Virgin Atlantic has revealed a second aircraft cabin interior for its A350-1000s, designed for three aircraft planned to operate leisure routes following the retirement of its B747s. The leisure focus of customers flying A350s from Heathrow to holiday destinations such as Orlando (beginning in December 2021) or Barbados (later in 2022) required a change to the mainline seating configuration, with fewer Upper Class seats. This change opened up an opportunity to introduce a new onboard social space.
The new configuration has 397 seats in total, with 16 Upper Class suites, 56 Premium seats and 325 in Economy, including 45 Economy Delight seats with extra legroom, priority boarding and advanced seat selection. In comparison, the airline’s mainline A350s flying between city destinations such as Johannesburg, Los Angeles and San Francisco attract more business travellers, so they are fitted with 351 seats: 44 in Upper Class, 56 in Premium and 235 in Economy.
The smaller Upper Class cabin in the leisure configuration makes fitting the airline’s large ‘Loft’ social space in the Door 2 zone a little too indulgent, even for Virgin Atlantic, for which business class social areas such as bars have been a trademark feature for more than 35 years.
Instead, a more compact social space has been created for the leisure-focused A350 fleet, named ‘The Booth’. The Booth is a semi-private space where two Upper Class passengers can get together away from their suites, with lounge-style seating for two, separated by a single-leaf table. The styling and finishes of The Booth were designed by Virgin Atlantic’s in-house design team in collaboration with London-based design agency, Factorydesign. The team chose leather-trimmed seats and almond gold trims, which are shown off to their best by the LED lighting system. Virgin and Factorydesign also worked together on the mainline A350 Loft space, and they have carried over elements of its design language into The Booth.
While passengers can enjoy each other’s company in The Booth, and perhaps a couple of cocktails, they can also share immersive experiences via the two 27in touchscreen monitors in the space. The content showed on these large displays will be continuously updated, tailored to the route and time of day. Initial content will include a digital art gallery featuring up-and-coming artists, and aircraft tail and belly cams. Guests can also connect Bluetooth headsets to the monitor’s audio feed via the two jacks.
The first aircraft in the airline’s A350 leisure fleet will be G-VEVE, named Fearless Lady, in honour of Eve Branson, the late mother of Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson. The second will follow in April 2022, named Lady Emmeline (G-VLIB) after Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the women’s suffrage movement. The third plane is expected to be delivered by June 2023.
“We’re famous for our onboard social spaces and the introduction of The Booth elevates the customer proposition for our leisure travellers to new heights. We love creating brilliantly different experiences, which is why we’re always evolving our ideas to offer something different and exciting in the air and on the ground,” said Corneel Koster, chief customer and operations officer at Virgin Atlantic.
“I’m delighted that we’ve curated The Booth specifically for our customers jetting off on holiday to our sunny destinations, such as Orlando, offering a truly stylish start to their trips.”