Virgin raises the bar in business

Author: helen anderson

Virgin Australia promises the finest cup of coffee in the sky and what it claims is the world's most comfortable domestic business-class seat in its new cabin, launched in Sydney today.

The carrier announced a world-first collaboration with Nespresso in which purpose-built machines developed to deliver consistently good coffee at altitude will be installed in business-class cabins across its domestic Airbus A330 fleet.
"I can't find anybody that likes airline coffee," Virgin Australia's CEO John Borghetti said at the launch. "As good as ours is, it's not as good as the barista one [we serve] in the lounge. Now it will be."

The new cabin is Virgin Australia's response to Qantas's new business seats being fitted on its A330 fleet this year. Virgin claims its seat is the world's longest, widest fully lie-flat bed on a domestic route (80 inches long, 28 inches wide). Its reverse herringbone, 1-2-1 layout maximises privacy and allows direct aisle access for all business-class passengers. The seats have triple-layer seat cushions supported by "hammock" sub-frames, and a turn-down service to roll out memory-foam mattress toppers, cotton pillows and cotton doonas.  "I want red-eyes to become shut-eyes," said Virgin's chief customer officer, Mark Hassell, referring to the transcontinental route to Perth.

The roomy workspace includes a tablet holder designed for Virgin Australia, a side console with storage, 16-inch touch screen and three types of adjustable lighting.

Virgin Australia's head chef, Luke Mangan, says trays and trolleys have been dispensed with, and on-demand and express-service meals will be hand-delivered by crew as part of Virgin Australia's ambition to "create the best restaurant in the sky".

From November, the carrier will begin reconfiguring its long-haul Boeing 777s on routes to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, featuring new business-class suites and bar, and new premium-economy cabins.

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