Solid: Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class

Solid: Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class

25

Hello from Miami! I’ve just finished off my current review trip by flying Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A330-900neo Upper Class (business class) from London to Miami. I’ve long been a fan of Virgin Atlantic, and I was curious to see how the carrier’s new A330-900neo business class is. Well, I was impressed. Let me share some key takeaways, and then I’ll have a full trip report soon.

Virgin Atlantic’s comfortable A330-900neo Upper Class seats

Virgin Atlantic introduced an all-new business class product on its Airbus A330-900neos. Historically Virgin Atlantic had herringbone seats in business class (this is still the case on Airbus A330-300s and Boeing 787-9s). Then the airline introduced a new business class seat on Airbus A350-1000s, and now we’re seeing yet another new business class product on Airbus A330-900neos.

Virgin Atlantic’s A330-900neo business class should look familiar, as it’s the same business class product that Delta has on its A330-900neos. The airline has customized Vantage XL seats with doors.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class cabin
Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class cabin

This is a very good business class seat for an A330-900neo. The reality is that this plane isn’t as wide as the A350 or 787, so you’re definitely going to feel that the seats are a bit narrower than on some other popular wide body jets.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class seat

I found the seat finishes to be well thought out and nice-looking, as you’d expect, as Virgin Atlantic is good at having stylish cabins.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class seat
Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class door

As is the case on all planes, Virgin Atlantic also has a social space on the A330-900neo. This isn’t a bar, but rather is a small lounge with seating and a selection of self-serve snacks.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class lounge

Virgin Atlantic’s great A330-900neo Upper Class tech

New planes don’t just have new seats, but also have new tech, which is another awesome advantage of this jet. Virgin Atlantic’s A330-900neos have plenty of charging, including two USB-A outlets, one USB-C outlet, one AC power outlet, and wireless charging.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class power outlets

On top of that, Virgin Atlantic’s A330-900neos have Viasat Wi-Fi, which is as good as it gets. You could buy a plan for the entire flight for £18.99 with no data caps, which I found to be reasonable.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Wi-Fi

On top of that, the A330-900neo has an excellent entertainment system, with a huge variety of movies, TV shows, and more. The plane also has bluetooth audio technology, so you can use your own headphones for the inflight entertainment. I’m such a fan of this, and I’m happy to see this becoming increasingly common.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class entertainment

Virgin Atlantic’s well-rounded Upper Class soft product

If you ask me, Virgin Atlantic offers one of the all-around most consistently solid transatlantic business class experiences. It’s not that the airline really leads the industry in any one way, but I find that Virgin Atlantic flight attendants are consistently friendly, the food is typically quite good, and I appreciate the little touches that go into the experience.

On this flight, lunch was served after takeoff, starting with drinks and chips.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lunch service

For the starter I selected what was described as the chicken parfait with apricot chutney and crostinis. While not exactly what I was expecting, it was good nonetheless.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lunch service

For my main course I selected the miso and sesame crusted salmon, which was very good. Also notice that unlike in British Airways first class, a plastic container isn’t used for the sauce. 😉

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lunch service

For dessert I had a black forest gateau with coconut vanilla cream and raspberry flakes.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lunch service

Lastly there was also a cheese plate, which had some interesting options on it.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lunch service

I appreciate the cute touches that go into Virgin Atlantic’s service, from the airplane-themed salt & pepper shakers, to the ice cream in the fridge in the social area.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class ice cream fridge

Virgin Atlantic has comfortable bedding in Upper Class, including a mattress pad, a thick pillow, and a very cozy blanket.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bedding

Most important of all, Virgin Atlantic flight attendants just consistently seem like they enjoy their jobs, so it’s a pleasure to fly with them. On average I find that service is better in Virgin Atlantic business class than in British Airways first class. That’s kind of sad.

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A330-900neo Upper Class is excellent. While the seats aren’t particularly wide, I love the privacy, comfort, and technology, including wireless charging, bluetooth audio, and high speed Wi-Fi.

