Airline: Virgin Australia
Aircraft: Boeing B 737-800
Cabin: Business Class
To: Ayers Rock – Uluru
Date: 15. August 2013
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
The transfer in Sydney could not be easier, even if, like me, you’re connecting from a Qantas flight to a Virgin Australia service. As you come out of customs turn left and keep on going to the far end of the arrivals concourse. That’s where Virgin have their transfer desks. At check-in you will receive your boarding pass and a voucher that gives you a free ride on the airport shuttle between the international and the domestic terminal.
The journey takes about 10 minutes to complete.
I would recommend to anybody to do check-in at the international terminal, as the domestic terminal is packed when I arrive, with the queues moving only very slowly.
The Virgin lounge is located on the right hand side as you come out of security. It’s really quite a funky and attractive lounge. But alas it’s also quite busy, so I have to restrain myself with the picture taking.
Boarding starts on time, with an initial call for passengers in Business Class and passengers requiring assistance. So I grab the opportunity to board first and take at least one picture of the cabin before the pushing and shoving fully sets in.
I am greeted at the door by two very friendly flight attendants, and I am quite impressed that they check the boarding pass of every passenger and make a point of addressing them by name to welcome them aboard.
The cabin of this B 737-800 is decked out with the new interior, which features what I call the triple seven style overhead bins. There is a dedicated Business Class cabin of two rows, which is separated from the main cabin by a bulkhead with a violet coloured glass screen. After take-off the Business Class cabin is cordoned off to ensure there are no Economy Class trespassers availing themselves of the toilet up front.
For inflight entertainment there is a tablet in every seat pocket, with a selection of films and music, and a rather funky looking set of earphones.
Service begins with a welcome drink while we’re still on the ground. There is a choice of orange juice or still water.
We leave the gate more or less on time. There is, however, a slight delay for departure, as we have to wait for a whole line up of widebodies to depart ahead of us. Once we do take-off, the views are simply spectacular.
Once we’re airborne, the cabin crew come to take orders for drinks and the main meal. I have a Coke Zero, which is served with a small ramekin of spicy warm nuts.
The meal is served in two parts. The first course is a very tasty cauliflower soup. This is served with warm bread. The tray arrives with a small dish of butter, salt and pepper and the dessert already on it.
For the main I go with the salad of beetroot, spinach and Feta cheese with a raspberry dressing, which is indeed very tasty and blends in perfectly with the Virgin brand colours.
And then to end, I tackle the dessert – black forest gâteau – with a cup of coffee. And after that, I start to dose off. You can hardly blame me I think…
At some point the lead flight attendant comes on the blower to inform us that we are about to begin the descent into Uluru. Without wanting to put too fine a point on it, I have, in the past, been accused of talking too much. There are however some rare occasions when even I am lost for words and left simply speechless – like today. It really catches you quite unawares. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere Uluru appears before my eyes and it is truly magnificent.
I am writing this part of my journey from my ‘tent’ at the Longitude 131 hotel. When I look up I have an unobstructed view of Uluru – and I still can’t fully grasp that I am finally here. It is like experiencing a dreamtime.