Virgin Australia Adds Boeing 737 MAX To Fleet, Reveals New Interiors

Virgin Australia Adds Boeing 737 MAX To Fleet, Reveals New Interiors

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Virgin Australia has just taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX. The airline is now showing off the interiors of these jets, and has revealed that existing aircraft will be reconfigured as well. Let’s go over all the details.

Details of Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX order

Virgin Australia currently has 33 Boeing 737 MAXs on order, comprised of:

  • Eight Boeing 737 MAX 8s, which the airline has just started taking delivery of; this is an updated version of the 737-800, featuring better fuel economy and longer range
  • 25 Boeing 737 MAX 10s, though there’s no timeline for these planes being delivered, given that the aircraft hasn’t yet been certified; this will be the largest version of the 737 family, featuring a higher capacity, but less range, than the 737 MAX 8

That’s the extent of new aircraft that Virgin Australia has on order, and complements the carrier’s existing roughly 85 Boeing 737s, plus some A320s and Fokker 100s.

Virgin Australia also has 737 MAX 10s on order

At one point Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX order was much larger, but the order was restructured while the carrier went through voluntary administration at the start of the pandemic.

In recent days, Virgin Australia has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX. On June 28-30, 2023, the aircraft with the registration code VH-8IA was ferried from the United States to Australia, flying from Seattle (BFI) to Kona (KOA) to Nadi (NAN) to Brisbane (BNE).

Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX routes

Virgin Australia only has a small order of Boeing 737 MAX 8s that will be delivered in the near future, so don’t expect too much expansion as a result of these planes. The 737 MAX does offer additional range compared to previous generation 737s, and Virgin Australia plans to take advantage of that.

Virgin Australia intends to use these planes to fly from Cairns to Tokyo, which is a 3,627-mile flight. That’s quite a long journey for a plane with such a configuration, as the flight is blocked at nearly eight hours. While that’s a long flight for a regionally configured aircraft, in fairness, it’s a pretty leisure oriented route, and there’s not any full service competition.

Unfortunately due to some delivery delays, the airline didn’t quite take delivery of the jet before this new service launched. As a result, Virgin Australia started this route with a 737-700, but it should be upgraded as of July 30, 2023.

In the meantime, Virgin Australia will fly the Boeing 737 MAXs on domestic flights for crew familiarization. The plane is expected to enter service as of July 10, 2023, and will be flown across Virgin Australia’s domestic network.

Virgin Australia Boeing 737 MAX 8

Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX interiors

What should we expect from the interiors of Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAXs? In terms of passenger experience, don’t expect too much change, at least for the 737 MAX 8s. These planes will have pretty standard domestic interiors.

I recently flew Virgin Australia’s 737-800 featuring a new “trial” cabin, which was only available on two former SilkAir aircraft. This is the exact layout that Virgin Australia will introduce on its Boeing 737 MAX 8s. It’s a pretty typical regional configuration, and is comfortable, but doesn’t really stand out too much.

Virgin Australia Boeing 737 cabin
Virgin Australia Boeing 737 business class seats
Virgin Australia Boeing 737 economy class cabin

As far as features go, you can expect the Boeing 737 MAX 8s to feature:

  • In-seat power in both business class and economy class
  • Larger overhead bins than previous generation Boeing 737s
  • Wider business class seats with leg rests and extendable footrests, storage compartments, personal device holders, and water bottle holders
  • An economy seat design with a ribbed seat back for added comfort and ergonomics, plus personal device holders

What’s also exciting is that starting in late 2023, Virgin Australia plans to reconfigure its entire Boeing 737 fleet with these new cabins. That project is anticipated to take around two years. You can expect existing planes to feature these new seats and Wi-Fi. The only thing that will be different is that existing Boeing 737s won’t get the larger overhead bins.

The carrier might introduce a more premium configuration on its 737 MAX 10s, given that they will largely operate more premium routes, but as far as I know, nothing has been finalized there.

Bottom line

Virgin Australia has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX, after a significant delay. The airline has 33 737 MAXs on order, though only eight of those are for the 737 MAX 8, which will all be delivered in the near future (meanwhile the 737 MAX 10 hasn’t yet been certified). It’s nice to see Virgin Australia taking delivery of these fuel efficient and long range jets.

From a passenger experience standpoint, these planes will feature the trial interiors that Virgin Australia has installed on a couple of existing Boeing 737s. All remaining 737s should be reconfigured with similar cabins in the next couple of years.

What do you make of Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Steven E Guest

    Having travelled several times on the CNS-NRT route I’d always go with the Jetstar 787 option - no matter that the aircraft is brand new - over 7 hours in a narrow bodied jet is just not something I personally would want to do.

