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Report of Virgin/AirNZ service to Gold Coast (OOL), Lounge review + nice AP surprise.

Report of Virgin/AirNZ service to Gold Coast (OOL), Lounge review + nice AP surprise.

Old Apr 1, 14, 8:41 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Usually Auckland, NZ
Programs: NZ Elite (*G), QF S (OWR), UA 0.14MM
Posts: 690
Report of Virgin/AirNZ service to Gold Coast (OOL), Lounge review + nice AP surprise.

Heya! Thought it's about time to submit my first "flight report" since joining Flyertalk.

Background
This past weekend (last weekend of March 2014), had a little holiday/getaway to the Gold Coast to catch up with some old friends.

The How
Flight was booked on Air New Zealand's website during one of their "48Hr Aussie Sale" back in October last year (~5 months ago). There are about 2-3 flight choices on the days I wanted to travel, in the end Virgin Australia operated flights were chosen as they were the cheapest.

For those keeping records (and relevant later on in the post):
- Both legs are "Seat+Bag" on Fare Class S, with NZ flight number but on VA metal
- Total cost in the end was about NZ$430.00, with 2/3rd paid with Airpoints Dollars and 1/3rd (the taxes+surcharges bit) paid with CC

Being a Koru member (Airpoints Silver only), I called the Koru service number to try secure good seat for the flights, and on both legs Row 6 (aisle) appeared against my booking online about 24 hours later.

Airport Experience - Auckland
Parked and arrived at AKL 2.5 hours before the flight. I headed straight to Virgin's Premium check-in line (which was empty) and got served quickly.

Handed them my Koru card along with the passport. Checked in 2 pieces of luggage (1 big, 1 small) to which "Priority tags" were attached. Brisk, professional with a smile would be my description of the agent.

Headed up to the Koru lounge, handed them the card although they wanted to scan my boarding pass instead.

They were still serving breakfast/pre-lunch refreshment when I arrived, the comment I made to Twitter was:
"At @FlyAirNZ Koru lounge grabbing a bit of lunch before hitting Gold Coast. Wish there are more hot item choice tho."



Overall, it's average.

Flight Experience: AKL - OOL
Boarding started right on time, with your usual boarding priorities: those needing extra time (the elderly, those with mobility issues etc.), then premium economy passengers, Velocity Platinum and Gold members, airline partner elite members.

AirNZ's programmes (Gold, Elite or Koru) wasn't mentioned, and on my boarding pass it listed: "Partner: Silver" with my AP number printed. After a minute barely anyone moved so I did. The agent didn't bat an eye, scanned the boarding pass and that's that.

Flight was completely full, at least from Row 3 onwards. There were a total of 8 premium economy seats (row of 3 with the middle blocked, with slightly better legroom like on Space+) and only 1 of those were filled. There were a few who asked if they could move and was told not allowed by the flight attendants.

In Row 6, you got ~31" (77.5cm) pitch, seats are firm and comfortable enough with an adjustable headrest. They are miles ahead of what Jetstar had (measly ~29" pitch) from what I remembered.

Service was again efficient and professional. Tablets were handed out to those who bought a Works (and above) fare, and hot lunch service was served shortly after. The couple next to me choose the ginger chicken stir-fried noodles and they look rather nice (for an airline meal). They then served the rest of us cheapskates complimentary coffee/tea/water and a chance to buy any food.

Water was served at least 3 times during the 3.5 hour flight, and rubbish was cleared away on 2 occasions.

Overall it was an uneventful flight, and worth the price.

My baggage was amoungst the first to pop out, and managed to get on the bus a mere 30 minutes after landing.

Airport Experience - Gold Coast
Friend was travelling on a Virgin domestic to Melbourne an hour before me, so we arrived 3 hours before my flight. They have unified check-in area for BOTH Domestic and International, and once again I headed to the Premium line while my friend queued up with everybody else... although that didn't make a difference as the check-in counters were empty.

Once again, I handed the Koru card and passport over, loaded the 2 bags, new Priority tags were stuck on and it was done in less than 5 minutes. At this stage I asked if Row 3 was empty, and got moved from Row 6 to 3, with an empty middle seat at that point.

We made our way to the Virgin lounge to grab food before the flight (we both woke up at 8am and checked out of the hotel by 10am, and haven't eaten anything up till that point).

I was greeted with a smile, to which my Koru card was handed over. She asked for my boarding pass too, but didn't need to see my friend's one. We then headed upstairs to where the lounge was.



The decour is modern, plenty of space and ample power sockets for all your electronic devices, with a good expansive view over the boarding gates and runway. Complimentary WiFi, a well equipped "Business Centre" section, the bathrooms are clean and there's a shower too.

Good food and beverage choices, with 2 soups, salad bar, toastie machine, and barista coffee. Excellent alcohol selection too, and I went for the Kapuka Marlborough sauvignon blanc to get a buzz going pre-flight.



