While Virgin Atlantic no longer flies to Australia, Aussies can still hop aboard the airline's flights to London Heathrow from Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and more – in many cases, served by the modern Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with the latest generation of 'Upper Class' business class suites.
There's also an inflight bar and lounge area for Upper Class flyers, so whether your plans are to socialise or sleep, Australian Business Traveller scopes out the best business class seats.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 'Upper Class' business class: the basics
Virgin Atlantic places Upper Class at the front of its Boeing 787s, with 31 seats in a 1-1-1 layout:
Window seats are labelled 'A' and 'K', with the centre spots as 'G'. For instance, 2A is a window seat and 7G is in the middle.
Galleys are located at the front near the flight deck, with the bar at the rear and restrooms just behind.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 'Upper Class' business class: best seats
For solo travellers – the 'A' seats: While none of these seats are necessarily 'bad' for solo flyers given that all provide direct aisle access, those in the 'A' row are at an advantage whether for work or sleep, because only half as many travellers use this particular aisle as the other.
That's because passengers in the 'G' seats and the 'K' seats exit to the aisle on the right, while the aisle on the left is only utilised by travellers in the 'A' seats (below) – making for less foot traffic, and by extension, less chance of noise and disturbance.
When all of the 'A' seats are snapped up, a 'K' seat is our next-best choice.
For couples – consecutive seats of the same letter: It might be tempting to sit across the aisle from one another, such as one person in a 'G' seat and the other in a 'K' seat, but by choosing an adjacent pair of the same letter – such as 3A+4A, 6G+7G or 9K+10K – it's much easier to chat with your partner as you'll be seated closer together.
If this isn't possible on your flight, note that your fixed footrest can double as a 'companion seat' (complete with an extra seat belt), so one person can visit the other's seat for a chat or a meal.
For sleeping – seats 2A-8A: Over on this side of town you've already got an aisle that's quieter than the other, and by choosing a seat in rows 2-8, you'll be far enough away from galley noise and any chatter at the inflight bar to get some solid rest.
For privacy – aim further forward: With all passengers facing towards the aisles rather than away from them as you'd get on airlines like Cathay Pacific, the only way to improve your privacy here is to select a seat further forward in the cabin (with a lower row number) rather than that the rear.
That's because all of the Upper Class restrooms are at the back behind the inflight bar, so choosing a seat at the front usually means the only people passing by are crew members rather than other passengers. This is especially true of seat 1A.
Seats to reconsider: Because there's no curtain or wall between that inflight bar and the cabin proper, seats in rows 9 and 10 are less than ideal due to their proximity to this area, while seats in row 11 are quite literally next to the bar and are best avoided when trying to work or sleep:
Row 7 is also missing a window. It's hard to enjoy the view anyway as you have to twist around and look behind you, but on daytime flights where natural sunlight is desirable, aim for another row instead.