Virgin Atlantic has taken delivery of its first new Airbus A350-1000 – and posted a video walk-through of the swanky cabin, which features brand new business class suites and a ‘social space’ for those forking out for the most expensive fares called ‘The Loft’.
The plane – carrying registration G-VLUX – flew from Toulouse Blagnac, near the Airbus factory, to its Gatwick home over the weekend.
Virgin posted pictures of it on the tarmac in Toulouse and the video of the cabin to its Instagram stories page.
Virgin Atlantic took delivery of its first A350-1000 at the weekend. Here it is on the tarmac in Toulouse before flying to its new home at London Gatwick
When the camera operator reaches ‘The Loft’ area – where passengers can relax on sofas and watch a big-screen TV – it’s accompanied by an on-screen graphic that says ‘yasss’.
The aircraft’s first commercial service is expected to take place on September 10 from London Heathrow to New York JFK.
Travellers can now book flights via the Virgin Atlantic website and contact centre from £279 return in economy, £773 in premium and £1,358 in upper class, which is what Virgin calls its business class section.
In the A350 upper class section 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.
Virgin Atlantic has ordered a total of 12 Airbus A350-1000s. They are all scheduled to join the fleet by 2021 in an order worth an estimated $4.4 billion (£3.36 billion).
The aircraft’s first commercial service is expected to take place on September 10 from London Heathrow to New York JFK. This image shows how the aircraft got the red carpet treatment in Toulouse
The aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and is designed to be 30 per cent more fuel and carbon-efficient than the aircraft it replaces.
They 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’.
Commenting on the new Virgin Atlantic upper class suite and new A350 layout, Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website www.headforpoints.com, said: ‘Virgin Atlantic has grown up! I think the new upper class Suite is classy and smart and solves most of my problems with the current seat. You have more privacy, you have far more personal space, the IFE screen is much bigger, and you don’t need the help of the cabin crew to turn the seat into a bed.
‘Little tweaks like being able to use your phone to control the IFE and the adjustable suite mood lighting, as well as the simultaneous introduction of new bedding and toiletries, mean that the entire upper class experience should be transformed. There will also be Wi-Fi for the first time.
‘The Loft is a brave attempt at trying something new with an on-board social hub. Instead of a bar, you have a sofa where families can watch a big-screen TV together and a table where colleagues can sit and work. I have to admit that I’m intrigued to see if it takes off.
‘The changes to the premium and economy cabins, whilst more modest in scope, show an attempt to create a more upmarket image. The premium seat, for example, is definitely the love-child of luxury car seats in terms of leather quality and stitching.’
Mark Anderson, Executive Vice President Customer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘The introduction of our A350 represents a true evolution of our customer experience.’