Would actually rate it slightly better than what I saw back in Auckland's International Koru. Lounge was well staffed with plates/glassware cleared away quickly.

When the plane bound for Auckland landed, an announcement was made and suggested us to make our way to the gate "shortly".

Flight Experience: OOL - AKL
I was too busy trying to get my TRS (GST) refund for my purchases to take advantage of priority boarding, not that it mattered as they started a full 15 minutes BEFORE what was printed on the boarding pass, so the line was sparse and well spread out (and no doubt caught many by surprise).

Flight was around 90% full heading back, and again only 1 out of 8 premium economy seats were taken. Row 3 benefitted from being the same seats and pitch as the 2 premium econ. rows, so leather lined seats with a more generous ~34" (85cm) pitch.

In-flight service mirrored that of the one before: professional and attentive. One of the flight attendants even recognized me from a few days ago and asked how my holiday was... always a nice to see such a good level of customer service.

Once in Auckland, I was out of the airport in ~30 minutes time (including getting my bags X-ray'ed). In fact when I cleared customs and headed to the luggage carousel (around 20 minutes since landing at this point), saw my bags disappearing back around and inside, talk about speedy luggage handling by the ground staff.

Overall Verdict/Conclusion
The whole Virgin Australia (AirNZ codeshare) experience was definitely a pleasant and positive one, and wouldn't hesitate to pick them again flying Trans-Tasman... not that it's a hard choice to make given the alternatives (or lack there-of). I flew this flight segment 1 year ago (AKL-OOL return) on Jetstar, and never will I pick them again UNLESS it's a $1 fare.

None of my Koru lounge passes were deducted, as I was expecting one to be used for taking a friend to the lounge (at Gold Coast). So I must have mis-understood the rules with Koru membership (it does say +1 guest in AirNZ's site, but thought a lounge pass is still needed).


Bonus: Airpoints Surprise!
Now for those that are keeping tabs, this was paid with Airpoints Dollars, and most (including myself) are fully aware that it's not eligible for any APD or status accrual.

Imagine my surprise this morning, when BOTH of the flight segments were credited.

With the upheaval in the de-valuing of status/points earned as of 31st March, here are what I got:
Before 31/03: AKL-OOL, "Seat+Bag" Fare Class S: AP$ 5, 30 Status Points
After 31/03: OOL-AKL, "Seat+Bag" Fare Class S: AP$ 5, 9 Status Points

I wonder how many who travelled on VA metal, checked-in at VA desks but booked/paid for a flight on AirNZ's site with Airpoints got points credited in the end. Might be a delicious little loophole worth looking into...

Last edited by Kamadan; Apr 1, 14 at 10:21 pm
Kamadan is offline  
Old Apr 1, 14, 10:05 pm
  #2  
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Originally Posted by Kamadan View Post
...
Imagine my surprise this morning ...
I enjoyed the report - I do like the OOL lounge, but if the catering is Better than AKL intnerational NZ lounge then that does not bode well.

PS I would remove all reference to your 'surprise' if I were you - surprises like that can have a habit of vanishing!
serfty is offline  
Old Apr 1, 14, 10:18 pm
  #3  
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Join Date: Dec 2013
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Originally Posted by serfty View Post
I enjoyed the report - I do like the OOL lounge, but if the catering is Better than AKL intnerational NZ lounge then that does not bode well.

PS I would remove all reference to your 'surprise' if I were you - surprises like that can have a habit of vanishing!
You are implying that AirNZ social network/media staff actually read these forums? *gasp*

I am not too fussed personally, would comfortably re-qualify for Silver this year yet quite a bit away from Gold, those 39 status points wouldn't really have skewed things one way or the other (famous last words I know)... was just a nice bonus.

Besides, if AirNZ has a rep that ACTUALLY trolling through the forums here, they will also know the disgust, annoyance and frustration Airpoints members have towards the new "de-valued" system... and they better do something about it!
Kamadan is offline  
Old Apr 1, 14, 11:08 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Sydney, Australia
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The Airpoints surprise is hardly surprising as VA can't tell the form of payment from NZ bookings. As far as they are concerned, the flight is booked in an eligible fare class, hence the points. Those NZ coded CX flights would be the same.
Xiaotung is offline  
Old Apr 1, 14, 11:12 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Kamadan View Post
You are implying that AirNZ social network/media staff actually read these forums? *gasp*
...
Yes, they really do! There has been interaction on this forum between official AirNZ staff over the time I have been a member.

Anyway, it is your choice.
Originally Posted by Kamadan View Post
...
Besides, if AirNZ has a rep that ACTUALLY trolling through the forums here, they will also know the disgust, annoyance and frustration Airpoints members have towards the new "de-valued" system... and they better do something about it!
Why would they do anything?

Last edited by serfty; Apr 1, 14 at 11:18 pm
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