Confession time: Prior to a few days ago, the furthest I’d ever flown with Virgin Australia was a couple of hours from Sydney to Queensland. It was purely convenience & points that kept me from spreading my air wings.

But having recently stepped out of my inflight comfort zone with Delta Air Lines across the Pacific (and fallen in love with it), I thought it was beyond time to give Virgin Australia a try.

Would I spend the entire journey from Los Angeles to Sydney making Australian airline comparisons? Would I long for Kangaroo-related services? Or what if I miss the kind and helpful black and pink-wearing staff?

The anxiety about flying with a new airline was REAL as I made my way towards LAX, but it wasn’t long after take-off that I began enquiring about signing up for Velocity Points. Read on for more on my first international flight with Virgin Australia:

 

CHECK-IN & PRE-TAKE OFF

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As convenient as a check-in kiosk may be, there’s nothing that makes you feel more welcomed by an airline that an incredibly friendly check-in staff member.

For me, that was Denise at LAX.

Despite being relatively new to the gig, Denise was sweet, knowledgeable and professional in her approach. She set a positive tone for my experience with the airline before I even boarded an aircraft.

She politely informed me that my details weren’t entered into the booking system correctly and was honest about needing assistance to correct the issue. She then patiently waited with a giant smile as the error was fixed.

Denise is my #demeanourgoals.

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Once my luggage was checked-in at LAX’s Terminal 3, it was a small stroll (seriously, less than a minute) to Tom Bradley Terminal where Virgin Australia flights currently depart.

Virgin Australia’s disjointed terminal usage at LAX will be corrected in the coming years, once its codeshare partner Delta Air Lines completes LAX renovations. Then it’ll be one smooth experience (although to be honest, it really wasn’t bad and it didn’t hurt the airport experience).

Inside the Tom Bradley Terminal, security was in full force with the sniffer dogs hard at work. Despite the increase in caution, queues were surprisingly short and checks were completed quickly and efficiently.

In less than half-an-hour, I was checked-in, through security and standing by the Service Desk at Gate 134 to chat to a pleasant Virgin Australia staff member about moving my seat to 49C – a carelly selected seat because, well, read on…

 

THE SEAT

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If you aren’t downloading and using airline apps when you travel, then I’m sorry to say but you’re missing out.

Well-created apps, such as Virgin Australia’s, are designed to improve the air travel experience by providing live flight updates, opportunities to reduce check-in waits (if there are any), make special requests and pre-select seats.

Or on this occasion, see which available seats are better than the one you’ve been allocated.

I’d set my sights on 49C because it was on the aisle, four rows from the lavatory AND its two neighbouring seats were empty. Fortunately, the super friendly Service Desk staff member changed my position and I had an entire row to myself – for a shorty like me, that means I had a 180-degree fully-reclined bed waiting for me onboard (also meant that my brand new Captain Marvel backpack had a seat of its own – except during takeoff when for safety reasons it had to sit under the seat in front).

#Winning.

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Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777 felt brand new with everything on board looking immaculate. The carpeting felt soft as though I was among the first to tread on it, the material seating was comfortable and the overhead bins sat high, giving the cabin a spacious feel.

All cabins had a glamorous purple glow – that special Virgin Australia lighting – and there was a self-service water tap, which guests were invited to use to fill their bottles in order to reduce the usage of plastic cups.

The seat itself felt spacious – not just because I had an entire row to myself. There was plenty of wiggle room (47cm width) and enough space in front to flex and stretch my legs. The material lining ensured my rear and lower back were comfortable throughout the journey and the seat back pocket was sizeable enough to accommodate my drink bottle, iPad, mobile phone and inflight headset.

Each Economy Class flyer received a blanket, pillow and colourful amenity kit (purple, red or grey) packaged with earbuds, an eye mask and a pen. Everyone also had access to their own USB charger and the recline was nice, pushing back a generous 15cm.

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Before we can move on, we must discuss the lavatories & how they were the best I’ve ever done ‘business in. They didn’t smell (I don’t know how, but they didn’t), they had mirrors along the sides and behind the toilet making them feel larger AND there was music playing in there!

None of the above made me want to spend any more time in there than I had to BUT it was much more pleasant than any other inflight bathroom experience.

Small things really do count.

 

ENTERTAINMENT & FOOD

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What would you like to spend the next 14 hours doing? Name it, and Virgin Australia probably has it!

The aircraft was equipped with any form of inflight entertainment that you could imagine whether it’s games, movies, TV shows, messaging or Wi-Fi.

As an overnight service, I slept most of the flight, but not before taking some time to appreciate what was available onboard.

Similar to its codeshare partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Australia offered a complimentary messaging service, which allowed guests to connect the internet, visit wifi.virginaustralia.com and then begin messaging. It allowed users to send texts, access Messanger and Whatsapp.

Virgin Australia’s inflight similarities to Delta Air Lines are greatly appreciated as they ensure guests have a homogenous experience regardless of which airline their ticket is booked with.

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For those who wanted more than messaging, Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777 was also equipped with internet, which could be purchased from AU$9.99 per hour (or AU$11.99 per hour for high speed).

On the entertainment screen, the Aussie airline had a variety of options including a selection of movies ranging from new release to kids and family-friendly, action, Chinese cinema and more.

There was even an assortment of news programs as well as documentaries. I tossed between The Matrix and Iron Man when I spotted Wreck-It Ralph and decided to smile through the first two hours of my flight with Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz.

TV shows ranged from The Gilmore Girls to Downton Abbey, Killing Eve, God Friended Me and the hilarious classic, Friends. I’d be downloaded the entire final season of Jane the Virgin from US Netflix (it’s not yet available in Australia) and binged on that before passing out in my three-seater make-shift bed.

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Shortly after take-off the first meal, dinner was distributed. Mine was a vegetarian corn risotto with brown bread, butter and a honey-almond snack bar. I wasn’t overly hungry (too many Ghirardelli chocolates at LAX) but the risotto was DELICIOUS. I downed three quarters of it before deciding I actually couldn’t fit anymore in.

Half-way through the flight, the cabin crew came around with a choice of meatball stromboli or spinach and feta stromboli. I opted for the spinach and feta, which went down a treat as a mid-sleep snack.

Two hours before touching down in Sydney, staff served breakfast – ham and cheese omelette with hash browns or a pear and ricotta crepe with walnuts. I wasn’t ready to eat so early, but I did take a peek at a nearby neighbour’s crepe and it looked tasty.

 

THE SERVICE

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From the moment I arrived at LAX to the moment I walked off the aircraft at Sydney Airport, Virgin Australia staff were a dream.

Probably some of the best inflight and on-the-ground service I’ve ever experienced with an airline.

Everyone was friendly, helpful and continuously sporting smiles. Whatever Virgin Australia is doing to keep its staff so cheerful, keep it up!

 

THE VERDICT

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Stepping out of one’s flying comfort zone can be challenging but as I found on my first international Virgin Australia flight, it can be worth experimenting.

Flying with Virgin Australia for 14 hours was beyond enjoyable from staff to food, seating, entertainment and even lavatories.

If you haven’t already, give the airline a go.

 

THE DETAILS

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FLIGHT: VA2 Los Angeles-Sydney
SEAT: 49C
FLIGHT TIME: 13 hours & 50 minutes
SCHEDULE: Dept. 11.45pm (GMT-7) Arr. 7.30am (AEST)

Click here for more information on Virgin Australia