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Virgin Australia unveils new business class-cabin at LAX

July 21,2016 17:18

LOS ANGELES -- Virgin Australia officially launched its new upgraded international business class product – called “The Business” – at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday. The airline also rolled out a new premium economy cabin – called ...and more »

Harriet Baskas, Special for USA TODAY
9:25 a.m. EDT July 21, 2016Replay1 of 172 of 173 of 174 of 175 of 176 of 177 of 178 of 179 of 1710 of 1711 of 1712 of 1713 of 1714 of 1715 of 1716 of 1717 of 17AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLOS ANGELES -- Virgin Australia officially launched its new upgraded international business class product – called “The Business” – at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday. The airline also rolled out a new premium economy cabin – called “Premium.” The seats will fly on the Virgin Australia's long-haul Boeing 777-300ER that fly daily between the United States and the Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane.The new business class cabin was designed by the London-based tangerine agency and includes 37 seats (up from 34). The seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 reverse-herringbone configuration (instead of the previous 2-3-2 layout), which gives every passenger direct aisle access.“We won’t have anybody climbing over customers and falling on top of them during turbulence trying to get out of their seat,” said Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti.The new business-class seats will be installed on all five of the carrier's Boeing 777s by September 2016 (three are already done). They feature multiple work, dining and personal storage spaces and 18-inch high definition touch-screens for in-flight entertainment. Dividers between the two center seats can be raised or lowered for privacy.For sleeping, the 21-inch wide business-class seats convert into fully lie-flat beds that are 28 inches wide and 80 inches long. A touch-screen with specially-designed icons makes it easy for passengers to move and adjust the seats.An attended bar and an associated lounge area between the business-class and premium economy cabins presents what Borghetti called a “wow factor” for all passengers entering the aircraft and a comfortable socializing space for business cabin passengers during the flight.The side console is still accessible during meal service in business class on Virgin Australia's reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER. (Photo: Harriet Baskas, Special for USA TODAY)“Virgin Australia was really ambitious,” said tangerine’s Chief Creative Officer Matt Round. “They wanted something with a lot of spirit and precise technical-ness to it and we were able to capture some of what they wanted by being creative with the bar space and with the materials and textures on the seats and by playing with light and form.”In addition to the business cabin, Virgin Australia updated the premium economy cabin (“Premium”) on its 777-300ER aircraft. There are now 24 seats, each 19.5 inches wide, with an increased pitch of 41 inches and nine inches of recline. In-flight premium service includes plated meals and a self-serve pantry.Upgrades in the business-class cabin – especially eliminating the middle seats – are important, said Borghetti, because now “the consumer expects it” and airlines that don’t stay current end up having to discount their ticket prices. Virgin Australia, said Borghetti, will likely raise its business class fares a bit in the fall when the retrofitting of all five 777s is completed.Increased interest in travel between the United States and Australia (visitors to Australia from the U.S. were up 10% last year, according to Tourism Australia) has also sparked an uptick in the number of flights offered between the U.S. and Australia, including offerings form Qantas, American and United Airlines, and increased competition for passengers.In addition to introducing its new business class and premium cabins for trans-Pacific routes, Virgin Australia announced on Wednesday that the airline will start adding in-flight Wi-Fi to its Boeing 737-800, Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft starting next year.Virgin Australia operates 14 flights a week between Australia and Los Angeles.On Wednesday, Virgin Australia alliance partner Delta Air Lines and Los Angeles International Airport announced the approval of an agreement for Delta to relocate from Terminals 5 and 6 to Terminals 2 and 3 sometime between January 2017 and December 2018. As part of Delta’s $1.9 billion upgrade of the two terminals, Virgin Australia will be relocate from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, possibly by next summer.PHOTOS: Behind the scenes at LAXReplay1 of 312 of 313 of 314 of 315 of 316 of 317 of 318 of 319 of 3110 of 3111 of 3112 of 3113 of 3114 of 3115 of 3116 of 3117 of 3118 of 3119 of 3120 of 3121 of 3122 of 3123 of 3124 of 3125 of 3126 of 3127 of 3128 of 3129 of 3130 of 3131 of 31AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsRead or Share this story: http://usat.ly/29Xdypa
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