Flying Business Class For Free
Ok…domestic business class. But look, if you ask me, priority security lanes, champagne upon boarding and sharing a toilet with 8 people rather than 300 all sounds pretty good to me, despite the destination only being two hours away.
This weekend I hot footed it up to Brisbane for the Revive fashion festival. Aside from the promise of pop up op shops and hundreds of fellow thrifters, I was also asked to strut my stuff for the Vacay Vibes preloved runway by Hannah from @Nevereverpayretail, which was pretty much what my years of watching Top Model have been in preparation for. It was also the ideal opportunity to use some Velocity frequent flyer points I’d been saving up.
Using Velocity Points for Business Class Flights
The good thing about domestic travel is that you can use points to cover your entire flight - you don’t have to pay the taxes with actual money. I think it’s international flights that that rule applies to, though don’t quote me on that as I’ve never done it.
I’d got about 110,000 Velocity points racked up from my credit card purchases and a bonus from opening the card, and with our big America trip coming up in 2 weeks, using my points to get to Brisbane for free seemed ideal, so as not to tap into savings ahead of a big trip.
So when I came to book my flight to Brisbane, I went to the Virgin Australia website, punched in my dates and clicked ‘Use Points Plus Pay’ to how many points I’d need to use to get to Brisbane for nada. It was about 40,000 points for an economy reward seat, and 60,000 points for a business reward seat. I’d always known that when it came to redeeming points for flights, premium cabins were the way to get the most dollar value for your point. With business flights typically costing 4x the price of economy, getting the flight for 1.5x the points seemed like a great deal. I’ve also been on a mission to ‘back myself’ more in my work, blog and side business stuff, so I figured plonking myself in business class was a pretty good way to show up for the universe.
So with $0 to pay, I secured a flight worth about $800 for absolutely nothing. The only thing I really sacrificed was a few extra Velocity points that could’ve perhaps got me a free reward flight to Sydney or something. So was it worth it? Is domestic business class really that different to the standard cabin on a 737-800 plane?
One word: yes.
Domestic Business Class Experience
So with my freebie flight booked and the glee of choosing seat 1A, I headed off to the airport in plenty of time to enjoy the Virgin Australia lounge at Melbourne Tullamarine. Since it was early in the day on a weekend, it was gloriously quiet. I’m a lounge veteran as I pay for an annual Priority Pass membership that gets me into lounges in most airports, so I was keen to see how a business class lounge would compare. The breakfast options were plentiful, and barista-made coffee with a selection of non-dairy milks sent little cappuccino emojis flying through my eyeballs.
I must say though the best part was priority security screening. While there wasn’t much of a queue at the time, being able to swan straight through the empty lane was a luxury in itself. The same goes for boarding. Instead of tacking onto the end of an endless stream of economy passengers, I shot straight through the short lane and into my 1A spot, where I was greeted by the business class cabin manager Karen by name and given a drink in an actual glass.
To be honest I didn’t have particularly high expectations for the on-board experience. Aside from stomping on ahead of the riff raff and having the joy of saying ‘I’m in business’ at the lounge desk, I didn’t think the rest of the domestic business class experience would be that different to economy. On the 737-800 aircraft used for short haul flights, the business seats are tucked behind a screen, and don’t have a cubicle or fancy lie-flat bed or anything, so I wasn’t anticipating the in-flight vibe would be much to write home about.
But I was wrong.
While a short 2 hour flight isn’t really much hassle, glancing back behind the screen to see a jam packed flight of row after row of 3 heads tightly packed together and a child clambering over its Father to get to the toilet, I felt a sense of serenity from 1A. The peacefulness continued when babe of the year Karen appeared with a pad and pen to TAKE MY ORDER for breakfast. Holy shit. Taking my order on a two hour flight? I expected a black filter coffee and a stale brownie, if I’m honest.
Still in disbelief, I ordered the bircher muesli and settled back into my ultra wide seat and tried to take some selfies without letting on to the other business passengers that I was new here. I don’t think I did a great job since I got caught propping my phone up against the inflight magazine to take a self-timer photo for a friend. Oh well.
Once we’re airborne, Karen appears again with an actual coffee in an actual cup with an actual fucking saucer. She placed it down on the little table between the two seats, and off she went. If I’m honest, the little table was an absolute godsend. Having somewhere to put your phone that isn’t the little net bit on the back of the seat in front of you where they keep the sick bag was a luxury I never knew I craved.
Luke Mangan Menu on Virgin Domestic Business Class
While I’m staring at the other business passengers in shock that they’ve turned down free food, here comes Karan again with a purple tray. On it was my bircher muesli with SPICED PLUMS and almonds, a pot of melon and peeled lychees, and a napkin rolled up with actual cutlery inside. She flipped my tray table up, plopped the brekkie tray down and then said a sentence that made my ears twitch with glee. “I’ll just get the bakery items”.
SORRY KAREN THERE ARE BAKERY ITEMS?
I think she heard me audibly squeal, but it didn’t distract her focus from using the fancy little bakery tong thing to place a fruit brioche onto my tray and thrust a selection of preserves in my direction.
Before I tuck in, I take the opportunity to glance back one more time at my pals in the economy cabin. I can see a queue forming for the loo which gave my spiced plums a little extra kick.
The bircher really was exquisite, and I’m not trying to sound like a flashy fuck when I say that. It actually tasted like a proper meal, and if that were at a café in Melbourne, I’d order it every time. Within seconds of finishing, Karen appears as if by magic to clear my tray. Can’t have “Miss Edwards” stuck with dirty crockery for a moment longer than she’d like, after all.
Having guzzled my coffee and felt a twinge of disappointment that there was only 45 minutes of the flight left, Karen’s back replenishing my cup. I will say though, of the 8 seats in business, 3 were empty (including the one next to me) and 2 of the other passengers declined to have any breakfast, which left Karan at my constant beck and call. No complaints from me.
Having easy access to the loo and not having to time my get-ups with the position of the refreshments trolley made the rest of the flight simply remarkable. Coupled with the genuinely friendly farewell and priority disembarkation from the flight (before one last look back to cattle class, of course), the domestic business experience was TOTALLY, TOTALLY worth it – especially since I was flying to Brisbane and back in one day. It made the quick turnaround super easy.
If you’ve got Velocity points to use, redeeming them for Virgin Australia Domestic Business Class will give you serious bang-for-buck – and even more bircher-for-buck!
Wanna fly biz for free? I listed my fave bonus points credit cards in Australia at the moment.