Hot off the heels of their A330 refresh, Virgin Australia today unveiled its new International Business Class cabin, with the first of its refitted Boeing 777-300ER aircraft now flying across the Pacific. This comes after their announcement of the refresh back in 2014. “The airline’s flagship Business Class product ‘The Business’, new Business Class Bar and Lounge, and refreshed Premium cabin will transform the customer experience on long haul flights from Australia to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi,” state the latest press release from the carrier.
Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti said “Virgin Australia is committed to product innovation and delivering a superior customer journey on the ground and in the air.”
Featuring a new product designed by London based agency Tangerine, the airline has revamped its current 777 product to offer all-aisle access, something carriers seemingly have to invest in to keep up with competitors. “With competition increasing from Australia to North America and the Middle East, we believe this will be the best Business Class on the Pacific, with the product also being introduced to
Abu Dhabi later this year,” Borghetti continues.
“We have seen customer satisfaction scores increasing to all-time highs after introducing ‘The Business’ domestically on transcontinental routes so we are confident that, with our new Boeing 777 Business Class cabin and refreshed Premium cabin, Virgin Australia will be the number one choice for premium travellers.”
The carrier has invested heavily into the premium cabins, however, they’ve also introduced economy space+, meaning a traditionally three class aircraft has now become four class, and is the first to offer both premium economy and an economy space+ cabin, which is situated in the first five rows of the traditional economy section.
The Business features a seat similar to that of China Airlines (B/E Aerospace Super Diamond), with the same hard product that’s been adapted to offer a contemporary and clean cabin aesthetic. In the point end, passengers can benefit from:
-37 individual and private suites that convert into the length of a queen size bed at 80 inches;
-Reverse herringbone cabin layout, maximising privacy and enabling 100 per cent direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration;
-Generous side console area providing ample space to work, multitask and store personal items, with the addition of a bedside amenity nook for easy access while resting;
-Customised triple-layer seat cushion supported by a hammock sub-frame and a turndown service with memory foam mattress toppers and high-grade cotton pillows and doonas;
)The largest in-flight entertainment screen flying between Australia and North America, with an 18 inch High Definition touch screen featuring the Virgin Australia Entertainment seatback system and a stylish new intuitive user interface;
-Luke Mangan-designed menus paired with premium wines and delivered in a fine dining experience tailored to our guests’ needs through à la carte or Express Dining options;
-Three new Signature Service elements designed to enhance Virgin Australia’s award-winning service including:
-Cocktail and Canapé Service offered prior to the first meal service with a choice of Bellini, Kir Royale or Mimosa along with a Luke Mangan-designed canapé plate;
-The new Business Class Bar and Lounge will be open after the first meal service and hosted by Business Class cabin crew, offering a selection of nibbles and bites, beer, wine and spirits as well as a hot beverage selection with petit fours; and
-Continental breakfast at the bar prior to the full breakfast service, or the opportunity to enjoy a full breakfast at the bar rather than in the suite.
-A continuation of the world-first partnership with Nespresso to be served in ‘The Business’ and the Business Class Bar and Lounge.
The seat features a well of storage areas, including a new side pocket for tablets which has been incorporated into the magazine rack by the passengers shoulder. The choice of dark charcoals below the ‘keel line’ of the seat means the upper surfaces pop and seemingly float, creating depth and height to the cabin, whilst also keeping the main areas that get wear and tear a darker tone to hide scratches and scuffs.
The screens are noticeably vast, and the mood lighting that is synonymous with the Virgin branded aircraft is in abundance. The best element is the introduction of a fully operational bar set behind the main business class cabin.
It features the signature flying lady, a spacious bar with four bar stools and two smaller seats either side of a secondary table, meaning it’s very social, and still enjoyable even if a larger group takes up the main bar area.
As part of the refit, which should be complete by mid-late 2016, the airline also unveiled major improvements to its Premium Economy cabin, which now features 24 seats with more legroom than any other Australian airline and has been renamed simply ‘Premium’.
Even if a passenger can’t afford the lavish business class, this affordable cabin class offers just as impressive perks for the price point. Key features of Premium on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft:
-An exclusive and intimate cabin size of 24 seats with dedicated Business Class-trained crew;
-More legroom than any other Australian airline with an increased seat pitch of 41 inches;
-A roomy 19.5 inch seat width with nine inches of recline;
-Plated meal services inspired by Business Class, served on Business class crockery and accompanied by a selection of wines from our Business Class cellar;
-The introduction of Nespresso coffee and Madame Flavour Tea along with a Premium Pantry for exclusive use by our Premium guests during the flight;
-Two new Signature Service elements including cocktails and Movie Snack service each hour throughout the flight;
-10.6 inch screen featuring the Virgin Australia setback system with a stylish new intuitive user interface;
-In-seat power and a USB outlet for charging personal electronic devices;
-Amenity packs with luxurious blankets, pillows and skincare products; and
-Dedicated check-in, Priority Boarding and Priority Baggage, enabling Premium guests to speed through airport formalities.
Economy Space +
So the seats are identical to those found in the economy class cabin, however being located in the first five rows and the exit rows of the main cabin on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ER fleet, Economy Space + features:
-Check-in via a dedicated Premium check-in counter;
-Preferred overhead locker;
-Dedicated crew members throughout the flight;
-Guaranteed first meal choice; and
-Premium noise-cancelling headset.
All in all, Virgin Australia have managed to successfully deliver a competitive, industry leading 777 product, which has the space, amenities and service elements that the all-elusive premium passengers demand in 2016.