Complete with a tended inflight bar, direct aisle access from every business class seat and an array of storage spaces is Virgin Australia's new Boeing 777 business class cabin, dubbed 'The Business'.
Currently flying every alternate day between Sydney and Los Angeles, it's expected to feature on every Virgin Australia Boeing 777 flight by the third quarter of 2016, including on routes between Brisbane and Los Angeles and also between Sydney and Abu Dhabi.
Australian Business Traveller took to the skies on one of Virgin Australia's first trans-Pacific The Business flights to bring you this exclusive review.
- Chauffeur-driven airport transfers: Complimentary for guests booked on higher-priced J and C fare types when requested at least 24 hours in advance, but not the lower-priced D or I fares, or flights booked using frequent flyer points.
- Priority check-in, boarding: Keep your eyes peeled for purple signage at check-in and at the gate to skip the queues, and grab your Express Path card to zip through security and passport control.
- Checked baggage allowance: 2x32kg, or 3x32kg for Velocity Silver, Gold and Platinum frequent flyers.
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags up to 7kg each, plus one small personal item.
Virgin Australia utilises the Air New Zealand lounge at Sydney Airport for guests travelling to Los Angeles, completely overhauled in 2015 to offer a funky new design with different zones to suit different moods...
AusBT review: Air New Zealand, Star Alliance Sydney Airport lounge
... with the larger space also including AC and USB power outlets. We found the AC port too close to the base to accommodate our Microsoft Surface charger, although the fixed USB port comes high-powered and worked just as well.
We could comfortably fit our Microsoft Surface 3 once the keyboard had been detached, and as there's room for cables to run from the power outlets and underneath the white side panels even when they're closed, you can charge up easily.
Measuring at 21 inches wide, stretching to 28 inches with the armrest lowered and extending to an impressive 203cm when fully-flat, your suite is as lengthy as a queen bed on the ground – helped in part by this fixed footrest which adjoins your seat for maximum space:
All things considered, this isn't just a step up from Virgin Australia's outgoing Boeing 777 business class offering, it's a giant leap forward and becomes the new seat to beat across the Pacific.
Afterwards, when and how you dine is entirely up to you: you can tuck into lunch straight away, can have an 'express' meal later in the flight or can pick from a selection of pantry snacks and light bites.
Then comes the main course with the following choices, from which we selected the succulent pork fillet and surprise crackle on top, which was as good as you could expect in the air.
- Moroccan spiced lamb and sweet potato on date couscous with almond, preserved lemon and mint
- Pork fillet on parsnip puree with roast eschalot, caramelised apple and broad beans
- Barramundi with black bean sauce, snow peas, rice and spring onions
- Eggplant, zucchini and blue cheese lasagne with basil and toasted pine nuts (vegetarian option)
Following is a cheese board or more traditional desserts, from which the lamington proved a light and typically Australian option, enhanced by its accompaniments.
- Cheese: Heidi Gruyere (Tasmania), Tarago River triple cream brie (Victoria) and Tarago River Shadows of Blue (Victoria), with grapes, fig paste and Byron Bay Falwasser crispbread
- Lamington with poached blueberries and crème fraîche
- Coconut and kaffir lime sorbet
- Mango and cream ice cream
Still peckish? Roasted mixed nuts, Valrhona chocolate, sea salt potato chips and Australian green olives can all be ordered from your seat or at the bar, as can the following 'lite bites':
- Chicken and leek toasted sandwich
- Ham, paprika and Manchego cheese croquettes with corn and capsicum salsa
- Mezze plate of dips with spiced flatbread
- Artisan cheese plate with grapes and fig paste
Speaking of breakfast, you'll receive a hotel-style ordering card when the crew make your bed, and you can nominate whether to be woken up or left to sleep until close to landing.
On offer were a variety of juices, fruits, cereals, bakery items, Nespresso coffee, Madame Flavour tea and your choice of main:
- Fig and apricot Bircher muesli with cardamom and pistachio (selected and refreshing)
- Spiced plum on toasted banana bread with almonds and coconut yoghurt
- Scrambled eggs with tomato relish
- Sides of bacon, celeriac potato cake, smoked salmon, field mushrooms, wilted spinach and marinated feta
For something different, you can also opt to enjoy your full breakfast at the bar or partake in a simple continental brekky in the bar area before the proper breakfast service begins.
Again, we really couldn't ask for more on this 13.5-hour flight.
Entertainment & Service
The entertainment options are surprisingly lacking, though, with just 45 movies and a selection of 'variety' TV shows on tap, most of which centre around cooking rather than categories like comedy and drama.
More importantly, however, we could always find something to watch – and with selections updated monthly, only the most frequent of flyers to LA will ever work their way through the entire collection.
... and from the cabin crew themselves who address all travellers by name, are personable and engaging without being intrusive or over-the-top friendly, which is perfectly professional.
Also distributed are Mandarina Duck amenity kits: for gents, it's a black bag with a REN skincare pack of facial moisturiser, lip balm and hand and body cream, along with a dental kit, socks, an eyeshade, ear plugs and a pen:
Ladies receive a similar white bag but with the addition of cotton buds, cotton pads and tissues:
The crew also thoughtfully pre-fill your USA arrivals card with the flight number and date, which tops off an incredibly well-rounded business class product that's sure to tempt travellers across from Qantas, Delta, United and even American Airlines.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Virgin Australia.
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