In the wake of the Qantas grounding Virgin Australia today sneakily introduced the sale of Business Class tickets on the Sydney-Brisbane Sydney-Melbourne & Melbourne-Brisbane services ahead of schedule. Virgin Australia Business Class flights on these routes will be available on all services from 18 January and will be operated primarily on their new or refitted Boeing 737 aircraft and in some instances with the airlines Airbus A330 aircraft that currently operates their Sydney Perth Business Class services. Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said: “Following the successful introduction of Business Class on Virgin Australia trans-continental services, we are pleased to announce that Business Class on the Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane Triangle is available for sale today, ahead of schedule” “Our new Business Class product is a key part of our strategy to reposition Virgin Australia as the airline of choice for all market sectors. Providing an excellent product on the Triangle is a key priority for us, with routes such as Melbourne-Sydney among the busiest in the world. “In line with our commitment to providing excellent value, we will be offering the most competitively priced fares in the market, with fares starting from as little as $559.00 one way”, Mr Borghetti said. Business Class on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 has 8 seats with 38inch (95 cm) seat pitch in two rows and have a 2-2 seating config/layout. Business Class on the Airbus A330 has 27 60+ inch (150+ cm) seat pitch seats across 4 rows with a 2-2-2 seating configuration in the first row and 2-3-2 in the remaining business class rows. Virgin Australia Business Class tickets on these routes have been introduced at the following prices Route One Way Price Sydney-Brisbane $579 Melbourne-Sydney $559 Brisbane-Melbourne $885
Virgin Australia have announced the start of their new Capital Connect services between Sydney and Canberra which offers passengers complimentary inflight snacks and drinks. The new Capital Connect service will see 10 return services between Sydney and Canberra each day with complimentary inflight snacks and drinks, as well as the introduction of complimentary beer and wine for flights after 4pm and complimentary newspapers for flights before midday. The menu service will be divided into three different themes “Start my Day (0600- 0900); Keep Me Going (0930-4.00pm) and Winding Down (4.00pm until last flight). On flights after 4.00pm” Virgin Australia Group Executive Product and Guest Services Martin Daley said “From today, Capital Connect Guests will have the choice from a three category menu, with high quality gourmet snacks that has been introduced as part of the airline’s enhanced inflight product offering. “This complimentary inflight service is unique to this route and is part of our overall brand repositioning which includes; introduction of the new Virgin Australia Business Class; newly renovated lounges; and range of flexible fares,” he said. The same media release from Virgin Australia re-confirmed that Virgin Australia 737 Business Class services will kick off toward the end of this year which the company has already confirmed are slated for Mackay and the Gold Coast, todays announcement also confirms that Business Class services will be seen on the majority of the airlines domestic fleet by the end of the year.
I was lucky enough take a flight the Inaugural Virgin Australia Business Class A330 service from Sydney to Perth on 26 May 2011. This Sydney to Perth service is Virgin Australia’s first of many domestic business class services that the airline plans to implement this year and which the airline promises will put competition back into the Australian domestic business class market. Virgin Australia Premium Lounge Entry & Check-in Virgin Australia’s new Premium Lounge Entry is a breeze and a dream come true for business travellers, my driver dropped me off with-in a few meters of the check-in counter then at the counter there was no queue. After checking in I headed thru Virgin Australia’s dedicated security check, which took around 3 minutes to clear, and this was only due to the fact that I had to pack and re-pack my laptop for scanning, and then I was the lucky person selected for the dreaded explosives swab test. Time from Kerb to Lounge: From being dropped off I had cleared check-in and security and was in the Virgin Australia lounge in a record time for me of around 5 minutes. The Lounge and Boarding Virgin Australia’s Sydney lounge is modern and inviting and has all the features you would expect from an airline lounge, including meeting rooms, workstation benches, sit down lounge areas, showers, and food/beverage service areas (including barista service). The features I found that set this lounge apart from your other lounges were: Barista service – Nothing beats a freshly brewed late before an early morning flight so the fact that the lounge had a Barista service was a plus added to this the quality of the coffee was outstanding. Sit down lounge areas – Another feature I loved about the Virgin Australia Sydney Lounge is that it was divided into several different/distinct areas, for example the area that I sat in (small area just to the left of the lounge entry) is a quiet and secluded area with only a few tables and chairs it was the perfect place to catch up for a quiet chat, read a book or get some work done. After several announcements that DJ 553 to Perth was ready for boarding I departed The Lounge heading