Virgin Australia 'The Business': Sydney-Los Angeles, Boeing 777

Review: Virgin Australia 'The Business': Sydney-Los Angeles, Boeing 777

Route:
Sydney to Los Angeles
Airline:
VA (Virgin Australia)
Cabin Class:
Business
Aircraft Type:
Boeing 777-300ER
Flight:
VA1
Seat:
6K

service:

meals:

seating:

overall:

What's Hot

  • Limousine transfers for high-paying guests
  • Dine on what you like, when you like
  • Direct aisle access from every seat

What's Not

  • Limited entertainment selection

X-Factor

  • A revamped and now-tended inflight bar

Introduction

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.

Check-in

  • 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.

Lounge

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...

... whether that's near the bar with a morning coffee in hand...

... or over in the business and quiet zones for that last chance to use the Internet before wheels-up.

AusBT review: Air New Zealand, Star Alliance Sydney Airport lounge

Seat

Gone are the days of stepping over your seatmate to access the aisle or being woken by somebody doing the same, thanks to the new 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access from every seat.

You'll also find plenty of room to store your gear...

... starting with two fold-up panels to your side which can comfortably house phones, watches, passports and other smaller goodies...

... 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.

Next to that is a literature pocket, plus a separate fabric-lined tablet holder to protect your device:

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.

But wait, there's more: this side armrest not only raises and lowers to suit your preference...

... it also doubles as an extra storage nook for your water and headphones...

... while this other bin is an ideal place to plonk your amenity kit, or even your shoes:

Each seat also offers a cocktail shelf underneath the TV screen...

... folding out to create a full meal table...

... and can be lowered for a more comfortable dining experience by sliding it towards you:

You can also find the perfect seat position by using a nearby touchscreen controller, with pre-sets for snoozing, lounging and landing...

... plus buttons to control the seat's various subtle lights, in addition to a personal reading light which pops out and can be swivelled to face your book at the perfect angle:

When it's time to turn in, the crew offer to make your bed, complete with two pillows, a comfortable mattress to top the seat...

... a blanket and also pyjamas:

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:

But don't feel you need to eat and then head straight to sleep: Virgin Australia's revamped Boeing 777s also feature a tended inflight bar in business class...

... with four adjoining bar stools and a further two seats behind that, which we found much more comfortable...

... and a great place to enjoy a coffee – or a cocktail – after the meal service is concluded.

However you spend your flight, this coat hook also comes in handy closer to landing when the crew return your jacket:

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.

Meal

The flight begins with your choice of drink before departure, including the 2006 vintage Ayala Millésimé Champagne...

.... which also comes in cocktail form after take-off as a Bellini with peach nectar, accompanied by garden peas, pitted olives and warmed nuts:

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.

We took the traditional approach, beginning with tasty garlic bread: always a favourite on long Virgin Australia flights...

... followed by fresh king prawns with carrot, daikon and coriander with miso and yuzu dressing, paired with a glass of the Oakridge Over the Shoulder Chardonnay 2014 (Yarra Valley, Australia)...

... and a second sweep of the bread basket. Other options included pumpkin soup with quinoa and chives and a pear, pecan, witlof, parmesan and rocket salad with mustard vinaigrette.

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)
(Matched with the 2013 Knappstein Cabernet Sauvignon from Clare Valley, AU)

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
Great with this course: Gramps Botrytis Semillon 2011 dessert wine (Riverina, AU)

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

Each option is the perfect size to fill your hunger without spoiling your breakfast, including the mezze plate with regular hummus, beetroot hummus and chickpeas:

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

Every suite in The Business features an 18-inch HD touchscreen panel, joined by noise-cancelling headphones and a remote control if you're leaning back:

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.

You can also share a flick in tandem with other travellers, discussing the movie or anything else via the screen's chat system...

... while Virgin Australia's renowned flair also makes an appearance, both on-screen during cabin announcements...

... 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.

Also read: Photos: Virgin Australia’s new Boeing 777 premium economy

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Virgin Australia.

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

Chris Chamberlin
Australian Business Traveller journalist Chris Chamberlin 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!
 

18 Comments

  • Jay

    ausJCP

    16 May, 2016 12:09 pm

    That inflight bar...! Oh my...

    *heavy breathing*

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  • Tracie

    Tracie

    16 May, 2016 12:28 pm

    So what seats are the new row 5???? Am flying in September and have no idea on the best location now..

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    16 May, 2016 01:37 pm

    Well be running a separate 'best seats' guide well before then, Tracie. :)

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  • cssaus

    cssaus

    16 May, 2016 02:39 pm

    Can't wait.

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  • sgb

    sgb

    16 May, 2016 01:35 pm

    Mandarina Duck is a great brand for the amenity kit.

