Virgin Australia First Class from Cairns (CNS) to Melbourne (MEL)

Ben and I have a friend who lives in Melbourne, and while we could have flown a more direct routing to get to Denpasar, we wanted to make sure to go out of our way to see him, stay at the Westin to have our favourite hotel breakfast, and get a chance to sample Garuda Indonesia’s flight out of Melbourne.  So this “trip” to Melbourne would only be about 19 hours total.

Introduction
Alaska Airlines First Class from Seattle (SEA) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Star Alliance Lounge Los Angeles
Virgin Australia Business Class from Los Angeles (LAX) to Brisbane (BNE)
Virgin Australia Lounge Brisbane
Virgin Australia First Class from Brisbane (BNE) to Cairns (CNS)
Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, and Surrounding Areas
Virgin Australia Lounge Cairns
Virgin Australia First Class from Cairns (CNS) to Melbourne (MEL)
Westin Melbourne and the Press Club
Garuda Indonesia Business Class from Melbourne (MEL) to Denpasar, Bali (DPS)
Sheraton Kuta, Bali (Wow, Wow, Wow!!)
Korean Air Business Class from Denpasar (DPS) to Seoul (ICN)
Korean Air Lounge, Seoul
Free! Cultural Experience in Seoul
Korean Air Business Class from Seoul (ICN) to Seattle (SEA)

Not the most DIRECT route

Not the most DIRECT route

Our flight was delayed by about 30 minutes do to a late inbound aircraft, so we comfortably waited upstairs in the lounge (which by the way, if you haven’t read that post do it now… what a wonderful lounge it is, and the staff is amazing).  We could see the plane arriving at our gate from the windows in the lounge, so after about 20 minutes post arrival, we headed down.  This was one of those days where I am so grateful for lounge access.

I recently had a friend ask me “so what’s the big deal with lounge access anyway?”  My response is usually the same, something along the lines of “it’s a quiet place to get away from the hectic boarding areas, get some free food and drinks, reliable wifi, and big comfy chairs to relax in.  You can leave you things, go to the bathroom, come back and know that they’ll be there, and overall its just a nice place to relax before your flight.”

Below are two pictures of the gate area…

Priority Queue

Priority Queue

Boarding Area

Boarding Area

And below here is the picture of the 50+ teenage footballers heading back to Melbourne.  As you can see, the actual gate area was in a long, crowded concrete hallway with no chairs, benches, or anything.  Those were all in the main lobby area to the rear.  These kids were so annoying (as anyone who has ever been to any event with dozens of teenagers in the same room).  It was almost enough for me to go back to the lounge to wait for them all to finish boarding so we could go on last.  I couldn’t get on the plane quick enough…

Annoying football group

Annoying football group

Once we got on the plane and take off commenced (sorry for the lack of pics, we were entertained by the screaming teenagers two rows back the entire takeoff) we were handed our in flight entertainment players, Samsung Galaxy tablets, all branded with Virgin case, background, etc.

Property of Virgin

Property of Virgin

Virgin In Flight Entertainment

Virgin In Flight Entertainment

For the third time in a row, the crew on board our Virgin flights were amazing.  Really a great attention to the passengers and made us feel welcome.  Surprisingly there was also another jerk on this flight sitting in first class, but he (thankfully) just stayed across the aisle and moved to the window.  He was again barking orders at the FA’s (that’s a thing here in Australia apparently??) and so we got the best of attention from the cabin crew.

He quickly distributed the nuts and (once again) warm beer, but at least this time I was warned about it and he apologized.

Beer and Nuts to start

Beer and Nuts to start

And the lunch service started.  Virgin’s domestic service, as I’ve stated before, is pleasantly consistent.  Real china, glassware, utensils, and a quality food product that’s hard to beat here in the states.  The ingredients are fresh and the food is cooked well.  I went with the “meat and three veg” which was very well prepared.

Meat and 3 Veg?

Ben went with the spinach ravioli stuff with cheese and beetroot on the side.

Spinach Ravioli

Spinach Ravioli

After the dinner service the Pantry menus were distributed.  They read “Still feeling peckish?  Virgin Australia’s resident chef Luke Mangan has selected some delicious gourmet treats that should hit the spot.”

On longer flights in first the “tasting menu” as I call it, is available on demand.  I sampled three things for you guys, so you can get a gist of what’s on offer.

Peckish Menu

Peckish Menu

First the caramel corn drizzled with chocolate:

Peckish Caramel Popcorn

Peckish Caramel Popcorn

Then the shortbread and coffee (because by now I’m in a food coma)

Peckish Shortbread and Coffee

Peckish Shortbread and Coffee

And finally the seasonal fruit plate

Peckish Fruit Platter

Peckish Fruit Platter

We had about 45 minutes left until landing so we spent the rest of the flight chatting with our flight attendant.  He was from Melbourne and was giving us the run down of all the great bars and restaurants to hit.

Emirates 777

Emirates 777

The Virgin Lineup

The Virgin Lineup

Virgin Baggage Area

Virgin Baggage Area

After we grabbed our bags we found our way to the SkyBus, which in my opinion is the best way to get into town.  AU$18 to get to downtown and the service is pretty quick.  Once we were at the downtown terminal we had two options to get to the Westin.  A free transfer that they offer to the hotels, which took about 20 minutes for the bus to arrive) or walk.  As it was only 4 blocks away, we opted for the walk.  If you’re tired or not feeling like huffing your bags everywhere, find your way to the transfer desk and ask for the free hotel transfer.

Keep on reading for a review of the Westin Melbourne, and what was was our fave breakfast of any hotel stay we’ve ever stayed at!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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