for gate 40 where the inaugural Virgin Australia A330 service to was departing from. Arriving at the gate our group heads straight for the Priority boarding lane and we are on our aircraft within minutes. Pre-take off I was allocated seat 4J in Business Class which is a last row, aisle seat. Putting my two carry-on bags in the overhead locker the first thing I noticed was the extremely generous storage space in the overhead locker, well when your seat has a pitch of 60 inch (152 cm) this translates a huge amount of overhead storage. Not long after getting settled into my seat I am offered a Champagne, orange juice or sparkling water; even though it is only 8 am this was the inaugural flight so opted for the Champagne (a 1999 Lanson Gold Label Brut) then not long later I was offered the breakfast menu to look over, the menu the menu consisted of: Bakery – Croissant, wholemeal roll or sourdough roll services with a selection of […]
Virgin Australia today announced Mackay as the second destination in line to get the companies new Domestic Business Class service. Virgin Australia will operate the service by the end of this year on one of their new Boeing 737-800 that was featured at the Virgin Australia launch event earlier this month, which features 8 business class seats configured in a 2-2 seating configuration, and will feature luxury leather seating, inflight entertainment options restaurant quality gourmet meals inspired by Luke Mangan. Along with the new Virgin Australia Business Class service Mackay will also see the first Virgin Australia Lounge, which is also slated to be opened by the end of 2011. Virgin Australias Mackay lounge will feature: 260m² in size lounge seating for up to 70 Guests Premium Luke Mangan designed refreshments A premium selection of beverages Business services including complimentary WiFi, power, PC and printer Entertainment and relaxation with newspapers, premium magazine titles and a Panasonic high definition Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director John Borghetti stated “Mackay is an extremely important market for Virgin Australia. It is the gateway to many of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations and also boasts a strong mining industry which attracts business travellers”. “We are in the process of rolling out our new Business Class product across our Boeing 737 fleet. Travellers to and from Mackay will be able to experience new levels of comfort and in-flight service before the end of 2011. “The new Business Class product offers Guests luxury leather seating, contemporary interior design, high quality in-flight products and gourmet food inspired by Luke Mangan,” he said.
As reported in back in February the new Virgin Australia Business will be put into service with two Airbus A330-200 from 26 May 2011 between Sydney and Perth. Today we got a firsthand look at this new cabin and seats. Virgin Australia Business Class Seats In total there 27 business class seats across 4 rows in a 2-2-2 seating configuration for the 1st row and a 2-3-2 seating configuration in the remaining 3 rows. The Virgin Australia Business Class seat on their Airbus A330-200 aircraft First row center aisle in Business Class on the Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 Virgin Australia Business Class seat in a full reclined sleeping position These seats are reclined rather than lie flat and they are very comfortable, personally I would find it more acceptable on a 5 hour flight from Sydney to Perth, for someone like myself that has trouble sleeping in on most flights I am sure I could more than a few hours shuteye on a 5 hour flight to Perth with the help of Virgin Australia’s noise cancelling headphones that are provided for the flight. In-flight Entertainment SystemVirgin Australia’s In-flight entertainment system in Business Class is a multi-channel system seat back LCD display system, I did put the question how many channels the system supports but the product manager was unable to reveal this, however as these aircraft have been leased from Emirates the In-flight system is the same that is found on other Emirates Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which is a Panasonic Avionics system that supports up to 40 movies, 15 TV, 22 Audio and 18 interactive games. Size wise the IFE screen measures 16.5cm (6.5 Inch) Luke Mangan Business Class in-flight dining Luke Mangan’s philosophy behind the new menu was to source the finest, freshest local and Australian ingredients and showcase them with a clean and contemporary twist. Renowned for his modern creations, the new designer menu across economy and business class also highlights his French classical training and Asian influences, married with simple, fresh and clean flavors. Overall Virgin Australia have done a great job in Business however final judgment should be reserved until after it goes into service as the cabin and seats are only one half of a great Business Class experience. More coverage of Virgin Australia launch day can be found here with: Virgin Australia is Officially Launched Watch out Qantas Virgin Australia Launch Photos Virgin Australia TV Commercial
