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Don’t bother flying Virgin Australia Premium Economy to NZ - Not value for money.

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I can only blame my self for not checking sufficiently well enough, but given the price from SYD to AKL I assumed that it was the VA domestic business class given the significant different between VA 737 business class and NZ Business Class. Whilst cheaper than NZ still pricey for what I received.


This trip started off with a notification earlier enough to let me inform my hire car to SYD we would be delayed about an hour.


I haven’t travelled internationally from SYD in the morning for a long time and didn’t realise how much of a zoo it is. SYD Airport will need to look at building the extra vehicle ramp to departures as we were backed back passed the turn off to freight and slowly crawled to departures.


When checkin which went reasonably smoothly, was reminded that the flight had been delayed.


Went off to the NZ temporary lounge and entered another zoo. The only saving grace is they are one of the better lounges for gluten free food offerings (not only on display but also by request).


After an hour waiting we were alerted that the flight would be delayed further originally 10.30, first delay to 11.40, then to 1440. I wanted to see if there were any other options, and the NZ staff stated that I would need to talk to VA, but there are no VA reps in the lounge. VA have quite a few fights going out in the morning, UA have 2, but they have their rep in the lounge supporting two flights! Called VA only to find that the next flight away on NZ was full.


Eventually headed to the departure gate and was amazed that the two gate agents were dealing with a significant number of issues, further delaying boarding - one would have thought with the hours of delay those sort of issues could have been well and truly sorted out before hand.


Finally commenced boarding, priority first and started down the long gang way of gate 63, only to be told to stop part way down (at the break off point to arrivals). There seemed to be some further delay, but they kept processing passengers through the gate!


Eventually we boarded and to my horror it really is the old premium economy seats.


I was about the 4th pax on board and already the overhead lockers above my seat were taken by Y pax! As I am speaking at an event in Auckland I decided not to put my suit jacket in the suitcase (which generally can be ok if done properly), only to find there is no place to hand a jacket so the jacket was folded up and placed in the overhead locker by a FA.


No special welcome (Gold FF), no offer of a drink prior to take off - totally ignored.


Prior to push back the pilot came on and stated that the delay was due to the inbound aircraft being delayed caused by check in system failure in AKL Airport. Must have been a VA system issue as the NZ flights seemed to depart on time. From a business continuity perspective, i can’t work out why it would have taken over 4.5 hours to manually check in a flight in AKL.


Surprised that we couldn’t use our electronic devices during take off and landing - I realise the aircraft is probably registered in NZ, but you would think VA would be trying to seek product alignment.


Offered a drink post take off - soft drink or tea/coffee and a snack - asked for the cheese and biscuits (which on VA domestic in J have gluten free crackers) only to find they are the non gluten free biscuits, but was offered a gluten free chocolate biscuit.


When lunch was served there appeared to be an option that was Gluten Free. On prior domestic flights, the CSM has a book with the recipes so help us determine whether to eat an offering (accepting the risk there may be contamination). On this flight no such book existed and the CSM recommended against eating. Was not offered anything else.


There were no drinks offered for the Premium Economy meal service and about an hour after the meal with no FA’s showing any attention to Premium Economy pax pushed the call button for a cup of tea. Alcohol whilst mentioned by the CSM in early announcements was not to be seen or offered to Premium Y Pax. Finally on approach, most of the PE pax asked for water - was getting dehydrated.


Overall, pathetic product for the price, woeful service - the worst I have ever experience from a VA flight crew (I assume NZ based).


Recommend if you are flying to NZ and looking for a service above Y, don’t bother with VA’s Premium Economy Service, total waste of money, space and completely lacking in service, if travelling would be much better off purchasing Y class and booking exit row seat.

Looking forward to the return trip, booked VA, flying NZ on 787 in J class (now getting NZ to allocate seat etc, that's another story!)
 

MarkD

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Interesting how we all have different experiences. Sure the seats are old Y style with a spacer, I still slept a great deal of the way. I believe some european carriers actually call this Euro Business.

My last couple of trips to NZ have been on VA PE and service was faultless. Each time there has been a bottle of water, blanket and pillow on the seat ready for me, the crew have been efficient, but not in your face (Thats the perfect crew to me, dont harrass me, but be observant enough to notice my glass is empty and I may want another etc).

I do think for $500 the flights are good value for money, however, if you paid the $800 odd for full rate PE then you would rightfully feel a bit ripped off. Having said that, they deliver exactly what they advertise. Cannot comment on the gluten free, because Im lucky enough to be able to eat anything without issue, I do think these modern days of every second person being "allergic" to something, or having an intolerance to some food product, people need to start being proactive and advising the airline when they book, (There is an option to do that) rather than whinging and complaining that the airline didnt provide their required special dietary requirement.
 
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Denali

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....and to my horror it really is the old premium economy seats.....

Seat Maps | Virgin Australia

I thought the VA seat map clearly shows its basically a Y seat with the middle seat pretending to be a side table (edit: its an "Enhanced cocktail table between seats"), although I agree that their "premium" is nothing to be too excited about but the few times Ive sat there (and will again next month), ive found the service very good.

