I may not have slept well, but I liked everything else about my Virgin Australia 777-300ER flight in “The Business” from Los Angeles to Brisbane.
Check-in at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is in Terminal 3, even though Virgin Australia departs from the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Thus, after checking in I proceeded out to the street and downstairs to my secret checkpoint. Sadly, Virgin Australia still does not participate in TSA PreCheck.
Once I cleared secuirty, I made my way up to the top floor, where Virgin Australia contracts with Emirates for lounge access. I’ve reviewed the lounge before here.
> Review: Emirates Lounge LAX
Boarding was set to commence at 10:00PM, but was delayed for nearly 45 minutes. We finally boarded closer to 11:00PM but still landed on time, a testament to airline schedule padding.
Virgin Australia 8
Los Angeles (LAX) – Brisbane (BNE)
Sunday, July 21
Depart: 10:30 PM
Arrive: 05:30 AM+2
Duration: 14hr, 20min
Distance: 7,161 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 5K (Business Class)
Onboard, I was warmly greeted by a flight attendant who wound end up serving my section and perfectly epitomized why I love Virgin Australia. But let’s start with seating.
Virgin Australia 777-300ER Business Class Seating
“The Business” cabin includes 37 flat bed seats, including 24 in the forward cabin and 13 in a rear cabin with a lounge/bar in between (more on that below). The reverse herringbone seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 fashion with mood lighting that was far more visually pleasing than my camera was able to pick up on. Center seats have sliding privacy dividers if you are traveling solo and don’t get a window seat.
My seat included side storage compartments with room for smaller electronic devices, my wallet and passport, and other personal items. High-powered USB charging ports quickly charged devices and a universal power outlet was also available.
I do get a little OCD with stains on seats/suites and a big blue botch in my suite was admittedly annoying…but I got over it! 😉
I expected to sleep well for the majority of the flight, as I usually do when traveling to Australia. Instead, I only managed about six hours of sleep, which is less than half of the flight. I do not want to blame the seat for my lack of my rest, but I did have trouble finding a comfortable position.
When it comes to reverse herringbone seats, there are two types. One is called the Super Diamond seat by Rockwell Collins (used by British Airways on its new A350, China Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Qatar Airways, and WestJet among others). The other is the Cirrus seat by Safran/Zodiac (used by Air France, American Airlines, Delta, Finnair, JAL among others). Virgin Australia uses the Super Diamond, which has a fold-down tray table below the entertainment screen.
The problem is that I find this tray table interferes with my legroom. I banged my knee against it and found the “cubby hole” tight…it did impact my rest. There’s also no individual air nozzles on Virgin Australia.
But I appreciated the soft bedding and cannot say the cabin felt overly warm. I used to always leave my socks on when I slept on airplanes, but now will take them off…it seems to help me fall asleep much quicker.
Virgin Australia 777-300ER Business Class Bar
As I mentioned above, a beautiful lounge/bar separates the two business class cabin. I found the lounge much classier than any of the bars on Virgin Atlantic (although I have not flown the Virgin A350 yet). It was spacious and the Flying Lady icon in the center of cabin is impressive when backlit.
Bar service was available shortly after takeoff, though both times I visited the bar was empty (no passengers or staff). One flight attendant served as barista during the breakfast service and utilized the coffee machine in the bar to prepare coffee for business class passengers.
In all honesty, I view the bar area as wasted real estate. While it is nice to have a place to stretch out, that’s what the lie-flat seats are for. I just don’t see the business case for taking up so much space with a bar unless four additional business class seats would mandate another flight attendant.
Virgin Australia 777-300ER Business Class Pajamas + Amenity Kit
An amenity kit and pajamas were offered prior to takeoff. The amenity kit came in a beautiful hardshell faux-leather case and included a dental kit, eye shade, socks, ear plug, tissues, pen, and Hunter beauty products.
The pajamas were sufficiently comfortable to make their way into my carry-on bag. I liked the logo on them as well…
I’m 6’1″ and found the mediums were a perfect fit.
Virgin Australia 777-300ER Business Class Dining
Menus were distributed prior to takeoff and included a supper menu and breakfast card in which you could pre-order what you wanted prior to landing. Flight attendants also offered a choice of water, orange juice, or sparkling wine.
