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I have a strange love/hate relationship with Virgin Atlantic. I love Virgin’s crews, its ground staff, the atmosphere onboard its aircraft and the airline’s excellent Premium Economy Class product, but I hate the airline’s Upper Class seat with a passion….and that’s why I’ve been waiting for this news for months!
It was the middle of last August when Virgin Atlantic announced that Los Angeles would be the second US city to get service from its Airbus A350-1000 but it’s only now that we know exactly when Virgin’s newest aircraft will finally fly to/from LAX.
Virgin Atlantic will be offering 15 weekly flights between London Heathrow and Los Angeles for the summer 2020 season and from 19 April an Airbus A350-1000 will be replacing a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on 7 of those flights.
Specifically, here’s the schedule for the A350-1000:
VS23 LHR 15:45 – 18:55 LAX (Daily)
VS24 LAX 21:00 – 15:15+1 day LHR (Daily)
Personally speaking, this schedule suits me perfectly as it gives me plenty of time to enjoy the excellent Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse before I fly home from Heathrow and it gives me a full day in Los Angeles before I fly back across the Pond to London.
Why The Excitement?
The Upper Class (Business Class) cabin the in the Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 is a huge improvement over the Upper Class cabin that the airline offers on all of its other aircraft and it finally makes Virgin Atlantic an airline I can finally recommend for Business Class travelers rather than one that I actively suggest people avoid.
Where the older Virgin Atlantic aircraft offer a poorly thought through Upper Class cabin with little to no privacy, coffin-like seating, next to no storage space around the seat and no AC power (on some aircraft)…
…the new Upper Class cabin in the Airbus A350-1000 offers a 1-2-1 layout with vastly superior seating, more privacy, better connectivity, more storage space and a couple-friendly seat layout in the center rows of the cabin where the seats face inwards (towards each other) rather than outwards as they do on most other aircraft which offer similar seats.
Other things that Virgin Atlantic is keen for customers to know about its new aircraft include…
- Passengers in the Upper Class cabin are able to order what they want when they want it from the comfort of their seats. Virgin says that customers can choose their meals and drinks on their IFE screen and the order(s) will be sent to the crew who will then deliver the order to a passenger’s seat.
- The aircraft comes with an area called “The Loft” which Virgin describes as a “unique space for Upper Class customers, and the largest social space across any of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet“. The airline is hoping that this area (which passengers will walk through as they board the aircraft) will be “a place to gather, chat, grab a drink or dine with friends”.
- The new A350 comes equipped with wi-fi which will costs £20.99 (~$27) for the duration of the flight, £6.99 (~$9) for an hour and £2.99 (~$4) for messaging only.
- The inflight entertainment has seen an upgrade on the new aircraft too with 18.5″ screens in Upper Class, 13.3″ in Premium Economy and 11.6″ in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to choose from over 100 movies, 300 hours of TV shows, over 350 albums and podcasts and over 45 hours of children’s programming.
This Upper Class cabin is better than any other cabin Virgin Atlantic has ever offered…and by some distance!
With Virgin Atlantic bringing its new Upper Class cabin to LAX, Angelenos looking to book a trip to London now have a genuine new Business Class alternative to choose from.
Look at it this way:
- American Airlines has a very good Business Class seat that it offers on flights between LA and London but its service standards are patchy at best.
- British Airways is yet to introduce its new Club World seat to Los Angeles so flyers are stuck with the old Club World seat that has been outdated for almost a decade.
- Delta doesn’t fly between LA and London so there’s no opportunity to book the Delta One Suites.
- United doesn’t yet offer its Polaris Business Class seats on flights between LA and London so its offering is embarrassing.
- Air New Zeland offers a Business Class cabin that’s almost identical to Virgin’s old cabin on its route between LA and London (so it’s pretty terrible) and it will be cutting this route from next year.
What this means is that Virgin Atlantic now offers one of the two best Business Class seats between LA and London as well as offering some of the friendliest crews around and service standards that blow American Airlines away.
LAX flyers finally don’t have to choose between a sub-standard seat with good service (BA) and a very good seat with a high chance of pretty dismal service (AA) as Virgin Atlantic should now provide a happy medium between the two.