Earlier this month, we reported on Virgin’s relaunch of direct flights from Melbourne to Los Angeles, a route that was previously served only by Qantas and United Airlines.
The flight runs five days a week, with VA23 departing Melbourne at 11.30am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, to reach Los Angeles at 9am that same morning.
The VA24 return leg departs Los Angeles at 8.55pm every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a 5.45am arrival into Melbourne two days later.
Virgin’s re-entry into the route adds more choice for business travellers, and with direct aisle access and an in-flight bar, Virgin’s swanky business class offering makes for a compelling choice.
Read about our experience aboard Virgin Australia’s ‘The Business’ from Melbourne to Los Angeles on their new Boeing 777 aircraft.
- Chauffeur-driven airport transfers: Complimentary for guests booked only on higher-priced J and C fare types but not the lower-priced D or I fares, or flights booked using frequent flyer points. Transfers must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.
- Priority check-in, boarding: Keep your eyes peeled for 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 uses the recently refreshed Etihad lounge in Melbourne for business class passengers travelling to Los Angeles.
The Etihad lounge is impressive, with a number of different work and recreation areas, and a stunning bar with tarmac views as its focal point.
And since you’re heading to LAX, ask the bartenders to whip you up the ‘Los Angeles’, a fairy floss-topped Tequila cocktail, with rice milk, spices and homemade cocoa nib and chili liqueur.
With plenty of dining and drinking options, the Etihad lounge is one of Melbourne airport’s best - you can read our full write-up of the lounge here.
Virgin’s Boeing 777 business class offering comes in a 1-2-1 layout, offering every seat direct aisle access.
Each seat is adjustable, with a touchscreen panel allowing you to cycle between seat settings for sleeping, lounging and takeoff/landing. You can also use this panel to control the lighting and make other adjustments.
There are various storage compartments littered around, as well as AC and USB power outlets – our only gripe was that the AC plug’s positioning can make it a little cumbersome if your power adapter is on the larger side.
For a full breakdown of the various nooks and crannies to store your gear, read our review of the same seat on the Sydney to Los Angeles leg.
Since the outbound journey to Los Angeles is a daytime flight, it’s a good opportunity to visit the tended bar – with bar stools and lounge seating...
...plus a range of spirits, boutique wines, and Australian beers, the bar is a great way to break up the long flight and take some time to socialise with other passengers or just unwind.
Once it’s time for a snooze, the cabin staff will set up your mattress and drop off some pyjamas and chocolate so that you can bed down.
Extending to an impressive 203cm when fully-flat, your suite is as lengthy as a queen bed on the ground, making this one of the best fully-flat seats for flying across the Pacific.
Once on board, you’re offered a drink of your choice, including the 2007 vintage Ayala Millésimé Champagne...
...or a range of Australian red and whites and one Pinot Gris from across the Tasman.
Drinks were accompanied with a selection of bar snacks including almonds, edamame and marinated olives...
... and there's also a selection of cocktails, spirits, beers and soft drinks on offer.
Dining options are offered in a few different ways – you can tuck into lunch straight away, have an 'express' meal later in the flight or pick from a selection of pantry snacks and light bites.
The lunch service is offered with breads, a choice of three different starters, four different main courses and an assortment of cheeses and desserts for afterwards.
For the starter, we opted for the Australian prawns with soba noodles, featuring a shallot, sesame, miso and wasabi dressing. This came out well presented and tasty, and the soba noodles were cooked just right.
Next up, we tried the Tasmanian Petuna ocean trout, served with a sweet potato, ginger and coconut puree alongside an Asian herb salad – the puree adds plenty of flavour while also preventing the meal from having excess water. This meal was one of the best we’ve ever had on board a plane – business or first class.
Rounding out the meal is a slice of Berry’s Creek Tarwin Blue cheese, accompanied by grapes, Luke Mangan branded fig fam and Falwasser crackers.
Later on in the flight, we tried one of the ‘light bites’ options – a slightly more upscale take on the humble jaffle, the chicken and leek toasted sandwich with tomato relish is a tasty snack to keep you satisfied until breakfast in the morning.
Speaking of breakfast, you'll receive a hotel-style ordering card before you go to sleep, 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, teas and your choice of main. We sprung for the scrambled eggs with tomato relish, plus sides of haloumi cheese, bacon and wilted spinach.
Entertainment & Service
Every suite in The Business features an 18-inch HD touchscreen panel, along with noise-cancelling headphones and a remote control so that you don’t have to reach forward when lounging.
The last time we reviewed The Business we noticed the video entertainment options were not very expansive. It looks like Virgin Australia has expanded their movie selection but their TV and variety sections are still limited.
If you’re travelling with a partner, you can share a flick in tandem while discussing the movie or anything else via the screen's chat system.
In terms of service, cabin crew are friendly and professional, addressing each passenger by name and ensuring that you’re comfortable without being intrusive.
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.
All in all, The Business is a fantastic option for crossing the Pacific, and the overall experience surpasses the offerings from Qantas and United – from the Etihad lounge at Melbourne airport, to the inflight bar and direct-aisle-access beds, there’s very little to fault Virgin on.
Siddharth Raja travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Virgin Australia. Please note that some images have been reused from previous reviews of this product.