Virgin Australia flies its five flagship Boeing 777-300ERs on routes from Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane) to LAX. While Virgin Australia doesn’t offer a true 3-cabin first class, they offer “The Business” which on the 777-300ERs consists of a relatively new product that many have raved about. Here’s my full Virgin Australia Business Class review.
Booking Virgin Australia Business Class seats
I originally tried booking two business class seats with Delta Sky Miles early last year but after I saw that such a booking would only be possible 2 weeks from departure time, I decided to transfer SPG points to Virgin Australia Velocity to book them. This was made extra easy by a special transfer promotion that allowed me to receive a 20% transfer bonus that stacked on top of the 25% SPG standard transfer bonus.
Availability for two business class seats wasn’t great at all but I was able to eventually find two seats on VA1 about one year in advance and I promptly booked those for 95,500 miles plus around $80 USD in total fees. Considering the price of these tickets at the time ($8,000+), that was exceptional value.
Virgin Australia 777 business class cabin
As soon as we entered the cabin, I noticed how sleek the business class seats looked. The seats are arranged in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration allowing direct aisle access for each seat and high levels of privacy. There’s a section of 24 business class seats in front of the plane and then a smaller section of 13 business class seats behind the bar.
Business class has two lavatories in the front and one in the bar area. The ones up front are more spacious with benches to assist with you changing but overall nothing too lavish.
- You can view the seat map in detail here.
These Virgin Australia business class seats are B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats which in my opinion are some of the best business class seats available with great privacy and plenty of space to get comfortable.
Everything from the shell of the suite to the cushions and pillows have a polished look that emphasizes sleekness and privacy. The seats are also very comfortable and roomy with 23 inches of width and a pitch up to 80 inches.
The middle aisle seats are also excellent with a partition that can be lowered if you’re flying together. If you’re not flying together, the privacy is still optimal unlike some other 1-2-1 configurations that can place you very close to your travel neighbor.
The seats controls are controlled by the touch screen that’s built in to the side counter. The controls are very intuitive. The only thing that’s not clear is that one of your overhead lights is controlled by the touch screen while the other is controlled by the controller found in the storage compartment.
The seat tray table slides under the TV monitor but mine was never secured before take-off. So as soon as we took off, my tray flung out and scared the crap out of me.
To lock the tray in position I had to push it all the way in and then pull on the tray release which is found underneath the tray on the right side. It took a few attempts but I eventually got it right.
This tray table sits underneath an 18-inch touch screen which comes with a quality selection of movies and TV shows. I enjoyed the selection of the movies and also the quality of the screen. You can check what’s currently on here.
Virgin Australia business class legroom
There’s plenty of room for your legs/feet in the footwell. While you can’t store your bags under there, there’s enough room for you to store your shoes and other items. I also really liked the “hump” found in the footwell that functions like a footrest.
One of the only negatives about the seat is that there’s not a lot of space between the seat and the wall of the suite. This makes getting in and out of the seat a bit tricky unless you’re petite and/or have small feet. You can see how narrow the passage is in the photo below.
One of the highlights about these seats is that they have a lot of counter space which really comes in handy. Whether you need a place to put your drinks, laptop, work materials, camera, etc., there’s a decent amount of room for that. I put a lot of value in counter space since I like having a space for my big DSLR and laptop when traveling and so I loved all of the space.
The counter also houses two of the storage compartments.
The main storage compartment is the largest and you’ll find the in-flight entertainment controller inside.
It’s not a huge compartment that will fit your laptop but you can still store some personal belongings in it no problem. I put a GoPro HERO4 and gorilla pod in the storage compartment for scale.
This main storage compartment also has the ports for the headphones, a USB, and a universal power outlet.
The second storage compartment is much smaller and is better suited for storing flatter items like cell phones and passports.
Finally, there’s a third compartment that doesn’t open up very wide and I didn’t really find any use for it.
Another storage compartment is on the other side of the seat beneath the armrest and it houses the headphones and a bottle of water (I took them out for the photograph). This armrest can also be lowered and raised as you wish.
The Virgin Australia headphones were high quality. Not quite Bose quality but they had that distinct “sturdy” feel that usually comes with quality headphones as opposed to the lighter “cheap” feel you might get with United headphones for example. The headphones also did a decent job cancelling out background noise.
The amenity kit comes with pretty standard items: socks, eye mask, tissues, ear plugs, toothbrush, and various moisturizers by Hunter Lab, which are apparently pretty high-end in Australia (although I’ve seen amenities from REN Skincare in other reviews).
Virgin Australia also gives out pajamas designed by Julie Grbac, which I found very comfortable (though sadly I didn’t get a pic of them). Unfortunately, Virgin Australia doesn’t give out slippers, which would be convenient on such a long-haul flight.
Overall, for a business class amenity kit, the amenity kit offerings are very solid and much more comparable to a first class amenity kit, especially with the addition of pajamas.
