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.”
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.
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