On top of that, as always I enjoyed the Virgin Atlantic soft product, including the tasty food, the thoughtful amenities, and the friendly service. This was my first time flying Virgin Atlantic since the start of the pandemic, and I’m happy to see it’s just as good as I remember.

What do you make of Virgin Atlantic’s A330-900neo Upper Class?

Conversations (25)
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  1. Sean Guest

    Of course they're making it look good and it does, very good. All prepped for sale to the highest bidder! Delta will inevitably consume the lot and the airline will eventually be and Easyjet style consortium of partner airlines. They like to hire the youngest, most inexperienced crews and pay them a pittance to limit costs. They are, after all, billions in debt and given they were a loss making airline in the good days,...

    Of course they're making it look good and it does, very good. All prepped for sale to the highest bidder! Delta will inevitably consume the lot and the airline will eventually be and Easyjet style consortium of partner airlines. They like to hire the youngest, most inexperienced crews and pay them a pittance to limit costs. They are, after all, billions in debt and given they were a loss making airline in the good days, its frightful to imagine how they'll fare in the bad.

  2. Robert Brian Guest

    Have flown Virgin Upper Class so many times and gave up. The Cabin Crew were miserable, food was poor and the Herringbone Seat was Rubbish. If you actually believe Virgin Upper is better than BA First especially the Crew then you must be getting all your flights for free.

    When Virgin first Started out of Gatwick it was amazing, as got bigger the Service etc probably equalled a 3rd World Airline.

    Sorry that is why would never fly Virgin again

  3. Joe Guest

    Just got back from a tampa trip on this plane (with same menu). Few observations from me, wouldn't use the word Solid!

    The lack of a bassinet in upper is a big miss for those of us with under 2s and call centre staff don't seem to be trained in this.

    Seats were good, but I didn't get an amenity kit on way out (not that these virgin ones are any good!).

    Service as others...

    Just got back from a tampa trip on this plane (with same menu). Few observations from me, wouldn't use the word Solid!

    The lack of a bassinet in upper is a big miss for those of us with under 2s and call centre staff don't seem to be trained in this.

    Seats were good, but I didn't get an amenity kit on way out (not that these virgin ones are any good!).

    Service as others said was variable. One of the FAs in upper on the outbound was on his 7th trip and although friendly and working hard, you could tell. On the way back the flight service manager was fantastic and keeping everyone in check.

    The anytime menu isn't an anytime menu, it's the second meal service menu and they refused to give my daughter a fish finger sandwich saying they had run out - only to be offered it later during the second service.

    Oh and the loft was great for my older daughter and other kids to play cards (cew comments..) but it also was full of premium economy passengers at time (and FT says they are apparently allowed there).

    Well I suppose it is a marketing company really...

  4. M. A. Webb Guest

    I am in the wine business but even if not, like many people, I enjoy a glass of wine.
    Why do you never talk about the wine offerings served by airlines in first & business?
    As you know, a meal with out wine is called Breakfast!

    1. Joe Guest

      They were nothing to write home about, but there was a good selection of fizz including champagne, British, prosecco and an alcohol free one - I didn't try to british as the FA said the champers was better

  5. DEE Guest

    Are there AIR VENTS over the seats?? Hope so as that is a pproblem with Vurgin in th past!!

  6. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Looking forward to the full review as on the TPA-LHR in May however galley fm is reporting possible change of metal to the A350 which is better than the B787 but was looking forward to the neo.

  7. Jordan Diamond

    Going back to the 80s until 1995, VS offered an identical J class seat to BA's F class, with what was the industry standard at 55-inch pitch (lounger seat) It was VERY comfortable. Back then the industry standard for J was 38 inches - so it was a huge deal to have F class service and comfort, for J class prices.

    VS had to offer a truly first-class experience, and they did a great job of delivering this.

    Clearly VS trains their FA's to serve.

  8. Pete Guest

    Great to see you back in the air, Ben.

