Review – Virgin Australia New Business Class Sydney To Los Angeles

About 2 months ago I received an email from the king of miles Randy Petersen inviting me to attend ‘BACON’ for those that don’t know it’s a gathering of bloggers mostly from BoardingArea and some other various blogs. As soon as I saw the email I knew I would definitely love to attend.

As I started to look for flights I had a look on Virgin Australia’s website and found business class availability for the day I wanted to leave, Excellent! this surprised me as I booked about a month out and space is usually released 10-2 days before departure.

The booking proccess was quick and easy using 95,000 Velocity miles and was booked on the website.

Virgin Australia Boarding Gate 53

Virgin Australia Boarding Gate 53

Virgin Australia used to have seats in a 2-3-2 config but those days are now gone. The airline recently fitted out their 777 and A330 aircraft with brilliant new B/E Diamond Seating in a 1-2-1 config with a total of 33 seats which looks stunning! I have flown the A330 many times but this was my first time with the new seats on the 777.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin operate their 777’s from Sydney, Brisbane and soon Melbourne to Los Angeles and currently Sydney to Abu Dhabi which will be stopping quite soon. Every seat has direct aisle access and the seat reclines to 80 inches (203cm’s) long.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin also reconfigured and upgraded their bar and premium economy product. The new bar has a lot more room and added seating which got utilised most of the flight. The bar also holds the airlines new nespresso machines which produce brilliant coffee (by airline standards).

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class Bar

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class Bar

Virgin’s new premium economy product now has 24 seats instead of the previous 40 which is quite a large decrease. The new seats boast a 41’’ seat pitch which is 3 inches more than previous seats and they have also added a self serve pantry. Interestingly Virgin want premium to feel very similar to business class as passengers in premium can use the same Nespresso machines, have business class trained crew, and a plated meal instead of trays which is impressive.

Virgin Australia 777 Premium Cabin

Virgin Australia 777 Premium Economy Cabin

All the seats have new seat covers and are quite comfortable, definitely a good way to travel if not in business class.

Virgin Australia 777 Premium Economy

Virgin Australia 777 Premium Economy

On my flight I booked quite late so the only window seat I could select was 11A which is the last row of business class. I had heard it can be a bad seat for sleeping as premium is directly behind but I found it to be wonderfull and didn’t have any disturbances throughout the flight.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

The cabin is split into 2 and is very private past the bar in the second cabin.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

The new seats house a 18 inch IFE screen with up to 300 hours of entertainment. I found the screen very responsive and fast and the best thing is it has no adds. The screens can be easily viewed easily when lying flat which I find to be a challenge on some airlines.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Each seat has 2 storage compartments which are big enough to fit phones, wallets, headphones and passports. They also store the USB and In-seat power and headphone port.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Not a bad view for 13 hours.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Also waiting at the seat is the Amenity kit and Pyjamas.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

The amenity kit is a calibration with Mandarina Duck and REN skin products. The pyjamas are from Julie Grbac which are good but I’ve definitely worn better ones.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

The seat also holds a space for their magazines and safety card and also a unique space to store a tablet which is quite nice.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Tablet storage.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

As I settled in flight attendants Darren and Jeremy came around to introduce themselves and hand out the menus and offer a pre-takeoff beverage. I just had water.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Luke Mangan is Virgin Australia’s chef and he produces some great meals. Here are the menus:

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

 

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

 

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

 

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class Menu

As the meal service started the mood light started to go purple and brought out some ramekins with olives, almonds and snow peas.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

To start I had the salad which tasted great and was nice and fresh.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

For the main I had the lamb which was cooked brilliantly, they were tender and full of flavour.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

After dinner I went for a walk and look at the bar and bathrooms. You’ll notice the bar is stocked with water but these photos were taken in the morning. During the day and night they are stocked with alcohol and has someone behind there. If there isn’t anyone at the bar and you want a drink there is a button at the right hand side that will alert a crew member and they will attend to you.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

The bar has a modern look and feel which fits the cabin look very well. Funnily enough the bar is the width of two middle business class seats which seems quite small but when you at the bar it feels big.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

 

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin have also made space for 2 seating spaces at the back of the bar which are comfortable.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

 

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

 

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

The bathrooms were always clean and also house more REN products.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

 

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

 

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

After having dinner I decided to get some sleep. The crew put a matress topper on the seat but I didn’t get a photo of it. The topper is very comfortable and I managed to get around 6 hours of deep sleep which I was happy with.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

 

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

After waking up I went and had a chat with Darren and Jerremy who were working the bar. They served breakfast to me at the bar which was great.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

I also decided to have a cappuccino to trial their new nespresso machine and I loved it so had two of them.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

As we got closer to Los Angeles the mood lighting got brighter and more people started to wake up. It doesn’t look it but business class was almost completely full.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Bottom Line

I’am a huge fan of the B/E Super Diamond seats and this flight proved how good they are. The crew were absolultelty brilliant and I think Virgin did and awesome job on the refit.

Review – British Airways First Class Sydney To Singapore (My First Bird Strike!)

This is long overdue so here it is..

A few weeks ago Singapore Airlines announced that they would be operating their A350 for a few weeks to Melbourne. This was supposed to start September 1 however they brought forward for some unknown reason.

I fell in love with the A350 when I flew Qatar’s and I defiantly wanted to trial Singapore Airlines aircraft. I originally booked to depart Melbourne on SQ then fly on British Airways back leaving a 20 hour layover which isn’t very good when I can’t check into a hotel so I canceled both bookings and restarted the planning.

British Airways first class has been controversial topic between bloggers recently. So I decided to see for myself what the product is like.

BA16 operates LHR-SIN-SYD-SIN-LHR so majority of passengers are connecting onto London however you can just fly each single segment if you want to.

