Virgin Atlantic has 12 A350-1000 on order. The first A350-1000 will be delivered to Virgin Atlantic in mid-2019, with all of them joining the fleet by 2021. The A350-1000 will replace the A340-600 and 747-400 aircraft in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet. The A340-600 is currently flying to Delhi till May 1, 2019, after which an A330-300 will be deployed.
The A350-1000 will have 335 seats: 44 Business class, 56 Premium economy and 235 Economy class seats. All three cabins will feature a new hard product. In addition, Virgin Atlantic will also have an onboard lounge, The Loft, on the A350-1000. It will be a first for the A350 family, as we have seen airlines install one on the A380, but not on this relatively new aircraft.
The Loft will have space for 8 passengers at a time. The concept is really nice as it gives passengers some space to socialise and stretch without disturbing the crew. But it sure can get a bit noisy, especially for passengers seated near the Loft. The Loft will have a 32-inch touchscreen monitor and eight Bluetooth audio jacks so everyone can view content together.
Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class suite
Well, let’s start by what was Virgin Atlantic teased earlier,
What you’ll see is that it’s a next-generation product but it’s incredibly Virgin Atlantic – it’s exactly what you would think Virgin Atlantic is in terms of the look and feel, the design, the feel of the cabin and the warmth of the environment.
Virgin Atlantic has decided to install a modified/customised version of the Saffran (Zodiac) Cirrus NG seats; hence the next generation. These reverse herringbone seats are what you will see in American Airlines, Cathay Pacific business class and so-on.
But Virgin Atlantic has gone for a more customised version. For starters, the control panel looks way better and is more ergonomically placed. The design is a bit minimal and the cabin is perfectly done.
Virgin Atlantic has added a small privacy divider to compensate for the lack of a privacy door. Virgin Atlantic wants to maintain a social interaction between passengers, and also with the crew; nice way to put it. The privacy divider will only extend half way which will keep a balance between privacy and interactions.
I wouldn’t mind calling Qatar airways QSuites or Delta One suite or British Airways Club World suite, a suite instead of a seat even if it goes against the definition of a suite, but Virgin Atlantic’s Upper-Class suite, don’t think so.
The good news is, this is a far better product than the current herringbone seats in the old/current Upper Class. In the new Upper Class seat, you won’t have to fold the bed as you would have to earlier. The seat reclines to create a fully flat 82″ bed. There will also be a bigger 18.5″ IFE screen. Sadly, it will have to stowed during take-off and landing.
Virgin Atlantic will also introduce personalised mood lighting at each seat and better reading lights. How cool! They will have a deep mattress pad, and what they call the thickest pillow in the sky. Interesting.
Virgin Atlantic new Premium economy
Virgin Atlantic will install a new premium economy cabin on the A350-1000. There will be 56 premium economy seats in a rather tight 2-4-2 configuration. Virgin Atlantic will install Colins Aero MIQ seat. They will come with a 13.3″ IFE screen.
The seats will be 18.5″ wide and have USB ports. The above photo does show power plugs as well. Though that’s not an ideal place to put power plugs as well as seat controls. Wish they had considered that.
Virgin Atlantic new Economy class
Virgin Atlantic has gone with Recaro CL 3710 economy class seats. These are the same seats you find on Singapore airlines 787-10, A350 and A380. The first four economy class rows on Virgin Atlantic’s A350 will have extra legroom of 34 inches while the rest of the economy cabin will have a leg space of 31 inches.
What is interesting is that Virgin Atlantic has mentioned that economy seats will be up to 17.4″ wide in a 3-3-3 configuration on an A350-1000. So wider aisles? That’s a tight seat for an economy class especially when you travel on an A350. So sadly there won’t be any difference in the economy seat between Virgin Atlantic 787 or A350-1000 in future.
Virgin Atlantic will initially fly the A350-1000 on to New York JFK and Atlanta from London and then onto other routes including Asia. The A330 and 787-9 will be reconfigured to feature the new hard product in a phased manner, but no timeline has been provided.
Virgin Atlantic is going head-on with British Airways which will also have a new hard product on the A350-1000 but with full privacy doors.