The best business class seats on Virgin Atlantic's Boeing 787-9

The best business class seats on Virgin Atlantic's Boeing 787-9

While Virgin Atlantic no longer flies to Australia, Aussies can still hop aboard the airline's flights to London Heathrow from Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and more – in many cases, served by the modern Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with the latest generation of 'Upper Class' business class suites.

There's also an inflight bar and lounge area for Upper Class flyers, so whether your plans are to socialise or sleep, Australian Business Traveller scopes out the best business class seats.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 'Upper Class' business class: the basics

Virgin Atlantic places Upper Class at the front of its Boeing 787s, with 31 seats in a 1-1-1 layout:

Window seats are labelled 'A' and 'K', with the centre spots as 'G'. For instance, 2A is a window seat and 7G is in the middle.

Galleys are located at the front near the flight deck, with the bar at the rear and restrooms just behind.

Read: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Upper Class review, Hong Kong-London

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 'Upper Class' business class: best seats

For solo travellers – the 'A' seats: While none of these seats are necessarily 'bad' for solo flyers given that all provide direct aisle access, those in the 'A' row are at an advantage whether for work or sleep, because only half as many travellers use this particular aisle as the other.

That's because passengers in the 'G' seats and the 'K' seats exit to the aisle on the right, while the aisle on the left is only utilised by travellers in the 'A' seats (below) – making for less foot traffic, and by extension, less chance of noise and disturbance.

When all of the 'A' seats are snapped up, a 'K' seat is our next-best choice.

For couples – consecutive seats of the same letter: It might be tempting to sit across the aisle from one another, such as one person in a 'G' seat and the other in a 'K' seat, but by choosing an adjacent pair of the same letter – such as 3A+4A, 6G+7G or 9K+10K – it's much easier to chat with your partner as you'll be seated closer together.

If this isn't possible on your flight, note that your fixed footrest can double as a 'companion seat' (complete with an extra seat belt), so one person can visit the other's seat for a chat or a meal.

For sleeping – seats 2A-8A: Over on this side of town you've already got an aisle that's quieter than the other, and by choosing a seat in rows 2-8, you'll be far enough away from galley noise and any chatter at the inflight bar to get some solid rest.

For privacy – aim further forward: With all passengers facing towards the aisles rather than away from them as you'd get on airlines like Cathay Pacific, the only way to improve your privacy here is to select a seat further forward in the cabin (with a lower row number) rather than that the rear.

That's because all of the Upper Class restrooms are at the back behind the inflight bar, so choosing a seat at the front usually means the only people passing by are crew members rather than other passengers. This is especially true of seat 1A.

Seats to reconsider: Because there's no curtain or wall between that inflight bar and the cabin proper, seats in rows 9 and 10 are less than ideal due to their proximity to this area, while seats in row 11 are quite literally next to the bar and are best avoided when trying to work or sleep:

Row 7 is also missing a window. It's hard to enjoy the view anyway as you have to twist around and look behind you, but on daytime flights where natural sunlight is desirable, aim for another row instead.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • colin


    24 Apr, 2017 06:29 am

    QF take note, 31 pax for 4 toilets on a 787-9 at least they have thought about it.
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  • undertheradar


    24 Apr, 2017 08:44 am

    If you view virginatlantics website there is a video showing premium economy (35pax) has use of at least 2 of those lavs. (1 on either side of the galley area). You can clearly see that a curtain separates the 2 side by side lavs. So there is really 2 lavs for the 31 business class. (Not all 4)
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  • Morgan Judd


    24 Apr, 2017 08:56 am

    I don't want to sound small minded, however now that Virgin Atlantic has the 787-9, wonder if they will consider a direct flight to Australia?
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  • Joe


    24 Apr, 2017 09:50 am

    Horrid carrier. Have to get up out of seat to convert into bed and food leaves a lot to be desired.
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  • bl812


    24 Apr, 2017 10:53 am

    if you feel like Dracule this is the right coffin shape for you-simply laughable 
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  • Chris McKellar


    24 Apr, 2017 11:43 am

    VA Business Class seats are the same as Air NZ Business Premier seats - the coffins. Out dated Horrible seats and configuration.

