Designing Virgin Australia's new The Business business class

Designing Virgin Australia's new The Business business class

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.

Read: Virgin Australia plans daily flights to Beijing, 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

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

4 comments

  • riley

    riley

    11 Jul, 2016 01:36 pm

    David

    "and from next year will also be heading north to China and potentially Hong Kong"

    The above implies that China is confirmed, but Hong Kong isn't and that the aircraft will be VA metal, with full VA fitout, including 'The Business.' Do you know something we don't? 

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  • David Flynn

    David

    11 Jul, 2016 04:03 pm

    John Borghetti has called out Beijing & China as a destination for Virgin's A330, while also indicating that some sharing with HNA might take place on one route (which could be HK).

    From http://www.ausbt.com.au/is-hna-the-answer-to-virgin-australia-s-fleet-puzzle:

    While Borghetti says that "yes, we will categorically fly to China with the Virgin brand," he allows that HNA – through its part-ownership of Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines – may chip in on one of the two routes.

    "Whether it's all Virgin Australia aircraft or not, let's see how that works out. It will be a joint operation, and that's what's important."

    "The A330-200 is perfect for China, particularly the northern part of China" Borghetti told Australian Business Traveller during a media briefing earlier this month.

    "When we initially got the -200s for domestic we did so with a view that we needed them for transcontinental flights but at some point we would need international coverage in Asia, the best A330 for that would be the -200 because it has the range... the A330-300 can't quite make Beijing."

    While Borghetti says that "yes, we will categorically fly to China with the Virgin brand," he allows that HNA – through its part-ownership of Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines – may chip in on one of the two routes.


    "Whether it's all Virgin Australia aircraft or not, let's see how that works out. It will be a joint operation, and that's what's important."

    More at http://www.ausbt.com.au/is-hna-the-answer-to-virgin-australia-s-fleet-puzzle

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  • ILikeMokum

    ILikeMokum

    13 Jul, 2016 03:03 pm

    Never been so disappointed in a new airline seat. Style WAY over functionality, I'm afraid. Flew it Saturday LAX->BNE. I'm 1.93m tall with about a 94cm waist and 98cm hips (measured at hip bones). It felt as tight as an MRI tube, and was just as constraining and difficult to move around in once fully reclined to a flat bed as an MRI tube. Their placement of the tray literally left it digging into my hipbone when I laid on my side with the mattress pad. I actually removed the mattress pad to gain more room. It was also very hot due to the electronics around the tube. I didn't use a blanket, had athletic shorts on, asked them to turn down the temp (the seats' individual air vents have been removed), and I was still sweating. I also had my phone fall out of my pocket and into a crack between the seat and armrest by the aisle- this space is only accessible by engineering so I had to change seats because apparently this happened to someone else and when they subsequently moved the seat it broke both their phone and the seat motor. Took engineering about 5 minutes to dismantle the seat enough to retrieve my phone once we landed. I went from not being able to wait to try it out to not being able to wait to get off the plane. So sad. A simple ability to remove the tray and a piece of mesh in that seat crack would have made a world of difference, but it's as if they never actually tested it to see how it would perform in the real world and iron out the shortcomings. I'm actually going to switch my business to Qantas as a result because I simply wasn't able to sleep, which is why I pay for Business Class to/from the States.

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  • Jason Dutton-Smith

    jds747400

    13 Jul, 2016 08:26 pm

    Has any changes been made in economy? Or just business and premium?

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