In September 2021, Virgin Atlantic revealed a unique new onboard lounge concept on a subfleet of Airbus A350s. The first plane with this feature is now flying, and we’ve also learned about some of the unique experiences that will be offered here, ranging from a wine tasting to card games.
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Virgin Atlantic gets “leisure” Airbus A350s
In the long run Virgin Atlantic’s flagship aircraft will be the Airbus A350-1000. The airline has a total of 12 of these on order, and the London-based carrier has already taken delivery of eight of these planes.
The first seven A350-1000s that Virgin Atlantic took delivery of feature a total of 335 seats, including:
- 44 Upper Class business class seats
- 56 premium economy seats
- 235 economy seats
The most recent Airbus A350-1000 that Virgin Atlantic took delivery of featured an all new configuration, intended for leisure routes. Virgin Atlantic’s remaining A350 deliveries will feature a total of 407 seats, including:
- 16 Upper Class business class seats
- 56 premium economy seats
- 335 economy seats
As you can see, the major difference is that business class seats are being traded for economy class seats. The leisure configured A350 features 28 fewer business class seats, but features 100 more economy class seats.
So while the standard configuration flies to destinations like New York and Los Angeles, you can expect the leisure configuration to fly to destinations like Orlando and the Caribbean. The first such A350 has just entered service between London (LHR) and Orlando (MCO), operating the VS135 & VS136 frequencies.
To be clear, this new configuration has nothing to do with coronavirus, and potentially reduced business demand. Rather these two different configurations had been planned all along, as Virgin Atlantic had similarly split up its 747 fleet (which has now been retired) — some 747s featured 44 business class seats, while others had just 14 seats.
New social space on leisure Virgin Atlantic A350s
Virgin Atlantic is known for long having social spaces on its planes. In the past, the carrier’s fleet consistently featured a (small) onboard bar.
Then with the introduction of the A350, Virgin Atlantic introduced “The Loft,” intended as a gathering place for business class passengers. While not a bar, the idea is that you could have drinks here, chat with fellow passengers, etc. This is located right at door two, behind business class.
With Virgin Atlantic’s new A350s, the concept isn’t as practical:
- That would be quite a big social space for just 16 passengers
- The business class cabin will no longer take up the entire space between doors one and two, so the social space would actually be in the middle of the premium economy cabin, and that doesn’t make sense
Therefore Virgin Atlantic is introducing a new concept on leisure A350s, known as “The Booth.” Rather than having a full lounge, the leisure A350s instead have a small area with a single table and two seats, so travelers can hang out together. This area features two 27″ touch screens, along with bluetooth audio connections, should passengers want to watch something there.
For those wondering, “The Booth” is located at the forward left door, where you might otherwise usually find a bathroom.
Virgin Atlantic’s “The Booth” features unique experiences
With “The Booth” now officially being offered on flights between London and Orlando, Virgin Atlantic has revealed some unique experiences that passengers can have in this space, designed specifically with leisure customers in mind.
What should passengers expect?
- A wine tasting experience with drinks by “The Uncommon,” the UK’s number one producer of wine in a can, including an English white, rose, and spritzer
- A cognac tasting with chocolate pairings, courtesy of Delamain; any passenger taking part in the experience will receive a tasting glass to keep as a memento of their journey
- A “dinner for two” private dining experience, should a couple wish to dine together in this space
- A “game time,” where guests can compete with their travel partners using exclusive Virgin Atlantic playing cards
Virgin Atlantic’s first leisure oriented Airbus A350 has just entered service between London and Orlando. The plane features a significantly smaller business class cabin (and a significantly larger economy cabin), and as a result, the airline is also changing up its onboard lounge concept.
Rather than having “The Loft,” the airline will instead have “The Booth,” a smaller space that can seat just two people. This makes sense, both given the logistics of the location of the Upper Class cabin, as well as how few seats there are. Virgin Atlantic has curated some cool experiences for this space, including a wine tasting, cognac tasting, private dinner space, and the ability to play cards here.
Personally I think the execution of this concept is pretty awesome. Currently “The Loft” is simply a social space with no real concept beyond that, while “The Booth” is great for people traveling together to dine face-to-face, which otherwise isn’t possible in Virgin Atlantic’s A350 Upper Class.
What do you make of Virgin Atlantic’s new “The Booth” concept?