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Your first look at the The Booth on Virgin Atlantic’s new leisure A350 fleet

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Virgin Atlantic has unveiled the new ‘social space’, The Booth, that will available to passengers on its upcoming ‘leisure configuration’ A350 aircraft.

It was two years ago that Virgin Atlantic revealed its A350 interiors and launched the aircraft on its inaugural flight to New York.

The A350 was destined as Virgin’s flagship aircraft. It sports its very newest Upper Class cabins and offers a more pleasant experience thanks to the quieter cabin, wider fuselage and lower cabin pressure altitude.

Virgin Atlantic A350

Since then the airline has received seven A350s which are currently operating on routes such as Atlanta, Barbados, Mumbai, Hong Kong, New York, Johannesburg and Los Angeles.

All seven A350s currently delivered feature the same configuration – 44 Upper Class suites, 56 Premium seats and 235 in economy. The aircraft also all feature ‘The Loft’, a communal seating area for business class passengers.

Virgin Atlantic The Loft

From December they will be joined be a new variant optimised for Virgin’s leisure routes.

Virgin Atlantic’s leisure A350 fleet

Virgin Atlantic always planned to introduce an A350 subfleet to cater for its leisure customers from Manchester and Gatwick. Whilst Covid has changed the airline’s plans slightly it is still pressing ahead and will introduce five leisure A350s optimised for holiday destinations.

As a consequence, they’ll have a slightly smaller Upper Class cabin with just 16 seats – almost two thirds less. This will still be the new Upper Class Suite unveiled in 2019 (review here) but the reduced seat count means the entire business class cabin will sit snugly between the front of the aircraft and the second set of doors.

Virgin Upper Class A350 2

The number of Premium seats will remain the same at 56 whilst there will be 325 seats in economy including 45 extra-legroom Economy Delight seats.

The Loft has been replaced with The Booth

The biggest difference between the leisure fleet and the main fleet based at Heathrow is the removal of The Loft, which has been replaced by a smaller flexible space. Virgin is calling it ‘The Booth’.

Virgin Atlantic A350 leisure The Booth

Instead of spanning the entire width of the aircraft it will offer a small nook with a single leaf table for up to two people to sit together.

There are two 27″ touch screens and two bluetooth audio connections in case you want to watch something together or simply put on some relaxing imagery.

Virgin Atlantic A350 leisure The Booth 3

Virgin Atlantic has yet to announce plans for how they expect The Booth to work. When Rob and I were invited to see the prototype at Virgin Atlantic HQ in early 2020 there was talk of making it a bookable space with custom experiences: for example, an extra-special cream tea spread or candle-lit dinner for two (fake candles only of course!). The airline is still finessing its plans but expect to hear more about this soon.

Virgin Atlantic A350

Where will the leisure A350 aircraft fly?

The original plan was for these leisure aircraft to fly from Gatwick and Manchester where Virgin Atlantic is less business-focussed. With no more flights from Gatwick and a reduced schedule from Manchester Virgin’s plans have changed slightly.

The first route to see the new configuration will be London Heathrow – Orlando. The inaugural flight is planned for December with the arrival of G-VEVE, named ‘Fearless Lady’ after Richard Branson’s late mum Eve.

Lady Emmeline (G-VLIB, named after Emmeline Pankhurst) will arrive in April 2022 and is expected to operate services to Barbados.

Three more aircraft will round out the ‘leisure’ fleet, with Soul Rebel (G-VBOB), Wendy Darling (G-VNVR) and Benny Jet (G-VELJ).

Conclusion

I’m a big fan of the A350 and I’m pleased to see that Virgin Atlantic is still accepting deliveries of the aircraft. Over time this sub fleet should allow passengers from Manchester (and possibly Edinburgh) to enjoy Virgin’s flagship aircraft.

Whilst The Booth is obviously much smaller than The Loft it offers some exciting opportunities. I’m looking forward to seeing how Virgin Atlantic will manage this space and what sort of experiences it will offer.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (November 2021)

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(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 (54)

  • WaynedP says:

    Interesting and informative, as usual, thanks Rhys !

    One pedantic observation: I’ve become used to the A350 pressurisation feature being referred to as either “higher cabin pressure” or “lower cabin altitude”. Your smashing the two together initially confused me into wondering how you’d got it wrong by saying “lower cabin pressure”.

    • Rhys says:

      I was trying to be more clear!

      • WaynedP says:

        Ha ha, so often the way.

        Quite possibly just my wayward brain viewing “cabin pressure” as part of a compound adjective and expected to see “higher-cabin-pressure altitude”, whereas most others would view it as part of a compound noun instead, as in “lower cabin-pressure-altitude”.

        “higher cabin pressure, giving lower cabin altitude conditions” would remove possibility for alternative interpretations.

  • MissGeekChic says:

    The Loft was a bit of a fail imho. The loss of the Bar space meant that the crew were balancing crates of glasses and the prep items for the snacks on whatever ledge/ seatback surface was available around the Loft space. This meant that if you were sitting in the Loft, you were often surrounded by crew performing their operational duties for snack and drinks service. Didn’t feel relaxing at all and I did witness an ice spillage incident onto a passenger seated in the Loft, where the ice was balanced on the back of the person’s seat!!

    I think the Bar worked well. Individuals could comfortably sit there and have a good surface to rest their drink/ laptop/ book on. Up to 4 people could sit down and others could stand around the area. The crew could also prep the food and drinks from the other side of the bar without infringing on the space of the passengers.

    Will be interesting to see how the booth works.

  • Robert says:

    Maybe I’ve missed this, but how many of the booths are there on an aircraft? Is it only one per aircraft?

    • Rob says:

      One

      • Robert says:

        Thanks, it doesn’t look like it takes up too much space, not much more than the dead space on some of the 777 BA 1st cabins to the right hand side. Intrigued enough to book it, and always good to try a new concept out in-flight having been a big fan of the loft.

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