A flight review of Virgin Australia's new Business Class Suites product on the Los Angeles to Sydney VA 2 flight.
The long-awaited brand new business class seats on Virgin Australia‘s Boeing 777-300 aircaft finally made its debut flight a month ago on the Sydney-Los Angeles flight.
After exploring the Galapagos Islands, we spent a week in Florida and took an Orlando to Sydney (via Los Angeles) flight on return.
I flew VA 2 Los Angeles to Sydney as a codeshare with Delta Air Lines (flight number DL 6798).
And on this return flight, I was able to experience Virgin Australia’s new Business Class Suites. Was it worth the anticipation? Let’s find out and see.
*There is a flight video below*
Flight Number: VA 2
(Codeshare flight number with Delta Air Lines: DL 6798)
Route / Class : Los Angeles to Sydney, Business Class
Flight Time: 14 Hours 25 Minutes
Seat Numbers: 3D and 6D
Departure / Arrival Time: 22:35 Los Angeles time, arriving 0635 AM Sydney time (2 days later due to time difference)
As soon as our domestic Delta flight landed in Los Angeles from Orlando, I braced myself for a chaotic transfer in LAX. To my pleasant surprise, there was a Virgin Australia representative who met us at the gate, waiting to herd all passengers connecting on the VA 2 flight.
As VA 2 was departing from a different terminal, there was a bus shuttle that transported us to the VA 2 departure gate.
I’m sure that getting from one terminal to another is possible to do by yourself, but since we were in LAX, it was such a relief to see a friendly face holding up a VA sign and be guided accordingly.
Virgin Australia has two jet bridges for boarding. One for Business, and another for Economy. Halfway through boarding, US Immigration officers placed themselves on the gate entrance leading to the jet bridges, and asked airline staff to open only one jet bridge so they can screen passengers more efficiently. (They weren’t screening everyone, just random picks)
The smell of brand-new leather seats greeted me when I first got into the cabin. Given that the Business Class suites had only been flying for three weeks at that time, everything was sleek with a look and feel of a product that’s just been freshly unwrapped.
Drinks were provided on arrival (Champagne, water or juice) and our cabin crew, Darren, personally went from seat to seat to introduce himself and tell us more about the flight and the new seats.
BUSINESS CLASS SUITES / SEAT
Since these suites have been the most anticipated product, let me show you in detail what the new business class suites of Virgin Australia look like:
This is how you will find your seat when you board. You will notice that it has a lot of storage and desk space. The main colour of the seats and interior is black, and touches of the signature purple of Virgin Australia can be found in small details like the pillow, menu, and cabin lighting.
One tiny detail that I appreciated: When I got to my seat, I saw that the privacy screens were already closed shut (you can slide it to the left if you want it open). So if you are travelling solo and you don’t know the person sitting next to you, you won’t need to draw that privacy screen up. I’ve been on other business class flights featuring privacy screens, and they are almost always down when you get to your seat, leaving you or the passenger next to you the initiative/courtesy to draw the privacy panel up. Whereas if the panels are pre-set to be closed, it’s always easier to open it later on if you are travelling with someone you know.
Anyhow, here’s a photo of the seat with all of its compartments open, with the features broken down:
A – 18” gesture-based entertainment touch screens with ‘Red’ Panasonic XE2 system graphical user interface
B– Retractable privacy screen dividing centre seats
C– Noise-cancelling headphones
D– dedicated side console with USB port and universal power socket. Even with wires plugged to the ports and sockets, this compartment closes fully. This compartment also contains the Entertainment handset.
E– Amenity kit by Mandarina Duck
F– Unique tablet holder (L 10.50” x D 1.02” x W 7.35”) specifically designed for Virgin Australia
G– Touch screen Seat and Light Control
H– tailored seat upholstery with leather head and arm rests. Seat converts into an 80-inch fully flat bed.
I– Armrest & storage (containing headsets and a bottle of water)
J– Tray table
K– Enhanced restaurant-style service with new Luke Mangan designed menus
Another great feature of the Business Class Suite product is the seat “turn-down”, which I will talk about later.
Because first, food.
Australian chef, restaurateur and television presenter Luke Mangan is the Consulting Chef for Virgin Australia. He also designed the menus to match the restaurant-style service.
