Pics: inside Virgin Australia's new business class cabin

Pics: inside Virgin Australia's new business class cabin

We've all seen photos of Virgin Australia's new business class seat for the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777...

... and AusBT has been able to take a very close-up look at the seat...

... but here's a first glimpse at how the business class cabin will look when all those seats are stacked together. (Click the image below to make it much bigger.)

The images are courtesy of London-based design agency Tangerine, which worked on the seat alongside Virgin design director Hans Hulsbosch to refine and 'significantly enhance' it from the basic Super Diamond seat supplied by B/E Aerospace.

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has previously said the design is "inspired by a lot of luxury automotive interiors" (Borghetti himself is a connoisseur of classic European motoring marques) and you can see how the cabin evokes an undeniably premium feel.

The subdued colour scheme of charcoal, black leathers and brushed aluminium trimming is not only for the sake of contemporary elegance – it ensures the seat also looks great when combined with the red of the cabin crew's uniforms.

A case study on Tangerine's website says "the challenge was to infuse the spaces with sophistication and elegance that would help define the airline as a quality carrier offering outstanding service... we heavily customised new lie-flat seats to give them a sense of international style and exclusivity."

Read: Virgin Australia's new business class seats for Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s

The Airbus A330s will sport 20 of the new seats in five rows of a 1-2-1 layout, ensuring direct aisle access for every passenger, down from the 24 business class berths of today's 2-2-2 layout.

The larger Boeing 777s will see an increase in the number of business class seats, up from a current count of 33 in a 2-3-2 layout to 37 seats arranged 1-2-1.

Virgin Australia plans a rapid rollout of its next-generation business class seats, despite the launch being pushed back from March to an unspecified 'mid-year' timeframe.

The airline's ambitious intent is that its entire fleet of six twin-aisle Airbus A330 jets will upgraded to feature the new seats by August.

Read: Virgin Australia to fast-track new A330 business class

A similar upgrade for Virgin's international Boeing 777s which fly to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi remains on track for November 2015, with the airline saying this would be completed “within three months.”

"On the Pacific route from Australia to Los Angeles this will be the business class to beat," Borghetti has previously said.

The Boeing 777 refurb will also include a newly-designed business class bar with face-to-face service for up to four seated guests. 

There'll also be additional lounge seating behind the bar.

This short clip provides a virtual walkthrough of Virgin Australia's next generation  business class cabin, beginning with a look at the Boeing 777's new business class bar.

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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.
 

25 comments

  • gumshoe

    gumshoe

    10 Mar, 2015 11:20 am

    Love the onboard bar as I have used the EK one a few times, an excellent feature, the new J seat just looks all class.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 11:32 am

    Oh my, that does look nice! Better than the first images released (slight delay in rollout worth it if this is the end product). Very much looking forward to trying it out, especially since I can directly compare it to the fresh Qantas A330-300 J seat that I finally got to fly last month. Such an exciting time to be flying right now! (I've got a date with Etihad's First Apartment later this year too!)

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  • undertheradar

    undertheradar
    Banned

    10 Mar, 2015 11:50 am

    looks all very 'fifty shades of grey/gray' ;)  the movie was all hype and no substance..lol...time will tell if VAs product lives up to all their hype.

    this post is made with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek ;)

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 11:55 am

    Must have missed the seat's inbuilt arm and leg restraints, whip holder, and spread eagle seat position lol.

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  • undertheradar

    undertheradar
    Banned

    10 Mar, 2015 12:36 pm

    whatever helps make the flight more enjoyable.. hehe

    ooops..i better stop...before the 'fun police' ban me on here

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  • undertheradar

    undertheradar
    Banned

    10 Mar, 2015 11:57 am

    oh no!!! i've just realized i'va handed the VA ad execs a new ad campaign...so if you see a future VA ad campaign referring to 'fifty shades....'....i will be seeking 'compensation' ...lol

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 12:03 pm

    When you put quote marks around compensation undertherader it makes me wonder if you've gone a little 50 shades yourself lol :-)

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 11:52 am

    One thing I think that VA have done better than Qantas is that it's odds and sods storage can all be used on take-off and landing, due to those storage spaces able to closed up compared to Qantas' open ledges. Admittedly Qantas' design makes it easier to see if are leaving anything behind, but does force you to either hold your small items or to try and cram them in the seat back literature pocket which is pretty space restricted. No doubt it was Jonny Ive's former home, Tangerine, that helped improved these functional design issues. The style cues do appear to have an Apple-ish aesthetic.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 12:00 pm

    Just to clarify, "does force you to either hold your small items or to try and cram them in the seat-back literature pocket" for takeoff and landing, just to avoid any potential misreading.

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  • undertheradar

    undertheradar
    Banned

    10 Mar, 2015 12:11 pm

    I'm certain that you can store your odds n sods (even tablets/fones/laptops)in the Lshaped storage/shelf above your 'bench' next to your seat (where the headsets hang)....this stowage area is certified for stowage of these items during take off/landing.

    if i'm incorrect...i'm happy to be corrected..

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 12:38 pm

    Sadly not undertherader. There is a sticker there stating not to be used during landing/take-off. You can only have your headphones there (and they tell you over the announcement that they must be plugged in, to do so). 

