight, especially as I’ve already tested it between Sydney and Adelaide. So I’ll be taking a ticket in economy X (premium economy), a travel class that had given me complete satisfaction a year and a half earlier on my first trip to Australia.

It will cost me 77 euros. In addition to the standard economy service, economy X entitles me to priority boarding, seats with 40% more legroom and reserved space in the on-board baggage compartments.

No food included on board, but given the length of the flight I’ll do without it without any problem, and no lounge access either, but I have access to it anyway with my American Express Platinum.

An excellent compromise in my opinion.

Arrival at the airport and check-in

I check-in online the day before my trip. Sometimes the airline offers a bidding system to upgrade to business class, but this was not the case today.

It will take me 12 minutes to reach the airport by Uber from my hotel, the Intercontinental Adelaide.

I go to a kiosk to check-in my luggage and realize that my seat number has changed and I’ve been demoted to mid-cabin instead of the seat just behind business class that I’d selected.

I call an agent for help who checks my boarding pass and then calls a colleague. Confused, they phoned I don’t know which department and learned that my seat had been changed overnight “from Sydney”. A request that didn’t come from me.

As they continue to try to solve the problem, it turns out that these are Economy X seats, but the ones located at the emergency exits in the middle of the cabin, not the ones in front. On hearing this I tell them to stop struggling: as long as it’s not a downgrade I’m fine with it, and we’re not going to spend the morning on it for such a short flight. In my opinion, an elite or well-connected passenger had to jump through hoops to get a seat at the front, and they made the choice to move a passenger backwards without downgrading him. I won’t complain, as I myself have benefited from this type of favor on occasion.

To make up for it, they check-in my bag manually, turning a blind eye to the kilo overweight.

While they perform the operation, we talk about my journey and other things. Definitely, Virgin Australia’s staff is very pleasant.

I then proceed to the security checkpoints, which I pass through in the smoothest of manners, Adelaide having, like all the other Australian airports I’ve visited on this trip, adapted new scanners with which it’s no longer necessary to take electronic devices and liquids out of your bag.

I find myself in the middle of the terminal. I turn left and walk past a series of stores and restaurants.

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I arrive at the Virgin Australia lounge, where I’ll wait until boarding time. A pleasant place, but a disappointing range of food and drink.

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Boarding

I leave the lounge a few minutes before boarding and make my way to my gate, a mere 2-minute walk. A few minutes later my flight is indicated as delayed.

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No information as to the extent of the delay so I try to find out more with flightradar by trying to find out where the flight arriving from Melbourne is. I try the flight number that makes the most sense to me (the number just before it) and I do indeed see the current flight…but I’m a bit confused because it’s also on the screen at my boarding gate. Did I make a mistake?

In fact, the screen displays both departing and arriving flights (as shown by the pictogram on the screen), but when you’re not used to it, it can be confusing…

The boarding time is finally displayed as 10.40 am (for an initially scheduled departure at this time), whereas flightradar announces the arrival of the incoming flight at 10.37 am. In these cases, I always trust the app and never the airline or airport announcements.

I’ve got some time on my hands…I could go and try the REX lounge, but having already tried the REX in Sydney, I’m not at all enthusiastic about the idea. So I decide to wander around the terminal and try to spot a few aircraft, and with a bit of luck I might even see my flight arrive.

A Singapore Airlines 787…

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I realize that Qatar Airways even goes to Adelaide!

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A Malaysia Airlines A330 flying back to Kuala Lumpur…

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The soggy runway lets you guess the cause of the delay: weather conditions are not good and are even worse in Melbourne, resulting in delays.

In the meantime, it’s 10:33, the aircraft still hasn’t arrived and boarding is still scheduled for 10:40.

I fully understand that there can be delays, but what really pisses me off is thatthey continue to show unrealistic boarding times when it’s obvious that the plane will never arrive on time, something that any slightly informed passenger can check on their cell phone, and without any communication to passengers. Today my wrath falls on Virgin Australia, but I can put absolutely all airlines in the same bag.

Our 737 finally arrived… I saw it land at 10:37 and it reached the gate at 10:45… so flightradar was right.

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It’s 10:45 a.m. and the boarding time is still 10:40 a.m. No announcement is made. Everything is all right.

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Boarding will finally begin at 11:03 a.m. without any change to the display or any announcement about the delay.

Traveling in Economy X, I’ll be boarding in the first class with the business class passengers and those with certain statuses in the airline’s loyalty program.

