Virgin Atlantic Poised To Accept First Airbus A350 Later This Week

Virgin Atlantic has revealed that they will be taking delivery of their first A350-1000 later this week. Although the exact date is unknown, the delivery flight is certainly imminent. Along with the delivery announcement, Virgin posted a teaser video of what we can expect on board.

Virgin A350-1000
Hold onto your hats, G-VPOP is coming! Photo: Virgin

Just days after fellow UK airline British Airways flew its inaugural flight with its shiny new A350-1000, Virgin Atlantic have announced the arrival of theirs. Detailed on a Twitter post yesterday, Virgin revealed that the aircraft will arrive with them later this week.

This was followed by a sneak peek of the aircraft interior, along with an equally vague confirmation of imminent delivery.

Twitter user Nathan Atkins asked the question that was burning on all our lips: when? But, clearly, Virgin aren’t giving anything away just yet.

Other users fished for further route announcements but were similarly blocked by Virgin’s media team.

Clearly, there’s a lot we don’t know about Virgin’s A350s yet, but some things we do know. It will arrive this week (and seeing as it’s Thursday already, that doesn’t leave much time). We also know what to expect onboard and which routes it will fly first. Let’s take a look at all that.

What do we know about the Virgin A350-1000?

The first A350 to arrive with Virgin will be registered G-VPOP. It’s the first of four due to be delivered this year, with eight more also on order from Airbus.

All the new A350-1000s will wear a new livery, featuring an updated icon on the nose. The traditional Varga Girl will be replaced with five new icons, said to better reflect the diversity of modern Britain. G-VPOP will wear an icon named Zadie.

Virgin Atlantic Icon
Zadie will be the first new icon since the Varga Girl was introduced. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Most excitingly, all the A350-1000s will feature the new Upper Class cabin, which Simple Flying got to check out at an event earlier this year. This cabin features a brand new ‘suite’, with 44 inches of pitch, 20 inches of width and completely lie flat comfort.

VS Upper Class
Virgin Atlantic will debut a new Upper Class on their A350-1000s. Photo: Virgin

Also in the Upper Class cabin is The Loft, a lounge-type area for passengers to socialize and to enjoy the view of the live tailcam.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Loft bar
Virgin Atlantic’s newly designed social space for its A350. Photo: Virgin Atlantic.

As well as Upper Class, the other cabins have had a makeover too. Premium economy seats 56, and has a comfortable pitch of 38 inches. In economy, the 235 passengers will be snug in a 3-3-3 configuration with a seat pitch of 31 inches. A few seats offer extra legroom of 34 inches.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy
Premium economy and main cabin have had a makeover too. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

The inaugural route of the A350-1000 will be on Virgin’s flagship London Heathrow to New York JFK. Bookings for this route opened in early July, with flights set to commence on September 10th. The A350 will operate six flights a week between the two cities.

As their second A350 arrives, it too will be deployed on the LHR to JFK route. It’s scheduled to begin service on September 24th, bringing the total transatlantic A350 flights to 13 per week. No word yet on where the next two will fly, but with deliveries earmarked for later this year, we shouldn’t have long to wait!

So, when is it coming?

Although Virgin is remaining tight-lipped about the actual delivery date, we can narrow things down a little, thanks in part to Virgin’s rival British Airways. BA had their first A350-1000 delivered very recently, on the 27th July, and following their timeline could give us a clue as to when G-VPOP will arrive.

VA A350
G-VPOP was recently seen fully painted in Toulouse. Photo: Virgin Atlantic.

BA’s A350 took two customer acceptance flights, one on July 18th and again on the 19th. Both those flights were flown under the Airbus registration of F-WZFH. From then, eight days passed until the aircraft switched to its BA registration, G-XWBA, and was delivered that same day. This was delayed by a day due to chaos at Heathrow.

According to flight tracking, the last time V-POP flew was on the 5th August. Although this isn’t marked as a customer acceptance flight, its short duration of 41 minutes and relatively simple pathway could mean it is.

G-VPOP acceptance flight
The aircraft took a short flight two days ago – could this be the customer acceptance flight? Image: Flight Radar 24

Although British Airways took eight days from the acceptance flight to the delivery flight, it may have been that they deliberately built in some flexibility to the timescales. They had organized a media event for the arrival of the A350, while Virgin don’t look to be doing so. Undoubtedly there will be a ‘showing off’ of the Virgin A350 at some point, but with delivery claimed to be happening this week, it doesn’t look as if there will be an event for the arrival of the A350 in London.

G-VPOP current location
G-VPOP is still in Toulouse today. Image: Flight Radar 24

Right now, G-VPOP is still at Toulouse, parked under its Airbus registration F-WZNU. The first indication we’ll get of the delivery flight (if not provided by Virgin) will be when the registration changes to G-VPOP. This could be days before the actual flight or, as was the case with BA, just hours.

If Virgin are true to their word, we’d peg the delivery flight as happening this weekend. One thing is for sure; we’ll be keeping a close eye on that aircraft in Toulouse for the next few days!

Are you as excited for the Virgin A350-1000 as we are? Let us know in the comments.