The best business class seats: Melbourne to Los Angeles

By David Flynn, March 8 2017
The best business class seats: Melbourne to Los Angeles

Business travel between Melbourne and Los Angeles is set for a shake-up this year with new airlines, aircraft and seats lined up the LAX route.

Trying to choose the best business class for your next trans-Pacific trip? Our handy cheat sheet will help.


The Red Roo flies an Airbus A380 daily between Melbourne and Los Angeles, but the flagship superjumbo's business class is somewhat of a let-down.

Yes, it is a lie-flat bed – but 10 years on, the Skybed II seat showing its age.

It tends to sink and sag, there's almost no storage or working space around the seat – and with an outdated 2-2-2 layout there'll usually be somebody climbing over you (or you'll be climbing over somebody else) to get to the aisle, unless you opt for a seat in the middle row.

In the next few years Qantas will begin overhauling its A380 fleet with new seats from tip to tail, including the airline's latest Business Suite – or an evolution of same – in the business class cabin. That can't come soon enough.

Until then, if you've got 45,000 to 57,000 Qantas points, consider springing for an upgrade from business class to first class – it's great value.

A few days a week sees Qantas also flying the Boeing 747 between Melbourne and Los Angeles: it's fitted with the same Skybed II business class seat as the A380.

But from December 15 the jumbo will make way for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which sports an improved version of the Business Suite already seen on most domestic and international Qantas Airbus A330 flights.

The Boeing 787 will run six days a week as QF95/QF96 alongside Qantas' daily Airbus A380 service.

United Airlines

United already flies a daily Boeing 787-9 between Melbourne and Los Angeles, but it's also hampered by a last-gen business class seat.

There's some personal space around the seat, which converts into a fully-flat but narrow bed, but the 2-2-2 layout has the same drawbacks as on the Qantas A380.

At some point in the future United will roll its Dreamliners into the hangar to be fitted with the airline's new Polaris business class seat (below), but being relatively new members of the fleet the Boeing 787s sit at the very back of the upgrade queue.

Virgin Australia

After pulling the plug on Melbourne in late 2014, Virgin Australia comes back with a bang from April 4.

The flights will run five days a week on Virgin's Boeing 777-300ER jets, which now sport all-new business class seats (above) with the most modern design of all three airlines: the seat's wide and in flat bed mode very long, and there's plenty of room around the seat.

There's also a swanky business class bar where you can socialise en route.

On a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Los Angeles we found it easy to spend a few hours at the bar chatting with fellow travellers; it's refreshing to be able to get up from your seat, and you can also have breakfast at the bar as you approach Los Angeles.

The biggest drawback for business travellers is Virgin's schedule, which at five flights a week won't line up quite as neatly as United's daily Boeing 787-9 roster or Qantas' nine flights per week (daily on the Airbus A380 plus two more on the Boeing 747).

How do you rate these business class seats for trans-Pacific trips?


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.

28 Dec 2016

Total posts 71

What about Delta and AA?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 371

Delta and AA don't fly from Melbourne to LA.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

They do not operate non-stop flights on MEL-LAX. There only Australian destination is SYD. 

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 26

Until Virgin fix up the debacle that is the reduced service, packed to the rafters, Etihad lounge at TBIT, I won't fly their MEL>LAX route. Its a shambles.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 263

Incredible that United went with old seats in a new plane. They could have owned this route for the whole year.

Given the length of the flight it is tempting to fly to Sydney and get on AA.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 263

That or hunting down the 747 QF flights and fighting for 5B or 5J

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 42

The noise and cabin pressure issues of the 747 make it a no-go for me on any long haul in any class. The 4hrs from LAX to JFK were more tiring than Syd to LAX on A380. I could feel the pressure on my sinuses and the aircraft is extremely loud. On the A380 I hardly realise I'm on a plane. I love the 747 from a historical and nostalgia perspective but it does not belong on these routes anymore. 

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 117

Definitely fly via a Sydney on AA and avoid the QF ancient Sky Bed. 

And what is it with seafood and Qantas Business Class? On some international flights, I've found there might be six choices in business, with four being seafood or having a seafood or anchovy sauce.  I'm biased as I don't like seafood at all, but it would be just as silly as having four chicken dishes or for beef dishes.  

13 Apr 2017

Total posts 3

I still prefer the qantas business class seat to the VA product mainly because the width of the seat is the same for the whole length of the flat bed. I struggled with the VA seat narrowing significantly towards the feet. It makes you feel like you are in a restricted sleeping bag and makes it hard to turn on your side. Also I think the airbag seat belt was like having a heavy divers belt on your torso. Not that comfortable for sleeping.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on The best business class seats: Melbourne to Los Angeles