The cabin

I’ll be quick as this is the 3rd time (and not the last) you’ll see the Virgin Australia 737 cabin.

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A flattering-looking cabin in excellent condition.

Economy X seats are located behind business class and in the middle of the aircraft at the emergency exits, offering 40% more legroom.

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No problem fitting in my 1m88.

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I had no problem fitting in my 1.88 m. Economy X passengers also have reserved space in the overhead bins to prevent economy passengers from taking up all the space and forcing them to check in their luggage or stow it away from their seat.

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And we’re ready to go.

The flight

Ready to go… that’s putting it mildly. We’ll wait before pushing off, and wait a little longer before moving off to reach the runway.

We finally take off and the service begins…well, if you can call it a service, but that’s the airline’s model and there are no surprises: you get what you pay for.

Water and coffee for everyone, more for those who choose to tap the Buy on Board menu.

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Not even a little cake.

After an uneventful flight, we land in Melbourne in the gloom…

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And after collecting my suitcase, it was in the rain that I made my way to the pickup cab point shared by all the terminals.

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In the end, a one-hour flight will be 1h20 late. Not good at all.

The staff

Given the service offered in the main cabin, interaction with the staff is limited and doesn’t allow you to get a very clear idea.

On the other hand, on the ground I had to deal with very friendly and pleasant people, which was the case on every one of my flights with Virgin Australia.

On the other hand, a little more communication and information at the gate about the delay would not have been superfluous.

Bottom line

An uneventful flight, marred by a long delay, during which the airline’s communication and customer relations were less than stellar, unlike the staff who took care of my problem at check-in.

But that’s the last impression that remains.

The articles about this trip to Australia

#TypePost
1DiaryPreparing a trip to Australia
2LoungeAir France lounge Roissy 2G
3FlightParis-Gothenburg, Air France, Business Class (Embraer 190)
4HotelDraken, Gothenburg
5RestaurantKuruya, Gothenburg
6RestaurantSaga, Gothenburg
7HotelScandic Landvetter Airport
8LoungeSAS Lounge-Gothenburg (already tested many times, no review)
9FlightGothenburg-Munich, Lufthansa, Business Class (A320)
10LoungeLufthansa Senator Lounge Munich T2 Gates H
11FlightMunich-Tokyo Haneda, ANA, Business Class (B787)
12LoungeAna Lounge, Tokyo Haneda, T2
13FlightTokyo Haneda-Sydney, ANA, Business Class (B787)
14HotelMoxy Sydney Airport, Sydney
15LoungeVirgin Australia Lounge Sydney Domestic T2
16FlightSydney-Adelaide, Virgin Australia, Business Class (B737)
17HotelIntercontinental Adelaide
18RestaurantDaughter In Law, Adelaide
19DiaryVisiting Adelaide
20LoungeVirgin Australia lounge, Adelaide, Domestic
21FlightAdelaide-Melbourne, Virgin Australia, Economy X
22HotelRitz Carlton Melbourne
23RestaurantEntrecote, Melbourne
24RestaurantDelhi Streets, Melbourne
25RestaurantBincho Boss, Melbourne
26HotelW Melbourne
27RestaurantCapitano Carlton, Melbourne
28RestaurantRed Spice Road, Melbourne
29RestaurantYakikami, Melbourne
30RestaurantFreyja, Melbourne
31DiaryVisiting Melbourne
32LoungeVirgin Australia lounge, domestic, Melbourne
33FlightMelbourne-Sydney, Virgin Australia, Economy X
34HotelW Sydney
35RestaurantManta, Sydney
36RestaurantAalia, Sydney
37DiaryVisiting Sydney
38LoungeAir New Zealand lounge, Sydney T1
39LoungeThe House, Sydney T1
40FlightSydney-Tokyo Haneda, ANA, Business Class (B787)
41LoungeAna Lounge, Tokyo Haneda, T2 (already tested on the outward journey, no review)
42FlightTokyo Haneda-Frankfurt, ANA, Business Class (B787)
43LoungeLufthansa Senator Lounge, Frankfurt, T1 Gates A
44FlightFrankfurt-Gothenburg, Lufthansa, Business Class (A321)
45HotelJacy’z, Gothenburg
46LoungeThe Lounge, Goteborg Landvetter
47FlightGothenburg-Paris, Air France, Business Class (Embraer 190)
48DiaryDebriefing my vacation in Australia
Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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