There’s a NEO kid in town.
Virgin Atlantic unveiled its yet-to-be-delivered Airbus A330-900neo aircraft at an exclusive event in London on July 12, 2022, and we were there to take a look.
The aircraft’s debut is planned for early October 2022, with its inaugural flight to Boston (BOS) — the first destination that the aircraft will fly to.
Buckle in, you’re going to enjoy this.
Out With the Old, in With the NEO
The 16 A330neos that Virgin has on order will be 11% more fuel efficient than the airline’s aging fleet of Airbus A330-300 workhorses that the Neos will replace.
Virgin will take delivery of 3 of the swanky new aircraft in September 2022, with the rest scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2026.
As you’d expect with the launch of a brand-new aircraft, Virgin has refreshed the seats in each of its cabins with the additional surprise of an exclusive new product for 2 lucky flyers — The Retreat Suite.
The jets’ maximum capacity will be 262 and will comprise of 1 Retreat Suite, 30 lie-flat, all new Upper Class suites (business class), 46 Premium seats, 28 more legroom Economy Delight seats, and 156 regular economy seats.
The 2 seats of The Retreat Suite must be booked individually and are expected to be around £250 (~$298) more per seat than a regular Upper Class seat.
No matter the cabin, all passengers will benefit from Virgin’s fastest-ever Wi-Fi, USB and USB-C charging, and the ability to connect to the IFE using their own headphones via Bluetooth.
Let’s take a look.
The Retreat Suite
The Retreat Suite is the closest Virgin has ever been to having a first class product.
It consists of just the middle 2 seats of the coveted row 1, which can be turned into an exclusive mini cabin-like space by lowering the middle partition and closing the double sliding doors.
Passengers flying in the exclusive Retreat Suite can invite 2 additional travel companions to come and dine or hang out as a squad of 4 by making use of the ottoman at each of the seats. In fact, it’s not too dissimilar to Qatar Airways’ Qsuite.
During the flight, passengers will get to enjoy Virgin’s Vera entertainment on a 27-inch touchscreen using their own headphones thanks to new Bluetooth connectivity.
The huge tray table will need to be adjusted by the crew.
Each passenger of the Retreat Suite has enough storage space to sneak a friend in …
… and an abundance of charging points and a mirror can be found at shoulder height.
Last but not least, one of the coolest new features of this aircraft is for sure the wireless charging capability that each passenger will have in the Retreat Suite.
Finally, at a lengthy 6 feet 7 inches, the lie-flat bed should provide more than enough space for even the tallest of flyers.
Hot Tip: Learn more about how to earn and redeem Virgin Points in our detailed guides!
Upper Class Suite
There’ll be a total of 30 regular Upper Class suites in Virgin’s business class cabin.
These feature fully-closing doors and a “do not disturb” option for flyers who like to spend their time in the sky in as much privacy as possible.
Other innovations include passenger-controlled mood lighting as well as a mirror to make sure you’re selfie ready.
Curiously, the IFE screens of the A330neo’s Upper Class suites are 17.3 inches — that’s 1.2 inches smaller than their A350 counterparts. In the grand scheme of things, losing an inch will have a negligible impact on the overall user experience.
Having debuted on the A350 back in 2019, The Loft of the A330neo has been reimagined.
There’s space for a total of 8 passengers who’ll be able to get comfy on higher seats with additional footrests.
Like the Upper Class suites and Retreat Suites, passengers can use the wireless charging of the armrests to keep their batteries topped up at all times.
The 2 gigantic 27-inch touchscreens mounted side-by-side give the space the feeling of an intimate cinema.
Passengers will be able to help themselves to drinks from the fridge, ice cream from the freezer, as well as water from the self-replenishing dispenser, and, of course, snacks.
It’s great to see Virgin replacing plastic bottles with canned water in the name of sustainability.
We can’t wait to try out The Loft in real life!
Hot Tip: Virgin’s all-new A350s offer a similar social space called The Booth. Learn more about this private space in our detailed article!
A major improvement to the Premium seats is the introduction of calf rests.
It might not sound like much, but the extra leg support goes a long way to provide an increased level of sleep-inducing comfort.
Like in Upper, Premium passengers will also now be able to juice up their phones using wireless charging that’s built into the armrests.
The seats feature the same 38 inches of pitch that is standard across the airline’s fleet.
As for the IFE, Premium passengers will get to enjoy their entertainment on 13.3-inch screens.
It wouldn’t be a complete cabin overhaul without some improvements in economy.
The most notable is by far the 13.3-inch IFE screen — the biggest economy screen Virgin has ever had.
Updating the design of the economy seats to differentiate between Economy Delight and Economy Classic seats was of high priority to the design team.
As you can see by this side-by-side comparison, the carefully curated fabrics and detailing of the Economy Delight seat help to give it a more luxury edge over its Economy Classic neighbor.
Even just from visiting a mock-up, it’s safe to say Virgin Atlantic has knocked it out of the park with its A330neo.
Passengers in all cabins will benefit from upgrades to the Virgin experience they’re used to, whether that’s indulging in the airline’s most luxurious seat — The Retreat Suite — or simply being able to watch the inflight entertainment using their own personal headphones.
With the inaugural flight planned for October 2022, it shouldn’t be long before we’ll have a full review of the aircraft for you.
So, who’s coming with us to Boston?