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Some days, (esp weekends) VA uses a 737 for the run from BNE to PER, thats true TransAustralia for 4.5 hours in that tin can, ougch.
IF I had to fly that route, and QF had a (rare now) 767 or 330, I would go with QF and fly either of these 2 rather than the tin can 737.
Would be a different kettle of fish if VA bought in a 787 to fly BNE to PER/vv, then I would go VA.
You mean first 5 rows from row 1 to row 5? Row 1 & 2 on a VA 737 are their premium or business class option, ...
Seat maps are never a good guide to how busy a flight is. You can get an idea via fare buckets using flight stats, for instance th 5PM has just the 1 J seat and mostly expensive economy buckets left indicating a busy one while the later 8Pm or so flight has the cheaper fare buckets on offer.