    I think this is because any drop of the aircraft (or sudden jump) can cause items to fall out given they are open containers.

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  • undertheradar

    undertheradar
    Banned

    10 Mar, 2015 01:24 pm

    thanks for the clarification gippsflyer

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  • undertheradar

    undertheradar
    Banned

    10 Mar, 2015 01:38 pm

    i just had a thought.. i still think you can put items in the deep stowage UNDER the bench, during take off/landing...it's large enough for shoes or any other items (tablets/fones etc)...and still close enough to retrieve

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 02:13 pm

    Do you mean the shoe hold undertherader? If so, you are not supposed to store anything there either during take-off/landing. If you are talking about the foot area with the foam pad covered by (p)leather, I'm pretty sure that's not supposed to have anything in it either (which is a shame as it was large enough for my satchel bag). 

    I think the idea is you kept your odds and sods in your carry-on bag, in the overhead, until level flight (and then brought them down). However as I can't get up without assistance once seated (disability), I prefer to keep my must have items with me (I can call a flight attendant, but I prefer not to hassle them).

    From my flight, the best you can do is wedge these things in the seat back pocket or wedge them down the sides of your seat (not strictly legit) until the aircraft reaches level flight.

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  • Fonga

    Fonga

    10 Mar, 2015 02:04 pm

    So Gippsflyer you've flown the new QF suite and kept this to yourself?! What other impressions can you share? What seat did you fly?

    One thing I notice straight away and others have raised before, is the ability to see and talk to your neighbour in the centre suites, unlike the Qantas product. That seems to me to be a big deal, if travelling with life or biz partner.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    10 Mar, 2015 02:27 pm

    Hi Fonga, yes I did. I flew QF35 on 27 Feb, which was supposed to be the old config A330-300, but thanks to a last minute change I got an earlier chance to road test the new Qantas International Business Class seat.

    In my view it's a great improvement on the Skybed Mark II, so much more room. I flew in Seat 3E and that fixed privacy divider does block the other person out (which given I had a German bloke talking loudly on his mobile phone, even after doors close for a bit, I didn't mind). 

    I was a bit surprised that the seat was firmer than the Skybed but the mattress pad (which is much the same as the old mattress pad) helps negate that. I liked the foam foot pad in the footwell. There are some niggles but on the whole it's a good seat. Service was a bit weird on that flight though, for example the lady taking dinner orders ended up talking everyone's dinner order three times (she forgot to write down seat numbers) and wasn't aware of pre-orders (although I got what I had ordered regardless - I just had to restate the pre-order). I'll write those service issues off as settling in issues on a refitted aircraft.

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  • airplane_bruh

    airplane_bruh

    10 Mar, 2015 04:30 pm

    it looks great!!! but a bit tight. better than 2-3-2

     

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  • johnnypc67

    johnnypc67

    10 Mar, 2015 06:11 pm

    Look a bit claustrophobic

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  • Rufus

    Rufus

    10 Mar, 2015 07:45 pm

    So much black - all we need is some purple mood lighting and would be fully pornstar chic...

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  • AwaywithMike

    AwaywithMike

    11 Mar, 2015 01:48 pm

    err... this video incorrectly shows the upcoming 777 on-board bar?!

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  • daschok

    daschok

    11 Mar, 2015 04:41 pm

    Looks very posh but a little on the tight side. 

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  • Robert  K

    RobertK

    11 Mar, 2015 06:39 pm

    Look amazing can't wait to fly and yes it will end up being the only flat bed Australian airline to the US well done vigin , all we need is Asia and traveling on an Australian airline is sorted 

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  • Yohy

    Yohy

    12 Mar, 2015 01:24 pm

    the staggering and open design looks far superior to Qantas' 330 renovated seat. seems to create a feeling of openness contrasted to the 'small box' feeling of a chicken coop on Qantas!

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    27 Mar, 2015 12:35 pm

    Having given close scrutiny to the photos of the new Business seat, I'm pleased that the seat arm closest to the console is of a more free-standing type than other reverse herringbone seats currently flying (although it doesn't look like that arm is collapsible which is a shame, although the aisle side arm does collapse). The problem with angled seats where the console side armrest is really the console itself, is that it is much narrower and shorter and makes one side of your body feel wedged in (as the photo below of a modified Zodiac Sicma Aero Cirrus seat illustrates). Even if there is space to drop your arms within the width of the seat itself, this leaves you with your arms unsupported, which isn't as ergonomic and increases fatigue.

    You really want supported elbows/arms with enough free space to the left and right of both arms to not constantly knock or wedge your elbows or always be hunting for a perch because of the narrow allowance. I can readily understand why Qantas went with straight forward 1-2-1 seating as you have less of a problem with such issues when seats aren't angled. VA's modifications seem to have got a good balance, trimming out the footprint of the console (by shifting the table from the side to the front) in order to create more width for a real armrest, yet without narrowing the footwell for the seat behind in any real way. I look forward to putting the new VA seat through it's paces.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    27 Mar, 2015 12:43 pm

    Here are pics of the new VA seat in similar profile (normal and dressed for bed) for greater detail on armrests. As can be seen, the console side armrest is more generous by design.

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26 Jun, 2019 02:48 pm

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