When Etihad becomes Virgin Australia ex KUL

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markis10

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With the financial crisis affecting many possible destinations VA were looking at such as Athens to utilise the 32 hour layover their 777 has at AUH, Etihad took the opportunity to wet lease the aircraft to operate their Sunday service to KUL, so I thought I would check it out.

Booking and seat selection.
Easily done via the EY website, which clearly shows the flight as being a VA operated one which is good to see. Free seat selection is a breeze, exit rows at an extra $100 AUD (MYR300), however as EY don't operate y+, you can select one of these seat for free! it was not much of a choice!

Checkin
Online checkin can be done at T-24 hours which I did however as I had a bag I still needed to physically check that in. EY is now one of the few airlines that participate in the downtown KL Sentral Train check in, however we have had reports of things going missing in baggage lately using this so I decided to do the airport thing? My mistake.

The checkin was a zoo, Internet bag drop and group checkin seemed to have merged and with a group of seventy or so religious tourists all dressed the same that option was gong to involve a long wait, I. Could not see the bag drop person behind the pile of passports. Instead I decided to use the J line which I can being EY Gold, which had 6 people in it, however only one J counter appeared to be actually doing anything, the other counter staffed with screen staring folk not daring to look up the entire time I was there? MH do the ground handling for EY and luckily business class customers were given priority at one of the Y counters thanks to use of a rope blocking Y when it became free, I don't think I saw the Y lane move the thirty minutes I was in the queue.

Lounge
It has been a long time since I have been in the Satellite golden lounge, it felt odd getting access when flying a VA plane but EY use it for their members (at a cost of MYR40 charged back to them). There is a small bar just after entry prior to the main food and lounge area, that's where I set up, needing a drink or two after the checkin experience. I did not have any food as I knew it would be a meal on the plane, however there are a few options including a noodle bar is one wishes, KUL has good and cheap food choices anyway probably making the lounge look less attractive than normal.

Boarding.
The boarding pass gave a 1925 time for boarding but I was not fooled, making my way down to the gate at 1945, only to come across THE tourist group again. Luckily gate screening is two lines and I just used the J one. Real boarding commenced at 1955, EY Gold could board at leisure and so I did.
 

markis10

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The aircraft at the gate
image.jpg

The attached flight status screen has an interesting bubble on the top, it's actually a WIFI AP, funny place to put it.
 

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moa999

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How did you find out the cost of the MYR40 chargeback - A$13.75 (at today's rate)

Seems very low - a few drinks and they would be out of pocket.
 

markis10

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How did you find out the cost of the MYR40 chargeback - A$13.75 (at today's rate)

Seems very low - a few drinks and they would be out of pocket.

They did the charge on the screen as part of my entry process, I would imagine they charge a base then a per person amount.
 

markis10

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And the IFE or famous red system.

ImageUploadedByAustFreqFly1390197484.394235.jpg

ImageUploadedByAustFreqFly1390197522.982923.jpg

It found it a little unresponsive to my fat fingers but other wise OK, sound quality was not as good compared to others though. Content was very good, enjoyed Despicable me 2 and Pacific Rim, along with listening to a few of the audio tracks.
 

markis10

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As per the norm for what seems to be only Australian airlines, the food took forever and there was no menu. Apparently there were four choices, chicken, beef, seafood or veg, I went the beef:

ImageUploadedByAustFreqFly1390197767.980197.jpg

It was very average, I don't know why Asian departures often have poor catering when such good food can be had on the street! I suspect it's the reheating versus cooked fresh on an open fire or hot wok to blame.
 

markis10

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About three hours into the flight the trays were collected, I snagged another beer and settled down for the movie I was watching! as per usual there is a rush of folk after tray collection hitting the rest rooms! including the occupant behind me! who had different plans.

I did not lookup to watch them return but smelt the smoke on clothing smell a smoker has just after inhaling. While no alarms went off, crew were on to it quickly and a no smoking PA was made, after which I went back to the galley to pass on my observations? While there were no repeats, the person was watched carefully and crew checked the restroom immediately after they next used it. No further action was taken AFAIK.

Two hours out from landing and a snack was served (not a packet of QF J crisps) but a nice chicken roll. It was very nice, better than the main IMHO.
 

markis10

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We landed early at 2330 but any gains made in flight were lost by the jigsaw puzzle AUH is with all the work going on, and it took 15 minutes to get a standoff gate near DHL. We finally deplaned at midnight.

Conclusion
Getting a PE seat made for a comfortable flight and the VA 777 is very well equipped as far as cabin layout goes, despite a full plane there was little to no restroom lines. This flight certainly is an oddity and I am not sure how VA staff it given its a different queue to the inbound crew as I saw them checking out of my hotel, perhaps a deadhead sector on EY the day before/after rather than a 6 day layover?

If your looking at getting to the Middle East ex Malaysia it's not a bad option, and cheap given the price war going on at present, just allow time for formalities and don't look to forward to the food.
 
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moa999

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The main, in presentation, definitely looks more like Virgin PE is Y+, not J-
 

markis10

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The main, in presentation, definitely looks more like Virgin PE is Y+, not J-

That was the standard Y meal, as PE is not sold on this flight the bar is not in operation etc.
 

moa999

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Gotch, had missed that bit.
Nice seat for the price then
 
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Mak404matt

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I am not sure how VA staff it given its a different queue to the inbound crew as I saw them checking out of my hotel, perhaps a deadhead sector on EY the day before/after rather than a 6 day layover?

There is a trip report about this flight on a.net, and it says "This proceeded into a 30 minute conversation where I found out that the VA crew actually dead head on a Malaysian Airlines flight from SYD into KUL and vice versa."
 

markis10

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As a matter of interest the points and SC credited to velocity four days after the flight.
 
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