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2019-11-12 16:08:04

{"title":"Review: NEW Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class | One Mile at a Time","alias":"review-new-virgin-atlantic-a350-upper-class-one-mile-at-a-time-1573571306295-qYmEQfAFI5","url":"https://onemileatatime.com/virgin-atlantic-a350-upper-class-review/","canonicals":["https://onemileatatime.com/virgin-atlantic-a350-upper-class-review/"],"description":"A detailed review of Virgin Atlantic's spectacular new A350-1000 Upper Class. Here's everything you need to know about this product.","content":"

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 2:05PM10/31 VS139 London to New York departing 12:30PM arriving 4:20PM

Virgin Atlantic A350 Business Class Review

Virgin Atlantic 137London (LHR) – New York (JFK)Thursday, October 31Depart: 12:30PMArrive: 4:20PMDuration: 7hr50minAircraft: Airbus A350-1000Seat: 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 / £2.99One hour of unlimited browsing for $8.95 / £6.99Unlimited 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.


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