Flight test: Virgin Australia business class to LA

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA

THE ROUTE

VA1 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 (188-centimetre) long fully horizontal flat bed and 23-inch (58.4-centimetre) 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 foot rest 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 (30.7-centimetre) 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, and service is always prompt. 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 a range of wines and spirits, as well as 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 (the airline will increase Brisbane to LA flights to daily and cease Melbourne to LA direct flights from October 26, 2014).

VERDICT

While seat width is certainly not the widest in business class product available 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 Los Angeles costs $8400 return. See virginaustralia.com.

Tested by Andrea Black, who flew courtesy of Virgin Australia.

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