Pics: inside Virgin Australia's new business class cabin

By David Flynn, March 10 2015

We've all seen photos of Virgin Australia's new business class seat for the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777...

... and AusBT has been able to take a very close-up look at the seat...

... but here's a first glimpse at how the business class cabin will look when all those seats are stacked together. (Click the image below to make it much bigger.)

The images are courtesy of London-based design agency Tangerine, which worked on the seat alongside Virgin design director Hans Hulsbosch to refine and 'significantly enhance' it from the basic Super Diamond seat supplied by B/E Aerospace.

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has previously said the design is "inspired by a lot of luxury automotive interiors" (Borghetti himself is a connoisseur of classic European motoring marques) and you can see how the cabin evokes an undeniably premium feel.

The subdued colour scheme of charcoal, black leathers and brushed aluminium trimming is not only for the sake of contemporary elegance – it ensures the seat also looks great when combined with the red of the cabin crew's uniforms.

A case study on Tangerine's website says "the challenge was to infuse the spaces with sophistication and elegance that would help define the airline as a quality carrier offering outstanding service... we heavily customised new lie-flat seats to give them a sense of international style and exclusivity."

Read: Virgin Australia's new business class seats for Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s

The Airbus A330s will sport 20 of the new seats in five rows of a 1-2-1 layout, ensuring direct aisle access for every passenger, down from the 24 business class berths of today's 2-2-2 layout.

The larger Boeing 777s will see an increase in the number of business class seats, up from a current count of 33 in a 2-3-2 layout to 37 seats arranged 1-2-1.

Virgin Australia plans a rapid rollout of its next-generation business class seats, despite the launch being pushed back from March to an unspecified 'mid-year' timeframe.

The airline's ambitious intent is that its entire fleet of six twin-aisle Airbus A330 jets will upgraded to feature the new seats by August.

Read: Virgin Australia to fast-track new A330 business class

A similar upgrade for Virgin's international Boeing 777s which fly to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi remains on track for November 2015, with the airline saying this would be completed “within three months.”

"On the Pacific route from Australia to Los Angeles this will be the business class to beat," Borghetti has previously said.

The Boeing 777 refurb will also include a newly-designed business class bar with face-to-face service for up to four seated guests. 

There'll also be additional lounge seating behind the bar.

This short clip provides a virtual walkthrough of Virgin Australia's next generation  business class cabin, beginning with a look at the Boeing 777's new business class bar.

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

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

gumshoe

gumshoe

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 216

Love the onboard bar as I have used the EK one a few times, an excellent feature, the new J seat just looks all class.

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Oh my, that does look nice! Better than the first images released (slight delay in rollout worth it if this is the end product). Very much looking forward to trying it out, especially since I can directly compare it to the fresh Qantas A330-300 J seat that I finally got to fly last month. Such an exciting time to be flying right now! (I've got a date with Etihad's First Apartment later this year too!)

undertheradar Banned

undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

looks all very 'fifty shades of grey/gray' ;)  the movie was all hype and no substance..lol...time will tell if VAs product lives up to all their hype.

this post is made with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek ;)

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Must have missed the seat's inbuilt arm and leg restraints, whip holder, and spread eagle seat position lol.

undertheradar Banned

undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

oh no!!! i've just realized i'va handed the VA ad execs a new ad campaign...so if you see a future VA ad campaign referring to 'fifty shades....'....i will be seeking 'compensation' ...lol

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

One thing I think that VA have done better than Qantas is that it's odds and sods storage can all be used on take-off and landing, due to those storage spaces able to closed up compared to Qantas' open ledges. Admittedly Qantas' design makes it easier to see if are leaving anything behind, but does force you to either hold your small items or to try and cram them in the seat back literature pocket which is pretty space restricted. No doubt it was Jonny Ive's former home, Tangerine, that helped improved these functional design issues. The style cues do appear to have an Apple-ish aesthetic.

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Just to clarify, "does force you to either hold your small items or to try and cram them in the seat-back literature pocket" for takeoff and landing, just to avoid any potential misreading.

undertheradar Banned

undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

I'm certain that you can store your odds n sods (even tablets/fones/laptops)in the Lshaped storage/shelf above your 'bench' next to your seat (where the headsets hang)....this stowage area is certified for stowage of these items during take off/landing.

if i'm incorrect...i'm happy to be corrected..

Fonga

Fonga

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 227

So Gippsflyer you've flown the new QF suite and kept this to yourself?! What other impressions can you share? What seat did you fly?

One thing I notice straight away and others have raised before, is the ability to see and talk to your neighbour in the centre suites, unlike the Qantas product. That seems to me to be a big deal, if travelling with life or biz partner.

airplane_bruh

airplane_bruh

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 20

it looks great!!! but a bit tight. better than 2-3-2

 

johnnypc67

johnnypc67

28 Nov 2012

Total posts 90

Look a bit claustrophobic

Rufus

Rufus

20 Jul 2011

Total posts 73

So much black - all we need is some purple mood lighting and would be fully pornstar chic...

AwaywithMike

AwaywithMike

23 Jun 2011

Total posts 88

err... this video incorrectly shows the upcoming 777 on-board bar?!

daschok

daschok

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Feb 2015

Total posts 34

Looks very posh but a little on the tight side. 

RobertK

RobertK

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Apr 2014

Total posts 35

Look amazing can't wait to fly and yes it will end up being the only flat bed Australian airline to the US well done vigin , all we need is Asia and traveling on an Australian airline is sorted 

Yohy

Yohy

20 Apr 2014

Total posts 94

the staggering and open design looks far superior to Qantas' 330 renovated seat. seems to create a feeling of openness contrasted to the 'small box' feeling of a chicken coop on Qantas!

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Having given close scrutiny to the photos of the new Business seat, I'm pleased that the seat arm closest to the console is of a more free-standing type than other reverse herringbone seats currently flying (although it doesn't look like that arm is collapsible which is a shame, although the aisle side arm does collapse). The problem with angled seats where the console side armrest is really the console itself, is that it is much narrower and shorter and makes one side of your body feel wedged in (as the photo below of a modified Zodiac Sicma Aero Cirrus seat illustrates). Even if there is space to drop your arms within the width of the seat itself, this leaves you with your arms unsupported, which isn't as ergonomic and increases fatigue.

You really want supported elbows/arms with enough free space to the left and right of both arms to not constantly knock or wedge your elbows or always be hunting for a perch because of the narrow allowance. I can readily understand why Qantas went with straight forward 1-2-1 seating as you have less of a problem with such issues when seats aren't angled. VA's modifications seem to have got a good balance, trimming out the footprint of the console (by shifting the table from the side to the front) in order to create more width for a real armrest, yet without narrowing the footwell for the seat behind in any real way. I look forward to putting the new VA seat through it's paces.

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Here are pics of the new VA seat in similar profile (normal and dressed for bed) for greater detail on armrests. As can be seen, the console side armrest is more generous by design.


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