Virgin Australia's 737 Business Class: booking by October?

Virgin Australia's 737 Business Class: booking by October?

Virgin Australia could be selling proper business class seats on the majority of its flights -- the ones on Boeing 737-800 planes -- as early as October, Australian Business Traveller has learned.

The airline already flies business class between Sydney and Perth, and on its long-haul V Australia subsidiary.

News of the dates for the full business class -- which you'll be able to book rather than taking pot luck, which is what happens currently -- comes at the bottom of an information sheet on the new Capital Connect service concept for Canberra-Sydney flights, and says:

"The new Boeing 737-800 Business and Economy Class interiors will be rolled out across the majority of Virgin Australia’s current domestic fleet by the end of the year. Business Class is already available for sale on the Airbus A330-200 and will be available for sale on the Boeing 737-800 in the last quarter of 2011."

The cabin contains eight seats in a 2-2 layout. Each seat has 37 inches of pitch (the room between your seat back and the one in front).

We make the last quarter of 2011 October-December, so you could well see brand new 737s with the chic Boeing Sky Interior -- plus refurbished ones that have also had the new domestic business class cabin installed -- available for booking in early spring.

The leather seats are embossed with Virgin logos, and there's a snazzy purple divider between business and first classes.

With five brand new 737-800s in the fleet, we'd expect specific routes to kick off the business class services. We wouldn't be surprised if those routes involved the top-notch lounges at Melbourne and Brisbane, either...

With tables big enough to work on, business class passengers will be able to be more productive in flight.

Business travellers will be interested to see how the 737 service compares with the Coast to Coast Airbus A330 flights (check out our reviews of the inaugural Sydney-Perth flight and a regular Perth-Sydney flight for more on the Coast to Coast offerings).

We'd certainly expect longer flights (and potentially all flights) to come with the new amenity kit featured on opening day.

It's not much, but the ability to brush your teeth after mainlining coffee en route is a big plus.

Will the new business class be more Coast to Coast or more Capital Connect? And will the theme of naming it with Cs (Club Class?) continue? We're taking bets now...

John Walton

John Walton (John Walton)

@thatjohn

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.
 

8 Comments

  • akhosla

    akhosla

    18 Aug, 2011 04:06 pm

    Bring it on - I can't wait to try this product... Their food & beverage, amenity kits are already a hit, hope their IFE is sorted before launch also, on demand video will be very nice.

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  • Jack

    Jack

    18 Aug, 2011 06:19 pm

    They will ahve to start now if they want to diliver by October, they alreadcy have a hangar at BNE ready to go to start re-fitting but CASA still hasd to approve. 

    Any hints on the new IFE?

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  • Liam Rasmussen

    Liam Rasmussen

    19 Aug, 2011 09:09 am

    I've heard about this hangar in Brisbane. Once CASA approve it they should be able to refit 2-3 aircraft per week. I'm not sure if this includes painting or not.

    That should get things moving fairly quickly!

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  • am

    am

    18 Aug, 2011 08:56 pm

    Will be surprised to see the entire 737 fleet have the new interiors in J and Y by the end of the year... That's like 12 airfraft a month coming out of service to spend 2 week having the seats changed. I'd also have thought IFE would be sorted before any major refits - any news on that front?

    Good news if it does pan out though! 

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  • John Walton

    John Walton

    19 Aug, 2011 04:10 am

    Well, potentially. It could well be, as I suggested, that a sub-fleet with business class will operate certain key routes. Leased aircraft could also be swapped out for new ones, and of course there's only two rows of business to whack in. 

    That could fairly easily be done during a "B-check" maintenance session, which is about 2-4 days every 4-6 months if memory serves.

    We keep badgering Virgin on IFE, but no news as yet. As soon as we hear a squeak, you'll be the first to know!

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  • Liam Rasmussen

    Liam Rasmussen

    19 Aug, 2011 09:10 am

    Two Rows of Business Class & 26 Rows of Economy. Not to mention repainting!

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  • am

    am

    19 Aug, 2011 09:32 am

    And carpets, bulkheads, bathroom panels, wiring for the new IFE, then the seats and partitions, then the repainting... The insides will take a good couple of weeks, then the painting will take 3-4 days...

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  • mattdc

    mattdc

    20 Aug, 2011 09:02 am

    Very modern and chic looking. Personally, I won't bother with it unless they join the Star Alliance.

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