Route Nadi to Melbourne.
Aircraft Boeing 737-800.
Class Economy, seat 15D (emergency exit row).
Flight time Six hours.
Seat pitch and width 31 inches pitch (39 inches in exit row), 17 inches wide.
Seat configuration 3-3.
Baggage allowance Depends on the type of fare booked. "Saver" fares require payment of a $25 fee to check one bag up to 23 kilograms. "Flexi" fares include one piece of checked baggage up to 23 kilograms.
Comfort On check-in I'm asked if I'm comfortable with sitting in an exit row. I'm more than comfortable — I'm delighted. The exit row gives me an extra eight inches of space, giving me plenty of room to stretch out. The standard seats offer only 31 inches, though there is more space in the first few rows, which are offered as "premium economy" with the middle seat converted to an extra-large armrest/tray table. However, if the premium seats aren't booked, economy passengers can end up with one of the seats and the extra three inches of legroom it provides.
Service Flight attendants are friendly and efficient, though they move on to the next row without taking my food order and I have to call them back. They regularly move through the aircraft offering water, a welcome change to my outbound flight to Fiji, which left me parched.
Food and beverages The service to Fiji is no-frills — more like a domestic flight than an international one — which means no food is included. There are four options available to buy in the Luke Mangan-branded menu, including the "New Yorker" pastrami and coleslaw sandwich, which is delicious and just about worth the $10 price tag. Snacks and drinks are also available for a fee. Tea and coffee are complimentary.
Entertainment No seat-back screens on board, but "digi players" are available to rent for $15, featuring a range of films and TV shows. They have a small stand attached that allows you to sit them on your tray table. I opt instead to watch some TV shows stored on my smartphone.
Aircraft condition This seems to be one of the few jets left in Virgin's fleet to still feature the old red livery, with "Pacific Blue" emblazoned across the exterior. The interiors, however, have been refurbished and are in as-new condition.
Flight frequency Virgin Australia flies return from Melbourne to Nadi six times a week, from Sydney 10 times a week and daily from Brisbane.
Tested by Craig Platt