Review: NEW Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Trip Reports


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Review: The Club At ATL
Review: Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class
Review: IGA Lounge Istanbul Airport
Review: Turkish Airlines A319 Business Class
Review: DoubleTree By Hilton Cluj, Romania
Romanian Road Trip: Amazing So Far
Review: Art Hotel Sibiu, Romania
Brunch In The Transylvanian Countryside
Review: Copsamare Guesthouses, Romania
Review: Casa Savri Sighișoara, Romania
Romanian Road Trip: Part Two
Review: Vila Economat Sinaia, Romania
Driving In Romania: My Experience
Review: JW Marriott Bucharest, Romania
Review: TAROM Lounge Bucharest Airport
Review: TAROM Business Class A318
Review: Hyatt Place London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic’s Puzzling New Business Class Seat
Review: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow
Review: NEW Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class

Boy was I excited to fly Virgin Atlantic’s A350-1000! Not only was it my first time flying Virgin Atlantic in several years (and I love Virgin Atlantic), but it was also my first time experiencing their new Upper Class. Lastly, the A350-1000 is one of my favorite planes in the sky. So when you combine the three, I knew I was in for a great flight.

Booking Virgin Atlantic Business Class

Obviously reviewing flights is a big motivator in taking these trips. I was happy we were able to try Turkish’s new 787-9 business class on the way out, and on the return I also wanted to try something new, with the priority being a flight on Virgin Atlantic’s A350-1000.

In theory I could have booked this as a Delta SkyMiles award ticket, though there wasn’t award availability for our dates, not to mention the mileage cost would have been steep, and there would have been carrier imposed surcharges.

Fortunately there were some really good paid fares. We managed to book a roundtrip ticket from Bucharest to New York for $1,200, with the outbound in business class and the return in economy.

The outbound portion of the ticket (in business class) looked as follows:

10/30 RO391 Bucharest to London departing 12:20PM arriving 2:05PM
10/31 VS139 London to New York departing 12:30PM arriving 4:20PM

If you want to redeem miles for Virgin Atlantic’s A350 Upper Class, see this post.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Business Class Review

Virgin Atlantic 137
London (LHR) – New York (JFK)
Thursday, October 31
Depart: 12:30PM
Arrive: 4:20PM
Duration: 7hr50min
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000
Seat: 11K (Business Class)

We boarded through the forward door, where we were greeted by a chipper crew and pointed towards our seats. Oh my gosh the Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class cabin is beautiful — I love the finishes, I love how modern the cabin looks, and I love how spacious it feels. The A350 is such a pleasure to fly.

Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 Upper Class cabin

Virgin Atlantic has a total of 44 Upper Class seats on the A350, all located between the first and second set of doors.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin A350-1000

Virgin Atlantic selected a unique layout. The center seats are in a herringbone configuration, meaning they face the aisle. If you’re traveling alone and are in the center, that means you at least won’t be bothered by your seatmate. But if you’re traveling with someone it’s not ideal, since you’re angled away from them.

Virgin Atlantic A350 center business class seats

Virgin Atlantic A350 center business class seats

All the window seats, on the other hand, were reverse herringbone seats, meaning they faced the window. Reverse herringbone seats are incredibly common nowadays, so it’s interesting how they chose a hybrid reverse herringbone and herringbone configuration.

Virgin Atlantic window business class seat A350

I had assigned myself the seat in the last row on the right, 11K, while Tiffany was seated immediately in front of me. This was a very comfortable configuration, and I was happy as could be in my window seat.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat

There are some minor details of the seat that I find odd, which I highlighted in a separate post. To the right of the seat was a storage shelf, though I didn’t love that it was exposed, not to mention it was a very small area.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat storage

The seat controls were immediately to the right of the seat, and were easy to use. The problem is that the controls were right where your elbow might naturally rest when sitting up, so several times during the flight I accidentally pushed the controls.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat controls

On the aisle side of the seat was an armrest, which could be lowered during the flight to create a wider sleeping surface.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat armrest

Another unique feature of the seat is the tray table. The problem is that it’s really poorly designed, and apparently Virgin Atlantic is working on fixing that on planes going forward. The tray table folds down from the side of the seat.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class tray table

You can then either keep the tray next to you (which is a nice concept)…

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class tray table

…or you can slide it to the side, right in front of you.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class tray table

The problem is that the tray table is incredibly close to where you sit, and I’ve heard lots of complaints of people not even being able to extend the tray table. Even though I managed to fit comfortably enough with the tray table extended, I kept finding myself wishing I could push the tray back further. I also couldn’t really recline my seat at all while the tray was out, due to lack of space.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class tray table

In terms of legroom and the footwell, this is your standard reverse herringbone seat, with a fairly large footwell.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class footwell

The entertainment screen also slid out from the seat in front. There’s no controller for the entertainment, but rather it’s touchscreen.

