The Australian Business Traveller team went over Virgin Australia's new Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a fine toothcomb yesterday to bring you an in-depth look at the details of the seats and service you're likely to encounter on the new Virgin Australia.
The "Coast-to-Coast" A330 seats are, we understand, a revamped version of the older seats on the plane when it flew for Emirates rather than completely new seats.
That's why the business class seats -- while they've been reupholstered and thoroughly spruced up -- look a little bit dated, especially when compared with the brand new seats on the 737:
The A330 seats do have a wider range of movement and reclining positions, controlled from a small panel on the armrest.
For more on the comfy seats at the pointy end of the plane, head over to our Virgin Australia A330 Business Class seat guide.
The economy seats look a little bit bulky, although the colour scheme definitely gives the cabin some extra life.
We'd estimate that Virgin Australia could have squeezed an inch or so more legroom out of the seats if they were the slimline style used on the 737.
And while Virgin Australia promises monthly updates of the in-flight entertainment, the seat-back system was clearly state of the art in a previous generation.
Of course, there's no better entertainment flying within Australia, but we're really interested to see what Virgin Australia does with the factory-fresh A330s it has on order.
Want more info on Virgin Australia's new economy class? Check out our seat guide.
But it's not just the seats that makes an airline experience: it's the softer side of things: the service, food and amenity kits.
Here's the shorthaul amenity kit from the Boeing 737, which is functional but has just about everything you'd need for a short-haul flight:
The longer-haul "Coast-to-Coast" amenity kit handed out on the Airbus A330 contains more branded swag:
"Coast-to-Coast" passengers also get a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to use. There's no obvious brand on them, but they look similar to the headphones Air New Zealand hands out in its Business Premier cabins.
When it comes to mealtimes, it looks like a tray service is planned rather than a plate-by-plate meal, although the tray is an exciting purple.
The stem-less glassware gives a modern touch that will also prove more stable in turbulence.
A new menu appears on the A330...
...but the older Luke Mangan menu (with Virgin Blue branding remaining) is found on the 737:
After lunch -- or, frankly, before and during lunch as well -- the espresso machine in the galley kitchen is a welcome addition. European airlines have used Nespresso pod-type machines for some years, and it's well past time Australian airlines raised their coffee game too.
Written by John Walton, photographs by Dan Warne
This review of the seats and service on offer is just part of Australian Business Traveller's comprehensive coverage of Virgin Australia's launch:
- Touchdown! Virgin Australia's first landings at Sydney Airport
- New Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 planes, plus what the new offerings mean for business travellers
- Full analysis of the decision to rebrand all the Virgin Blue group airlines (including V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue) as Virgin Australia
- Our interview with Richard Branson about business travel
- Punchy, fresh new ads for Virgin Australia, plus interviews with uniform designer Julie Grbac, inflight chef Luke Mangan and brand guru Hans Hulbosch
- The very first on-board photos from Virgin Australia's new Boeing 737-800 in Business and Economy
- Insider photos from the launch day with Richard Branson and John Borghetti
- Richard Branson and John Borghetti hint at premium economy class for Virgin Australia
- Photo tour of the new Boeing 737-800 with the futuristic Sky Interior
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.