Virgin Australia’s new ‘The Business’ seats and service debuted last month between Sydney and Perth, heralding a standard in transcontinental business class travel and going head-to-head with the Qantas Business Suite.
Yet, there are things you may not already know about VA’s new business class product – we‘ve wrapped up the top 10 for the nation’s high flyers.
1. The Business: on every A330 flight from October
With Virgin Australia’s Airbus A330 fleet relatively small at just six aircraft, each will sport ‘The Business’ by the end of October 2015.
That means Virgin Australia passengers will enjoy the same seat and standard on every A330 flight: contrasting with Qantas which does have a much larger A330 fleet to contend with, but which will still be a mixed bag until late 2016 when its own Business Suite refits are fully completed.
2. The Business: also coming to VA’s Boeing 777s
Virgin Australia’s A330s aren’t the only aircraft getting an upgrade to The Business: its larger international Boeing 777s will follow, which fly from Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles and Sydney to Abu Dhabi beginning in early 2016.
As part of the upgrades, the current Boeing 777 Sky Bar will be re-designed as a tended bar – no more pushing the call bell and waiting for a drink that’s already sitting directly in front of you!
3. It's a truly international-grade seat
If you’ve flown in business class on any of Qatar Airways’ newer aircraft being the Airbus A350, A380 or Boeing 787, you’ll have travelled in the same basic seat as The Business.
Virgin Australia took an existing off-the-shelf business class seat – marketed by manufacturer B/E Aerospace as ‘Super Diamond’ – and extensively customised it to fit its own brand style and finesse.
4. You can upgrade from economy. For free.
Virgin Australia’s Velocity Platinum frequent flyers receive four free business class upgrades each year on any Australian domestic route of their choosing: including east-west flights on A330 aircraft with The Business.
It’s done by booking a Flexi fare in economy on your desired flight and calling Virgin Australia to action your request when you’d like to upgrade – possible from the moment you’ve booked and have received a booking confirmation number.
Upgrades aren’t guaranteed to be available on each and every flight, but as a rule, if a business class reward seat is available on the same flight, you’ll have no issues in using a complimentary upgrade voucher.
5. You're reclined even when you're 'upright'
Sitting bolt upright as you would in economy isn’t the most comfortable way to start and conclude a business class journey, so Virgin’s The Business seats are inclined by 5.3 inches or 17.3° in the ‘upright’ position.
That means you can sit back and relax even when the aircraft is taxiing, taking off and landing, and can lie fully-flat during the hours in between.
6. You can open up to a seatmate… or not
Flying with a partner or colleague? Plonk yourselves in a centre pair of seats which allow for easy conversation through an opening in the centre panel…
… or for solo journeys where privacy is more important, a perspex panel slides closed and discourages chit-chat.
7. Dine when it suits your schedule, not the airline’s
Picture this familiar scenario: after take-off, you whip out your laptop for a spot of work – and just as you’re immersed and ‘on fire’, so to speak, the airline decides that right now is the perfect time to interrupt that productivity and serve the inflight meal.
Virgin Australia, however, allows guests in The Business to eat when it suits them: whether that’s at the standard meal time or some hours later.
Even at just one hour before landing on the 5+ hour trek from Sydney to Perth, travellers can opt for an ‘express’ meal service with bread, a starter, a salad and either cheese or dessert, while the full menu including a main course remains available until one hour and 40 minutes before touch-down.
8. You can adjust the table height
Speaking of inflight productivity, the meal table is of course sturdy enough to support a laptop…
… but if you’d rather that the keyboard – or indeed, the meal – sat at a different height, there's quite a degree of upwards and downwards adjustment until it's at the perfect height.
9. There’s extra space to work and recharge
Your work needn’t be contained to the main table: you can use the side space to either multitask with a meal in front and a tablet to the side, or simply as a great spot to keep your gadgets, papers and reading materials nearby.
The panels also fold open to reveal both AC and USB ports and a storage space for your smartphone while it recharges…
… but thanks to a handy recess underneath the panel, you cables can reach your gadgets (and headphones) while it’s closed.
10. Don’t overlook the iPad nook
Fittingly, your iPad, Galaxy Tab, Surface or other tablet gets its own storage nook aside the seat – you’ll find it right next to that bench space:.
We found it the perfect size for an iPad Air 2 (below)…
… and it’s within easy reach of that USB charging port – keeping the bench area clear for books and work documents while still allowing your iPad to be charged.
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