New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class entertainment screen

To the right of the seat and to the bottom was a small literature pocket, as well as the 110v and USB outlet.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class power outlet & storage

There was also a headphone jack and a second USB outlet.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class USB port & headphone jack

I was thrilled to see that Virgin Atlantic has individual air nozzles at their seats on the A350, which is something I value.

Virgin Atlantic A350 individual air nozzles

Already waiting at my seat upon boarding was the menu.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class menu

There was also an amenity kit, which is new for Virgin Atlantic. It’s probably the most “sustainable” amenity kit out there, and is made of recyclable kraft paper, and most of the goodies in there are recyclable and/or sustainable. It’s a cool initiative for the airline to take.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class amenity kit

There were also a pair of headphones, which were fairly good.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class headphones

One more comment on the seats — while I loved the finishes and found them sleek, the cabin was already showing wear & tear. The white aisle-side panels might not have been the best choices, as they all already looked scratched up.

Virgin Atlantic business class wear & tear

About 10 minutes after settling in I was offered a pre-departure drink in proper glassware, with the choice between sparkling wine and orange juice.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class pre-departure sparkling wine

Now let’s talk about a real highlight of the flight from the moment we boarded — the crew. My gosh they were all so lovely. As I said when I reviewed the Clubhouse, every Virgin Atlantic employee I interacted with the entire day was incredibly friendly, and the crew in particular stood out.

After serving pre-departure drinks the crew came around to each passenger and took their time explaining the seats and service. It was clear they were proud and excited about the new product, and their enthusiasm showed.

I loved the level of detail they went into about the seat, down to explaining that you could watch the tail camera during takeoff.

The cabin manager, Caragh, apologized that it was the first time on the plane for many of the crew members. Meanwhile I had Laura taking care of me, and she was incredible as well. This was a superstar crew, though to be honest I find that to be the case on Virgin Atlantic more often than not.

At around 12:25PM the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us that our flight time was 7hr20min, and that we’d have a “very watery Atlantic crossing today.” Hah.

Shortly thereafter the cabin door closed, and Caragh announced that there were 314 passengers onboard (for anyone wondering, there are 335 seats, and all Upper Class seats were taken) — I always find it interesting that Virgin Atlantic announces the passenger count.

At 12:35PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened. The video is… a lot to take in.

I loved being in seat 11K, as I had an awesome view of the wing and engine — I love the Virgin logo on the raked wingtip.

Taxiing in Virgin Atlantic A350

Then of course I also had the tail camera on the entertainment screen — I couldn’t decide which view was better.

Virgin Atlantic A350 tail camera

We had a short taxi and not a long wait for takeoff, and at 12:50PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 9R.

Virgin Atlantic A350 tail camera

View after takeoff from Heathrow

As we climbed out of Heathrow I first checked out the moving map for our flight, which was highly customizable, and had a great interface.

Virgin Atlantic A350 entertainment system

I then checked out the massive entertainment selection, including tons of movies and TV shows.

Virgin Atlantic A350 entertainment system

Virgin Atlantic A350 entertainment system

Virgin Atlantic A350 entertainment system

I also connected to the wifi — I’m thrilled that Virgin Atlantic upgraded their wifi system for the A350.

Virgin Atlantic A350 wifi

There are three passes you can buy:

  • Instant messaging for the entire flight for $3.95 / £2.99
  • One hour of unlimited browsing for $8.95 / £6.99
  • Unlimited browsing for the entire flight for $26.95 / £20.99

Virgin Atlantic A350 wifi pricing

I thought the pricing was good, given that they had no data caps and the wifi speeds were excellent, among the best I’ve had on a long haul flight. I worked almost the entire flight, and was extremely productive.

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff, so I decided to walk around the cabin a bit. First of all, how beautiful is the cabin?!