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  • StudiodeKadent


    24 Apr, 2017 12:17 pm

    Virgin Atlantic will probably go for a newer configuration when they get the A350s. Probably reverse herringbone, or maybe Jamco's Dovetail staggered reverse herringbone (which allegedly is denser and simpler to maintain).
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  • elchriss0


    26 Apr, 2017 08:49 am

    FYI VA is Virgin Australia and VS is Virgin Atlantic, but yes I've tried on ANZ for a tasman flight and didn't like it
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  • Alex_upgrade


    24 Apr, 2017 03:50 pm

    Like BA with their 2-4-2 Club World config, Virgin Atlantic pioneered this herringbone design. They were the first to use it. So, perhaps for sentimental reasons or even arrogance, they will only change the design if they have no choice. 
    It probably makes them money, but the coffin design + limited window view makes it an outdated product these days. 
    Only Virgin Atlantic and  Air New Zealand persist with this design. Everyone else has dropped it.
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  • smit0847


    24 Apr, 2017 07:15 pm

    Flew this 2 few weeks ago in 5A SEA-LHR. Seats arent great. Almost no storage and facing away from the window is just as irritating and non-sensical as it sounds. Companion dining can be done but the companion is required to sit with their legs in the aisle because there is not enough room for 2 sets of legs under the table which is going to irritate crew trying to get trolleys through.

    Agree that sitting directly behind each other (i.e. 5A and 6A is better than 5A and 5G.

    Note the bar is rarely used for overnight flights (i.e. US to UK) while I understand its very popular for daytime flights (i.e. UK to US). Its small, cramped and gimmicky. No issues with noise for overnight flight because no-one used it.

    I don’t know why VS pursue this style of seat – other than being fully-flat and having direct aisle access it has very little going for it. The CX reverse herringbone blows it out of the water.

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  • smit0847


    24 Apr, 2017 07:17 pm

    I should add, the rear J toilets are shared with PE and the curtain between J and PE was never closed the entire flight. As PE crew stay in the PE cabin I doubt any crew would notice PE pax using the J bar.

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  • Chris Chamberlin


    26 Apr, 2017 09:01 am

    Smit: It's possible to fit two sets of legs under the dining table - you just have to 'zig zag' them between each other, so it's more suited to couples than colleagues. :)
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  • Flying Fish


    25 Apr, 2017 10:41 pm

    No, no, no! Love the Virgin brand, hate the hard product! There's not much to enjoy about flying to your destination in the equivalent of a coffin, being in the A row all you can see is the long bland wall along the back of the centre row of seats, not to forget the joy of having your sleep interrupted every time someone bangs your feet when they stick up over the edge of the foot rest and working on your laptop means you almost always have to close the window shades to stop the light from the windows reflecting off your screen.
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  • Joe


    26 Apr, 2017 10:27 am

    What is it with the Poms(BA &VS) idea how to set up or offer premium cabins??
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  • andyhui01


    26 Apr, 2017 03:04 pm

    I still remember these seats on CX's original Herringbone (Still in use at A340). The current ones are so much better but I think density is lower on reverse herringbone.
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  • Anthony Spasevski


    26 Apr, 2017 03:19 pm

    The worst J class coffin that I have ever flow in not to forget about the service nothing has changed for Virgin A......
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  • crosscourt


    26 Apr, 2017 04:09 pm

    would never fly an airine with that seat config. hated it when CX had it. awful in my view.
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  • Sean Sean Gerard Farrell

    Sean G F

    26 Apr, 2017 06:35 pm

    These seats Look  seriously cramped 

    No thanks 
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  • Sue Bailey


    27 Apr, 2017 08:12 am

    I flew Virgin Atlantic SYD-HKG-LHR & Return July/Oct 2013.  Then it was an A330 (I think), and the Upper Class seats were in this configuration.  I'd never been overseas at the time, and was eager to watch the ground go by underneath me.  I had one problem - I couldn't see out the window.  You have to do gymnastics just to see what's happening.  On most other airlines, the seats convert to beds by sliding forward.  Not on this plane - the seats actually flipped so that you were sleeping on the outer shell of the seat - so very uncomfortable, especially when you only get a very thin so-called mattress between you and the hard casing.  The only plus to this trip is the lounge access in all 3 cities, and the Revivals Lounge when arriving @ LHR. I would never fly this airline again so long as they keep using this configuration of seating.
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  • Sue Bailey


    27 Apr, 2017 08:16 am

    smit0847, the bar on the overnight flights certainly does get used.  I was very close to it on both the HKG- LHR - HKG flights and was very much disturbed by the passengers @ the bar.
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23 Jul, 2019 03:55 pm


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