Virgin Australia's sharp new business class – officially dubbed The Business – is now flying daily on the flagship Sydney-Los Angeles route, and every second day on Brisbane-Los Angeles until the fourth refurbished Boeing 777-300ER jet takes wing in the coming months.
It also graces the pointy end of Virgin's Airbus A330 fleet, which ply the east-west skies and from next year will also be heading north to China and potentially Hong Kong.
But what's the story behind The Business?
UK-based design agency Tangerine styled the seat and the cabin, and Tangerine Creative Director Matt Round explains that it represented almost a complete re-think of the business class experience.
"Within the constraints of the space and certification, we rethought everything."
“The aim was to give the passenger experience a sense of flow, from walking through the aircraft door to the detailing at the end of their fingertips.”
Tangerine believes that one of the shortfalls with many aircraft cabins is the "lack of variation in the surfaces."
Due to the way that parts of the interior are manufactured and certified, cabins can end up with a flat, utilitarian feel.
The Business would buck that trend by "injecting richness into the cabin interiors, to distinguish the brand and significantly improve the passenger experience."
According to Tangerine, "a tapestry of different materials and textures are introduced to create a sumptuous cabin environment."
"Particular consideration is given to how light and shadow play upon surfaces like the louvered privacy screens and the sparkle within the metallic paint on the adjacent surfaces, the combination of leather and fabric on the seat and the textures of curtains at the end of the cabin."
The colour palette embraces bold contrasts such as warm metallics and black leathers, both of which were chosen to counteract the flat mono-tonal character of many aircraft cabins, so that the business class cabin as a whole conveyed a sense of sophistication, elegance and international style.
This approach also extended to the inflight bar on the Boeing 777s, which "interweaves with the seating layout to maximise space, has interconnecting angles that bring flair and modernity to the environment."
"We considered as many aspects as we could," adds Tangerine designer Martin Mo.
"Everything was rethought – the side profile, the return wall and the seat itself. We did a lot of work on the covers and changed the seat divider. We changed the monitor detail. No detail was too small."
"We even made changes to the ventilation gaps to help achieve the right overall passenger experience."
Even the baby bassinets were remodelled, and now when cabin crew open a wardrobe they're greeted by an iridescent repeat pattern of Virgin's 'flying maiden' monogram lining the interior.
"It is something really special for the cabin crew," Round says, "and adds to the sense that the whole space is valued and cherished."
AusBT reviews of Virign Australia's The Business:
Domestic: Airbus A330-200, Sydney-Perth
International: Boeing 777-300ER, Sydney-Los Angeles
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