Virgin Australia pushes back Boeing 777 upgrade to 2016

Virgin Australia pushes back Boeing 777 upgrade to 2016

EXCLUSIVE | Virgin Australia's new business class seats won't debut on the Australia-US route until early 2016, with the airline delaying a planned November 2015 rollout due to certification issues.

"We have recently been advised by the Business Class seat manufacturer B/E Aerospace that they are still completing the certification process on the seat" a Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller this morning.

"Therefore we now expect the first reconfigured Boeing 777 to launch in early 2016."

The seats – which are identical to those already seen on Virgin's domestic Airbus A330 services – convert to a fully lie-flat bed and will sport an 18 inch video screen.

Travellers will also welcome direct aisle access due to the 1-2-1 seating arrangement, compared to today's 2-3-2 configuration.

Read: AusBT's review of Virgin Australia new A330 business class seats

Issues with certifying the seat also delayed its installation on the Airbus A330 fleet.

Virgin Australia flies five Boeing 777-300ER jets on the Sydney-Los Angeles, Brisbane-Los Angeles and Sydney-Abu Dhabi routes, with all aircraft previously slated to have the new seats – dubbed 'The Business' – by the end of February.

Virgin is now re-assessing the schedule for pulling its Boeing 777s out of service in order to fit the new seats alongside a regular maintenance check.

However, with the airline unable to ground the big jets during the January holiday period, it's now likely that the upgraded Boeings won't take to the skies until as early as March 2016.

(The airline's flights between Sydney and Abu Dhabi, which were previously to be suspended between October 27 and December 16, will now operate as normal.)

The extensive make-over for each Boeing 777 will also include a larger inflight bar, with face-to-face service for up to four seated guests and additional lounge seating behind the bar...

... and new premium economy seats.

These will feature an additional three inches of legroom over the airline’s current premium economy seats plus upgraded meals as part of a repositioning to become a 'business lite' proposition.

Read: Virgin Australia’s new premium economy seats, service revealed

Further down the plane, Virgin Australia will also introduce ‘economy plus’ zones with extra legroom and a higher price tag to suit.

There will be 42 of these seats on each Boeing 777, although the airline hasn't specified how many inches will be gained over the standard 32 inch pitch.

Virgin says the fleet-wide upgrade of its Airbus A330s to the new seats remains on track for the end of October.

Also read: 10 things you didn’t know about Virgin Australia's 'The Business'

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.
 

21 comments

  • VA Beats QF

    VA Beats QF

    2 Oct, 2015 10:46 am

    Snap... That really sucks not having your new flagship product ready for the big break.

    No member give thanks

  • Broderick Boyd

    brobro

    2 Oct, 2015 11:09 am

    Those Premium Economy seats look rather basic.

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  • petrhsr

    petrhsr

    2 Oct, 2015 11:18 am

    The first rule of premium economy class is that premium economy class is not business class.  This is a natural progression from the original incarnation of the rule, which states that business class is not first class, despite some passengers clearly mistaking themselves for those travelling in the first class cabin.

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  • Longreach

    Longreach

    12 Sep, 2016 02:28 pm

    Wrong, most certainly regarding the incarnation. Qantas invented Business Class; it was what we in Australia at the time had called First-Class - and the Yanks still do domestically.

    Qantas did too, back in the 60s - where were you in '62, petrhsr? You probably don't recognise the reference to American Graffiti.

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    12 Sep, 2016 02:51 pm

    Longreach: Please be reminded of AusBT's long-standing comment policy which prohibits all personal remarks about users, rather than about the topic, which is what's being discussed.

    You're most welcome to share your views and opinions (just as others are too), but all personal comments about other users can be kept to one's self. Your post has been shortened accordingly.

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  • Tom Goddard

    TomGoddardd

    2 Oct, 2015 01:29 pm

    Good news for Qantas over the christmas break!

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  • AndrewMep

    AndrewMep

    2 Oct, 2015 02:17 pm

    As a proud VA supporter who let go of QF a few years ago this is disapointing. But after it is instaled they will win hands down over QF/Delta/United/AA for the best J product to the US. 

