I had a quick 2 days and 3 nights up in Port Douglas. It wasn’t the point of the trip – I was ‘really’ going to Sydney for a cousin’s wedding – but I’ve always enjoyed North Queensland (not so much Cairns proper) and made a lot out of the time including a helicopter trip into the Daintree rainforest where we landed on a rock beside a waterfall and had a champagne breakfast, and went sailing out to the Great Barrier Reef.
Quickly enough it was time to leave for Sydney, so we made the hour long trip to the Cairns airport where we’d visit the Virgin Australia lounge and fly Virgin for the short 1200 mile trip.
- Introduction: Virgin Australia and Delta Business Class, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney
- Concourse Hotel LAX, a Hyatt affiliate
- Virgin Australia Check-in and Star Alliance Business Class Lounge
- Virgin Australia Business Class, Los Angeles – Brisbane
- Virgin Australia Brisbane Lounge and Business Class, Brisbane – Cairns
- Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas
After arriving at the terminal I checked in with Virgin Australia and checked my bags. This time they didn’t insist on weighing my carry on bag (though it was within allowable weight).
After proceeding through security I made my way through the shops to the lounge.
As I entered I was prepared to use the automatic kiosk where you scan your boarding pass to determine access, but the agents at the entrance insisted on giving it the personal touch (they weren’t at all busy).
I’m not in the habit of publishing all the wifi access codes I come across but this one is just too precious.
There’s fantastic views of airport operations.
And while not the most extensive food offerings, certainly generous by US standards, at an outstation no less (though in no way comparable to the food in Brisbane).
They called boarding in the lounge and I headed to the gate. Everyone was already queued for boarding, and moments later they began accepting business passengers.
Though they boarded via a jetway there was also boarding from the rear via air stairs.
I was back in a two row business class configuration not unlike domestic first in the U.S.
We boarded and pushed back on time, and it was a gorgeous takeoff from Cairns.
Shortly after reaching our cruising altitude lunch was served. Once again I was surprised and pleased by the quality and taste of the meal (although the presentation wasn’t especially attractive).
I didn’t avail myself of the inflight entertainment app on this trip. The crew did offer tablets for first class passenger use, but I had my phone (for the airshow) and my laptop (where I watched my own television for the duration of the flight).
And after about two and a half hours we were in Sydney. Enroute to baggage claim I made a stop at the men’s room and was impressed by the shopping opportunities even there.
Qantas and Virgin Australia are hammering each other really hard on domestic routes within Australia, and it’s great to the extent that it’s meant improved inflight experiences. On my two domestic Virgin Australia flights and my international long haul segment I came away extremely impressed – by the overall offerings, the food, and especially the friendly service.