Virgin Australia is trialling next-generation business class and economy class seats for its domestic Boeing 737 fleet, with two jets being fitted with the fresh seats to gauge traveller feedback.
The airline says the prototype business class seat has an extra seven inches of recline – as much as 40% more than its current business class – along with legrests and footrests, which have long been missing from Virgin's premium seat.
Also new at the pointy end:
- a 'high-power' USB power socket (and no, we don't yet know if this means USB-C or just a USB-A port with extra juice behind it)
- added in-seat storage nooks for personal items
- 'non-slip' cocktail tables
- movable tray tables with inbuilt device holders, to make it easier to view BYO content on a phone or tablet during the meal service
Meanwhile, the economy seats will see a seatback device holder suitable for everything from a small smartphone to a large tablet.
A dedicated recess for the safety card and buy on board menu also frees up the regular seatback pocket space for more of the passenger's own belongings.
Look closely and you'll also spy an embossed leaf pattern in the headrests, reflecting a common design element of Virgin's airport lounges.
And from tip to tail, there's a return of purple LED lighting which also compliments the airline's colour scheme.
Virgin Australia Group Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Paul Jones, says the two refitted Boeing 737s will take the seats to the public across the next few months – and depending on feedback, they'll be considered for future aircraft as the airline continues to expand its fleet.
"Virgin Australia is committed to being a customer-led business, so once we receive feedback from our guests and crew, we'll consider implementing elements of the new design as our fleet grows," Jones says.
"We can't wait for guests to experience the new interior for themselves if they’re lucky enough to fly on either of the two aircraft that have initially been fitted with the new design."
There's no change to the overall seat count, with eight business class and 162 economy class seats, all of which share a distinctive horizontal rib design "providing guests added support and comfort when they fly."