Meal service was a la carte and on-demand, though I opted to eat directly after takeoff in order to maximize sleep.
The only disappointment in the meal service was the horrible Bellini. A Bellini is one of my favorite cocktails; there is nothing like fresh peach puree with champagne. But this is how it turned out on Virgin:
Horrific. It was overly sugar and there was no texture. I did like the olives and cheese crackers that were a nice alternative to the usual mixed nuts on other airlines.
Just moments later, my tray table was set up for dinner service, including lovely Sydney opera house salt and pepper shakers and delicious garlic bread.
I began my meal with a bowl of tomato and capiscum soup, which was garnished with shaved coriander and had a nice kick to it.
But my salad with corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and chipotle mayonnaise had an ever stronger kick to it. I did not expect this on Virgin at all and quite enjoyed it.
For my main course, I tried the barramundi fillet with pumpkin purée, cauliflower, currants, and salsa verde. I find sea bass generally tasty and the ingredients in this dish made for a satisfying main course.
I skipped cheese and ordered chocolate ice cream, which came a from a local California company, as well as a decaffeinated cappuccino.
I filled out the breakfast card prior to going to bed and a FA promised to wake me up two hours before landing for breakfast. Normally, I prefer breakfast 60-90 minutes before landing, but it did not matter here since I slept so poorly.
Breakfast began with another beautiful tray set-up and glass of orange juice (not freshly squeezed, so I skipped it) and a mango, apple, banana smoothie.
My main course included scrambled eggs with bacon, sourdough toast, and sautéed mushrooms. It was served very hot and really hit the spot.
With Australians and Americans both coffee-loving peoples and therefore high demand, the cappuccino was delayed until the end of the meal. But it really hit the spot and was so nice I had another one (this time, just a single shot).
I really enjoyed the food on Virgin Australia and found the ingredients to be fresh and high quality. I’ll say more on the pace of the service below, which was also an important factor.
Virgin Australia 777-300ER “The Business” IFE + Wi-Fi
With insomnia setting in, I spent a large chunk of the flight working. Virgin Australia offers wi-fi and it worked very well. Although speeds were just a fraction of speeds on the ground, the internet was fast enough to stay updated on emails and get ahead on my blog posts for the week ahead.
The extensive IFE library also included movies, TV shows, games, and music. I actually only watched one movie, called A Simple Favor, which I really enjoyed and have not seen on any other flight.
An IFE remote was provided, but the monitor was also touchscreen.
Noise-cancelling headphones were provided and worked very well at blocking ambient noise.
Virgin Australia 777 Business Class Dining Service
I found service on this flight to be perfectly Australian, which is a good thing. Flight attendants were a bit laid back, but still professional. They were also highly efficient. My whole dinner was done within an hour after takeoff. Flight attendants wasted no time in serving the cabin and there was virtually no wait between courses. The meals must have been warming prior to takeoff.
When I got up to use the lavatory after dinner, a flight attendant saw me stand up, walked over, and immediately offered to make my bed. That is the sort of proactive service I appreciate.
The barista thought I meant a double cappuccino instead of two shots of espresso and brought over a cup to me overflowing at breakfast. He sheepishly apologized for spilling but I apologized back for not being clearer.
The flight attendant working my side of the aisle stopped by seat after boarding to introduce me to the suite and make sure I knew where everything was. When I informed it was my first time flying Virgin Australia on a longhaul flight, he offered me a warm welcome and stated that he hoped it would be my first of many trips on Virgin. Prior to landing, each passenger was thanked for their business.
Overall, the crew was an ideal balance of friendly and professional while being highly efficient.
Virgin Australia 777-300ER Business Class Lavatories
Lavatories were clean, but hardly memorable. I always appreciate when airline use cloth towels instead of paper towels.
We landed in Brisbane just as dawn was beginning to break. A beautiful morning was ahead. It is true that I did not sleep well on this flight and I partially blame the seat for that. But I loved just about everything else about this flight. From outstanding service to functioning wi-fi to tasty meals, I look forward to flying Virgin Australia again.