    It’s especially appreciated since most of us know how much life changes when the first bundle of joy arrives, and we’d really just prefer to be at home.

    Hopefully we’ll see our first family trip report in the near future!

  9. Duck Ling Guest

    As former Virgin Atlantic cabin crew I can tell you that most of us are not happy at VA anymore. Just ask on your flight how many F/A's have jumped ship to competing airlines recently - and those that haven't have likely applied to the competing airlines. Since SRB handing over the reigns pretty much the whole culture of the company changed so much. Then COVID was an excuse to make us work like dogs...

    As former Virgin Atlantic cabin crew I can tell you that most of us are not happy at VA anymore. Just ask on your flight how many F/A's have jumped ship to competing airlines recently - and those that haven't have likely applied to the competing airlines. Since SRB handing over the reigns pretty much the whole culture of the company changed so much. Then COVID was an excuse to make us work like dogs for a pathetic salary.

    We work more trips for less money than pretty much any other long haul airline and a HUGE amount of the Virgin Atlantic crew you will encounter now are relatively new.

    A bunch of us buggered off to BA where money is slightly better and a load of us went to the QANTAS Heathrow base too where i'm working 50% less for more money.

  10. Donna Diamond

    The new cabin and seats look great what a huge change! I’m not sure the food would be to my liking. I’d prefer a pairing of the champagne with nuts rather than potato chips. The chicken parfait looks like Spam right out of the can. And the soft cheeses, no thanks.

  11. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Airbus just announced that it is upping production of the A330NEO from 3 to 4 aircraft per month over the next couple years so the A330NEO is beginning to sell better.
    The A330 is not as wide as the B787 or the A350 but the A330 is optimized for transatlantic length flights. The NEO gets a couple more hours range and Delta uses it on some flights but the NEO will be a good...

    Airbus just announced that it is upping production of the A330NEO from 3 to 4 aircraft per month over the next couple years so the A330NEO is beginning to sell better.
    The A330 is not as wide as the B787 or the A350 but the A330 is optimized for transatlantic length flights. The NEO gets a couple more hours range and Delta uses it on some flights but the NEO will be a good replacement for older generation aircraft like the 777-200ER and even the 767.
    Since Virgin has no new generation plane in size between the A330-900 and the A350-1000, the A330NEO works well for routes that don't need as much capacity as their A350s.

    in terms of product, DL and Virgin are moving toward what NW and KLM did years ago in trying to harmonize their cabins to present as consistent of a product as possible.
    Virgin has the advantage of putting a few new bells and whistles on its A330NEOs but other than the social area, the two will likely have pretty similar widebody fleets other than the 787s within a few years

    1. Anthony Diamond

      "in terms of product, DL and Virgin are moving toward what NW and KLM did years ago in trying to harmonize their cabins to present as consistent of a product as possible. Virgin has the advantage of putting a few new bells and whistles on its A330NEOs but other than the social area, the two will likely have pretty similar widebody fleets other than the 787s within a few years"

      This is why the Virgin...

      "in terms of product, DL and Virgin are moving toward what NW and KLM did years ago in trying to harmonize their cabins to present as consistent of a product as possible. Virgin has the advantage of putting a few new bells and whistles on its A330NEOs but other than the social area, the two will likely have pretty similar widebody fleets other than the 787s within a few years"

      This is why the Virgin "social area" is such a miss for Virgin. It basically sits unused and unstaffed during flights. Wasted space. It is a downgrade from the bar.

    2. AnishReddi Gold

      Other than the MAL order from a couple months ago, what other new sales have we seen for the A330neo? Especially given the huge loss with the big reduction from AirAsia.

    3. Mike O. Guest

      No significant sales tbh. While the A339 is a great transatlantic aircraft, it's too much in terms of range for intra-Asia flights where a lot of the A330CEOs are. You're better off with a 78J as you can load more cargo. It'll be interesting to see what the likes of CX, JL and even QF choose for their regional replacements.

