Flying High Down Under

Cozying up with Richard Branson's latest airline
This story first appeared in the August 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Flying High Down Under

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.

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