Virgin Australia launches the first of its Airbus A330 'Coast to Coast' flights between Brisbane and Perth today, with two out of three weekday return services to be operated by the big bird.
Virgin's Brisbane-Perth flights have previously used only the smaller Boeing 737-800 planes, which offer less space in both business and economy.
However, a Virgin Australia spokesman told Australian Business Traveller that the Brisbane-Perth A330 service would see both the latest factory-fresh A330 with lie-flat seats business class and 2-2-2 layout, and the older models with business class recliners and a 2-3-2 middle seat configuration, as “our A330 fleet is rotated as needed to meet operational requirements.”
The odds are in your favour, however: Virgin has four of the newer and more comfy A330s in its fleet, twice as many as the older models.
(Virgin’s Airbus A330 fleet will top out at eight by June 2015, by which time the airline will have placed its order for either the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 as its next long-range jet for both transcontinental and international routes.)
Either way, you'll be better off on in A330 business class with cradle sleeper-type recliner seats or Virgin's newest angled lie-flat seats, compared with the standard recliners of the Boeing 737s.
And in economy, the 2-4-2 layout of the A330s alone is a big step up from the 3-3 configuration of the 737s: fewer neighbours means more space and less chance of getting stuck in a middle seat.
Virgin Australia's Brisbane-Perth A330 flights
Want to catch the A330 for your transcontinental trek?
Virgin Australia has three daily Brisbane-Perth return flights: VA464 (departing Brisbane at 8.45am), VA468 (5.30pm) and VA474 (8.15pm).
The Airbus A330s are rostered onto the morning VA464 and evening VA474 services, which arrive in Perth at 12.25pm and 11.55pm respectively.
They're also found on the Perth-Brisbane VA469 (12.30pm) and VA473 (10.45pm) flights
That leaves the third daily service – VA468 from Brisbane (at 5.30pm) and VA463 from Perth (at 7.35am) – on the Boeing 737.
There's also one A330 flight on the weekend: that's the VA474/VA473 service.
"These are complemented on Saturdays and Sundays by the existing Boeing 737 schedule unless stated otherwise," Virgin says.
Virgin Australia's Melbourne-Perth flights are already an "all A330" affair, with the airline considering converting its Sydney-Perth route to exclusively use the Airbus A330 with the arrival of a seventh new A330 later this year.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.