Mark Anderson, executive vice-president customer at Virgin Atlantic, claims: “We’ve elevated our offering to provide our customers with something totally unique.”
The new Upper Class product features all-new flat-bed seats measuring 6ft 10in, a sliding privacy door and an area known as The Loft for socialising.
“As the largest social space in the airline’s fleet, it’s designed for customers to gather, chat, enjoy a drink or dine with friends,” says the airline
The new cabin will be installed on Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, with the first flights from summer 2019 on the Heathrow-New York JFK route.
Virgin Atlantic has not yet said exactly when the new jet, to be known as Red Velvet, will enter service. Disparity in fares is as wide as the gulf between economy and Upper Class.
Business travellers bankroll the London-New York link, while economy class is ferociously competitive. The cheapest “economy light” fare on Virgin Atlantic from London to New York is £298 return. The lowest premium economy return ticket costs £822, nearly three times higher. In Upper Class, the lowest fare is £2,757 – over nine times the economy price.
The three-year revamp has been strongly focused on the business product. Passengers in the lower two classes will get bigger seatback video screens, and new seat fabric will be used for the economy seats. The economy seat pitch remains at 31 inches, except for some rows of “economy delight” which has 34 inches.
Virgin Atlantic has ordered a dozen Airbus A350s, which are scheduled to join the fleet by 2021. At list price the order is worth £3.35bn, but in practice the airline is likely to have negotiated a deal at least half-a-billion pounds cheaper.
The airline is 49 per cent owned by the US carrier Delta, with Air France-KLM poised to take a 30 per cent stake.
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