Perhaps the key to good long-haul aircraft cabin design is to make passengers forget that they're stuck in a long-haul aircraft cabin. Virgin Australia's new International Business Class cabin may go some way to doing that, with queen-length beds, 18-in HD screens and and a bar at which to booze and schmooze.
As was the case with last year's PriestmanGoode business class cabin design for Swiss International Airlines, Virgin Australia's new cabin layout is being installed on the carrier's fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, initially for flights across the Pacific between Australia and Los Angeles. The update will also be rolled out to services between Australia and Abu Dhabi.
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A "reverse herringbone" layout accommodates 37 individual suites in the cabin, making the most efficient use of space. It also means that every suite has direct access to the aisle. The suites are designed to afford passengers a degree of privacy.
The seats can be converted into 80-in (203-cm) queen-length beds when it's time for some shut-eye. Each seat has a triple-layer cushion and can be readied for sleep via a turndown service. Once extended, the beds boast memory foam mattress toppers, as well as cotton pillows and duvets.
Passengers can while away their waking hours with the Virgin Australia Entertainment system, which the airline says offers hundreds of hours of movies, TV shows and music, as well as access to Wi-Fi. Virgin says that, at 18-in, the screens in business class are the largest on any flights between Australia and North America and provide HD playback and touch control.
Elsewhere in the suites, there is shelf space for working, eating and multitasking, as well as space for personal items and a "bedside amenity nook" for easy-access storage when lying down.
Where food and drink is concerned, International Business Class passengers have a variety of benefits. Before the first meal is served, passengers are offered a choice of Bellini, Kir Royale or Mimosa cocktails, along with a plate of canapés.
For main meals, there are à la carte and "Express Dining" fine dining menus, both designed by Australian chef Luke Mangan and both with suggested wine pairings. At breakfast, passengers can enjoy a continental selection at the bar or a full breakfast service at the bar or in their suite.
In addition to updating its International Business Class offering, Virgin Australia has made improvements to its premium economy cabin, which it is now simply referring to as its "Premium" cabin. There are 24 seats here, each with a 10.6-in seat-back screen, power and USB outlets and an hourly "cocktails and movie snack service."
The Premium seats are claimed to provide more legroom than any other Australian airline in premium economy class, with pitches of 41 in (104 cm). They also have 19.5-in (50-cm) widths and 9 in (23 cm) of recline.
Finally, a new Economy Space + section has been introduced. Located in the first five rows and the exit rows of the Boeing 777 main cabin, it offers, among other features, extra legroom.
The first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in Virgin Australia's fleet has been outfitted with the new International Business Class cabin, with all five expected to have been kitted out by the third quarter of this year.
The video below provides a look at the new cabin.
Source: Virgin Australia