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  • Serg

    Serg

    16 May, 2016 01:39 pm

    Looks like everyone moving to heringbone layout.

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  • aldrigsomandre

    aldrigsomandre

    16 May, 2016 03:27 pm

    I think direct isle access is the way to go in Business Class from this point on. Especially when many airlines are ditching First Class and trying to bridge the gap between First and Business to lure high paying customers.

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  • aldrigsomandre

    aldrigsomandre

    16 May, 2016 03:24 pm

    This looks absolutely amazing. The improved service and the bar are X factors for me. I think Virgin now has the edge over Qantas for transatlantic flights. I just wish that they had a bigger widebody fleet to increase flights so that we could get Virgin service on other routes as well.

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  • reeves35

    reeves35

    16 May, 2016 03:50 pm

    Both suck on Trans-Atlantic ;) but I get your point.  This looks to be a generation ahead of what QF can offer.

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  • jimmylikesitwet

    jimmylikesitwet

    16 May, 2016 03:51 pm

    Pretty sure neither Virgin Australia or Qantas fly transatlantic ;p

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  • aldrigsomandre

    aldrigsomandre

    16 May, 2016 03:59 pm

    Oops, sorry for that mistake. Multitasking isn't my strength. Wish there was a way to edit the post.

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  • Amy C

    Amy C

    16 May, 2016 03:48 pm

    Thanks for the nice review. Would you know if any seat in business has a bassinet? I called VA about an upcoming flight on the reconfigured aircraft to request a bassinet and was told no bassinets in business - infant must stay in lap the whole flight (!!!!!) or rebook into premium economy! Not sure if the agent had the wrong information.

    I find it peculiar and ridiculous. I am now considering cancelling the booking with them altogether - thankfully got a fully refundable fare.

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  • Amy C

    Amy C

    16 May, 2016 03:50 pm

    Another option I was given was to book a discounted paid seat in business and bring alone a certified car seat.

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  • Andreyah Valdez

    Andreyah

    16 May, 2016 04:17 pm

    Hey amy, I work for VA out of the Los Angeles Port. The bassinets in The Business are 1D and 1G. And with the new configuration, you no longer have to pick up the baby during turbulence.

    hopefully this helps!

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  • moecat

    moecat

    17 May, 2016 01:53 am

    Oh why did you say that.... I was so happy to hear no babies. May have been the only reason for me to fly the V 

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  • Simon

    Simonn

    19 Jul, 2016 09:54 pm

    Hey Andreyah, I litteraly just spent 1 hour on the phone with VA trying to book a bassinet seat. At first they told me the bassinet was 1D and 1G, then I called back to book and spoke to someone else who said that wasn't correct. I called again and spoke to a third person who didn't know which seats have bassinets, so they got hold of a 'specialist' who said it 5A and 5K. That seemed really odd to me (why would the bassinets be in the middle of the cabin?!), so I called back a forth time and spoke to someone else who confirmed 5A and 5K, which I've now booked. Are you 100% certain it's 1D and 1G with the bassinets? Are there any other bassinet seats? Thanks!

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  • ausdt

    ausdt

    16 May, 2016 03:49 pm

    Looks great! Can't wait to try it in July.

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  • anthony watts

    anthony watts

    16 May, 2016 06:52 pm

    Looks great. BUT you can put as much lipstick on a pig as you like, but you still have a pig! IMHO the 777 as a piece of flying metal is so inferior to 380 or 787 that it simply starts so far behind the 8 ball that no amount of lipstick is going to make it worthwhile. (Lipstick, pigs and 8 ball, all in a comment about an aeroplane!)

    So, congrats Virgin, great job with the refurb; call me again when you have better metal.

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  • mickeyg

    mickeyg

    16 May, 2016 07:20 pm

    Pretty sure the article was about "The Business" class product, not the aircraft.

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  • Ryan Stephen

    RaptorNation158

    17 May, 2016 11:40 am

    Newer plane doesn't mean the product is gonna be better, just have a look at UA's new 787-9s which are brand new birds but have the seats back from the 1980s meanwhile VA's 777s are older but have the product of the 21st century.

    It's not the plane that decides what you get, it's the airline that decides what you get.

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  • jubbing

    jubbing

    17 May, 2016 02:11 am

    Honestly, that looks stunning

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  • saints78

    saints78

    17 May, 2016 09:54 am

    in pic 24 at the back of the pic it looks like Economy class i gather that they never got new seat or sprused up

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  • Whatever

    Whatever

    17 May, 2016 10:54 am

    I think that's tied in to the Space + launch at the end of August.

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  • kerryblackburn

    kerryblackburn

    18 May, 2016 03:23 pm

    I have a horrid feeling I am going to miss out in both directions.  Have flights SYD-LA on 3 July, returning 11 July: they seem to be letting me reserve my seat in the 1-2-1 formation but I have that funny feeling there will be a change nearer to departure and I'll get the old layout :(   Please cheer me up and tell me that Q3 2016 includes my flights!