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      The 78J is significantly larger than the A330 in any form.
      I don't want to argue economics but there is enough data to show that the A330-900's fuel efficiency favors it over the A330-300 on segments above 2500 miles or so.
      Airbus took a two airplane approach (partly at Delta's insistence) to meet the new generation powered mid-size market.
      The A330-900 can easily do 14 hour flights because of the Rolls Royce...

      The 78J is significantly larger than the A330 in any form.
      I don't want to argue economics but there is enough data to show that the A330-900's fuel efficiency favors it over the A330-300 on segments above 2500 miles or so.
      Airbus took a two airplane approach (partly at Delta's insistence) to meet the new generation powered mid-size market.
      The A330-900 can easily do 14 hour flights because of the Rolls Royce engines that are a bleed air engine of the same powerplant that is an option on the 787. Airbus extended the wing via A350 style winglets and added a few more composites but the airframe and wing are essentially the same as earlier A330-300s - which have been improved over a number of years.
      The A350 is a carbon fiber aircraft and thus costs significantly more than the A330 to build (part of why Delta wanted Airbus to build both). The A350-900 is larger but the -1000 is in a class of itself from Airbus' product line.

    5. AnishReddi Gold

      I'm surprised airbus hasn't pushed harder to get more sales. Unlike the 787 it has the availability and as a variant of the original a330 it's much cheaper to produce than the 787. Maybe it's rolls Royce who won't comprise on the price of the engines?

    6. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Given that Airbus is increasing production of both the A330 and A350, they clearly see demand for new aircraft returning and then some.
      They obviously know who they are negotiating with for aircraft and what capacity to deliver they need.
      I would bet that DL will do another order for A330-900s. They receive 6 this year, 9 next year and 3 in 2025 to finish their current order. They have no options according...

      Given that Airbus is increasing production of both the A330 and A350, they clearly see demand for new aircraft returning and then some.
      They obviously know who they are negotiating with for aircraft and what capacity to deliver they need.
      I would bet that DL will do another order for A330-900s. They receive 6 this year, 9 next year and 3 in 2025 to finish their current order. They have no options according to their 10K
      They have not announced a plan to replace their 767-300ERs but that process is likely to begin in the 2025-2030.
      They also have 16 A350s to be delivered, most of which will be delivered in 2024 and 2025 so the rumors about an A350-1000 order are reasonable based on their order book.

      There are still hundreds of A330s worldwide that will be up for retirement in the next 5 years. Airbus is certain to get a share of those orders for the A330-900 even with the 787-9s greater range.

    7. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Given that Airbus is increasing production of both the A330 and A350, they clearly see demand for new aircraft returning and then some.
      They obviously know who they are negotiating with for aircraft and what capacity to deliver they need.
      I would bet that DL will do another order for A330-900s. They receive 6 this year, 9 next year and 3 in 2025 to finish their current order. They have no options according...

      Given that Airbus is increasing production of both the A330 and A350, they clearly see demand for new aircraft returning and then some.
      They obviously know who they are negotiating with for aircraft and what capacity to deliver they need.
      I would bet that DL will do another order for A330-900s. They receive 6 this year, 9 next year and 3 in 2025 to finish their current order. They have no options according to their 10K
      They have not announced a plan to replace their 767-300ERs but that process is likely to begin in the 2025-2030.
      They also have 16 A350s to be delivered, most of which will be delivered in 2024 and 2025 so the rumors about an A350-1000 order are reasonable based on their order book.

      There are still hundreds of A330s worldwide that will be up for retirement in the next 5 years. Airbus is certain to get a share of those orders for the A330-900 even with the 787-9s greater range.

  12. Mark B Guest

    Flew them in January on their new TPA/LHR route. Agree the hard product was good and that the food was better than average. Completely disagree on the service. Both flights were understaffed by two FAs (which I was told being understaffed by at least one was common) so that our outbound flight took almost 3 hours to get through dinner service. On our return, they refused to provide any of the anytime snacks, including the...

