On Virginia Australia's business class flight from Sydney to LA, the crew are quick to make you feel at ease.
THE ROUTE Sydney to Los Angeles
THE PLANE Boeing 777-300ER
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END Business, seat 2G
TIME IN THE AIR 13 hours, 50 minutes
THE SEAT STUFF Seat width and pitch: 74-inch-long (1.88 metres) fully horizontal flat bed and 23-inch (58.4 centimetres) seat width. Seat configuration: 2-3-2.
BAGGAGE Two pieces of carry-on baggage, plus one personal item with a maximum weight of 7 kilograms each, and two checked bags up to 32 kilograms each. Velocity members at silver status or above can check on three 32-kilogram bags.
THE COMFORT FACTOR After a quick change into the provided pyjamas in the "ladies only" bathroom, I return to my seat to find my bed has been made up by cabin crew, a mattress topper has been attached, doona fluffed, and footrest attached to lengthen the bed.
The best phase of the mood lighting kicks in - a starry night sky, perfect for inducing slumber. The leather seats aren't wide enough for curling up, but still comfortable, and the heavyset passenger next to me is not encroaching. Amenity kits have all the essentials.
ENTERTAINMENT The 12.1-inch (30.7cm) in-flight entertainment screen is both touchscreen and handset-controlled. The in-flight entertainment system called "RED" offers a choice of more than 60 movies, a good range of TV, games and music. The noise-cancelling headsets work well. I'd loaded up my computer with content before I left, and with laptop power on board I could watch to my heart's content. There's a USB slot, too.
THE SERVICE A pre-flight welcome Lanson Gold Label brut champagne is served together with an explanation of where everything is and how the seat reclines. Cabin crew are friendly, quick to make you feel at ease. The breakfast pre-order "wake-up card" is a bonus for those who wish to get a few extra minutes' sleep.
FEEDING TIME Consulting chef Luke Mangan's menu offers a good selection. The duck with Asian slaw is smoky, and the pork belly crisp. There's a good array of cheeses on offer, and the paired Australian wines - from boutique wineries - are superb. Snacks are available at any time, and a wander to the onboard Sky Bar is a good way to stretch your legs and socialise. Here they offer wines and spirits, and barista-style coffee.
FREQUENCY Virgin Australia flies direct daily to Los Angeles from Sydney, four times a week from Brisbane and three times a week from Melbourne.
VERDICT While seat width is certainly not the widest in the business class product available in flying this route, the friendly service - always attentive but never over the top - makes up for it. A business class return airfare between Sydney and LA costs $8400 (NZ$9,195) return. See virginaustralia.com
Andrea Black flew courtesy of Virgin Australia.
- Sunday Star Times