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Transport : Airlines

When choosing the best business class airline in the world; Virgin Australia’s new “The Business” Business Class cabin often comes top. “The Business” has rolled out on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ER planes and I review this new Business Class offering below.

Virgin Australia “The Business”

Virgin Australia’s new business class has been fitted to each of the five Boeing 777-300ER international long-haul jets flying from Sydney to LAX and Brisbane to LAX as well as the Sydney to Abu Dhabi leg.

From the moment you enter the super-luxurious business class cabin you will understand why this cabin is rated so highly. The cabin offers a brand new in-flight bar, some of the most comfortable seats in the sky and some of the widest and most comfortable 80-inch (203cm) long beds. These also boast 28 of width inches when you lower the chair’s left-hand armrest.

There are 37 individual suites in the newly refurbished cabin, the 1-2-1 layout is arranged in a reverse herringbone, with aisle seats facing outwards towards the windows and the centre two seats facing inwards towards each other, see seat map. A large cocoon stretches around the seat providing more privacy, and there are dividers between centre seats. Each seat has direct aisle access and a 18-inch touchscreen entertainment screen.

For sleeping, Virgin’s cabin crew will come around and fit your seat with a soft, plush mattress pad and will give you a duvet. The two pillows on your seat are soft and firm so you can use either, as you prefer.

Lighting is in Virgin’s signature purple tones, which is relaxing. Storage is made up from five small compartments and each business seat has its own overhead storage bin. Passengers are allowed two 115cm, 7kg carry-on bags or rolling hard-side luggage.

Virgin “The Business” Bar

The bar is situated in the middle of the business class cabin, with bulkheads on either side to separate it from the business seats. The bar is surrounded by seven seats with room to stand, so you could hold a meeting or meet other luxury travellers if you get bored of watching movies alone and sleeping.

Amenities on Virgin Australia

The noise-cancelling headphones are good, there’s always a bottle of water handy, and the amenity kit comes from Mandarina Duck (pictured in scroller above) and sized pyjamas from Julie Grbac. You can see how this compares to other airlines in my 10 best First and Business Class amenity kits.

Food on Virgin Australia

This is perhaps the only bit of “The Business” that falls below par. In fact, the Middle Eastern Airlines including Etihad, Emirates and Qatar offer much better food than Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia’s business class dinner and breakfast service is fine, but noting fancy. Hearty Australian grub rather than gastronomic fine dining.

Starter options include garlic bread, tomato soup, king prawns and of course a bread basket.

Expect a main course choice which reads similar to the following (bearing in mind menus change):
Moroccan spiced lamb and sweet potato on date couscous with almond, preserved lemon and mint.
Pork fillet on parsnip puree with roast eschalot, caramelised apple and broad beans.
Barramundi with black bean sauce, snow peas, rice and spring onions.
Eggplant, zucchini and blue cheese lasagne with basil and toasted pine nuts.
Dishes are matched with good Australian wines.

Following is a cheese board or more traditional desserts and if you are still hungry, roasted mixed nuts, chocolate, sea salt crisps and Australian green olives can all be ordered from your seat or at the bar, as can the following ‘lite bites’:

Chicken and leek toasted sandwich.
Ham, paprika and Manchego cheese croquettes with corn and capsicum salsa.
Mezze plate of dips with spiced flatbread.
Artisan cheese plate with grapes and fig paste.

For breakfast expect a variety of juices, fruits, cereals, bakery items, Nespresso coffee, tea and your choice of main dish:

Fig and apricot Bircher muesli with cardamom and pistachio.
Spiced plum on toasted banana bread with almonds and coconut yoghurt.
Scrambled eggs with tomato relish.
Sides of bacon, celeriac potato cake, smoked salmon, field mushrooms, wilted spinach and marinated feta.

You can also opt to enjoy your full breakfast at the bar or take a simple continental option in the bar area before the proper breakfast service begins.

Conclusion

Virgin Australia’s “The Business” offers a superb cabin and seat, service and bar, but the food lets the airline down. If you are a gourmet or simply like your food, you may prefer to travel Business Class on one of the Middle Eastern Airlines. I have written about which Middle Eastern Airline is best in Business Class. For comparison, you may also wish to read my review of Qantas in First Class.