Virgin Atlantic will be introducing a new Upper-Class seat on its upcoming Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. The company has ordered 12 aircraft and will take delivery of the first one in the middle of 2019. In an interview with Business traveler magazine Virgin Atlantic’s senior vice president of sales and customer loyalty Oliver Byers stated:
“The A350-1000 is a great opportunity for us to introduce a new Upper-Class seat and product, and we’re very excited to reveal what that will be before we start flying it next year,”
According to Byers who has seen the new seat and sat in it, it’s a revolution and has a premium quality feel.
Which Seat Can it Be?
At the top end of the market, you have Qatar with its Qsuites in business class; they blow away other business class and most first-class products in the air today.
Will Virgin copy Qatar’s Qsuites? Highly unlikely virgin flies very competitive routes, and simply the airline cannot afford the real estate and loss of capacity needed to install the Qsuites. Could virgin copy Singapore’s great business class seats on its A350-1000?
Again this is highly unlikely since the seats are large and take up too much real estate. Looking at Lufthansa and their business class offering on their A350-1000, it is also unlikely Virgin would copy those seats, they are not the best and are arguably not as good as the current Virgin Upper-Class offerings.
Two possible contenders are the business class products fitted on the A350-1000 by Delta and Cathay Pacific.
The Delta One suites are fully enclosed, which is the current trend in business class products, although virgin would probably customize the seat and produce a slightly better design than Delta.
Cathay Business class seating aboard the A350-1000 is a great product that sticks with the virgin heritage of a herringbone layout, although the seats do not offer the best privacy so Virgin will probably have to do something to customize the seat and make it more private.
Keep An Eye BA
Virgin built its reputation on offering an Upper-Class hard product that is better than British Airways Club World. With BA due to unveil its new Club World Seats in 2019, it is very likely Virgin will be keeping an eagle eye on the competition. It simply cannot allow BA to unveil a superior product. Although BA is staying tight-lipped about the new seats, they seem to be staying with an alternating straight layout. Will Virgin stick with Angled seats or will they revert to a straight layout, only time will tell.
Virgin’s Herringbone configuration was cutting edge when it made its debut. Sticking with tradition, it is very likely Virgin will stay with a similar configuration, probably along the lines of something offered by Cathay Pacific. Although with business class, enclosed suites becoming more popular if Virgin could somehow create enclosed herringbone seats they would be onto a winner!