Most of us know the very specific sadness of having to walk past Business and Premium Economy when boarding a flight. Seeing all the high flyers in their roomy seats, engrossed in their big screens being served Martinis and king prawns, or whatever, can be a bit of a blow when you’re faced with the rickety shit-show that is cattle class on a long-haul flight. Now, for all us sorry people who can’t afford to sit in comfort for several hours, things look like they could be looking up.
Enter: Virgin Australia’s new fuel-efficient plane, the Boeing 737-8, which comes with a completely new cabin interior. The first of this fresh aircraft fleet has just arrived in Brisbane, and it looks like it may actually (gasp!) care a bit about people sitting in Economy. Crazy, we know.
The other good news is that the Boeing 737-8 is meant to reduce flight emissions by 15 per cent (compared to the existing Boeing 737 fleet), and features a refreshed cabin and seating configuration that emphasise spaciousness and functionality. All Economy seats come with in-seat power, WIFI access, a tablet and device holder, and chairs with a new ribbed and ergonomic design that’s meant to be all about long-haul comfort.
With the new seating configuration, there will be a lot more room in Economy, with a new cabin divider between business and Economy allowing for greater floor space on either side. The overhead lockers will also be roomier, with 50 per cent more storage capacity (although the max carry-on weight will remain at 7 kilos).
Business class passengers will (as can be expected) get an even better deal. The lucky few will get much wider seats, extendable footrests, personal storage compartments, tablet holders and a special place for their water bottle.
Right now, Virgin Australia is in the middle of a $110 million renovation of their existing Boeing 737 fleet, with existing planes set to undergo a big ol’ cabin refresh that’ll have them looking the same as the shiny new Boeing 737-8. Virgin has also got another 33 fuel-efficient Boeing 737-8 and Boeing 737-10 planes on order, with more of them set to hit the ground (and skies) in the next few months.
Virgin Australia is working towards a net zero goal for 2050, and these planes feel like a good start – they're expected to help diminish Virgin’s carbon emission intensity by 22 per cent by 2030.
And if we can fly somewhat comfortably from Sydney to Tokyo without having to sell all our worldly possessions, even better.