Either I’ve been asleep for the past few months or Virgin Atlantic has been really quiet about their new business class product, because it’s already flying between New York and London on their brand new three class Airbus 330s (featuring Economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class).
You can find all the details of their new Upper Class Suite here, which is currently operating VS003/004 six days a week with the following schedule:
Virgin Atlantic 3 London Heathrow to New York JFK departing at 9:30AM and arriving at 12:20PM
Virgin Atlantic 4 New York JFK to London Heathrow departing at 6:15PM and arriving at 6:35AM (+1 day)
On the whole the product looks like an evolution of the old seat, and not an entirely new concept. The seats are still in a “herringbone” configuration, though it looks like they’ve made quite a few functional improvements. First of all, the bed is now 7ft2in, the longest business class bed of any airline. One of the complaints about the previous seat is that it doesn’t recline all that far, since in order to turn the seat into a bed you have to “flip” the seatback. The new seat seems to have 50% more recline, which is great when you’re not interested in sleeping.
Virgin Atlantic has a pretty cool virtual tour of the product on their website, so check that out. Best I can tell they’ll be installing this product on the Airbus 330s they’re taking delivery of, as well as the 787s they take delivery of starting in 2014, though I don’t think they plan on reconfiguring their existing fleet just yet.
Anyway, I’m rather excited about the new product. I flew Virgin Atlantic last year and thought they had one of the most solid business class products of any airline I’ve flown, between the great in-flight service and awesome ground experience, whether it be in New York, San Francisco, or London (where they have both an arrivals lounge and departures lounge).
I’ve briefly browsed award availability and unfortunately haven’t been able to find any Upper Class award availability for the coming weeks. If I find any I’ll probably make a booking to try the product out and report back to you guys. Or if anyone else comes across space but doesn’t want to use it, let me know and I’ll gladly be the sacrificial lamb and report back. 😉
The Virgin Atlantic website is showing availability on VS004 on May 12 for 40,000 miles + $391.50. Would it work better to trade Ultimate Reward Points with someone who could buy the ticket using VS miles from their own account? Might be a better deal than transferring miles. Lemme know b/c I have the VS miles :-)
Lucky, thanks for the info about redeeming USAir miles on VS. That's certainly a bummer that they only allow coach redemptions, and therefore eliminates that option for me. Looks like I'll have to get creative in order to try out the new Upper Class
@ Carberrie -- You can also book through ANA if you prefer, though in this case I was thinking of just flying Virgin one-way. Unfortunately ANA won't let you mix Star Alliance carriers with their other partner carriers.
@ Lucky - Is Flying Club the only way to get onto Virgin's upper class? What about ANA... Will they let you fly Virgin Upper Class and then SQ or TG to fly JFK-Asia?
@ fosij -- Thinking of just transferring to Flying Club. Not the greatest deal, but to try a new product it's worth it to me.
@ Coutureguy -- Yes, definitely avoid Air France. Though keep in mind that you can't redeem US Airways miles for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, but rather only for economy.
Angled flat... I forgot about that. Who the heck ever thought that was a good idea?! They should be beat, lol. Anyway, I'd be using USAir Dividend Miles for VS, or DL Skymiles for AF
Air France is angled flat. Nuff said.
What points are you using to book VS?
Lucky, assuming the new Upper Class is better than the old one, if you had to choose would you fly Virgin Upper Class or Air France's biz class?
Looks nice! I hope this improved product makes it to my October 2012 LAX-LHR flight!
Ha! Love the redigested PR. If you study the seat patent the 7'-2" claim is better understood. The seat footprint is a parallelogram, so measures 7'-2" or 4'-6" depending on which opposing corners you span the tape measure.
Density increases significantly with 4 abreast in lieu of 3 previously. Makes sound commercial sense.
The translucent panels make it look less private. I enjoyed the trip I took in UC a couple of years ago. I'd be willing to give the new product a try. I guess it will get to IAD eventually.
Too bad United is no longer partners with them, I would've liked to give UC a shot.