Virgin Australia business class privacy
In my experience, privacy is what really distinguishes business class from first class (although with more and more business class suites that’s changing). These business class seats are very private due to the shell of the suite that extends so far out. You can get a sense of the privacy afforded by the photos below.
Getting ready for take-off
Before departure, we were given drinks and I went with champagne and water. Luckily, all of the glasses were taken off the tray before take-off since they would have been spilled on me given how the tray was never secured.
On our way out, we caught some views of some big birds, including a Singapore Airlines A380 and Qantas 747.
As usual, the take off from Sydney involved some pretty impressive views of the coast.
The dining experience
I really didn’t know what to expect for Virgin Australia’s dining have read somewhat mixed reports. But I thoroughly enjoyed the dining on board the 777.
It started off with some almond-stuffed olives and savory biscuits, which were excellent.
I also went with some Ayala Brut Majeur champagne.
Later on I tried out the Bellini which is a champagne cocktail that’s basically a mimosa but with peach nectar. I wasn’t crazy about that drink but I appreciated being able to try something a little different.
I really love the Opera House inspired salt and pepper shakers. I wonder how many people are tempted to take those home each flight?
I went with garlic bread for my bread of choice and while the slices were quite small, they were delicious.
Then came out the tomato and saffron soup. I really enjoyed the soup and Brad agreed it was great as well.
And for the main dish, I went with the chargrilled lamb cutlets. This dish was fantastic and on par with any first class dish I’ve had from airlines like Singapore, Etihad, Qatar, etc. I was very impressed by the quality.
And then came one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. If you’ve read my reviews, you know I’ve got a huge sweet tooth and along with that, high standards for desserts. The chocolate tart dish I ordered was outstanding and I seriously could’ve eaten a second one if I didn’t get myself under control.
Below is the full Virgin Australia business class menu for our SYD to LAX flight.
Virgin Australia business class mood lighting
After lunch/dinner, the mood lighting kicked in which is another cool feature of the Virgin Australia 777 business class cabin. It transitioned from pink to blue and then after that the “ceiling stars” came out adding a beautiful and relaxing touch to the cabin.
The sleeping experience
If you want quality sleep on this 13+ hour route, I think Virgin Australia business class is a perfect selection. I didn’t sleep but that’s because it’s very hard for me to get to sleep on any plane (not to mention I was preoccupied with the bar for a good portion of the flight).
The combination of the comforter, mattress pad, and pillows are a bedding trifecta that stands up to anything in other business class cabins and honestly even first class cabins. When I lay down, I got very comfortable very fast in the bed. Had I taken a sleep aid, I probably could have drifted off to sleep for several hours.
As turn down service began, a beautiful sunset could be seen through the windows.
I wouldn’t have noticed it but for another passenger patting me on the shoulder to tell me about it. People in this cabin seemed very friendly during this flight and I think it helped that the staff was also exceptional.
We had a flight attendant who made sure we knew everything there was to know about our seat and who was very attentive to our needs. When it came to service, it honestly felt more like a first class flight.
For breakfast, you fill out a card so that the crew knows all of your requests and preferences when it’s time for breakfast. You also get to choose if you’d like for them to wake you up if you are sleeping.
I went with the eggs, bacon, muffin, and a chocolate muffin. I have to say that I didn’t expect the eggs to be as good as they were but could have gone without the bacon. The decaf cappuccino was great, however.
The Virgin Australia 777 bar
One of the standout features of the Virgin Australia 777-300ER is the bar area. It’s super sleek in its design and lighting and honestly just a fun place to hang out and pass the time on this long-haul flight.
The alcohol selection is pretty good with plenty of whiskeys and wines to choose from. There’s also a Nespresso machine for your coffee needs.
The bar is not meant to be self-service but there is a button that you can call if you’re in need of service and no flight attendant is present.
There are only four bar stools but there’s also some seating in front of the bar where you can also find a number of reading materials, waters, crisps, and chocolates.
The large Virgin Australia centerpiece found in front of the bar is also pretty glorious.
The staff at the bar was very cool and attentive and was even volunteered to get some photos of us two goofballs while we tried out some different drinks. The staff is a large reason why we had such a good time hanging out at the bar and I can’t say enough good things about them.
As other people made their way into the bar area, we had a great time socializing for a couple of hours. In 2011, I flew from LAX to SYD roundtrip in the back of United economy near the lavatory and if you had told me that in 7 years I’d be having the time of my life knocking back drinks in an in-flight bar flying business class on that same exact route I don’t think I’d even been able to begin to process that. Nevertheless, this was one of the funnest flights that I’ve ever experienced.
After all that fun, it was finally time to begin to prepare for landing at LAX.
Final word on Virgin Australia business class
Virgin Australia business class is a very strong business class product that often has a first class feel to it. The dining, comfort, and service were all top-notch and on top of everything we had a great time hanging out at the bar. I never thought I’d have this much fun on a flight and although I certainly “felt it” for the next 12 hours or so, it was all worth it 100%.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.