Virgin Australia’s new Boeing 737-800 & Airbus A330-300 arrives in Sydney for the Virgin Australia brand launch. Virgin Blues New Boeing 737-800 Boeing 737-800 named Bondi Beach close up Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 in foreground and Airbus A330-200 in background Virgin Australia Launch Richard Branson and John Borghetti wave the Australian Flag on the new Airbus A330-200 Some shots of Richard Branson, John Borghetti and the flight crew after both the new Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330-200 touched down in Sydney. Richard Branson Two Thumbs up for the Launch of Virgin Australia Richard Branson and John Borghetti Richard Branson and John Borghetti’s announce the transformation for Virgin Blue into Virgin Australia The new Virgin Australia Crew Uniform The new Virgin Australia Crew Uniform Virgin Australia Boeing 737-200 Interior Cabin Photos Virgin Australia 737-800 Business Class Seat that will begin service as Premium Economy Business Class seat on the Boeing 737-800 Economy Class Seats on the Boeing 737-800 Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 Interior Cabin Photos The Business Class Seat on Virgin Australia’s Airbus A330-200 Virgin Australia Business Class Meal on the Airbus A330-200 Virgin Australia Business Class Meal on the Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 The Business Class Seat fully reclined on board Virgin Australias new Airbus A330-200 Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 Economy Class Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 in-flight entertainment screen in Economy Class More coverage of Virgin Australia launch day can be seen here: Virgin Australia is Officially Launched Watch out QantasVirgin Australia TV CommercialVirgin Australia Business Class Airbus A330-200 Cabin Overview
As speculated here last month Virgin Blue was today officially renamed to Virgin Australia at today’s media event at Sydney Airport, on hand to announce the re-branding was Virgin CEO Richard Branson and Virgin Blue now Virgin Australia’s CEO John Borghetti. Virgin CEO Richard Branson gives two thumbs up to Virgin Australia Virgin Australias Airbus A330-200 in the background with the tail of the 737-800 to the right The Virgin Australia name change is a small part of John Borghetti’s plan to change the company into a full service airline, below I have outlined some of the elements of the rebranding that featured at today’s Virgin Australia launch The first and most obvious change is the name and company logo, as reported here last month the new Virgin Australia logo follows the design elements of other Virgin Franchises around the world with the word Virgin in red on the tail down the fuselage from the front of the aircraft is the name virgin australia in an all lower case blue/grey font. Sir Richard Branson Announcing the new Virgin Australia Brand Points to take our of the media launch event were: One Virgin Australia Brand All Virgin brands in Australia (Virgin Blue, V Australia and Pacific Blue) will be rolled into the Virgin Australia brand by the end of the year, with Virgin Blue brand already operating as Virgin Australia this only leaves V Australia and Pacific Blue Velocity Loyalty/Frequent Flyer Program to be revamped by the end of the year with a new name Business Class to be expanded to more aircraft and more routes Alignment of cabin product across all aircraft Sir Richard and John Borghetti believe their cabin product in both Business and Economy will beat Qantas in terms of price and quality The next most obvious element of the Virgin Australia re-branding is Virgin Australians’ new Aircraft with the inclusion of a business class cabin. Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 The first aircraft to taxi over to the media event was the new Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 named Bondi Beach this aircraft is the latest generation 737-800 that has 176 seats in total with 168 seats in Economy class that are laid out in a 3-3 seating configuration and at the front of the aircraft is Virgin Australia’s 737-800 Business Class seats that will initially operate as Premium Economy the 8 seats in Premium Economy that are laid out in a 2-2 seating config, I was told that this aircraft will go into service tonight so anyone lucky enough to be flying Premium Economy on this aircraft will actually be sitting in what will be a Business Seat. It should be noted that this aircraft does not have any in-seat inflight entertainment systems installed at present, these will be added in the future, for tonight first flight passengers will have access to portable IFE units. The Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 […]
Virgin Blue has called a media event in Sydney for Wednesday 4 May 2011, to launch the re-branding of the company to Virgin Australia, and to show off the companies’ new Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Even though it has not been officially noted that the company will change names from Virgin Blue to Virgin Australia, it is almost certain that this will be the main focus of the media event, as last month the airline registered the Virgin Australia logo with IP Australia (Australia trade mark/intellectual property governing body). In addition this last weekend the V Australia booking site briefly showed Virgin Blue flights as being operated by Virgin Australia. Wednesday’s media event will also show off Virgin Australia’s new Boeing 737-800 with Boeing designed futuristic Sky Interior, as well as their new Airbus A330-300 that will feature the airlines first Business Class cabin that will initially be put on services from Sydney to Perth from 26 May 2011 -> Virgin Australia Business Class from 26 May 2011. The staff of the Business Travel Guru will be attending this event and you can follow the event on the following twitter accounts Ben Hoffman on Twitter & Business Travel Guru on Twitter