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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    2 Oct, 2015 02:37 pm

    I swear, mock up photos of these seats have been circulating around but I've never actually seen it in a cabin. Is this an urban legend or simply marketing overreach/over-excitement?

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  • AndrewMep

    AndrewMep

    2 Oct, 2015 02:55 pm

    About half of these are real.

     

    http://www.ausbt.com.au/virgin-australia-the-business-new-a330-business-class-seats

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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    2 Oct, 2015 03:46 pm

    Right. They look too glossy...I didn't realise they were actual seats on a plane. It appears like CGI to the naked eye.

    Bloody good camera. That's all I can say!

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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Oct, 2015 03:27 am

    Actually all but a handful of the pics in that review were taken by us.

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  • Whatever

    Whatever

    2 Oct, 2015 03:09 pm

    Not sure I'd say A330 and 777 are identical.  Based on the review of the same seat on China Airlines I'd say there are some differences that make this even better then A330 ( ....is this even possible???). More storage, bigger screen etc plus all the features VA have added to the seat.  

    http://www.ausbt.com.au/china-airlines-boeing-777-300er-first-business-premium-economy-class   

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  • Arcanum

    Arcanum

    7 Oct, 2015 03:12 am

    It is possible to make it better - switch to the Cirrus from Zodiac (as seen on Cathay) instead of the B/E Super Diamond!

    The placement of the tray table under the screen makes the foot well much tighter on this seat compared to the Cirrus seat (where the table comes out from the side).  Having flown these seats on multiple carriers, I can tell you this one is much less comfortable.

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    2 Oct, 2015 08:09 pm

    I like the fact they are keeping their Y class seating at 9 abreast and not going for the new normal of 10 abreast on the B77W

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  • bunkeight

    bunkeight

    3 Oct, 2015 02:07 pm

    Those 'new' premium economy seats look the old ones with new covers??

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  • bunkeight

    bunkeight

    3 Oct, 2015 02:10 pm

    Sorry, I see they are a different model of the same family of seat. Strange that they didn't add more comfortable leg rests built into the front of the seat to go with the increased pitch.

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  • Sean Hind

    wanderlust

    7 Oct, 2015 06:25 pm

    However, with the airline unable to ground the big jets during the January holiday period, it's now likely that the upgraded Boeings won't take to the skies until as early as March 2016.

    (The airline's flights between Sydney and Abu Dhabi, which were previously to be suspended between October 27 and December 16, will now operate as normal.)

    I am really confused by this statement as I have been checking for VA29/30 to come back during this time or at least operate on VA metal using an EY codeshare, but there is still no sign whatsoever of VA planning to continue flights during this period! I have contacted Virgin and they said that it will not be happening and that there has already been a EY metal flight in its place where people have been booking on for months. 

    I am scheduled to fly on the EY metal flight but would prefer to fly on VA metal. I just think this causes false hope when we read something here but the airline reps have no knowledge of it. 

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  • David Flynn

    David

    7 Oct, 2015 06:38 pm

    Sean: we've been told by Virgin Australia PR that the Etihad aircraft will be swapped back to the Virgin 777-300ER during the period mentioned.

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  • Sean Hind

    wanderlust

    7 Oct, 2015 07:03 pm

    Thank you David for reconfirming that! I feel the call centre people don't stay up to date on things like this. There isn't even a media release posted on the website regarding this delay yet. I hope its updated in the system soon so I can secure those VA metal flights. I appreciate that I can always find out the latest news here well ahead of going on other channels.

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  • Steve Hewitt

    stevebear

    7 Jan, 2016 08:42 am

    Got tickets Brissy to LA for May 1st up the front.  Any chance they'll be finished then?

    Virgin sales person told me the rollout should be finished in July but that sounds a little long - if they do 2 planes at a time and spend a month then hopefully they should be done March April-ish...

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  • Catherine Crawford

    Cak

    28 Jan, 2016 02:28 pm

    yes I would be curious about this too.  Flying PE Bris to LA in May and then up the front towards the end of June.  I guess they don't want to commit to anything yet.

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21 May, 2019 08:58 am

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