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class cabin

Immediately behind Upper Class is “The Loft,” which is Virgin Atlantic’s new lounge concept. On all their other planes Virgin Atlantic has bars, while on the A350 they went for more of a lounge.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lounge

It’s a beautiful place with plenty of seating…

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lounge

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lounge

There’s even a perfect seat for an introvert in the corner. 😉

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lounge

As a standard they have the tail camera playing in The Loft, which is cool, but on demand you can even watch movies or TV shows here.

The crew has eight special wireless bluetooth headphones, so you can potentially have several people watching a movie or TV show here. It’s a concept that sounds cool in theory, though in practice I can’t imagine many people will do it.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lounge headphones

Just to test it out, we did watch Tom & Jerry for a moment. 😉

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lounge

There was no food or drinks in the lounge, with the exception of a fruit bowl.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class fruit bowl

There were a couple of bathrooms behind the lounge, which were fairly standard for the A350.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lavatory

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lavatory amenities

As it turns out, the lavatories at the front of the cabins have windows, so that’s a cool reason to use one of those.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class lavatory

This otherwise reminded me most closely of Etihad’s A380 onboard lounge, as they have a similar concept.

Anyway, about 30 minutes after takeoff drink orders were taken.

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

To drink I ordered a glass of sparkling wine, which was served with some popcorn. I love that Virgin Atlantic mixes it up compared to other airlines, most of which seem to offer nuts.

Virgin Atlantic business class — champagne & popcorn

Once I was done with my sparkling wine I decided to order a passionfruit mojito, which was both tasty and adorably presented.

Virgin Atlantic business class cocktail

Service was definitely a bit slower than one would hope, but that was clearly because it was the first time for much of the crew on the A350, and new planes take getting used to. About 75 minutes after takeoff my meal order was taken, and about 100 minutes after takeoff my table was set.

Virgin Atlantic has a unique table setting, including the airplane-themed salt & pepper shakers, the A350-specific napkin rings, a tablecloth and placemat, etc.

Virgin Atlantic business class lunch — table setting

Virgin Atlantic business class lunch — salt & pepper shakers

Virgin Atlantic A350 napkin holder

The starter was served about 120 minutes after takeoff. To start there was the choice between soup, prawns, or cauliflower, and I selected the citrus seared prawns with watermelon salsa, coriander, mint, and sweet chili lime dressing, which were great.

Virgin Atlantic business class lunch — starter 

As soon as my starter was cleared I was served the main — I selected the grilled salmon with fennel, walnut, tomato, and basil butter. It wasn’t the best airplane fish I’ve ever had, but it was pretty good.

Virgin Atlantic business class lunch — main course 

Shortly thereafter I was offered dessert. I chose the chocolate hazelnut tart with white chocolate mendiant, which was excellent. I also had a cup of coffee to go along with, and in particular loved the mug it was served in.

Virgin Atlantic business class lunch — dessert & coffee 

I was asked if I wanted a cheese plate, so I got that as well (just for the picture, of course). 😉

Virgin Atlantic business class lunch — cheese plate 

While the pace of the meal was on the slow side, the food quality was good. In fairness, British Airways has hugely improved their business class catering, and I think the two airlines might just be tied in business class in that regard, or British Airways might even have the slight edge in that regard (I can’t believe I’m saying that!).

After lunch I decided to test out the bed. Virgin Atlantic has proper Upper Class bedding in the overhead bins, including excellent pillows, blankets, and mattress pads. The bedding is top notch.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bedding

So, how comfortable was the bed? Very comfortable, thanks largely to the bedding, and also thanks to the seat in general. Comfort-wise it was on par with your typical spacious reverse herringbone seat.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class bed

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class bed

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class bed

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have doors in A350 Upper Class, though they do have privacy screens that extend out a bit, and I’d say they make a difference.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class privacy screen

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class privacy screen

I didn’t actually sleep because I wasn’t tired and also wanted to get work done, so I instead just kept working.

Moving map enroute to New York

Moving map enroute to New York

Before I knew it we were under 90 minutes from landing in New York, at which point the crew came around to ask if I wanted to have a pre-landing afternoon tea.

The pre-landing menu read as follows:

I ordered a cup of earl grey to drink. To eat I had the smoked salmon tart, the sweet potato falafel, and the sweets and scone. Mmm…

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class afternoon tea

Before I knew it the captain made his pre-landing announcement. At 3:30PM New York time he announced we were at 38,000 feet over Cape Cod, and would be descending shortly, and touching down at 4:10PM.

It was extremely windy on approach, and we swayed back and forth quite a bit. For a minute I felt like we might be having a go around.

View approaching New York

We ended up touching down at 4:15PM.

