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Yesterday was a big day for Virgin Atlantic as the airline launched its brand new Airbus A350 aircraft (complete with new cabins) on its London – New York (JFK) route. With British Airways not scheduled to operate an aircraft with its new Club Suite on its own London – New York route until late October, Virgin Atlantic has stolen a march on one of its biggest competitors.
Virgin Atlantic’s First A350-1000
Virgin’s first Airbus A350 aircraft has the registration G-VLUX and that registration wasn’t chosen by random – “VLUX” clearly refers to the fact that the aircraft is home to the airline’s new Upper Class (Business Class) seat which is orders of magnitude better than what you’ll find in most of Virgin’s other Business Class cabins.
This is a serious step up for Virgin Atlantic and it signals the airline’s desire to be taken more seriously as an airline for Business travelers and not just a popular airline for vacationers.
With the introduction of the A350-1000 into service, Virgin Atlantic customers can expect to see a significant number of differences between the new kid on the block and the rest of the airline’s fleet.
On the outside, the aircraft will sport one of the new “Flying Icons” that Virgin announced earlier this year…
…and cameras built into the aircraft’s tail and fuselage will allow passengers to see the view as if they were sitting on the tail, or a forward-facing view as seen from the underbelly of the aircraft.
It is, however, on the inside of the aircraft where the real differences will be seen.
There’s the all-new Upper Class cabin which offers a 1-2-1 seating layout giving all passengers direct access to one of the aircraft’s aisles, and a new Premium Economy cabin boasting new custom leather seats with up to 38″ of legroom.
The Economy Class cabin in the Virgin Atlantic A350 will look different to the rest of Virgin’s Economy Class cabins too, with six-way adjustable headrests, new fabrics and up to 34″ of legroom.
Just like in most other Virgin Atlantic aircraft, the A350’s Economy Class Cabin offers two different seating options – Economy Classic and Economy Delight with both offering seats with the same width (a somewhat narrow but commonplace 17.4″) but with the latter offering considerably more legroom.
Here’s how the seat dimensions look for all the cabins on the Virgin Atlantic A350.
Other things that Virgin Atlantic is keen for customers to know about its new aircraft include…
- The ability for passengers in the Upper Class cabin to order what they want, when they want it from the comfort of their seat. 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 – on-demand dining has come to Virgin Atlantic!
- The Loft. Virgin describes this 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 willbe free through 9 October 2019 after which the pricing will be £20.99 for the duration of the flight, £6.99 for an hour and £2.99 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.
It’s great to see the Virgin Atlantic A350 finally taking to the skies and the fact that transatlantic passengers now have yet another significantly improved Business Class cabin to choose from is very good news for premium cabin travelers.
All in all, Virgin Atlantic has 12 A350-1000 aircraft on order with the first 4 aircraft joining the fleet in 2019 and with all 4 of these aircraft set to operate between London and New York JFK (I told you Virgin was serious about attracting more business travelers!). Also, and as confirmed in mid-August to my great delight, Virgin Atlantic will be adding A350 service to Los Angeles in 2020.