I flew round trip in Virgin Australia Business Class in November, I’ll lump the two flights together for this review.
November 1, 2013 – VA Flight 8, Seat 2K
November 25, 2013 – VA Flight 7, Seat 1D
By the time I boarded my outbound flight, it was 2:00 AM (5 AM at home) so I didn’t want to have a heavy meal. Actually, I wanted to put on my provided PJ’s and go to bed. But, I did think I should eat something first. I had a salad and cheese plate, skipping the main course of the meal. Although I was one of the first people to finish my meal, I don’t think skipping a course helped me all that much. I thought the food was good, but felt like the menu was either Australian or just a bit overly fancy (probably a little of both), so it didn’t excite me.
On my return flight I had a similar experience, but ate a lot more food. Although I found the choices hit or miss, I found that will so many courses I was able to eat a very substantial meal. Each Lunch or Dinner came with roles, a soup or salad, mean course, cheese plate or dessert (or both). The menu’s are available online, though I’m pretty sure my menu changed since I had viewed it and boarded the flight.
Breakfast cards are provided when you board the flight, you check what you want, if you want to be woken for it and hand it to the FA. An hour to an hour and a half before landing breakfast service starts. Breakfast choices were orange juice or smoothie, and coffee or tea for beverages. There were also cereals, pastries and a hot main course. On my flight out I had a french toast that was quite good, on the return I had some sort of sandwich that was not that good (it probably would have appealed to Australians more than Americans). But I had eaten so much at that point that I was full anyway.
On my flight out I did not partake in any snacks, but since I was awake for most of the flight home I did have some chips, which came in a bowl and a cookie which was served on a plate. There is a bar in business class, it provided drinks during the flight outside of meal times and was a nice place to stretch your legs if you were awake during the flight.
PJ’s and Amenity Kit
The provided pajama’s were a pants and long sleeve set and they are super comfortable and came in a cute little bag. I was going to take them when I flew out, but I had so much crap getting off the plane that I didn’t bother. I did take them on the flight home though, so I do have memorabilia. They are cotton so when I washed them they did shrink a bit, but they were a little big anyway.
The amenity kit was provided by Grown Alchemist and consisted of moisturizers, lip balm, a tooth brush, tooth paste, brush, pen, Q-tips, eye mask, and ear plugs. Now that I’m home, I’m really enjoying the moisturizers! I think if I were to suggest one thing for these amenity kits (I’ve never seen this) it would be moist facial wipes.
Business class has lie flat seats, each seat came with a TV for the entertainment system, a tray table, Bose headphones, USB ports for each seat and a regular plug too. I found the seats comfortable and primarily sat in a reclined position during the flights when I was awake. I will caution that when you take the tray table out your seat is stuck in it’s position until you put it back. I didn’t end up in a bad position at any point, but I almost did.
While I got changed into my PJ’s the FA turned down my bed for me and I was out like a light. I slept somewhere between 7 and 10 hours on my outbound flight. I made the mistake of changing the time on my watch, but my phones still had LA time so I had trouble keeping track of the time.
The lie flat bed was fairly comfortable. Even with the padding, I could feel the creases in the seat and it’s not terribly soft. But then I was on a plane and I did manage to sleep at least 7 hours so it wasn’t that bad. I would say it was a bit better than my business class seat on British Airways, but it’s been a few years since I flew that so I wouldn’t read too much into that.
My flights were outfitted with Virgin Australia’s Red system. I know Red has won some awards and I’m certainly not going to complain about it. I didn’t take advantage of it, but apparently you can connect a USB device and view some photos and documents on your screen. I did however watch several movies, they had some great box office films from earlier in the year and a nice selection of TV shows. Of course I’m a geek and watched some TED Talks. All shows and movies are on demand and can be paused during the flight. I skipped on the games and the music, but they were also available.
There were 3 bathrooms in business class, they were a touch bigger then you would find in a traditional coach cabin. They had higher end soap, and cloth napkins as well as a fancier interior. But the best thing about them was that with 3 of them for around 20 passengers they didn’t get gross!
I was surprised to find the service a bit inconsistent. The service was good on my flights, but was only great on one. During the whole trip I had 8 flights on Virgin Australia (both domestic and International), Delta, and Qantas. All of these flights had good service with professional flight attendants, I have no complaints. But when I think of these two International flights only one flight attendant stood out to me as providing excellent service. It was my flight attendant on my flight home. I wish I could remember her name, but she was warm, explained things and was very attentive. She just had that finishing touch of recognizing a need before it was realized. Overall I would say the FA’s on Virgin Australia were professional, but I would not describe them as the warmest in the skies. I did like their uniforms though.
Comparing it to my only other business class experience, British Airways, I thought it was a comparable, if not better product. I paid for this with miles and for the difference in price compared to a coach, it was absolutely worth every mile I paid, and more. It’s not worth the $16K it would have cost in cash, but that’s a topic for someone else.