Final approach to JFK

The taxi to the arrival gate took about 25 minutes — that’s because we had to hold short of a runway for about 15 minutes in order to cross it.

Pulling into gate at JFK

When we arrived at the gate there were problems with the jet bridge, and it took them over 10 minutes to get that connected to the plane. Fortunately we were both through immigration in no time thanks to Global Entry, and with that our trip ended.

On the way out I of course took the opportunity to snap a picture of the plane exterior, since there was no good way to do so at Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic A350-1000

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class A350 Bottom Line

The new Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 is a gorgeous plane with a massively improved business class product. Are there some things I would have designed differently about the seat? Absolutely.

But on balance this is probably one of my new favorite transatlantic business class products. The window seats are comfortable, the bedding is excellent, there are air nozzles, the entertainment and wifi are top notch, and most importantly, the crew was spectacular.

To me Virgin Atlantic is one of those airlines with the “x-factor.” It’s not that any one thing about the experience is that amazing, but when you put it all together, it’s a really top notch airline.

I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference the people make. The crew was so incredibly friendly, which more or less matches my typical Virgin Atlantic experience. The crews are fun, cheeky, professional, and happy, all at the same time… and that’s an unbeatable combo.

If you’ve flown Virgin Atlantic’s A350 business class, what was your experience like?

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!
  1. Ben,
    I’m booked on VS flight 9 from TLV-LHR-JFK in July 2020. I’ve never flown VA before or been to their clubhouse in LHR. My flight from LHR-JFK is operated by an A330. The earlier flight is operated by the A350 and the last flight of the day had no points availability. Do you happen to know when VA will be using more A350s on this route, LHR-JFK? I would love to enjoy the clubhouse and the A350.
    Thanks, M

  2. I’ve been waiting for this review and I’m glad it doesn’t disappoint. The seat design flaws are frustrating, but fixable, so I hope they iterate on it quickly (it sounds like they are). Can’t wait to fly VS 19 from NYC to London later this week. Will be great to try the bedding out.

  3. Great review. Not sure amenity kits are new for VS tho! I got a Herschel one when flying the standard (annoying) seat on the Dreamliner.

  4. I’m a bit mystified by this review. If, as Lucky always maintains, business class is “all about the seat”, my take is that *in all respects except the seat* Virgin’s new J Class is great.

    So that’s a Big Fat Fail, right?

    Luckily for them they’re mainly competing against BA, so they don’t have to try very hard at the moment. But I’m intrigued to see the comparison between this and the new BA Club Suite — which looks better on paper, although of course experience is everything.

    But the previous post pointing out all the problems with the new Virgin seat — especially including the problem
    If noise pollution from the “lounge” — is enough to have put me off.

  5. Why did you book a return in economy? Are you going to use it or was the cost of the business ticket cheaper that way?

  6. If there isn’t any food available in the lounge, I struggle to see the point. I guess it means that unlike the current bar set-up people won’t be there getting drunk? Which might explain no need for a curtain.

  7. @The nice Paul – completely agree. I loved everything on VA’s A350 except the seat – the crew were great, the amenities definitely v cool being sustainable, the bedding was great, the food great, TV/entertainment/screen great and so on.

    But the seat was meh. Poor controls, difficult to get to the position you wanted, the privacy slider that’s somewhat pointless, the tray table issues, no storage.

    Very surprised by Lucky’s review… and wonder how much he was (naturally of course!) influenced by all the great stuff to forget the bad!

  8. @ JDS
    Which is a nice thought, but Lucky wrote in his previous piece:
    “… being seated in the last row meant that I could hear the loud conversation of the people in the lounge even with headphones on.”

    Even with headphones on.

    How is that a sensible design choice? The last VS flight I took I had a “choice” of exactly one seat — right next to the damn bar. I didn’t sleep at all because of the drunk loud-mouths at the bar, who the lovely crew just ignored (still, I guess the noise didn’t affect the crew sleeping quarters).

    VS is a party airline, infested by large numbers of Narcissistic people who don’t know how to behave in shared spaces. If they can’t or won’t design for everyone, then they’ll get punters who want to party. Good luck to them.

  9. @ Aaron

    How is it “shady” (if that’s what Lucky is going to do)?

    In what other commercial transaction will the seller claim to have the right to insist you use all the product or service you’ve bought?

