CABIN CONCEPT – VIRGIN ATLANTIC

Julie Baxter

Virgin Atlantic has reinvented its Business cabin with an innovative new loft space, Julie Baxter got a sneak preview prior to the launch

Virgin Atlantic has taken the wraps off its long-awaited Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, which includes an entirely new Upper Class cabin with brand new suite and social space called The Loft. Due to fly from late summer 2019, the design team’s goal was to raise the bar and embed innovation into the new cabin.

The Loft builds on the Clubhouse experience, taking lounge-style service to the skies with menus and tableware purpose-designed for those using the space. Passengers are offered a range of cocktails here, can dine together or take the Mile High afternoon tea by Eric Lanlard. New dishes by Donal Skehan are being developed for service here too.

The six seats of The Loft area include seat belts (so passengers can stay there during turbulence) and by using Bluetooth headphones passengers can connect to a 32” screen – to catch a show, or watch the live tailcam while in the communal space.

Daniel Kerzner, vp customer experience at Virgin Atlantic, says: “The investment in the A350 gave us the chance to challenge everything we know, and build something to fall in love with. Innovation was at the heart of the design brief with every detail being reconsidered. The goal was to make this the dreamiest aircraft possible. We have been obsessing over every element, working with fashion houses for new heritage fabrics and taking inspiration from top-end handbag and luxury automobile design, featuring creative stitching and leather work too.

The message of this aircraft is that it has been designed with love and built for the future.

Getting emotional

“We want to provoke emotion in our passengers, effect how they feel about travelling. We wanted the aircraft to be super comfy and stylish, and unmistakably Virgin. It’s about using this moment as a catalyst for change across our business.”

The new Upper Class ‘suites’ were put through considerable ergonomic testing, designed in collaboration with frequent flyers. Every seat now faces towards the window and offers deployable privacy screens. They are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, and each has a 44” pitch, with a fully flat bed length of up to 82”.

All have direct aisle access and convert easily from upright to a bed with the touch of a button. They include an 18.5″ screen, controlled by customers’ own personal device.

The design gives more usable space and is more adaptable then previously. Mood lighting, with six settings, is said to help passengers beat jetlag.

Premium cabins have also been updated to include 13.3” screens, 7” recline, increased space for storage, a four-way adjustable headrest all in leather. Economy seats have been upgraded with new fabric and adjustable headrests. Economy Light and Classic will offer a 31” seat pitch whilst Economy Delight offers 34” and 11.6” screens. The entire aircraft will also have access to high speed wifi.

Carbon efficient

Virgin Atlantic has ordered a total of 12 Airbus A350-1000, with them all scheduled to join the fleet by 2021 in an order worth an estimated $4.4 billion (list price.) The aircraft is designed to be 30% more fuel and carbon efficient than the aircraft it replaces and is expected to reduce the airline’s noise footprint at its airports by more than half.

The A350 will also be the first aircraft in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet to feature
its new Flying Icons, which are set to replace the airline’s famous Flying Ladies. The high flyer icons are a diverse range of men and women representing modern Britain, rolled out on the four A350-1000 aircraft this year, followed by a further eight by 2021.