    1. Stephen Phillips Guest

      Why? Jetfail will cancel the flight anyway. :)

  2. glenn t Diamond

    It's their decision of course, but IMO it is very shortsighted to lock into a recliner in Business on their Cairns to Tokyo, rather than a flat-bed. Comparing VA to Jetstar (on this route) is like comparing Spirit to Frontier.
    Recliners with footrests etc. are great for kids, dwarfs and leprechans, but useless for anyone of more than average height.
    Sorry, but I'll be sticking with premium airlines ANA and JAL for my Japan travel.

    1. RichM Diamond

      That's great, but neither ANA nor JAL fly to Cairns.

      As Ben notes, it's a tourism-driven route, with very little business or freight, so the aircraft choice needs to reflect that market.

  3. St James Guest

    2A and 2F were the best seats on current 738s due to that divider. The only reason I can think of to entertain removing it, even in the trial cabin, is saving weight costs.
    Same thing if I were in the front of economy, I don't particularly enjoy the feeling of staring down the back of the J seat, for both occupants' sake.

  4. harry hv Guest

    The private equity owners of Virgin Australia are about to sell it so you can discount any announcements which involve spending new money. But the CEO herself has promised a new cabin-divider is in development for the 737Max.

    The competition between Cairns and Japan is Jetstar who also offer a recliner seat in business class, and the same knees-by-your-ears pitch as Virgin in economy for the 8 hour flight.

    BTW the private equity people have...

    The private equity owners of Virgin Australia are about to sell it so you can discount any announcements which involve spending new money. But the CEO herself has promised a new cabin-divider is in development for the 737Max.

    The competition between Cairns and Japan is Jetstar who also offer a recliner seat in business class, and the same knees-by-your-ears pitch as Virgin in economy for the 8 hour flight.

    BTW the private equity people have already paid themselves more dividends than what they originally paid for the airline so they effectively got it for free. Whatever it fetches now is just cream on the deal.

  5. Julia Guest

    So is this the same business class seat they will use for their 8 hour flights to Japan?

    1. glenn t Diamond

      In an international context, this new seat is only Premium Economy standard.

  6. JetBlueFanboy Gold

    "While that's a long flight for a regionally aircraft..."
    Shouldn't it say "regionally-configured aircraft”?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ JetBlueFanboy -- Fixed, thanks!

  7. Pogonation Guest

    I was under the impressing from Australian blogs that a cabin divider is being added at a later date and would come with the new MAX aircraft. The lack of divider seems to be confirmed by that YouTube video however. Not sure what made them go with that as it does make the business class look cheap and more like economy+

  8. TravelinWilly Diamond

    So everyone sitting in the front of the plane is visible to the poors in the back?

    What is the world coming to?!

  9. Morgan Diamond

    Ben I am having a really hard time following your latest and recent trip reports as that side bar down the side of each review which tells me where it falls in the trip report and different reviews prior etc. Please fix this as I want to easily be able to follow as otherwise I might miss reviews and not read them.

    1. Morgan Diamond

      Oh whoops, I see it is now on the top of the page with an option to click 'more from this trip' to see the reviews in order - my bad.

  10. James K. Guest

    Kinda depressing how far they’ve fallen from the airline which flew 77Ws to the USA

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Looking at their spreadsheet, back when they were flying 77Ws to the USA, was likely even more depressing.

    2. RichM Diamond

      Yes, but they lost tonnes of money doing that, so it was never going to last.

    3. Dan Guest

      LAX did last for the whole duration of Long Haul: 2008 to 2020, and it was reportedly the only long haul destination making revenue, although costs were split with their former partner DL (VA/DL's LAX operations alone couldn't prop up the other loss making long haul destinations and they had support of their other former partners ie HKG: HNA, AUH: EY, etc)

  11. David Guest

    “ What’s also exciting is that starting in late 2023, Virgin Australia plans to reconfigure its entire Boeing 737 fleet with these new cabins. That project is expected to take around two hours.”

    Surely you mean two years?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ David -- My mistake, whoops! Fixed, thanks.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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TravelinWilly Diamond

So everyone sitting in the front of the plane is visible to the poors in the back? What is the world coming to?!

1
Morgan Diamond

Ben I am having a really hard time following your latest and recent trip reports as that side bar down the side of each review which tells me where it falls in the trip report and different reviews prior etc. Please fix this as I want to easily be able to follow as otherwise I might miss reviews and not read them.

1
James K. Guest

Kinda depressing how far they’ve fallen from the airline which flew 77Ws to the USA

1
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