Virgin Australia relaunches Melbourne - Los Angeles flights

By David Flynn, April 4 2017
Virgin Australia relaunches Melbourne - Los Angeles flights

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.


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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 233

Excellent news for Melb folk. I would've gone for one step further and made that later Brisbane departiure and earlier return a daily affair. Which would have allowed daily flights from Bris, Syd and Melb. I'm sure they have their reasons though and looking forward to try the new timings.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Plantium

19 Jun 2013

Total posts 119

Also great news for people in Adelaide.  Sydney connection time was always very tight to get onto VA1 but Melbourne being closer as well as 11:30am departure is perfect 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 240

Happy days! I always thought it was a mistake to cancel it. MEL to LAX seems a particularly popular route and I'd have thought it always better to compete with QF and UA out of MEL.

Virgin clearly have the best Business product on the route, as well as the best Economy, Economy Plus and Premium, so they'll bring some needed competition absolutely. I hope this turns out to be successful for them.

Given Etihad and SQ both serve Sydney with A380s, it makes sense for Virgin to drop the Abu Dhabi service ex-SYD.

Its also good to see Virgin expanding internationally.


30 Jun 2015

Total posts 35

So I am a UA million miler based in Melbourne with 30 years experience(tolerance) of United's good, bad and indifferent trans-Pacific flight service.  I just flew VA Mel-SYD-LAX return and have another booking in December.  How do they compare?  VA's catering appears outstanding, but frankly failed to impress on both flights, as did their IFE selection (great screen, poor selection) and rubbish headphones, however they mostly win on the direct aisle access, bed, crew and that bar( noting the Single Malt was MIA for both legs and has been for some months apparently).  VA's connection service from Domestic to International in Sydney was anxiety inducing, taking over an hour with arrival (outside customs and security) well after boarding was scheduled to start. No TSA Pre-clear was provided for on-wards US flights, though Delta domestic did it on the return.

The return of the Melbourne service solves some of this, but the arrival time in LAX makes for poor on-wards connections. Equally, VA's game plan is like their domestic evening service when you get pretzels in lieu of a decent, by airline standards, hot meal on QA.

The UA 787 service to Melbourne is better timed and likely the best experience you will ever have on a United flight anywhere. The UA Polaris soft product kicks in early December improving the catering and bedding, and wishfully we'll see the new seating and direct aisle access in 24 months at which point VA has only the bar and crew to leverage. (Remember the pretzels?  VA has lost the plot.)

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

One of the reasons VA stated why they pulled this route initially was that the 77W has to take a payload hit which made the route somewhat economical.

Unless the new J and Premium Y seats weigh significantly less I don't see the route helping VA's bottom line.


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 353

Another reason as the cost of crewing ex-Melbourne, given that VA is based in Sydney and Brisbane. Either way, good to see that things have changed and that VA now sees enough market share to come out of Melbourne.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2017

Total posts 37

They've opened up a longhaul crew base in Melbourne now. Unfortunately for the crew, overall it means less $$ for them as they've lost their 1 night australia layover and suffer 1 night LA's. No thanks!!!!


13 Jun 2015

Total posts 141

About time they restart VA flights from MEL-LAX. This would have a good connection from LAX to USA and Canada.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

They need more 777s to maintain and grow the VA routes because at the moment, they need to remove a route to open a route.

It will be interesting to see if this pushes up prices on the BNE-LAX service with QF and VA with 300 odd seats taken out of the market...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 380

It will certainly help load factors, but in saying that, I think Air Canada's daily flights from BNE to Vancouver have added additional competition to the North American market.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1209

Load factors on BNE-LAX may not improve as much as you'd think given a lot of MEL originating pax previously transitted onto VA7 in BNE.  This will no longer be the case.

VA Platinum

21 Nov 2013

Total posts 20

I go to California a few times a year for business (and fun) and frankly would MUCH prefer the afternoon arrival. That Sunday evening flight out of BNE sounds amazing, and one I will be looking forward to trying when the time comes. Understand it doesn't work for people with connections, but if you're staying west side it's great.

I used to love the old VA1 flight that left SYD at 8pm for an arvo arrival to LAX. Much shorter customs queues and no need to stay awake for the whole day!

11 Feb 2016

Total posts 15

Yet more flights from Australia to LAX. They should have sent this flight to SFO.


03 Jul 2015

Total posts 22

B777 would have to be the noisiest plane in the sky.  And espcially for shake, rattle, and roll.

26 Feb 2014

Total posts 14

Do they fly syd hkg?..that would be ideal if they're dropping the syd auh flight and can connect onwards with virgin Atlantic.....just saying..

05 May 2016

Total posts 619

This change is good for competition.

Hopefully it puts some pressure on QANTAS to refurbish its A380 product with business seats with direct aisle access.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Dec 2016

Total posts 43

Having experienced the Emirates lounge last week in LA as a VA flyer I was very impressed. Its so much better than the small Etihad lounge which is crowded and frankly a bit tatty. Cant wait to be able to fly Melb/LA again on VA rather than through SYD or Bris 


Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 16

Does anyone know which is the better lounge in LAX. EK or EY for a VA Platinum FF? 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Dec 2016

Total posts 43

Simple Emirates Lounge is best bet for VA Paltinum

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Aug 2012

Total posts 171

Qantas will be starting 787 to L.A. Later this year and the A380's will be getting refurbs as previously mentioned. So hard product competition is just around the corner but with more frequency and excellent lounges both ends especially with qantas first. 

Is the virgin hard product good? Absolutely, but the issue is going to be not enough metal so frequency is a problem and a lounge network that always seems to be a moving target and is susceptible to change as is proven over and over.
I wish Virgin could be a real competitor but they keep tipping there toes in the water and not capable of jumping in and going for it in a big way internationally, and I think they may never be able too with how they're performing corporately at the moment which is a shame.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 362

Trust Virgin to absolutely find a way to complicate things. Changing one BNE-LAX flight a day to an afternoon departure. So an inconsistent schedule like their MEL-HKG flights. Well done Virgin, you never cease to amaze me with your ability to make things as confusing and complicated as possible 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 372

Couldn't agree more.


03 May 2013

Total posts 672

This airline jumps all over the place strategy wise. Always a few steps behind trying desperately to tread water as competition intensifies and their books look bleak.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1027

No VA23 on Friday and no VA24 on Monday, yet flights the other way the same day?
Does this match up with the BNE flights?

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Australia relaunches Melbourne - Los Angeles flights