We just jetted 23 hours across 10 time zones between Miami, Florida and Sydney, Australia, and arrived at both destinations without even a hint of jet lag. How did we do it? Nope, it wasn’t melatonin, sleeping pills or some obscure herbal remedy. I’m convinced it was all due to Virgin Australia’s business class service. Here are five reasons why. (For more incentive travel ideas on Australia, check out “Eat, Pray, Love: In Australia What’s the Difference?“)
The airline flies from LAX to SYD (I flew American Airlines between MIA and LAX), using either a Boeing 777-300ER or (newer) 777 aircraft. The 777 has 37 spacious individual compartments separated by privacy screens (as opposed to the 777-300ER’s open-plan two-three-two configuration), but I flew both planes and can attest that they were equally plush, with lie-flat seats, on-demand entertainment systems; noise-canceling headphones; and USB ports at your fingertips.
When was the last time a flight attendant kneeled in front of you (so you can be at the same eye-level), introduced him/herself, and offered an orientation of the cabin and your seat controls? It’s standard operating procedure in Virgin Australia’s business class long-haul flights, and particularly helpful since the array of touchscreens, knobs and levers in the tricked-out pods can be confusing for first-timers. Flight attendant Danni was professional and extraordinarily thoughtful, even going so far as to save me a pair of commemorative porcelain salt-and-pepper cruets (they’re shaped like the Sydney Opera House) when I slept through dinner.
There’s a big difference between catching some shut-eye and actually going to sleep. And in Virgin Australia’s business class, you can actually retire, preparing for bed as you would at home. Just slip into the complimentary unisex pajamas and socks, stretch out on your lie-flat seat (6’ 2”-long and dressed with a mattress pad, duvet and two pillows), and float off to dreamland beneath a constellation of LED “stars” twinkling on the ceiling. (And if you wake up during the night to go to the bathroom, chances are that the bed will have been magically remade by the time you return.)
Aircraft facilities are notorious for being cramped, and, within five minutes of the seat belt sign being switched off, dirty and smelly, too. Not so on VA. I loved that the business class cabin had a designated women-only washroom, complete with floor-to-ceiling mirrors on two walls; enough space to twirl without touching anything; a fold-down seat; makeup lighting; and even soothing tunes piped in.
“This is like being on Air Force 1,” said my traveling companion as we clinked glasses of prosecco. And I had to agree that this was likely as close as we’d ever come to a presidential plane experience, bellied up to the six-stool bar that’s a great spot to chat with fellow flyers; have breakfast or dinner; or simply to relieve the boredom of sitting in one spot for 15 hours.
Of course, the Virgin Australia business class experience doesn’t come cheap; a quick search reveals round-trip prices starting at around $3,200. But if you’re traveling halfway around the world and need to arrive refreshed and ready to take on the day, it’s absolutely worth it.