LOS ANGELES — Virgin Australia officially launched its all-new Business Class cabin, bringing a significant enhancement to the passenger experience on the Los Angeles – Sydney route.
In an event held in Los Angeles this week, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti assured to be “confident this is the best business class flying on the Pacific and that it will be the top choice for premium passengers.”
“Together with our partner Delta, we will become the only trans-Pacific alliance that can offer our business class guests lie flat beds with direct aisle access on all services between Australia and the United States.” Borghetti said.
An Award Winning Business Class Cabin
The new Virgin Australia Business Class was designed by London-based consultancy firm tangerine, and offers a 1+2+1 layout with 37 private suites.
These suites are able to convert to the length of a queen size bed at 80 inches. The suite also features a console area, providing ample space to work, multitask and store personal items, and it also features an additional bedside amenity nook, which can be easily accessed while passengers rest.
The seat also features a triple-layer seat cushion supported by a hammock sub-frame and memory foam mattress toppers, and high-grade cotton pillows and doonas. This is complemented with a 18-inch touchscreen inflight entertainment system, the largest to be offered between the U.S. and Australia.
The cabin has already received has received several awards and nominations, having won the 2016 Good Design and Red Dot Awards, and was one of the finalists in the Crystal Cabin Awards 2016, losing to fellow partner Etihad’s First Class Cabin.
“Virgin Australia is really ambitious about its product,” said tangerine Chief Creative Officer Matt Round. “Great design creates outstanding customer experience that transform business. That is what we have done for Virgin Australia and its shaking the market.” He said.
A Renewed Premium
The enhancements are not limited to Business Class but also to Premium Economy, which according to Borghetti, it would no longer be referred to as such, as there is nothing economy about it.
The 24-seat cabin is arranged in a 2+4+2 layout, offering more legroom than any other Australian carrier at 41 inches of seat pitch, 19.5 inches of width and nine inches of recline.
Premium guests will enjoy a Business Class meal service, accompanied accompanied by a selection of wines from the Business Class cellar. Also, they will have access to a Premium Pantry during the flight.
Economy Class: “What you see is what You get”
When asked about the possibility of Economy Class going to the now industry standard 10-abreast, Borghetti was quick to shoot down any possibility of that saying “What you see is what you get.”
This week, Virgin Australia also announced plans to launch inflight wi-fi by mid-2017. However it is unclear whether will be the provider of the service.
Boeing 777X, 787? Airbus A350? Not Yet
While the formal launch of the Business Class cabin took place this week, the first 777-300ER had entered service last May. To date, three of the five 777-300ERs have been retrofitted, with a fourth aircraft about to be fitted. The last aircraft will be completed by September, which will be followed up with the relaunch of the Sydney-Abu Dhabi route.
Airways asked Borghetti about Virgin Australia’s expansion plans to more cities in the United Stated. He admitted that at this point, and thanks to the partnership with Delta, Virgin Australia code-shares flights to 235 destinations, so there is no need to expand service to more U.S. cities.
Virgin Australia is looking at the Boeing 787 and 777X, as well as at the Airbus A350 as the potential candidates to replace its long-haul fleet, which to date averages 7 years in the triple sevens and 3.5 years in the Airbus A330s. With such a young fleet, Borghetti says that it will take at least two or three years before making a decision for a new widebody order, targeting the delivery of early to mid 2020s.
The next aircraft Virgin Australia will receive will be the Boeing 737 MAX in 2018, and according to Borghetti, the airline is “very excited” for the new type.