Virgin Australia VA1 : Business Class Sydney to Los Angeles
I have flown VA business a couple of times across the pacific but earlier this year was my first time in the new 'suite' style seat. Here is my experience...
After arriving on a connecting service from Melbourne I took the Virgin Australia shuttle bus over to the international terminal. My bags were checked through so there was no need to stop by the check-in desks but this is what they looked like:
There was separate counters for Business, Premium Economy and Economy class. As you can see at the time I visited there was very little queue. Once check-in is complete its through security then passport control and on to the airside area.
Virgin have a real mish-mash of lounges that they use depending on status and what flight you are on. It's quite complicated really! When flying on VA trans-pacific services in business class though, the Sydney lounge is the Etihad Airways facilitiy.
Since it is still morning a breakfast service is on offer in this lounge. I liked the design, modern and spacious with lots of seating and a separate sit down dining area if you liked. The bar was also staffed although they were not offering proper champagne, just a sparkling wine! I believe the offerings are reduced when a partner airlines flight is using it and there is no Etihad departure any time soon.
The breakfast was served from the buffet and had plenty of options! There are also toilet and shower facilities within the lounge:
I sat down with my sparkling and used the wi-fi while I waited for the boarding call.
Our Boeing 777-300ER could be seen being prepared out the window:
Then it was off to the gate to board:
I was sitting in 1A today, a window seat at the front left side. Once on board the amenity kit and menu were offered. Along with a welcome drink, which included a champagne option. Virgin still insist on using stemless glassware unfortunately.
Here's a look at the cabin and seat:
Overall I like these 'suites' although I find them a little smaller and tighter feeling than the equivalent seat on Qantas A330's. Menu's were distributed as well. The breakfast menu is ordered on a card and handed to a crew member before going to sleep, your selections will be delivered to you in the morning before landing.
Each seat has a large touch screen for inflight entertainment and the moving map display.
We departed close to on time and took off from runway 16R at Sydney...
Once we were up above the clouds the seat belt sign was turned off and service commenced. A selection of almonds, edamame beans and olives came with the first round of drinks. Cute presentation I thought:
Then the table cloths came out and the 'signature' Opera House salt and pepper shakers were placed on the table along with bread plate, butter and glasses.
The bread basket came around with a choice of items including garlic bread which is always a favourite of mine!
Then came my starter, the Australian Prawns with soba noodles. Really fresh and delicious.
Then for my main the chicken and chorizo paella. Another tasty dish and quite an interesting option for a flight.
Then to finish the vanilla and mascapone roulade. I can't fault this menu, all just wonderful! I was too full to bother with cheese. The wine was also quite good, the Petaluma Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc was a quality option.
After lunch or anytime during the flight you might like to enjoy some time at the bar. A nice place to relax and socialise and help the time go by.
But when you are ready for a nap then the crew will put the mattress on your seat and make a lovely bed:
Very comfortable indeed, and that is where I lay throughout the night. Although I did not get a lot of sleep due to turbulence that wouldn't go away. Eventually we were nearing the USA coastline!
It's time for breakfast. Having made my choice the night before there is no need to order anything, it just arrives at your seat. The breakfast service is a simpler affair then the gourmet lunch. This time is comes on a tray:
First I was given the fruit and yoghurt plus the muffin. Then the hot breakfast came out afterwards:
It wasn't the most appealing looking breakfast. The eggs were very ordinary unfortunately. A bit of a disappointment compared to the lunch. However the coffee is great, they have a Nespresso machine on board making probably the best coffee I have had in the sky!
Once breakfast was over it was time to prepare for landing. We landed on a wet morning with low cloud and I disembarked. Note from the picture below, Trump was not yet in power. It was actually the last 2 days or so before the change of power. I am a little late putting this post up!
Virgin Australia is probably still best in the sky between Australia and the USA when it comes to business class. The service and suite are both top notch and currently better than anything Qantas can offer on it's A380. This won't change now until Qantas complete the refurb of the A380 fleet and then they will have a similar more competitive product on the route.