    Flew them in January on their new TPA/LHR route. Agree the hard product was good and that the food was better than average. Completely disagree on the service. Both flights were understaffed by two FAs (which I was told being understaffed by at least one was common) so that our outbound flight took almost 3 hours to get through dinner service. On our return, they refused to provide any of the anytime snacks, including the salad, claiming they didn’t have the staff to do it. It’s not fair to ask FAs to continually make up for staffing shortages, but certainly not the makings of a stellar product.

  13. Tim G Guest

    Ben, did you book it with points, miles, or cash?

  14. NSS Guest

    Are they going to retrofit the A333s? I flew one from JFK to LHR a few weeks back and that seat is miserable. Even the great food and service doesn't make up for that coffin.

  15. Mike O. Guest

    Since you mention tech, the next feature I would like to see would be AirPlay/Chromecast where you can play content from your device to the screen in front of you. This might be an (un)popular opinion, but I think it's time to just get rid of airline provided headphones and have Bluetooth enabled. I'm sure it's a win-win for everybody as most travelers fly with their own pair anyway and it'll cut down on costs...

    Since you mention tech, the next feature I would like to see would be AirPlay/Chromecast where you can play content from your device to the screen in front of you. This might be an (un)popular opinion, but I think it's time to just get rid of airline provided headphones and have Bluetooth enabled. I'm sure it's a win-win for everybody as most travelers fly with their own pair anyway and it'll cut down on costs (or at least make them available on request) and get rid of inflight power ports in favor of high powered USB-C ports instead. Most devices these days including laptops are plugged in to a USB-C port rather than a regular outlet. Anyone agree/disagree?

  16. Airfarer Diamond

    I flew this about a month ago. I also had the salmon. I agree that thet VS has a solid consistent product which meets expectations.
    I'm on the fence about the new seats. Definitely better than the old ones but I found them to be relatively small. I can handle the width, but the distance from my eyes to the screen, when not fully reclined, is a bit too close for extended comfortable viewing.

  17. Anthony Diamond

    You didn't mention it, but a downgrade (IMO) at Virgin in recent years is the removal of the bar in favor of the Loft. I know you didn't like the bar, but it was a feature that made Virgin unique. I flew the A350 in Upper Class last year and was dissapointed in the Loft experience. When flying JFK to LHR, I am now basically indifferent between DL/Virgin (I am usually flying this route in...

    You didn't mention it, but a downgrade (IMO) at Virgin in recent years is the removal of the bar in favor of the Loft. I know you didn't like the bar, but it was a feature that made Virgin unique. I flew the A350 in Upper Class last year and was dissapointed in the Loft experience. When flying JFK to LHR, I am now basically indifferent between DL/Virgin (I am usually flying this route in business class on a paid ticket) where as previously I preferred Virgin. Elite earnings are the same regardless.

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Duck Ling Guest

As former Virgin Atlantic cabin crew I can tell you that most of us are not happy at VA anymore. Just ask on your flight how many F/A's have jumped ship to competing airlines recently - and those that haven't have likely applied to the competing airlines. Since SRB handing over the reigns pretty much the whole culture of the company changed so much. Then COVID was an excuse to make us work like dogs for a pathetic salary. We work more trips for less money than pretty much any other long haul airline and a HUGE amount of the Virgin Atlantic crew you will encounter now are relatively new. A bunch of us buggered off to BA where money is slightly better and a load of us went to the QANTAS Heathrow base too where i'm working 50% less for more money.

3
Pete Guest

Great to see you back in the air, Ben. It’s especially appreciated since most of us know how much life changes when the first bundle of joy arrives, and we’d really just prefer to be at home. Hopefully we’ll see our first family trip report in the near future!

2
Airfarer Diamond

I flew this about a month ago. I also had the salmon. I agree that thet VS has a solid consistent product which meets expectations. I'm on the fence about the new seats. Definitely better than the old ones but I found them to be relatively small. I can handle the width, but the distance from my eyes to the screen, when not fully reclined, is a bit too close for extended comfortable viewing.

1
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