Now appearing on selected Virgin Australia flights from Brisbane and Sydney to Los Angeles, the airline's new Boeing 777 business class seats – dubbed 'The Business' – raise the bar for comfort on the trans-Pacific route.
By the third quarter of 2016 you'll see these superb seats on every Virgin Australia Boeing 777 flight, including between Sydney and Abu Dhabi.
But in the meantime there's an easy way to tell if The Business is offered on your flight: when selecting your seat, you'll spot the new 1-2-1 layout below instead of the 2-3-2 configuration of the outgoing business class cabin:
That gives you the 'business traveller basics' of a fully-flat bed and direct aisle access from every seat, so regardless of where you sit you'll still have a comfortable journey.
As is always the case, a few choice seats within the cabin have their advantages, while some areas are best-avoided by various travellers.
Virgin Australia Boeing 777 business class: best seats
1A: We're calling this the Hollywood Seat, positioned further forward than the passenger across the aisle in 1D yet without being directly against a galley or lavatory, meaning the only view you'll get is that out the window and of the curtain nearby. There's a higher chance of foot traffic passing this seat, so light sleepers take note.
2A, 3A, 4A, 4K: These seats fall in a real comfort zone, being far enough away from the inflight bar, bathrooms and galleys for a good night's sleep but without being so far back that everybody will pass by throughout the flight.
D+G pairs, for couples: What makes the centre seats great is that you can slide open a perspex screen to converse with a partner, colleague or companion, rather than chatting across the aisle.
But of course, if you wind up here and are travelling on your lonesome that screen can be closed – and on our most recent The Business flight, we boarded to find the screens closed by default in every row, avoiding any awkward moments between unfamiliar seatmates.
Seating choices to reconsider in The Business:
7A: Check out the seat map above and you'll notice 7A's headrest is very close to the inflight bar, making a moderate speaking voice easily audible from this seat.
The rear cabin (rows 8-11): Not only are you close to the bar and the extra socialising seats just in front of 8D/8G (pictured below), you're also susceptible to light and noise from this space when the curtains are parted throughout the flight:
Fortunately, Virgin Australia provides ear plugs and an eye mask in its amenity kits which can help with your rest, and the curtains here are noise-reducing, we're told, helping to minimise the noise you'll hear from any louder conversations in the bar area.
Speaking of quiet, premium economy and economy flyers also board via the door between rows seven and eight and walk through this rear business cabin, making the aisles here considerably more cluttered before take-off, rather than empty and quiet as we've found sitting further forward.
We'd also normally suggest avoiding seat 6K being directly in front of a lavatory, but we spent 13 hours here and didn't find the seat noisy as the restroom door is on the opposite side, rather than next to the seat.
A previous version of this article noted that there was no dividing curtain between the business class bar area and the rear cabin, but a Virgin Australia spokesperson has confirmed that this has now been rectified.
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About Chris Chamberlin
Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!