Virgin Australia is once again flying between Melbourne and Los Angeles, adding competition to a route currently exclusive to Qantas and United Airlines.The flights will run five days a week from today on Virgin's Boeing 777-300ER jets, which now sport all-new business class seats (above) and a swanky business class bar (below).AusBT review: Virgin Australia 'The Business', Sydney-Los Angeles
VA23 will depart Melbourne at 11.30am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, to reach Los Angeles at 9am that same morning.
The VA24 return leg will fly out from Los Angeles at 8.55pm every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a 5.45am arrival into Melbourne two days later.
Virgin trumps Qantas, United on Melbourne-LAX
The airline's investment in upgrading its Boeing 777 fleet will give it a substantial edge over incumbents Qantas and United Airlines.
While Qantas and United both sport a minimum 2-2-2 seating layout in their business class cabins, Virgin can – and certainly will – trumpet that every passenger on its Boeing 777 flights enjoys direct access to the aisle.
Virgin's The Business seat is also wider, longer in bed more and boasts more storage space around the seat.
And of course, there's that inflight bar...
The biggest drawback for business travellers will be 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).
Also in the Red Roo's favour is that it will have the only first class cabin on the long Melbourne-Los Angeles route.
Virgin Australia has confirmed that business class travellers and top-tier frequent flyers will have access to the Etihad First and Business Class lounge in Melbourne, considered to be one of the best international lounges in Australia.
Prior to the flight home, business class passengers plus Velocity Gold members in other cabins can visit the Etihad First and Business Class lounge in Los Angeles, while Velocity Platinum members are welcomed into the Emirates First and Business Class lounge.
Brisbane drops to six days a week
Virgin axed its Melbourne-LAX service in October 2014 in order to boost th Brisbane-Los Angeles route to a daily roster.
However, Brisbane-LAX will be cut back to six days a week from mid-April, with VA7 no longer running on Mondays (as of April 10) and VA8 dropped from Friday (as of April 7).
There'll also be a timetable tweak, with Sunday's VA7 flights now becoming an overnight service leaving Brisbane at 9.30pm to reach Los Angeles at 5.35pm (as of April 9). That definitely sounds better for beating jetlag!
Saturday's VA6 flights out of Los Angeles are also being retimed, with an 11.15am departure and a 6.15pm arrival into Brisbane (as of April 8).
Virgin will also launch Melbourne-Hong Kong flights from July 5, 2017 on an Airbus A330-200 jet sporting the same business class seats but sans bar.