In-depth: full details of Virgin Australia's new seats and service

By John Walton, May 5 2011
In-depth: full details of Virgin Australia's new seats and service

The Australian Business Traveller team went over Virgin Australia's new Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a fine toothcomb yesterday to bring you an in-depth look at the details of the seats and service you're likely to encounter on the new Virgin Australia.

The seats 

The "Coast-to-Coast" A330 seats are, we understand, a revamped version of the older seats on the plane when it flew for Emirates rather than completely new seats.

That's why the business class seats -- while they've been reupholstered and thoroughly spruced up -- look a little bit dated, especially when compared with the brand new seats on the 737:

The A330 seats do have a wider range of movement and reclining positions, controlled from a small panel on the armrest.

For more on the comfy seats at the pointy end of the plane, head over to our Virgin Australia A330 Business Class seat guide.

The economy seats look a little bit bulky, although the colour scheme definitely gives the cabin some extra life. 

We'd estimate that Virgin Australia could have squeezed an inch or so more legroom out of the seats if they were the slimline style used on the 737.

And while Virgin Australia promises monthly updates of the in-flight entertainment, the seat-back system was clearly state of the art in a previous generation. 

Of course, there's no better entertainment flying within Australia, but we're really interested to see what Virgin Australia does with the factory-fresh A330s it has on order.

Want more info on Virgin Australia's new economy class? Check out our seat guide.

The service

But it's not just the seats that makes an airline experience: it's the softer side of things: the service, food and amenity kits.

Here's the shorthaul amenity kit from the Boeing 737, which is functional but has just about everything you'd need for a short-haul flight:

The longer-haul "Coast-to-Coast" amenity kit handed out on the Airbus A330 contains more branded swag:

"Coast-to-Coast" passengers also get a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to use. There's no obvious brand on them, but they look similar to the headphones Air New Zealand hands out in its Business Premier cabins. 

When it comes to mealtimes, it looks like a tray service is planned rather than a plate-by-plate meal, although the tray is an exciting purple.

The stem-less glassware gives a modern touch that will also prove more stable in turbulence.

A new menu appears on the A330...

...but the older Luke Mangan menu (with Virgin Blue branding remaining) is found on the 737:

After lunch -- or, frankly, before and during lunch as well -- the espresso machine in the galley kitchen is a welcome addition. European airlines have used Nespresso pod-type machines for some years, and it's well past time Australian airlines raised their coffee game too.

Written by John Walton, photographs by Dan Warne

This review of the seats and service on offer is just part of Australian Business Traveller's comprehensive coverage of Virgin Australia's launch:

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.

Qantas - Platinum One

18 Jan 2011

Total posts 82

What's with the not-so-subtle hits at Qantas?

"Of course, there's no better entertainment flying within Australia" - Really? The Q On Demand touch screen systems in the Qantas A330's (Domestic) are clearly superior to Emirates dated system.

"and it's well past time Australian airlines raised their coffee game too." - Qantas serves Espresso on the A380's.

It's a little unfair to paint Virgin Australia as though they're offering revolutionary features, when Qantas offers the same.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

Hey, thanks for taking the time to drop us a comment!

For the record, I don't have any particular beef with Qantas, so I'm happy to assure you that the article wasn't written to take hits at the Roo.

My take on domestic IFE in AU is that there's no clear blue water between QOD and the old Emirates PTV on flights of this length, though I'll freely admit that others may have different views. I'm the type to bring an iThing along anyway, because my music and film tastes are esoteric.

In terms of espresso, I'm pretty sure that Qantas isn't putting the A380s on SYD-PER, so this really is a nice step up.

05 May 2011

Total posts 17

Loving the new offerings domestically! Itll give Qantas a good run for its money!! I dont think Virgin Australia want to overtake QF, more so to give people out there more options!

Travelled on the new 737 by Virgin Australia the other day - very impressed. The Sky interior is well above the current offering of the 'older' Virgin Blue 737's and there was a real calm and enjoyable nature to the flight. Well Done!!!

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