It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the Blog.
There’s been a lot of stuff to write about since. I’ll get through it in a series of posts. I will discuss my recent vacation in Australia and cruise to New Zealand.
Yes, your friend BSP has been on the other side of the planet.
Never have the words “Going Long” been so appropriate. It takes roughly about 14 to 15 hours to make the trip.
Today, I am writing about Delta’s codeshare, Virgin Australia and their B777 service to/from Los Angeles & Australia. Virgin Australia is like a passenger friendly United. I can’t call it horrendous, even though it is. You see, Virgin Australia has great people. They are well trained, superb — the few of them (especially ground agents) they have. Their jets are superb. The one thing they do not do well – AT ALL – is service the passenger, unless they are business class. Southwest treats its regular passengers better on short haul flights than Virgin Australia does on the long haul even though Virgin Australia has them paying premium prices for their seat. They also appear to price their customers based on their geophysical location; for example Australians were purchasing the seat for much less than Americans were. In my case, I purchased an “economy” class ticket. I received part of an “economy” class seat. I say part, because the idiot in front of you is going to recline full length for 13.5 of your 14.5 hour seating. At least the in flight entertainment would be worthwhile, right? Maybe not. The in-seat entertainment may or may not work on your flight. On the L.A. – Sydney portion, the in seat entertainment touch screen occasionally worked. I didn’t know it was movable until the flight manager actually pulled on it so hard, she nearly fell down trying to move it. On the long leg, the Melbourne to Los Angeles portion the WIFI on the B777 jet didn’t work. At all.
Did you notice I said 14.5 hours while the screen says 13 right after takeoff? You do not fly for 14.5 hours. You wait, board the aircraft when called, wait for 300 others to do the same, prepare for takeoff, fly then do the same process in reverse. 14.5 hours, even with VA’s novel boarding technique.
On the cruise, we had reached Akaroa, the second stop of six. I had already began dreading the return flight back. That’s right, with 7 days left, I was already thinking of how to weasel out of getting on another of Virgin Australia’s punishment flights. I dreamt of finding a U.S. Air Force tanker aircraft, hopefully transitioning back to the U.S. after an exercise, avoiding getting squeezed into a miniature seat. I thought – dreamt – of leaving our traveling companions in Auckland as we took our bags off the ship and onto a jet worth our time. Alas it was not to be.
I thought I could sleep for at least half of the flight back from Melbourne. Then, we were offered a chance to upgrade to a different caste at check in. I thought “you only do this once, and it has to be better than cattle car”, so I told my wife we could do it. She went to the next screen and it was charging us $999 PER PASSENGER. At $60 per hour I quickly turned away. Little did I know we had forfeited the seats we had until we tried to continue with our check in. Then I realized it would be changed at the Australian dollar rate which would have been $1400. I would have upgraded at that rate. It ended up being a good thing because we experienced turbulence multiple times during the flight, including several hours of it before landing. Yes several (2-3) hours. Not many people could have slept through that, especially me who has trouble sleeping while in motion anyway.
Virgin does have some novel concepts. They board passengers from the rear of a jet earlier in the process, which expedites the procedure a great deal. I know I’m the only person who likes this, but at their domestic Sydney terminal, they make you walk outside to get to the back of the aircraft at their domestic terminal. I didn’t mention their domestic service. Their domestic service is like Southwest to some degree. They have to compete there. International air service is where they really pile up the cash because you can’t exactly get in the car and drive to Singapore.
I understand Virgin is opening up a cruise line. No doubt the service is impeccable. No doubt the fares might appear to be better. No doubt it’s going to be terrible experience wise except for people who are used to suck. Maybe the North Korean cruise line. “Here we’ll put you in a cabin that you’ll love. Except when you’re in it, of course but who cruises to be in their cabin, huh?” The first time you’ll notice is when you’re having sex, your head is against the headboard and your feet are on the opposing wall.
LOL. Too late for an upgrade at that point.
I’m sure Australians love Virgin Australia. I know this because I was there during the bush fires. Australians are great people. Australians love the ability to wake up. They put up with a lot of bs and act though it’s nothing. The epitome of “stiff upper lip.” They have no expectations of great service at any time. It’s like their morale at Gallipoli. As long as you could stand up for roll call, you’re good.