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  • Georgina MONAGHAN

    GigiPk

    18 May, 2016 04:48 pm

    Pleased review positive. I am booked in Sept, seat selected confirmed & looking forward to experence, although few hours into flight novelty will have worn off. Hopefully entertainment options will improve by Sept.  

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  • David J Brisbane

    dwrj

    18 May, 2016 04:55 pm

    I travelled in The Business from Perth to Brisbane on an A330 also (except of the bar - international only). However, it doesn't appear to be on every flight to/from east cost to Perth.  Chris, do you know if this is going to become the standard for all business class on the Perth routes, and if so, when will it be so?

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    18 May, 2016 05:06 pm

    It's standard of all Airbus A330 routes to/from Perth, and these days appears on the booking screen as a flight with 'The Business'. As long as Virgin Australia also flies Boeing 737s to Perth, it won't be offered on every flight.

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  • David J Brisbane

    dwrj

    18 May, 2016 05:34 pm

    Thanks for the info Chris.

    BTW, I agree with your review 100%. 'The Business' really is the best business class offering I've travelled in over the last 10 years.  VA just need to get more options available in trhe entertainment system - the movie selection really lets the whole package down. 

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  • Janus710

    Janus710

    18 May, 2016 10:17 pm

    As a Platinum Virgin flyer this is great.  Only wish VA flew direct to SFO.....

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  • findjeremy

    findjeremy

    19 May, 2016 08:31 am

    Amen!! I'm puzzled considering its Virgin America's hub (I know the Virgin franchise isn't necessarily that will aligned but still!

    Would love to switch my allegiance to Virgin entirely considering how far ahead their North America service is.

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  • Janus710

    Janus710

    19 May, 2016 11:52 am

    Indeed - I may have to continue putting up with the LAX transfer unless i start ramping up my OneWorld status and fly QA instead......

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    20 May, 2016 05:08 pm

    Since Virgin America was purchased by Alaska Airlines, the Virgin America brand is probably going to go. But who knows.

    SFO is Virgin America's primary hub, but LAX is a very close second. In addition, VAus has an alliance with Delta, which has a strong LAX presence but a weak SFO presence (SFO is a United fortress hub). So it makes more sense for VAus to fly to LAX than SFO.

    In addition, VAus has only a handful of 777s and even these are "too much aircraft" for VAus (which partially explains why they're downscaling capacity in this refurbishment). What VAus really needs are smaller aircraft like the 787-8, 787-9 and A350-900 (and that latter craft may be a shade too large). These craft simply weren't available (they were massively delayed) when VAus started international operations.

    Virgin serving SFO would likely only happen if they had 787-8s, which they don't. They're a great airline but they simply lack the right tool for the job. And in addition, let's say Virgin got 787-8s, it makes more sense they'd start serving SEA (Seattle) than SFO, because Virgin America was bought out by Alaska (which is based in Seattle) and SEA is also Delta's secondary west coast hub (they'd have to do the flight from Brisbane of course... if they had 787-9s they could do it from Sydney).

    I love San Francisco. I wish I could say I left my food addiction in San Francisco but no, the addiction only got worse. And I would love more services to San Francisco. But Virgin Australia is not well suited to provide services to San Francisco (at present).

    If VAus got 787-8s I could see them doing a service to SFO to link up with Alaska/VAmerica, but in all likelihood they'd prioritize SEA over SFO due to more onward connections.

    Would I prefer they start doing SFO? Hell yeah! But the likelihood is they'd take SEA first.

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  • LoveToFly

    LoveToFly

    20 May, 2016 07:53 pm

    Looks great, doing Brisbane to LAX return in J in late September, right now it shows the new config so hopeful il get it. Picked 3K so looking forward to your "best seats" atricle Chris

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  • Tracie

    Tracie

    23 May, 2016 05:56 am

    Does anyone know why row 8 is blocked on the new configuration? VA are telling me this is the bassinette row. 

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  • FairFlyer

    FairFlyer

    28 Jul, 2016 02:12 pm

    Can't wait for your review of VA's new 'Premium' class. I'm flying it in December and am keen to see what it has to offer. 

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Jul, 2016 02:18 pm

    Hi FairFlyer, at this stage we have nothing to share on if or when a full review of Virgin Australia Premium will be undertaken, but for now, you can have a peek here.

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  • john hauser

    talkscheap

    10 Dec, 2016 08:58 pm

    Flew VA Business to LA in the last week and it is so far ahead of ANY of the competition. The comfort and feeling of space and privacy and level of service is exceptional. Well done VA, Qantas needs to lift its game big time
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19 Dec, 2017 09:27 am

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