Over the course of the last 12 months, I have had the opportunity to fly 8 different airlines’ economy products. Although I will fly two more airlines in 2019, this review will be of the best economy experience that I have had this year. There have been some good and some bad, with some that I would consider average. Although you may think that I am referring to Southwest Airlines as my favorite, due to how great I find their Companion Pass and other benefits, I am not. The airline with my favorite economy product may very well come as a surprise.
The best economy product I have had this year was on Virgin Australia. I flew with them from Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) on VA 2. It was a 15 hour flight that was meant to leave LA just after 11 PM and arrive just after 9 AM, two days later. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed due to an incoming flight running late, so we did not take off until just about 1 AM. In order to save time, the pilots flew at a low altitude, which contributed to a period of pretty high turbulence. That said, the plane ended up arriving on time.
Despite the delayed departure and the turbulence for a period of time, the flight itself was enjoyable. The flight was on a Boeing 777-300. Virgin Australia uses a generous 3-3-3 layout, a significantly better layout than what most airlines have on their 777s, a 3-4-3 layout. With the same width of the plane, the lack of the extra seat across allows for a wider, more comfortable seat. In addition, Virgin Australia has above average leg room, which is not that much more than you would get on, let’s say, American Airlines, but it is still an improvement. Finally, the seat had more of a recline than I have ever experienced in any economy seat, including extra leg room seats such as Main Cabin Extra on American or Comfort Plus on Delta. Even though I was sitting in the second to last row in the middle section of seats on such a big plane, it was the most comfortable economy seat that I have ever sat in. The cabin felt overall roomy and spacious even though it was economy.
When I arrived at my seat, I was greeted with a number of amenities. It was nothing as nice as what you would find in business class, but the thought was there. These amenities included a water bottle, ear plugs, headphones, a pen, blanket, and a pillow. Although they weren’t fantastic, and I never ended up using the headphones or the blanket, they were better than what most airlines offer.
I chose not to eat the dinner offered after having eaten in the lounge, although I liked that they offered ice cream popsicles. The attendants regularly came through the cabin asking if anyone needed anything, including drinks and snacks. Economy even included basic alcohol. There was an area in front of and behind the economy cabin where I could go to get a drink or a snack (aka three packs of Oreos and chips). Overall, the food situation was one of the best I have ever seen in an economy cabin.
The inflight entertainment was good and offered a great selection of different movies, TV shows, songs, and games. Throughout the flight I had good conversations with the crew. Towards the end of the flight, one of the flight attendants could tell just how much of an Avgeek I am and offered to let me see the crew rest area (FYI it was really cool to see and to realize that there is essentially a small, second level to the plane. I was extremely impressed with how the crew went the extra mile to make the flight more enjoyable.
My family and I booked this flight using Delta SkyMiles. Each ticket was one way and included the segment from DCA to LAX and then on to Sydney. It cost 40,000 SkyMiles per person. The cash price of the ticket would have been $1,100, so we got 2.75 cents per point, which is really good for SkyMiles. We got the SkyMiles from transferring to American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1 to 1 points transfer rate. If you want to try out the same flights the same way, you should sign up for the American Express Platinum Card, Green Card or Gold Card in order to earn MR points. If your goal is to get to Australia, then you could transfer to a number of American Express’s partners in order to fly close to 10,000 miles to the other side of the planet. This includes Emirates, Qantas and more.
Shari Goldsmith says
So informative! Thanks!