First class passengers and Oneworld emerald’s can access the fantastic Qantas first class lounge.

Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney

Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney

 

British Airways First Class

British Airways First Class

The first cabin is in a configuration of 1-2-1 consisting of 14 seats.

British Airways First Class Cabin

British Airways First Class Cabin

Awaiting at your seat is a light blanket, headphones, amenity kit and pyjamas. The pyjamas where one of the best I’ve worn for airline pyjamas. Flight attendant Femi came around and welcomed me onboard, she was very friendly and you could tell she loved her job.

Light Blanket And Headphones

Light Blanket And Headphones

Pyjamas and Amenity Kit

Pyjamas and Amenity Kit

As you settle in the crew come around and offer a pre departure beverage and selection of nuts.

Coke and Nuts

Coke and Nuts

Seat 1K

Seat 1K

The seat sadly doesn’t have too many storage options however, this is apparently just the 777 with the lack of seat storage. However, the coat hanger built into the seat is a fantastic feature especially if you have clothes that you don’t want wrinkled.

Coat/Clothes Storage

Coat/Clothes Storage

Another cool feature of the British Airways first is the electronic window blind. I’m a big fan of the blue mood lighting.

IMG_4004

The flight took off on time and was smooth but very different to another takeoff I’ve had. On rotation we hit birds which I only found out after having a chat with him in the cockpit. Luckily the birds hit the nose cone and didn’t cause too much damage but that a first for me.

We levelled out at 34,000 feet and the meal service began. Sadly I didn’t get the menu for photos.

IMG_4005

Bread Roll

IMG_4011

Beef With Vegetables and Potato

IMG_4015

Strawberry Mouse

IMG_4022

Chocolate Lave Cake With Compote

I’ve had some great meals on flights and these were brilliant. The meat was nice and juicy and tender and the desserts were brilliant hence I had two of them.

IMG_4050

The IFE controls are located near the small lamp on the side of the seat. The IFE is a little on the slow side but perfectly usable.

IMG_4029

Below that is the window shade, lights and seating controls.

IMG_4028

After just 7 hours we commended out decent into Singapore Changi airport.

IMG_4001

British Airways 777 First Class

British Airways 777 First Class

Bottom Line

Overall my British Airways flight exceeded my expectations. The crew were absolutely brilliant and really made the flight feel welcoming and enjoyable. Is it Etihad apartments? No but for 7 hours this is perfectly acceptable.

American Airlines Commence Daily Los Angeles to Auckland Flights

Yesterday American Airlines landed in Auckland marking the commencement of their daily Auckland service with their new 787 aircraft. American has expanded their pacific network with adding a direct daily service to Sydney and now Auckland.

For Oneworld flyer’s they had no direct service to the U.S.A and would have to transit through Australia onto a Qantas or American flight which was a pain for some passengers. This is a strategic route and should function quite well into the future.

However New Zealand’s home born airline Air New Zealand are part of Star Alliance, this means passengers do not currently have a way of connecting through to other cities as there is no Oneworld carrier operating domestic flights in New Zealand. Next week United commence direct services to Auckland so Star Alliance is definitely the bigger alliance for frequent flyers in the country.

American Airlines Boeing 787-8American Airlines Boeing 787-8 (Image: American Airlines)

AA83 leaves Los Angeles at 10:40pm and arrives into Auckland at 6:35am.

AA82 leaves Auckland at 1:20pm and arrives into Los Angeles at 6:30am.

Qantas codeshare on both of these flights as QF3226 &QF3225.

AmericanStock-4158USA and New Zealand flags (Image: American Airlines)

The Airline operates their fairly new 787-8 aircraft. The aircraft is fitted with 28 custom Zodiac business class seats, 57 main cabin extra seats and 141 economy seats.

AmericanStock--10Custom Zodiac Business Class Seat (Image: American Airlines)

AmericanStock--7Business Class Cabin Overview (Image: American Airlines)

AmericanStock--5Business Class Cabin Facing Forward (Image: American Airlines)

AmericanStock--15AA Branded Bose Noise Cancelling Headset (Image: American Airlines)

AmericanStock1-Zodiac Seat (Image: Kiwi_Aviation)

DCIM101GOPROBusiness Class Seat With Bedding Setup (Image: Kiwi_Aviation)

AmericanStock--6Main Cabin Extra Seating (Image: American Airlines)

AmericanStock--4Economy Cabin (Image: American Airlines)

AmericanStock--2Economy Cabin (Image: American Airlines)

The Airline is offering a fantastic product for the long flight, The aircraft also includes Inflight WiFi which a lot of people love on these flights.

If I was to choose between a Qantas flight or American flight long haul I would definitely take AA. Every business class passenger has direct isle access which is now becoming a standard in business class travel. This product will only be on the 788 as the newer and better 787-9 will feature B/E Diamond seating which I talk about in detail here: American Airlines to add B/E Diamond seating on their 787-9 and A350.

Unfortunately the availability with the flight so far is quite minimal in business class. The US to Pacific routes are extremely popular and often very difficult to snag a premium award seat.

If you do find one however get it that instant! Listed is too options for redeeming miles on this route.

American Airlines miles:

80,000 round trip in Economy.

160,000 round trip in Business.

Qantas

80,000 in Economy.

168,000 in Business.

Screenshot 2016-06-25 19.34.01Current price of AA business class to the U.S. in AUD.

Summery

I am glad that American is expanding their pacific market and bringing a more modern product to the scene. Currently Virgin Australia and American Airlines offer the most modern business class products to and from the U.S directly.

Also a huge thank you to Kiwi_Aviation for supplying me with these photos as he attended the press conference in Auckland, please go check out his profile as he has some stunning photos.