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Is Virgin Atlantic planning to move to 1-2-1 seating in Upper Class?

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Virgin Atlantic will be receiving the first of its new A350 long-haul aircraft in 2019.

I have long argued that the current Upper Class seat is no longer fit for purpose.  Revolutionary at the time, it never caught on with other airlines apart from Air New Zealand.  The trend in recent years, which I agree with, is a move towards ‘cubby hole’ seats where extra personal space is created by slotting your feet into a gap under the seat in front.

One Mile At A Time reports that Virgin Atlantic has scheduled an A350 flight to Newark for 9th September 2019.  This is a test flight and is not bookable for cash.  The flight comes with an accompanying seat map:

New Virgin Atlantic seat map A350

I am not an expert on how these maps are presented, but One Mile At A Time uses examples to show that this implies one of two things:

a herringbone layout – similar to what Qatar Airways has installed on its 787 and A350 fleet, see below – in what is effectively a \ /\ / format, or

forward facing seats with alternating positions, so your seat faces the storage area of the seat in front, and vice versa, ie the SWISS seat shown below

SWISS business class seat

Hopefully we can get an early opportunity to see the real thing early next year.

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(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (119)

  • Matthew says:

    OT so apologies –

    Looking to fly J from LON to CMB on 23/24 Nov, rtn ~8 Dec. No attractive cash deals or redemptiona found. Would appreciate any thoughts. OW preferred. Happy to look at ex-EU.

    • Anon says:

      If you’re going for the 3rd test on the basis of two days worth of mildly encouraging England performances….

      Sri Lankan Airlines is One World and usually do good deals from Paris (they also fly out of London I think). Quality is around BA level and tbh I prefer them to BA.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      If you’re feeling lucky, Sri Lankan offer a bid to upgrade feature. They only have two cabins, so book in economy and then put in a bid and cross your fingers.

      Worst case scenario, I did UL economy to CMB and was quite impressed (especially by the catering).

  • Russ says:

    I wonder if expert flyer’s missed off a door roughly around seats 7-8 dividing the premium cabin into two sections? Perhaps room for a small bar in the middle.

  • Alex Sm says:

    OT – An interesting development re BA. Some of you may remember my saga from the summer when my partner and I were denied boarding for our flight from LIS to LHR because BA claimed we were ‘late’ (as 8 or 9 other passengers which is an unusually big number for such a flight, plus now I know that a pax is not officially ‘checked-in’ for their flight until they clear security, according to BA).

    At the time, BA plainly refused to compensate in any way for any possible shortcomings from their side. To my great surprise, this morning they emailed me out of the blue (if you pardon the pun) and offered 2,000 Avios to each of usas a token of compensation. This doesn’t cover those £230 which we we forced to pay for a TAP Portugal replacement flight but still.

    I guess they are now trying to review this type of case to win back customer loyalty after the data breach incidents. Or just a coincidence? Views?

    • David says:

      I’d say 2k avios isn’t anything to get excited about. I don’t know the details of the situation, but if BA was actually at fault then a 2k apology doesn’t come close to what it cost you. If it wasn’t BA’s fault, then it’s nice of them, but still wouldn’t make much of a splash in my avios pond.

      • LewisB says:

        Considering BA send me 2018 avios for my birthday a few weeks ago out of the blue I wouldn’t consider it much of an apology.

        • Alex Sm says:

          Hm… I had my birthday in October and got nothing… Was it a targeted deal? Or are you a lifetime Gold or something like that?
          I remember, Aeroflot and some other airlines used to post 1000 miles or so automatically on my birthday EVERY YEAR but this has stopped some time ago.

        • LewisB says:

          Must be targeted as I’m only a blue member currently. I haven’t paid for a cash BA fare in about 4-5 years but I currently have almost 200k avios in my account.

        • LewisB says:

          Pen-blwydd hapus, Rob!

        • Alex Sm says:

          @Rob happy birthday! and thanks a lot for tons of useful stuff you share with us with your work – hope it will be rewarded in all possible ways (incl Avios)!

      • Alex Sm says:

        It’s difficult to say – it was not a straightforward situation and legally, perhaps, they were covered. But this is not as important as timing. So, the thingy happened in June, then I had a lot of wriggling with the customer service in July with emails to and fro. Then it went quiet for three months and this morning – boom – I had an email. To be honest, I have already written it off and let it go. So, it was a pleasant surprise.
        Also, even 4000 Avios is not nothing, especially in these times of BA austerity. It’s about 7% of ourcurrent household pool which was significantly depleted by our recent 2-4-1 flight in First to Singapore. Also, it is an equivalent of the Avios which you would get from 8 lowest economy return flights from LHR to LIS which is not bad either.
        So, I am on a positive side now though my trust in BA is still low…

        • paulm says:

          I got the birthday bonus recently, it is targeted and I am a blue! I guess it’s an incentive for me to give them some business as I rarely book with them

        • Alex Sm says:

          Argh – I dropped to Blue last spring but I am regular (unfortunately) customer of theirs so no reward for that…

    • Anna says:

      On the subject of BA oddities, I noticed today that on my BA holidays booking for MAN-LHR-FCO, I’ve been offered free seat selection for the domestic legs! It’s not much use to me as OH and child on separate award bookings haven’t got the same offer, but maybe BA are handing out little treats (or their IT has gone haywire again!)

  • Simon says:

    O/T I got an email from AMEX using the shop small as a carrot to refer someone and get an enhanced bonus. My wife has the gold charge card currently. Does anyone know if I can refer her for the BA Amex (probably the free one) and get the bonus?


    • Voltron says:

      Yes you will get the bonus if you refer your wife , amount depends on which card you give the referral from i.e. gold referral link will get you 9,000 MR points

  • Omar says:

    Virgin Australia already has a 1-2-1 config for their domestic A330s, the Super Diamond platform from B/E Aerospace. Presumably this would find its away on the A350.

  • Nadeshka says:

    I had the email and 2 out of 3 on the card just now.
    A supplementary had all 3.
    Also a £5 off £10 paperchase spend, they never used to take amex so this is a welcome development!

    • RussellH says:

      No e-mail from Amex, but WH Smith was on my PRG and the other two on BA Blue yesterday. Signed up for all three.

      But I notice that the **detailed** Ts+Cs (need to click on a link to see them) specifically excludes purchases of Gift Cards and Vouchers.
      Do Amex actually see any details of what you have bought, apart from airline bookings?

  • Stuart says:

    Had all three of those offers on the card on Monday, yet didn’t receive any email at all. Perhaps they have gone already?

  • johnny_c-l says:

    Same for me, not there when I’m on the Amex website, will try and ask through livechat.

    Good that Paperchase now take Amex, I had always avoided them for that reason.