Virgin Atlantic, yesterday, in London, unveiled a state-of-the-art cabin for its new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. The business class section, which Virgin Atlantic calls, “Upper Class”, features brand new suites, and a “social space” called “The Loft”.The carrier operates bars on all its long-haul aircraft, but said this is “the largest social space in the airline’s fleet.” Passengers can relax here on sofas, work on the table, or use the big-screen TV (32in) to watch a movie or views from the tailcam.
The airline, in a statement, said: “As the first airline to introduce an on-board bar, Virgin Atlantic has taken its customer proposition to the next level.“The Loft is designed for customers to gather, chat, enjoy a drink or dine with friends. The Loft extends the airline’s world renowned Clubhouse experience to the skies, offering a wide range of cocktails, and the option for customers to dine together, and enjoy Mile High afternoon tea by Eric Lanlard, and a selection of delicious new dishes by Donal Skehan.”
The new business class suites have been designed in collaboration with a number of Virgin Atlantic’s most frequent flyers, who clearly did not like the fact that the lie-flat beds moved to a horizontal position in two stages – or that the seats faced each other.
In the A350, the seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, with every seat facing towards a window. And they all transition seamlessly from an upright seat straight to a bed, which is bigger, too – 6ft 8.3in, up from 6ft 7.5in.In addition, all the seats have deployable privacy screens. The in-flight entertainment screen, meanwhile, has been boosted to 18.5inches – up from 10.1in on the 747 and 11in on the Dreamliner – and can be controlled by a personal device.
The screens in premium and economy have been increased in size, too, up from nine to 10 inches (depending on the aircraft) to 13.3in in premium and 11.6in in economy.Premium passengers will also get more storage space and economy passengers can look forward to new ‘luxurious fabrics’ and adjustable headrests. The entire aircraft will also have access to high speed Wi-Fi.
The first A350 flight will operate on the airline’s flagship Heathrow to New York JFK route, taking to the skies in August.Virgin Atlantic has ordered a total of 12 Airbus A350-1000s. They are all scheduled to join the fleet by 202,1 in an order worth an estimated $4.4 billion (£3.36 billion).The aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, and designed to be 30 per cent more fuel and carbon efficient than the aircraft it replaces.The fleet will be the first to feature Virgin’s new “flying icons”, set to replace the “flying ladies” at the front of the fuselage. These new high flyers are a diverse range of men and women “representing modern Britain”.