Best seats guide: Virgin Australia business class (Boeing 737)

By John Walton, January 17 2012
Best seats guide: Virgin Australia business class (Boeing 737)

Virgin Australia's rollout of domestic business class for its entire Boeing 737 fleet sees new seats and in-flight service to attract Australia's business travellers.

The 737s are outfitted with eight business class recliner seats, in two rows of a 2-2 configuration. But even with so few seats to choose from they're not all created equal when it comes to legroom.

On Virgin's brand new Boeing 737s, you can choose row 1 for more knee space or row 2 to stretch your legs out under the seat in front of you.

But on the refurbished aircraft, where business class replaces the original premium economy seats, a new bulkhead (internal aircraft wall) has been fitted in front of the first row -- which drastically reduces the legroom in these seats.

Virgin Australia's new business class cabin

As you can see from this shot of business class in a factory-fresh Boeing 737 (which also has the classy Boeing Sky Interior cabin), there's decent legroom at the front row.

Officially, Virgin Australia's domestic business class offers 38 inches of seat pitch -- the space between your seatback and the one in front -- at each seat.

(Head on over to our guide to seat pitch and your legroom if you need a refresher on what's what.) 

But here's a real-life snap showing what the front row looks like on the refurbished planes.

Frequent flyer and Australian Business Traveller contributor Chris Neugebauer recently travelled in seat 1A on one of the refitted 737s and reports "the bulkhead is irritatingly close to the seat. I'm 5'11" and could barely stretch out in it."

So while the brand new planes have row 1 situated further away from the bulkhead, conditions are cramped on the refurb'd birds.

For tall flyers, especially on long flights such as Melbourne-Brisbane or any 737 running coast-to-coast, that makes row 2 the one to choose.

But you can't tell if you'll be on a new or upgraded 737 when it's time to pick your seat online. With the introduction of business class, Virgin Australia has reset its seat selection maps.

The best seats on the plane

Since you can't figure out whether you'll be on a refurbished plane or a brand new jet, we suggest you play it safe and always opt for row 2.

As you can stretch your feet out underneath the seats in front of you, these seats actually have more legroom than row 1 on most of the fleet.

The worst seats on the plane

As a rule, steer clear of row 1. Seats in the front row are fine on a new 737 but are short of legroom if you happen to be on a refurb'd 737. Whenever you have a choice, choose row 2.

For full details on Virgin Australia's new domestic business class, read our rundown here.

Previous articles in our Best Seats series: 

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

13 Feb 2011

Total posts 31

Good advice!  

On Qantas I have always opted for row 1 - with Virgin I now know to opt for row 2.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Aug 2011

Total posts 42

Unfortunately, Virgin have reset all seat maps, so nomatter what aircraft you have in scheduled to operate your flight, you won't be able to tell what aircraft you have until you apear at the gate.

In my experience travelling on these aircraft, the right hand side of row one gets just as good legroom as row two. Both on the new BSI aircraft and older aircraft that have been refitted.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

Oh, damn it. Thanks for the update, Liam -- I'll edit the article accordingly. (Of course, that will make your comment seem a little out of place!)

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