Thanks to Richard Branson's latest airline venture, Australia seems a little closer for business travelers looking to make the trans-Pacific trip. The new V Australia, which is affiliated with Branson's Virgin Blue Group, launched in February and offers direct flights from LAX to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. While the flight isn't any faster--it still takes up to 15 hours and crosses the international dateline--V Australia's new Boeing 777-300ER aircrafts offer top-flight amenities that will leave you feeling pampered and help you show up fresh. A recent trip to the Land of Oz offered us a chance to check out the anatomy of Branson's new and improved 33-seat business class. Here's what you have to look forward to.
1) Business class has its own fully stocked, sit-down bar, constructed of faux marble, where you can sample Australian wines, stretch your legs or grab a snack.
2) Perk up with the Bulgari toiletries kit, bursting with goodies such as cologne, lip balm, a toothbrush and a plush eyeshade.
When you're ready for bed, order the turndown service and slip into the ninja-style long-sleeved combed-cotton black pajamas provided.
Coming soon: In-flight e-mail and mobile-phone service will be de rigueur.
3) Though the airline requests you don't steal the porcelain salt-and-pepper shakers (shaped like the Sydney Opera House) the staff is happy to offer them as a gift.
The airy business class entryway has mood lighting and a recessed ceiling with a twinkling replica of the Southern Cross.
Captain Kirk can have his deck chair. We'll take a fully-reclining Sicma Aero "Majestic" next time we head into space. Featuring multiple positions, a lumbar-massage button and a personal reading lamp, it's like your own W Hotel suite shrunk down for air travel. For sleeping, the seat stretches to 6-feet-2-inches in length.
4) Now that's entertainment: Stowed in the armrest is Panasonic's state-of-the-art eX2 touchscreen AVOD (audio-visual on demand) with a selection of television shows and movies along with a 200-CD library and more than a dozen radio channels to choose from. Comfortable noise-blocking headphones are complimentary.
Eat early and eat often: The five-course "Vistro" dinner menu features entrees like mint-infused lamb chops and pan-fried Tasmanian salmon, and cheeses such as King Island Brie and aged cheddar.