Seat guide: Virgin Australia Airbus A330 economy class

By David Flynn, May 5 2011
Seat guide: Virgin Australia Airbus A330 economy class

Virgin Australia's new Airbus A330 will ply the skies between Sydney and Perth as a daily service from Thursday May 26, with three flights per day by July.

Australian Business Traveller recently had the opportunity to scope out the airline's first A330, sit in the seats and take plenty of photos. Here's your first look at the Virgin Australia's A330 economy class seats.

(If you'd rather hang at the pointy end of the plane, check out our guide to Virgin Australia's A330's business class seats and cabin.) 

This is Virgin Australia's PR shot, and you have to admit, the seats look pretty swish for 'cattle class'. Sir Richard Branson told Australian Business Traveller that these comfy leather-clad seats are better than some airline's business class seats. And of course, he woudn't lie to us about a thing like that...

The economy class cabin on Virgin Australia's A330s stretches for about 30 rows, most in a standard 2-4-2 configuration but with some rows of 2-3-2, for a total of 251 seats.

The rows are offset, with the centre seating block sitting around halfway between the window pairs. It's nice to not feel like you're in a classroom with eight seats all ranked in neat rows.

The seats sport a thick padded bolster-style headrest in the middle with adjustable 'wings' on either side. The centrepieces are covered in red, purple or silver – the colours of Virgin Australia's new palette – but they're applied in a random arrangement to break help break up the usual visual monotony of an economy cabin.

Each seat has its own seat-back video screen for inflight entertainment. Virgin Australia is talking up its in-flight system while keeping mum on the details but they keep saying things like "revolutionary", "you'll be amazed" and "if we told you any more we'd have to toss you out the emergency exit door". But John Borghetti assures us that Soon All Will Be Revealed.

The seats feel cushy but this doesn't come at the expense of their profile, which in turn helps keep the legroom bearable. So just how much space do you get?

The standard seat pitch is a fairly common 31 inches, with 33 inches at the bulkheads.

Grab an exit row seat (for an extra $70 each way on top of your standard economy class fare between Sydney and Perth) and you can stretch out for 38-39 inches.

The 31 inch pitch is going to be a tight squeeze for anyone over the 1.8 metre or 5'10" mark.

Want to fire up your laptop or enjoy a meal from the on-order menu? Just pop down the bi-fold tray table.

But we found that the table wasn't steady enough for working on your laptop – it felt a bit flimsy and there was too much bounce as we typed. On the other hand, If you just want to watch a downloaded video, then sit back and enjoy.

Unfortunately, unlike Cathay Pacific's Airbus A330, there's no power socket lurking behind the tray table. That's something most tech-toting travellers would be welcome on the five hour coast-to-coast flight.

What about the in-flight meals? As previously reported, Virgin Australia has hired Australian superchef Luke Mangan to overhaul its inflight menu. Mangan says his aim is to serve “high-quality food that travellers actually want to buy”.

It's a pretty extensive selection for the airline that began some 11 years ago as a no-frills carrier, although that change of image is exactly what Virgin Australia is hoping for as it moves upmarket and takes on Qantas for both the leisure and business travel markets.

Let's start with the meals themselves, available as both individual items and in 'bundles' containing a drink and a snack.

Those bundles include this Premium Panini Meal ($15) with a panini roll of roast beef, semi-dried tomato, rocket and horseradish or Mediterranean vegetables, Swiss cheese and an olive tapenade; served with a Carman's dark chocolate cranberry and almond bar, and a non-alcoholic drink of your choice.

For a more traditionally Aussie take on food at 30,000 feet, there's a 'gourmet chunky beef pie' with tomato relish and your choice of beer or wine (also $15 for the lot).

Here are the full economy menus.

If you're seeking something on the lighter side, the snack menu ranges from $3 cookies and chocolate bars to $5 slices of banana bread.

To wash it all down there's coffee, tea, fruit juices plus wine, beer and miniature bottles of spirits.

This is just part of Australian Business Traveller's comprehensive coverage of Virgin Australia's launch day:



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.

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