Nothing amazing about the product but with the delays and lack of service I understand why you were frustrated. I do prefer to select the NZ product for their seats.
 
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yohy?!

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this product is due to be phased out early next year with full J, it does sound like a bit of a horror journey though with delays and weak crew on board
 
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MarkD

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And when it is phas d out, wait for the accompanying moans about fare increases
 

Nicholas Wood

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I've flown Y+ with Virgin between Aus & NZ a few times and found the biggest benefit was flying with an infant in peak season and being guaranteed (basically) an unoccupied seat for them to use. (Particularly useful around the Christmas/Easter seasons). These trips were planned well in advance so Rewards seats were available.

Without an infant I see little benefit of Y+ in 1 or 2 vs Y in Row 3 :)
 

LACE

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Cannot comment on the gluten free, because Im lucky enough to be able to eat anything without issue, I do think these modern days of every second person being "allergic" to something, or having an intolerance to some food product, people need to start being proactive and advising the airline when they book, (There is an option to do that) rather than whinging and complaining that the airline didnt provide their required special dietary requirement.

I'm pretty sure VA don't cater to special dietary requirements on domestic and short haul flights. Not that I have any but I have heard a lot of people complain about it.
 

Aussie_flyer

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I do think for $500 the flights are good value for money, however, if you paid the $800 odd for full rate PE then you would rightfully feel a bit ripped off. Having said that, they deliver exactly what they advertise. Cannot comment on the gluten free, because Im lucky enough to be able to eat anything without issue, I do think these modern days of every second person being "allergic" to something, or having an intolerance to some food product, people need to start being proactive and advising the airline when they book, (There is an option to do that) rather than whinging and complaining that the airline didnt provide their required special dietary requirement.

I suppose the next time you go telling people off you should consider researching what you say first: Special Meal Information | Virgin Australia
 
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I do think these modern days of every second person being "allergic" to something, or having an intolerance to some food product, people need to start being proactive and advising the airline when they book, (There is an option to do that) rather than whinging and complaining that the airline didnt provide their required special dietary requirement.

Unfortunately with Dom and Short Haul you can not request Gluten Free (which is possible on QF Dom - but only works for those few meal flights), fortunately VA were able to request Gluten Free for the VA(NZ) return flight. It has been my experience in the past that in the CSM on board kit they have a book with the ingredients of each meal so we can make an informed decision about the ingredients and then make an informed decision re potential contamination. This experience on VA (Dom) did not occur on this VA (Short Haul Intl) flight.

May I ask that you not but the " " around allergy. Like most Gluten Free people we have a real medical issue have haven't given up on lovely fresh bread etc just for the sake of it.
 

smit0847

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I flew APW-AKL-MEL on VA Y+ a few months ago. I only chose Y+ over Y because it was an award booking and a quirk in the booking engine meant it was about the same number of points as Y. I knew exactly what to expect but I was still a bit disappointed. I’ve never understood the point of this Y+ product – it was a complete flop on DJ domestic all those years ago – its far too expensive to seem ‘worth it’ over Y and not good enough to seem like a substitute instead of J. The seats have a tiny bit more width and pitch than a standard Y seat but other than that are a standard Y seat. Service was friendly but the crew seemed a bit embarrassed about what they had to offer in a ‘premium’ cabin – nuts and chips aren’t exactly gourmet. Transiting in AKL with status I had a very nice and substantial breakfast in the Koru Lounge so didn’t eat much onboard – I think it was some sort of hot egg dish which looked quite disgusting.

I thought everyone knew VA 737 Y+ was a waste of money – I certainly wouldn’t recommend it unless it was about the same price as Y.

Slightly off topic but AKL is a very nice airport to transit - much better than the nightmare that is the 'seamless transfer' in SYD.
 

Aussie_flyer

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Im a bit lost, he said op should have advised the airline and you link to VAs long haul special meals, is NZ really long haul?

Im highlighting the fact that those meal requests are long haul only. MarkD told people to stop whinging and put in meal requests... well thats not possible on this flight. His attitude towards food allergies seems to be fairly sceptical or sarcastic considering the use of quotation marks around allergies . At least that is how it reads to me.
 

MarkD

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His attitude towards food allergies seems to be fairly sceptical or sarcastic considering the use of quotation marks around allergies .
Not at all. I know a few people who don't "Like" certain foods who claim they have an allergy to them, they don't have an allergy, because I have seen them consume these foods when they had no alternative/ in social situations. I have also seen the end result of someone with severe lactose intolerance after consuming milk, which is very interesting. Regardless, you are obviously easily upset, so sorry for hurting your feelings.
 

DC3

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I can see where you are coming from VA777. Your all-round experience sounds very ordinary.
 

OzEire

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+1 to don't bother with VA Y+ trans Tasman.... I had a similar experience to the OP, no better than Y with exit row legroom.
 
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