    “You bought two bottles of gin with our BOGOF offer? You may not throw away the second bottle but you *must* drink it…”


    I can’t think of any court that would accept an airline’s claim for damages against someone who threw away the last bit of a ticket.

  10. @The nice Paul – Agree with you completely about drunk louts making noise. For me, the whole point of flying business class is about getting sleep, and having a QUEIT restful space to relax in. It seems Virgin Atlantic is exactly what you say it is:

    “VS is a party airline, infested by large numbers of Narcissistic people who don’t know how to behave in shared spaces. If they can’t or won’t design for everyone, then they’ll get punters who want to party. Good luck to them.”

    Well said. Being stuck trying to sleep in what is essentially a flying bar for many hours sounds like my idea of hell. I don’t care how much pink lighting they install or how much popcorn they bring. No way I would ever subject myself to that kind of annoyance. I’ll be steering clear of VS.

  11. I had trouble taking this review very seriously because it was pre-ordained – the wet kiss in the first paragraph made me gag.

    It is all about the seat – except w VS I guess

  12. If you read the review, he never says that the seat was bad or uncomfortable, only that there are some things he’d have done differently. Otherwise, he says the seats are comfortable, there is good foot space and they are good for sleeping. Seems pretty good to me.

  13. Great review. I thought the seat looked nice but if you are traveling with a family, like I would be, I have no notion how I’d sit near and help my 5 year old in these kinds of seats. Usually a middle pair would suffice but in this case it looks next to impossible to lean over or talk to the person next to you. For work travel as a solo flyer it looks perfect and the food (with lots of choices I’d like) looks great! Bedding is key to a comfortable seat/bed and I agree that looks lovely. I traveled in coach on VA for one of my first overseas flights ages ago and was wowed by their coach service, looks like I should give them another go.

    I wonder, as a side note, why the top of the menu page with coffee/tea says “Change Please Coffee”. Looks like a bizarre typo on their part.

  14. Can you order drinks in the lounge from a flight attendant?

    A lot of people are complaining about the Virgin Atlantic bar, and it does seem kind of late 1990s / early 2000s instead of modern, but at least it is unique. I hope they keep some kind of bar option going forward. It is good to be able to chat with fellow passengers instead of just being cooped up in your business class coffin

  15. I get those that say that in J it is all about the seat. However, I think the calculus changes a bit particularly for daytime transatlantic flights when you likely won’t be sleeping and other factors of J service take higher precedence.

  16. For more details on Change Please Coffee read the below

    FWIW our work place voted to replace our coffee supplier from $tarbuck$ to Change Please. I suspect partly for ethical reasons, but from my point of view, the coffee is much better too

  17. I’m surprised more airlines haven’t invested in noise canceling curtains.

    Lucky I think the reason for the herringbone seats in the center section is that airlines can save a bit of space, since you don’t have to create the extra space to access the seat (since the seat points outwards into the aisle to begin with) that you need in a reverse herringbone seat.

    The same would apply for the window seats but there you’d end up with a loss of a window view in the process.

    Talking of configurations, whatever happened to the odd criss-crossing 1 x 2 x 1 configuration that they introduced on the A330? Seems to have gone by the wayside as the A330s I’ve flown in all have the standard 1 x 1 x 1 herringbone seating.

  18. I flew VS10, the A350 route from JFK to LHR this past Thursday in Premium Economy, tried but failed to get a mileage upgrade. The Upper Class “lounge” still offers thé anytime good on request, and drinks on request. (I asked the crew.) The PE seat was comfortable enough for pitch and recline. The tray tables are (still) between the seats, so on one hand you can’t spread out as much if you have an empty seat next to you However, it also limits encroachment of your hip-space. The new style footrest only has a centre support (old style was left and right side brackets), which makes me question the durability. Time will tell. The “middle of the middle” PE seats have oddly centered under-seat supports, which may restrict storage of larger bags. The AV system is a BIG improvement over older planes. Brilliant screen size and resolution, and the “pilot cam” and “tail cam” plus side camera feeds are great if you aren’t in a window seat. Service was excellent as always.

  19. I can see the main screen being used when a group of drunk Brits want to watch a football (if I must soccer) match on a flight from Manchester to Orlando or Barbados

  20. I’ve flown Virgin four times; three times in Upper Class and once in Economy. On all my flights the cabin crew seemed to just be going through the motions. No one was ever rude, but smiles were hard to come by. I used to train flight attendants for a U.S. airline, so of course I closely observe cabin crews whenever I fly. After my fourth disappointing Atlantic crossing with Virgin I’ve never felt motivated to fly them again.

