Virgin Australia has begun fitting its A330 aircraft with brand new, luxurious business class seats, with the airline’s Boeing 777s next in line for an upgrade.
Pictures of the new seat design were released several months ago. Our members are very impressed by the elegant yet practical design. The seats convert into 80 inch lie-flat beds, and come with a personal entertainment system, USB ports, privacy screens and reading lights, among other features. All seats will also benefit from direct aisle access, with business class taking on a 1-2-1 configuration.
The new seats will provide fierce competition for Qantas, which recently began rolling out its own business class “suites” on its A330 aircraft. The popular suites, which also convert into lie-flat beds, have currently been installed on about half of Qantas’ A330 fleet. The upgraded Qantas aircraft are currently being used on some flights to Perth, most flights to Singapore and Hong Kong, and the new Brisbane-Tokyo route. The upgrade process is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
The first Virgin Australia A330 aircraft to have the new seats installed is currently in Singapore.
VA A330-200 VH-XFH is currently positioning to Singapore as VA9943. This aircraft will be the first in the fleet to have the new widebody Business Class installed.
In order to facilitate the upgrades, one Virgin A330 aircraft at a time will be temporarily removed from service while the seats are installed. Unfortunately this will result in a short-term shortage of A330s, which mainly operate flights between the east coast of Australia and Perth. So if you’re booked to fly in business class to or from Perth over the next few months, you may wish to check that your flight hasn’t been downgraded to a Boeing 737 narrow-body aircraft with a much smaller business class cabin.
I’m currently booked in J PER-SYD-PER in early September, both flights are still showing as A330s, but who knows if that will be the case when the time comes – won’t be happy at all if I cop the 737 in either (or even worse, both!) directions.
Virgin’s Boeing 777 aircraft, which operate long-haul flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, will be re-fitted with identical new business class seats following the completion of the A330 upgrades. This will similarly result in a shortage of Boeing 777 aircraft for about three months. During this time Virgin will not be flying to Abu Dhabi. Affected passengers will be re-accommodated on Etihad Airways flights.
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