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In flight: Virgin Australia

Bruce Piper experiences Virgin Australia's 'The Business' product on the inaugural Melbourne to Hong Kong flight.

The route

Melbourne to Hong Kong

The plane

Airbus A330-200

Class

Business Class

The seat

Virgin Australia has deployed its award-winning ‘The Business’ product on its newest international route, with the Melbourne-Hong Kong flights described by CEO John Borghetti as “the spearhead of our move into Asia”. Passengers on board the inaugural included Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who delighted passengers by making several in-flight announcements.

The Business product features lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving every passenger up the front aisle access. A large table slides forward for dining and also provides a convenient workspace and easy access to in-seat power, USB and entertainment connections. When it’s time for a nap the crew provide a turn-down service, fitting a comfy seat cover and offering pyjamas, with the seat converting to a 203cm bed. While the seat product is the same as provided on VA’s flights to Los Angeles, the Hong Kong A330s don’t have the in-flight bar fitted to the B777s used for the US services.

Entertainment

The Business features the absolute latest in in-flight entertainment, with a highly responsive, easy-to-use 16-inch touch screen interface. A wide array of new release movies and TV shows is on offer, along with an extensive library of old favourites and audio content. Business class passengers are also provided with noise-cancelling headphones.

Service and Food

The crew on the maiden Melbourne-Hong Kong flight were extremely attentive and enthusiastic about the new route. Virgin sees its polite, capable, engaging crew as a key differentiator from its competitors and they certainly exceeded expectations on this inaugural flight. Menus in The Business are designed by VA’s culinary ambassador Luke Mangan, and comprised a good selection of western and Asian meals complemented by some excellent wines.

Lounge

Premium passengers are able to board the aircraft first, or at their leisure. In Melbourne VA is using the deluxe Etihad Airways lounge for those travelling in The Business, providing a good offering of breakfast prior to the 9.40am departure. In Hong Kong VA has partnered with Hong Kong Airlines to use its “Club Bauhinia” Lounge near gate 23 in terminal 1.

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