With a departure time of 22:35 (10:35 PM) and an arrival time of 06:35 in the morning, the two main meals on the VA 2 Los Angeles to Sydney flight are dinner and breakfast.
There are three dining options for passengers of the Virgin Australia Business Suites on VA 2:
- A la Carte – traditional / restaurant style of service where starters , mains, and dessert are served separately
- Express Dining (no mains) – for those wanting to get more sleep or mainly do work
- Pantry – gourmet snacks anytime during the flight
- Bar Dining – Drinks & snacks. Breakfast can be served here too if you wish
Here’s the menu, along with photos of the food (our picks)
Choice of warmed artisan breads
Tomato and lemongrass soup with cashews & coriander
Prociutto with fennel remoulade
Salad of apple, broad beans, almonds & parmesan with balsamic dressing
Steak sandwich with beef fillet, Gruyere cheese, caramelised onion, rocket & chili relish
Chicken & chorizo paella with parsley & peas
Ocean trout on dill crushed potatoes with asparagus & tomato salsa
Seared Haloumi on spiced beetroot & carrot with Baba Ganoush, pomegranate & pistachios
Cheese platter of Point Reyes Toma (America), Camembert (America), Fourme d’Ambert (France) with walnut, dates & crackers
Passionfruit curd tart with mango coulis & blueberries
Belgian chocolate Gelato
Salted caramel Gelato
For breakfast, you fill out a form that you tick which breakfast choices you want and the cabin crew will collect it just before turn down. I like that this option gives you the extra time to sleep in, and when you wake, breakfast is served right away because they have already prepared it beforehand.
On the other hand, if you decide to change your mind about any of the menu items after handing in your menu card, don’t forget to advise your cabin crew beforehand.
All breakfast menus include:
Choice of fresh orange juice or seasonal juice
Main breakfast menu:
Bircher muesli with pineapple, mango, passionfruit & macadamia
Banana & walnuts on lemon ricotta pancakes with maple syrup & cinnamon butter
Scrambled eggs with choice of: sourdough toast, field mushroom, bacon, wilted spinach, smoked salmon or avocado
This menu is available throughout the flight. Perfect if you don’t really feel like having a main meal but want a substantial snack. Or even if you’ve had dinner and you wake up and crave for something. Just like at home!
Nuts -Roasted mixed nuts sourced from Australia owned & operated family business
Chocolate – Valrhona milk & dark chocolate
Chips – Gourmet potato crisps with sea salt
Toasted Reuben sandwich wth pickles
King prawns with chipotle, corn salsa & coriander
Crushed peask with mint, ricotta, radish & herbs on sourdough toast
Artisan cheese plate with grapes & fig paste
Food was great, and in particular I enjoyed breakfast the most. With a departure time of 22:35 , you can imagine that dinner was served close to midnight. As with all red-eye flights, I found myself in a sloth-like dilemma of wanting to finish the glorious food vs sleeping. I fell asleep mid-dessert and woke up still clutching a piece of cheese while TRHOBH (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) was droning away.. err… #dontjudge
If I were to go on this flight again, I would probably have an early dinner and have a nap in the early evening so I can enjoy the dinner service while fully awake, or sleep through dinner, wake up in the middle of the flight and enjoy one of the snacks from the pantry menu.
And because I had fully slept then, I enjoyed the breakfast service thoroughly. It can be as light or as heavy as you wish!
Deep Sleep Turndown Service
Ah, speaking of sleep. After dinner, the cabin lighting will dim and the ceiling will be strewn with stars. I don’t know about you but the sight of this already makes my lids feel heavy.
And not only does the business class suites seat transform into a fully-flat bed (yes, its fully, 180 degrees flat), the cabin crew also will make a bed out of your seat by putting a fitted, padded mattress over the seat, and providing a duvet, along with the two pillows you have.
Darren expertly transformed our seats into such inviting beds.
I’m really impressed with this service. The lightly padded mattress was a great touch because it really made for an authentic bed feel. You won’t feel the creases or folds within the seat so the bed has a seamless feel to it. The pillows were also a good combination – one fluffy, and one firm.
Comfortable black pajamas were also given and they come in different sizes.
I slept quite well and when I woke up, I found that there were only three hours left into the flight. I felt both refreshed and slightly disappointed – well, because I wanted to have more hours remaining!
