After all the planning and waiting the day of my business class flight on V Australia was finally here. As you may remember, I had redeemed Delta SkyMiles for the V Australia ticket and flew Delta Airlines to Los Angeles prior to this flight. One comment on the airline name, as it a bit confusing. V Australia (VA) is part of the Virgin Australia group, but until 2012, it will maintain its distinct name, due to some rule regarding carrying the Virgin name on flights to the US. Starting in the new year, these flights to/from LAX will be branded as Virgin Australia, which is the same name for the Australian domestic airline.
(apologies for the quality of some iPhone photos that are not as crisp as I would like)
V Australia 2
October 30, 2011
Depart 9:55 pm 10/30/11
Arrive 6:25 am 11/1/11
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Seat 3A (Business Class)
legroom and view from my seat
I flew V Australia from LAX to Sydney in business class. They are the long haul part of the Virgin Australia family and offer daily service between LAX and Sydney, and a few flights per week between LAX and Melbourne and LAX and Brisbane. It was excited to finally try the V Australia product for myself. Upon boarding, I was quickly greeted by the friendly flight attendant covering business class. She asked if I had sat in V Australia International Business before, and after I said no, she gave me a quick tour of how things work with the seat and the service. There was an amenity kit, pillow and menu on the seat along with a 3 prong noice cancelling headest under the armrest.
Headphones provided. I wasn't particularly impressed, and used my Bose QC-2.
Once seated, I noticed that the seat was comfortable for sitting, if a little narrow. It did go fully flat, although not spacious. I'm 6'3", and I would think anyone taller than me would be cramped in the seat, as I didn't have room to slide without hitting my head or feet. To me, the seat seemed a bit like a narrower version of Lufthansa's 747 first class seat, with a lie-flat bed, but not the most comfortable for sleeping . There is a pretty simple intuitive electronic control panel.
For in flight entertainment, VA offers the Red system, also in use with Virgin America. It has a pretty impressive array of entertainment options. There are a bunch of movies, TV shows, games, and entire albums available. I like the playlist feature which saves some effort repeatedly searching through the whole list to find something.
Preparing to watch some IFE with a glass of champagne.
After a while our Business Class dinner was served it was very tasty and the paired wines were well suited to each course. After the meal, I was surprisingly not that tired, so I played with the Red system for a while, then went to explore the onboard bar.
map while enroute
a well-stocked bar behind row 4 was primarily self-serve, unless a flight attendant was nearby
Ceiling above bar area (also the entry to door 2)
I finally decided I should try to get some sleep, so I asked the flight attendants for my pajamas and to make my seat into bed. I went to the lav to change.
no laviator photo here...
cloth hand towels and funky wallpaper
The flight attendant provided me extra large due to my height, and I thought large would be better, but she insisted. Once I put them on, and as expected, the XL were huge on me, but the pants were a still short. Oh well.
I also examined the amenity kit in a bit more detail. Overall, somewhat underwhelming, containing socks, a nice eyeshade, ear plugs, a comb, pen and some L'Occitane lip balm. I would have expected a little more in there, and at least some sort of breath mints and maybe a toothbrush. There was lotion available in the lavatories.
Please also see Darren's detailed review at of the V Australia amenity kit. It seems that this particular kit I got was somewhat picked over and missing a few items. I enjoy his objective reviews, and I think he is fair in his ratings of this particular kit.
Amenity kit bag
Amenity kit contents....that's it?
After changing, my seat was laid flat, and a mattress pad and duvet were in place. There is also an extension that attaches to the foot rest to give a few more inches of length to the bed.
By this time the mood lights were set to sleep mode, and I managed to get several hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Good night from 36,000 feet.
Although mattress pad and duvet are comfortable, I didn't find the seat all that great for sleeping. Its fully flat, but feels narrow, and there isn't much privacy to the adjacent seat. I was in a window, but the seating configuration in Business is 2-3-2. I felt every time my seat mate rolled over or got up. I'm fortunate to be able to sleep almost anywhere, and this night I slept without too many interruptions. Once I awoke, I noticed breakfast was being served, so I decided to move to a position more suited for dining. I noticed one odd thing about the seat, if the tray table is out, the seat can not be adjusted. That seems like a poor design, but with a little planning, its not too difficult to work around.
After breakfast, I changed back into my street clothes, and freshened up a bit in the lavatory. We were then approaching Sydney.
the sun was rising inside...
In all, I was quite impressed with the service I received in V Australia Business class from LAX to Sydney. I have previous flown this route on United, in First Class. The Virgin Australia business class seat is not comparable to a First class experience, but I would say the food and the service surpasses what United Airlines offers. The flight attendants in general were young, friendly and Australian. Quite a contrast from the very senior United flight attendants that typically serve First Class on that route. The VA crew was very willing to help, and were available throughout the flight, not hiding between meal services.
Upon landing in Sydney around 6am, it seemed that our flight was the first of the flights from the US to arrive, as there was no line at all for customs. I didn't need the express pass that was provided, since there was no queue at all to get to an immigration officer. Once through customs formalities, I collected my bags, and the was off to the Virgin Australia transfer desk to recheck bags and get a boarding pass for my flight to Cairns.
While at the transfer desk, the agent told me that Janet Jackson was on my flight. She was apparently sitting in the curtained-off row 5, and I didn't realize it. When I was getting my boarding pass, the coach bus containing Miss Jackson and her entourage pulled away. Apparently, she had few Australian tour dates coming up. On my return flight, there was another musical celebrity which I will discuss when I cover that leg of the flight.
I intentionally booked a long layover in Sydney to get away from the airport a bit, rather than more time spent in touristy Cairns. But first I needed a shower in the Virgin Australia lounge which I followed with a train ride into Sydney to explore the area around the city center.
Note: I made a seperate post discussing the Business Class Meals on this flight.