Greetings from 31,750 feet as we make our way across the Atlantic on this inaugural Virgin Atlantic flight to Tampa. New routes launch all the time with airlines, but this happens to be both a new route — and new plane.
The Airbus A330neo is the newest and now, best, aircraft flying for Virgin Atlantic. I loved the A350, but this is next level, if you’re into technology and privacy.
While the Upper Class Suite on board this aircraft isn’t strictly the first of its kind — Delta flies a version of it — much of the technology on board is new. Here are 7 clever features onboard this new aircraft, which make me irrationally happy.
Bluetooth At Every Seat
When I tapped my 17.4” 4K monitor to settle in, I was immediately offered the option to pair my Google Pixel Buds Pro, via bluetooth. Honestly, this is a game changer.
There’s nothing fun about plastic waste or clunky headphones, and being able to watch and listen wirelessly, while also enjoying personal comfort is massive. If you don’t want bluetooth, headphones are provided and you can plug in.
Privacy Doors In Business Class
Look, privacy doors are great. Are they entirely functional? No, not always. But paired with Virgin’s “Do Not Disturb” button in business class, they are a treat.
The doors block out anyone at eye level while in the seat and offer considerably more privacy while sleeping. No butt cracks on display while walking the aisle.
USB-C And Wireless Charging
It’s niche and diva, but I am starting to get annoyed with USB ports. I just don’t have any electronics that come with USB anymore, with most companies switching to USB-C or lightning ports. Really, they’re one in the same.
Anyway, Virgin Atlantic not only installed USB-C in addition to USB and standard socket power, but also added wireless charging. The wireless charging kicks on around 10,000 feet and legitimately works!
Cocktails And Ice Cream
No, cocktails, nor ice cream are new in the air. Many airlines serve sundaes after meals in business class — and plenty will mix a “cocktail” in your seat as well. And yes, you can still do that on Virgin.
The fun bit is that in the Social Space which Upper Class passengers can access is a separate seating area, with seat belts and big screens to sit and relax, or socialize.
In this newest iteration, there’s a beer and cocktail self serve fridge, where you can grab a canned cocktail such as a Negroni right from the fridge. And right beside it, in the fridge freezer, there’s ice cream. What’s not to love?
Artsy Bulkhead Walls And Lighting
Despite gorgeous natural light from the windows, plane lighting is rarely the most flattering. Historically, it’s been god awful. Virgin was among the first to change that, installing high power LED’s to set cabin moods and accent the seat and cabin tones.
These new lights are the most impressive yet, but like the Virgin A350, it’s the details on the walls and bulkheads that really change perception. The artsy hotel lobby-esque pattern gives a feeling like you’re somewhere special.
The Retreat Suite
If I had to opine, I’d argue that Virgin excels in seeing opportunities largely overlooked by others. In the first row of this A330-900neo, Virgin installed two bonafide first class Thompson Vantage XL seats, which feature in actual first class on numerous airlines.
They did this without changing the footprint, simply by using the circa foot and a half of extra space that the layout of the aircraft allows, with a smaller center galley for the crew.
Storage on either side means the other bulkheads are further back,
Lightning Fast Wifi
Virgin Atlantic uses Viasat wifi on these new A330neo’s, and my God — it’s fast. It’s actually fast! I felt incredibly jaded about wifi claims coming into this flight but was shocked to be able to stream and work efficiently throughout.
This is the first time in my life where wifi wasn’t noticeably slower or more difficult to use than on the ground. Despite a nice nap, my devices manage to stay connected or reconnect on their own.
You can currently find the Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo flying between London, Boston and Tampa. Check VirginAtlantic.com for the latest details.
Waiting for your thoughts on the BA earning avios downgrade, potential spending move to variable and the obvious likelihood that Virgin will also follow suit given delta is their main investor.
Seems like money is king and all else is going to go for a toss in probably max 1 to 2 yrs for UK airline majors.
I’d consider paying the $200+ upcharge for the Retreat, but only on flights from Tampa. The flights from Boston are too short imo. Also wish they offered some added bonus for the Retreat suite. Caviar, different champagne, amenity kit…something.
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