Virgin Australia to increase business class fares from September

By David Flynn, July 28 2016
Virgin Australia to increase business class fares from September

Virgin Australia expects to offer its new business class seats on all flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi by September, but travellers will be asked to shell out slightly higher fares to fly at the pointy end.

Virgin’s upgraded Boeing 777-300ER jets boasting the new business class and premium economy seats now run daily on the Sydney-Los Angeles route and every second day between Brisbane and LA until the fourth Boeing 777 rolls out of the refit hangar next month.

The fifth and final jet will complete its makeover in September and be slotted into the Sydney-Abu Dhabi route.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia's 'The Business' (Sydney-Los Angeles)

When that happens, however, business class ticket prices will rise “by a couple of hundred dollars” Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti tells Australian Business Traveller.

Borghetti is confident that the incremental increase won’t dampen enthusiasm for what is arguably the best business class on the trans-Pacific route.

Indeed, he expects that competing airlines may need to discount their business class fares to offset “inferior product.”

“Consumers expects much more these days” Borghetti reasons.

“If your product slips behind the competition you have to discount your price to attract people, so you need to keep the product standard up to keep yields up and premium pricing up.”

Read: Take a 3D tour of Virgin Australia's Boeing 777 business class

Virgin’s proposition for The Business includes not just an extra-wide seat with direct aisle access, which folds into a 2m long fully-flat bed for the overnight portion of the flight, but a new inflight bar.

The airline enlisted international design house Tangerine to transform what was essentially a self-service shelf to a full tended bar with a pleasing range of beer, wine and spirits (our pick for whiskey drinkers is the 12 year old Balvenie single malt).

Also retained is a lav designed for female flyers, with brighter and better lighting, a deeper washbasin and more useable space for toiletries plus a fold-down bench for changing clothes.

“The premise is to provide a facility that is better suited to women and personalised as much as you can in a metal tube flying 30,000 feet above sea level” Borghetti says.

Also read: How much should you bid for a Virgin Australia business class upgrade?

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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

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 361

I am a male and I appreciate better lighting, a deeper washbasin and a fold down bench for changing clothes.

Why is this only better suited for women? Seems an odd comment.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 61

The front right bathroom has been broadly designated for female passengers ever since the Abu Dhabi route began.


It's another way of pandering to UAE passengers, just like Qantas and their bacon-free breakfasts.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 259

Is this in addition to the 'ladies only' bathroom that is already in J on the 777?

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 13

Not even close Nouflyer.  It was instigated when V Australia was launched in 2009.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 240

Yeah, I'm with you 'Russell'. Not sure why Borghetti is making this into a gender thing.

The comments " provide a facility that is better suited to women" are a bit of a head scratcher.

It's not offensive by any means, but I'd personally feel a little awkward if a brand made such a big deal over the fact I was a man.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 650

JBs loo description is ALL a marketing gimmick. the VA seatmap clearly shows ALL 3 lavs as male/female, and I highly doubt a male (or gender to cover ALL bases nowadays) would be refused entry to this particular loo. IF those of us who are not female are actually being refused entry, then THAT is contrary to VAs seatmap, so it becomes VAs problem. Maybe a better description such as "for those who may like better lighting.......blah blah blah" would better suit, but as I say, it's ALL marketing hype. Of course these are just my thoughts/observations.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 567

Agree. I like all of these things but I believe flagging it specifcally to women is just a method of relating it or even just communicating it whislt capitalising on the current cliamte where equalisation is important.

Also, many global J product "enhancements" may be perceived to be targeted to men such as bed length and width as men are on average taller and wider. Not to say any more men travel J than women, but maybe VA see a growing market for female J clientele and want to outline this.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 259

I once used the 'ladies only' loo in J and was dutifully told not to use it again when I exited.

It remains to be seen if the strategy of higher priced Business class seats for VA is effective.

I think VA is underestimating the pull of QF/OW. The irony of course is that VA will be milking its band of loyal flyers, and test their resolve through sustained higher prices, if it does materialise; what they say they'll do is altogerther different from what will actually transpire.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 320

Agreed, it is doing nothing really to set itself apart from QF in any substantial way to draw people away from the QF/OW alliance,  even down to its route schedule and destinations which mirrors QF in most cases anyway. I always find it hard to see value in being a " me too" business in a volume market when you are the second player of a duopoly, at least on the domestic side of things which is Virgins core business. 


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 730

Perhaps Tangerine could transform the Mens latrines as well.

Turkish Airlines - Miles & Smiles

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 265

Perhaps now a Business Lounge for Business Class Passengers ONLY in PER, SYD and MEL for their new A330 'The Business' clientel.

Given that The Business is a superior product to QF Business (at least on the 777 routes vs. QF's A380/747 routes) I can see why Virgin would up their prices. The density reduction of the new seats is small but every little bit counts.

13 Jul 2016

Total posts 6

Not my experience. The Business sleeps hot and constrained, and jabs you in the hipbone if you sleep on your side. I'd take a QF Skybed any day over the torture device that was The Business. So sad; I was so excited to try The Business and have never felt more disappointed in an airplane seat.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jan 2016

Total posts 60

The increase seems to be more about creating a price diffrence to the new lower density Premium cabin.   There is only about a 20% diffrence on a lot of flights early next year between "Premium" and "The Business"  

 A brave move by Virgin given the competition  to increase costs in the non economy cabins based on their percieved value of the product.  Reminds me of Air NZ thinking the would be able to charge a premium for the space seats when they went in. 

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 441

J fares to the US are the cheapest they have ever been. This is not because airlines want people to experience J for less, its simple supply and demand and with the USD much lower against the AUD than 5 years ago (as well as a sluggish AU economy), there's less demand but arguably more supply than ever. VA will raise fares to whatever the market bears and their compeditors do - nothing to do with product quality of female toilets.

13 Jul 2016

Total posts 6

What do you mean "best business seat across the Pacific?" I hated it! I sleep on my side and the tray table, which can't be moved, dug into my hipbone the entire flight. It's also very hot and constraining of your legs under the TV when fully reclined. Style over function, couldn't wait for the flight to end, so disappointing. Will fly Qantas from now on because at least with their seat you can sleep without being jabbed and baked.

13 Jul 2016

Total posts 6

All you people voting my comment down: sorry but that was my experience. I've been Velocity Gold for 2 years, waited excitedly a long time for the new seat, and was superbly disappointed. It's just not at all comfortable to sleep on your side in it, no matter how much you'd like to be seduced by those pictures into thinking otherwise. I wonder how many of you voting the comment down have actually tried it.

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 13

If your hip is anywhere near the tray table I suggest you'd be better moving up and putting your head at  the top of the bed.  

13 Jul 2016

Total posts 6

Trust me, I tried that and everything else. But I'm 193 cm tall (90 cm waist), had my head touching the top of the shell behind the seat, and still had the tray digging into my hipbone. Hope for everyone else's sakes that their personal anatomy won't preclude them from being comfortable in the new seat like mine did.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jul 2012

Total posts 15

They might want to look at their standards of service first before they consider any price hike. I flew on VA7 BNE-LAX in 'The Business'as a Platinum and didn't get breakfast. I was awake before most others and saw everyone else getting breakfast one by one then they were clearing everything up just before descent when I asked about it. They verified they had my caard but were bewildered and didn't have an answer. By that time it was top of descent so I missed out and went hungry till I found some scraps at the Delta lounge. Performance is another problem with many delays of cancellations of late. So end result is raise the bar before they raise the price. JASON

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