Hello from Los Angeles! I just flew Virgin Australia business class from Melbourne to Los Angeles. After flying in the Etihad Residence I was expecting to go into a full blown depression having to board a flight without a private three room suite and butler. 😉 But I got over that pretty quickly when I realized that Virgin Australia has what’s easily one of the world’s best business class products.
I’ll have a full trip report soon, but in the meantime here’s a quick “10 pictures” summary of the flight.
This flight was operated by Virgin Australia’s 777-300ER, featuring a total of 37 reverse herringbone seats. Virgin Australia just recently reconfigured their entire 777 fleet with these seats, and it’s one of the best hard products out there. Virgin Australia uses the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat, which is one of the two most popular varieties of reverse herringbone seats.
While the seat as such is generic, the cabin finishes are gorgeous. This has to be one of the most stylish cabins out there.
There’s a forward cabin between doors one and two with a total of 24 seats, then there’s the onboard bar, and then there’s another mini-cabin behind door two, with a total of 13 seats. That’s where I was seated, in seat 10K, which is the window seat in the last row on the right side.
Lunch was served after takeoff, and then breakfast was served before landing. The food service was simple but excellent. That’s to say that it wasn’t a five course meal, but rather was a very well executed three course meal.
To start there was the choice between soup, salad, and an appetizer. I had the cauliflower and white bean soup with sumac, which was flavorful and beautifully presented.
Then for the main course I had trout with sweet potato, ginger, and coconut puree. The fish was moist, and the sweet potato puree complemented it nicely.
For dessert I had the vanilla and mascarpone roulade with mango, coconut, and kaffir lime. This was the best dessert I’ve had in a long time, be it on the ground or in the air.
Even though you’re supposed to choose between dessert and cheese, I asked the crew if I could have a cheese plate (primarily for the picture), and they obliged. It was also one of the better business class cheese plates I’ve seen.
What a great meal, and I especially appreciated that they didn’t use trays, but rather served directly onto the table.
The drinks were pretty good as well, and they had mostly wine from Australia and New Zealand on offer, which I appreciated. The exception was the Ayala champagne, which I quite like as far as mid-range champagnes go.
While the food on the flight was great, the service was exceptional. I’ll admit that I might be a bit biased, since I find Australians to be so charming to begin with, but the guys working business class were especially professional, and they genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs. Nothing is better than seeing that.
In many ways the service felt like what you’d get in first class rather than business class. As each passenger arrived at their seat they were offered a “suite orientation.” The cabin manager personally welcomed each passenger onboard, and then before landing came by to see how everyone enjoyed their flight. Passengers were constantly addressed by name, service was proactive rather than reactive, and the attention to detail was top notch.
For example, Virgin Australia has a turndown service in business class. In the middle of the night I went to the bathroom for maybe one minute, and I returned to find that my bed had been “tidied,” and that another bottle of water had been placed by my seat. Many airlines don’t do that in first class, let alone business class.
So thanks to Michael, the flight attendant serving me, and Steven, the cabin manager, for their incredible professionalism. These guys were rockstars at their jobs.
Virgin Australia also does quite well in terms of amenities. There was a nice amenity kit with socks, eyeshades, a pen, earplugs, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, hand cream, and sun protection.
Then there were pajamas, which were made of rather unusual materials, but were still comfortable. Either way, pajamas in business class are a treat.
On top of that there was turndown service, with a mattress pad and a proper blanket.
I got a solid nine hours of sleep, which is unheard of for me on a plane. Perhaps that’s largely a reflection of how exhausted I was, but Virgin Australia’s bedding was great.
The entertainment selection was excellent as well, with a huge variety of movies, sitcoms, etc. No, it wasn’t quite to the level of Emirates’ ICE system, for example, but was still excellent.
My one complaint is that Virgin Australia doesn’t have wifi on their 777s. In this case it was almost a blessing that they didn’t, because it allowed me to sleep. I doubt I would have slept so well if I knew in the back of my head that I had the option of working.
Virgin Australia business class bottom line
Virgin Australia’s business class exceeded my expectations by a long shot. What a great experience. They have stylish reverse herringbone seats, a simple but extremely well executed menu, great amenities, and some of the best service I’ve had in business class on any airline. I can’t stress that last point enough, because on some airlines you feel like you’re part of an assembly line when it comes to the business class service procedure, while on Virgin Australia it was perfectly customized to each guest.
I have no doubt that Virgin Australia is the best way to fly between the US and Australia (Qantas doesn’t even have direct aisle access from every seat, American has wifi, but that’s about all they have going for them, and Delta’s herringbone seats can’t compete with Virgin Australia’s reverse herringbone seats).
If you’ve flown Virgin Australia’s business class, what was your experience like?