Last month, I made the epic, 10,000-mile pilgrimage from New York City to Australia. Some highlights of the unforgettable, eight-day trip included getting my open water diver certification (which allowed me to scuba dive in the fabled Great Barrier Reef) and cozying up to koalas and kangaroos. But, what really made this somewhat sleepless, jam-packed tour even more worthwhile was when I received a complimentary upgrade to business class on V Australia for my return flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles – a welcome surprise that made the never-ending, 13-hour flight seem, well, not long enough.
So, just what was it about V Australia’s flight experience that made me never want to step foot in sardine-packed economy class again? Read on for my breakdown of the frills (or as V Australia seems to think, “necessities”) you can expect when flying business class Down Under.
I wasn’t even in my roomy seat a minute (after enjoying pre-boarding privileges) when my almost-personal flight attendant approached asking if I would care for a glass of champagne, as well as the daily issue of The Australian or Financial Times. This beck-and-call service continued for the duration of the flight – I was hand-delivered my pajamas so I didn’t have to sift through my luggage and the attendant insisted she make up my seat-turned-bed with sheets and a blanket. And, don’t worry, my wine glass never went dry.
I made a conscious effort to pack hygiene products in my carry-on, but even if I inadvertently stowed them in my checked luggage, V Australia would have come to the rescue with its messenger bag, which, in addition to making a great souvenir, was filled with all the essential toiletries: deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, hand lotion, and lip balm.
The mile-high hotel was outfitted with many bells and whistles that provided round-the-clock pampering and made the flight pure bliss. Shortly after takeoff, I began fidgeting with the controls on my armrest, which probably contained just as many buttons as the inside of the cockpit. At the touch of a button, I could adjust the footrest settings and elongate, retract, or lift the leg support to my liking. That’s not all – the sofa-like seat, which offered 77 inches of leg-stretching comfort, had a couple other tricks up its sleeve, too. The lumbar refresh button – perhaps the best nifty feature – prompted a gentle back massage and was just what I “kneaded” after my long, eight-day trip. Seats also doubled as work stations – equipped with a power source for laptops, a USB slot, and reading light. When it was time to turn in for the night, this Inspector Gadget-type seat fully reclined to a comfy bed (6-feet, 2 inches in length) and the cabin lights dimmed, revealing twinkling stars on the ceiling in the aircraft.
The in-seat entertainment sure didn’t disappoint, either. The 12.1-inch touchscreen display allowed for superior image quality, which was especially nice when watching complimentary movies and music videos. Popular TV series such as Law & Order, Desperate Housewives, Glee, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, and others, were also part of the in-flight entertainment program. The sound quality was crisp and the noise-canceling headphones were a nice change from ordinary ones, where I usually have to pump up the volume to near-deafening sound just to drown out the blaring engines.
THE LITTLE THINGS
I was impressed with V Australia’s ample overhead storage (I’m used to vying for a tiny space to put my suitcase, or even worse, finding out that the passenger two seats down from me decided to use the compartment reserved for my row), as well as the six-seat bar located at the rear of business class, which offered a few different liquors and wines, compliments of the airline.
Calamari? Check. Prawns paired with rice and eggplant? You bet! V Australia’s international business food and drink menu was quite extensive and ranged from simple cheeses to roasted lamb racks with potatoes. Main courses could be washed down with a selection of wines from vineyards like Hill Family Estate Napa Valley, Barwick Estate Pemberton, and Firestone Discoveries, to name a few. Desserts included Death by Chocolate and your standard vanilla bean ice cream, as well as mango panna cotta with almond biscotti.
Breakfast the following morning consisted of fresh fruit, muffins, cereal, smoked ham, Irish bacon, scrambled eggs, and hash browns.
Menu items vary depending on if you’re flying to or from Australia, but overall, I was pleased with the variety. The quality of the food was definitely better than that of other airlines (I sure didn’t miss the bland snack mix provided on most economy class domestic flights).
You’ll definitely need to count on setting aside a few extra pennies (OK, maybe some Ben Franklins), but I highly recommend flying business class on V Australia, not just because of the red-carpet treatment, but also because you’ll get to your destination feeling utterly refreshed – something you’ll appreciate with a time difference of 14 (East Coast) to 17 hours (West Coast) from Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns.