Virgin Atlantic has unveiled its new “Upper Class” business class cabin which will feature on its new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
This is the first major redesign of Virgin Atlantic’s business class cabin since it introduced the Upper Class Suite in 2003 with its reverse herringbone design.
Like the Upper Class Suite, all seats benefit from direct access to the aisle. However, that is where the similarity ends. This is a radically new design with forward facing seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Whilst this has been adopted by many airlines one significant difference is that all seats face outwards towards the window, whereas on other airlines centre seats tend to face inwards.
The seat is 20″ wide and is 82″ long at its full length. This is 3″ longer than BA’s new Club Suite. All seats benefit from improved, albeit not complete, privacy as the seat has a sliding screen. There is also greater personal storage at shoulder level and a larger 18.5″ TV screen. Significantly for Virgin, it is no longer necessary to step out of the seat to “flip it over” from seat to bed mode.
There will be 44 Upper Class seats on the first Airbus A350s for London Heathrow. Like the existing BA Club World and Virgin Upper Class seats there are differences in configuration and style and much of these will be a personal preference.
Virgin also promises improved bedding and toiletries, with the added ability to pre-order pyjamas in your preferred size.
As is to expected from Virgin Atlantic the cabin features its signature colour scheme. A word of caution when judging the exact colour scheme from official press shots. Some early images provided to some outlets looked like they had slightly different colour schemes and whether intentionally or otherwise this looks to be the work of Adobe Photoshop’s auto processing tools!
The Upper Class bar is no more
One of the biggest changes is that Virgin has abandoned its signature Upper Class bar.
This will be replaced by an 8 seat lounge area dubbed “The Loft” at the entrance to the aircraft. This features a dedicated 32″ TV screen, with the ability to listen to its audio via bluetooth headphones, and a small stand-up work area.
Premium & Economy
Also on Virgin’s A350-1000 aircraft are new Premium (formerly premium economy) and economy cabins.
There will be 56 new Premium seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.
Passengers will benefit from a larger 11.4″ TV screen which can be controlled without the need to press against the screen.
In economy, there are 235 seats in 3-3-3 configuration. 36 of these seats will be “Economy Delight” seats with 34″ of legroom. As is to expected, all seats will have at seat power and USB charging ports.
In total there will be 335 seats (44-56-235) on Virgin’s Airbus A350-1000s at Heathrow. This compares to 331 (56-56-219) on BA’s Airbus A350-1000s.
Virgin Airbus A350 Routes
Virgin has said that its first Airbus A350s will fly to New York JFK from the summer.
This may focus BA’s mind when choosing which routes will operate with four class Boeing 777-200s retrofitted with the new Club Suite as these aircraft already operate on some flights to New York JFK. History has shown that new business class cabins can have a significant impact on market share.