  21. Used to fly VS all the time LHR-JFK/EWR and to SYD when they had that route.

    Haven’t flown so much lately but will do on the 350 at Xmas. Looking forward to it as the old UC is now very dated.

  22. The seat matters less on these very short daylight sectors; it would be far more problematic on a LHR-HKG or BKK, 12 hours or so.
    I like the fact that they serve (relatively) simple dishes, without trying to ‘tart them up’ with pretentious ingredients and descriptions for the faux-uppity set. It’s a good move ( as is the sparking wine offering rather than snob value champagne)
    In some regards it looks superior ( minus the seat) to the recent AF F experience.

  23. Great report. Looks like a nice trip with Virgin. I’d like to fly them again, but I’ve never been as impressed with the food options on Virgin in Upper Class. It always looks a bit stingy it seems in what is being offered in the way of food, for the price it seems. I guess the beautiful cabin and seats makes up for everything, along with the awesome service. That is hard to beat.

  24. Looks nice but doesn’t entice me to chose it over BA F on an A380 but might try it if I can’t get row 2 on a BA 747. It just feels so “busy” to me. But looks like it would be nice.

  25. My one comment re the A350-1000 is that the business class section between door 1 and 2 is massive. Virgin has 44 seats, Cathay around 46. That takes away some of the privacy and seems to slow down service (I say slower service completely anecdotally). I prefer the -900, wherein J is typically divided between two smaller sections.

  26. Two follow ups to Q’s asked. Yes, they do have PJ’s – though weird sizes. Not, S, M and L… but S to M and M to L

    The “belt coming out of the headrest” is a belt you have to clip on to the lap belt for take off and landing. Not sure if it’s specific to the type of seat or to an A350… as Iberia has the same shoulder belt on its new A350 planes. It never got in my way on that or my Virgin flight.

    @Lucky – any insight on why these new shoulder belts are showing up?

  27. Thanks for a good review, Ben. I agree to most of it.

    The primary reason I fly Virgin like mad is because of their crews and ground staff. I will say that 70% are truly exceptional, 20% are somewhat average – and then you have about 10% that are rather terrible. And, yes, bad crews do exist also at VL – I have had some crazy experiences over the years such as prioritizing non-rev family members over Virgin Golds (e.g. serving drinks to the former, not the latter), loud night fights between crew members etc.

    And you are absolutely right about that small note re wear and tear. I flew only a couple of weeks after their inaugural A350 flight – and the screens and panels already had scratches and cracks.

    Also, Virgin needs to improve their cheese platter soon; that same selection has been running for years – and it is so disappointing with its mediocre pieces when you can source incredible dairy products both in the U.K. and the U.S.

    Again, new seat is a clear improvement, but design process seems rushed – and we have ended up with something that not quite meets my expectations as for functionality and innovation. I think BA might take substantial business from VL on those lucrative LON-NYC flights, but then again a lot of Virgin customers are diehard loyalists to the brand.

  28. I used to be NYC based, and flew VS all the time. Enough that I was asked to be on a “test” flight of a mock cabin in a design hangar…the now previous configuration. That was an interesting experience…they even piped in jet noise to mimic the flight.

    I commented during the survey ending that I thought the white finishings to be unpractical, and also unappealing. I probably got a misdirected email, as the design team shared the survey feedback, and made fun of my comments about the finishings. Ooops on their part!

    The design team is endlessly clever, sometimes too much.

    That said, it’s an overall great experience in J, and the crew are regularly exceptional.

    I did once book a JFK-LHR flight on day of departure, and only Econ was available. Econ turned out to be a surprising treat, despite the fact that I wasn’t happy to be in a middle seat. The service in Econ was also great.

    I’m now LA-based, and fly all the Asian/Australian airlines. AA trans-Pac has been pleasing, CX/Vietnam Airlines/Japan Airlines/Thai…etc. Qantas is extraordinary. Their cabins are impressive…and their crews/meals/etc are fantastic…world best.

    Yes, I’ve also flown the Qatar QSuites this year, which made me giddy with excitement and satisfaction.

    But, aside from the QSuite design, Qantas actually beats them in service and food.

  29. Beautiful plane and very friendly crew, but the most agonizingly slow meal service ever. I fell asleep twice while waiting for the next course. I just gave up and went to sleep. Crew were running up and down aisles, seemingly disorganized and confused.

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