Monday, July 27, 2009

V Australia Reviewed

You know you want to come to Australia. You've been reading my blog and thinking to yourself "We should really go visit them." And since you can't walk here, you're looking for the best airline to plant yourself on for 14 hours while you travel 7500 miles over the Pacific.
V Australia might just be the ticket.



We chose V Australia for our recent trip back to the U.S. because the price was right. Earlier this year, during a big fare sale, I bought four round trip tickets in premium economy for $5300 USD. It was comparable to the fare available on United, and I figured the unknown couldn't possibly be any worse than United, so we took a chance and booked our tickets.

Now, I have to preface my review by saying that on my three previous flights to/from Australia I was lucky enough to be in first or business class. If you can swing business class tickets, it is definitely the way to go. A lay flat seat on any airline is by far superior to an economy seat on even the best airline. But this is the real world, and most people don't want to spend an extra $8,000 or so to purchase a business class seat. And, as I've discovered, it is getting really hard to use all those miles to upgrade to business class seats. So chances are, if you're paying for the ticket yourself, you'll probably be looking at economy.

Premium economy is like a mini-upgrade from standard economy class. On V Australia there are a few nice perks that come with the premium economy ticket. First, you get a nice leather seat. It doesn't lay flat, but it reclines 9 inches, has an adjustable headrest, nifty reading light, and a fold out footrest. On the downside, the arm rests are fixed, so if you have little kids who want to sprawl across your lap, it is a bit of a problem. Also worth mentioning, there is almost no storage space under the seat in front of you. Anything bigger than a lunch box will have to go in the overhead bin. Other perks in premium economy include bottled water in your seatback pocket, warm towels distributed twice on the flight, big padded headphones, and a self service bar. You also get a handy little kit "for your walkabout" stocked with toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, earplugs and socks.

V Australia flights are on Boeing 777. To see how the seats are configured, check out Seat Guru.

V Australia is hip and fun and fresh. Even the safety video (featuring an animated Richard Branson) was entertaining. Each seat has its own touch screen entertainment system that offers something for everyone. I watched four movies on the way to L.A. There is a good selection of kids shows and video games as well (mostly Disney Channel stuff, but my kids loved it). The food was fine, a step up from standard airline food for sure. I requested child meals for the kids, and they were a big hit. What kid wouldn't love breakfast served with a candy bar? I found the crew to be friendly, helpful and attentive. Even the people working the ticket counter were pleasant and efficient.

I would certainly fly V Australia again. Premium economy was nice, but even regular economy looked good. Let's face it, 14 hours on an airplane (especially with kids) is no party. But V Australia has done a great job of making it more than tolerable. And that's more than a lot of other airlines can say! So thanks for the ride, V Australia. And if you want me to write an awesome review of your business class service in December, you know where to find me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Celebrating America

I've always loved the 4th of July. As a child, I'd dress in red, white and blue and head down to the lake with my family to watch the boat parade and fireworks show. We'd light Chinese Lanterns, bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers in the front yard. My favorite were those little black lumps that mysteriously grew into snakes and left charred marks on the asphalt. We swam in the pool, ate corn on the cob and of course, had homemade apple pie.

I want my kids to have those memories. So, we came home for the 4th of July. Bright and early on the 4th, we joined in the community bike parade. Thankfully my dear friend decorated bikes for my kids so they were able to join the sea of red, white, and blue streaming down the street. It was a sight to see. It was also a great place to find familiar faces, share welcoming hugs and get a good dose of American Pride.









Later we met more friends for an amazing BBQ featuring a tour through the American south. You have not lived until you've eaten pulled pork smothered with coleslaw. Yumm!

Then, off to a pool party, a fireworks show and finally, sparklers in the front yard. Just the way the 4th of July should be. It doesn't matter if I live on the other side of the world. I love America!






Head over to I Heart Faces for more patriotic stories.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Who Says You Can't Go Home Again?



Tonight we board a plane for our first "home leave" visit. Hooray! Three weeks of summer weather, Malibu beach days, family gatherings, bike riding, swimming and fireworks. God Bless America.
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