With the Panasonic touch screen monitor measuring 18 inches, this is possibly the widest inflight entertainment monitor I’ve seen, and the image quality is extremely vivid and clear.
I found myself wishing there were more film / tv show selections as you’d really want to engage in a movie fest with this kind of clarity and enormous screen. Movies available were great, but it would be better if they had variety other than the ‘mainstream’ ones (Fast & the Furious series, etc).
Nevertheless, watching movies and shows on the Business Suite was a very relaxing and satisfying experience. It’s like being cocooned in your own private mini-theatre room. As I had seen most of the movies, I turned to the TV Show category and out of curiousity (really!) I watched a couple episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. My eyes started feeling sore soon. I didn’t realise I can be capable of too much eye-rolling in a 40 minute episode. So I re-watched this heartwarming movie. Well, it’s a flop on most reviews but I absolutely loved it!
The Intern. Robert de Niro is so adorable in that movie. I cried and laughed repeatedly, even if that was probably the third time I watched it.
Amenity Kit / Lavatory
I was absolutely thrilled to find out that Virgin Australia uses REN skincare. REN is my favourite toiletry brand, and get a kick out of it when I stay in hotels that uses REN. So I was so excited to see see this when I opened my amenity kit. Virgin Australia is the first airline I’ve flown that uses REN.
This is what the Mandarina Duck container holds:
- REN Vita Mineral Lip Balm 5ml
- REN Vetiver V7 Hand & Body Cream 10ml
- REN Evercalm Day Cream 10ml
- toothbrush and toothpaste set
- ear plugs
- facial tissues
- cotton pads & swabs
- Virgin Australia pen
The lavatory also uses REN handwash. The VA lavatory also has soft pipe-in music (Michael Buble / lounge kind of music) which was quite relaxing.
My tip: use the lavatory up front on the right hand side. It is more spacious and has mirror lights!
After dinner, the in-flight bar is opened. There are four stools on the bar as well as a couch that can seat two to three at the back of the bar.
The bar was busy just before breakfast was served, when people started hanging out in the bar to stretch their legs and use it as a waiting area for their turn in the lavatory.
I can imagine that the bar would be busier during Sydney to Los Angeles flights, when departure is in the morning.
No flight review is complete without a video! Here you will see in detail everything I wrote, including:
- in flight food
- turn down service (transition of seat into bed)
- cabin layout
- entertainment system
- the bar
Overall thoughts / service
No exagerration, Virgin Australia seems to only hire happy people. Our flight attendant Darren was very friendly and down to earth but also efficient in his service. So are the other cabin crew on different zones, who will not hesitate to engage in small conversations with you whenever possible.
I’ve always said it before, Virgin Australia has the most consistent service in all areas. From their reservations team, to airport staff to flight crew – everyone seems to be high on endorphins. And so that you know I’m not just raving away praises, I dare you to randomly ring their reservations team, and listen to the tone of their voice. They sound like they’ve been waiting for you to call them all this time.
*Here’s a very old flight review of mine Sydney to Nadi (Fiji) and you can see the old business class product but also see that the great customer service is the same*
Crew on ground and on flight are all outgoing and have that ‘laid back-no-pretension-but-all-efficient’ service that is very familiar and comforting.
One of the small details I appreciated – on the arrival card, they have pre-filled the flight number and date for you. How thoughtful! No need to look for the boarding pass (which almost always goes into disappearing act when you need it). Now if they can pre-fill passport numbers too…ha! 😉
So is the new Business Suites product worth the wait and anticipation? Yes, I absolutely believe so. If you’ve flown the old business class product, you will see the stark improvement in the seats and overall cabin itself. The Sydney to Los Angeles (and vice versa) route is one of the most popular flights out of Sydney. With 5 flights a day from the various airlines that fly this route, I’m glad and very impressed to see that Virgin Australia is definitely one of the most luxurious ways you can fly from Australia to the USA, and vice versa.
As a return flight to Sydney, Virgin Australia’s warm Australian service is undeniably a great touch and gives you a sense of slowly being eased back into home.
Have you flown Virgin Australia before? How do you find their service?
We experienced the Virgin Australia Business Suites product as guests of Virgin Australia for the purpose of a review, but all honest thoughts and opinions are mine.