Virgin Atlantic refurbishes Air Berlin’s old A330s

Virgin Atlantic has revealed more details about the refurbishment of the four Airbus A330-200 aircraft it acquired from bankrupt carrier Air Berlin earlier this year.

The airline is one of the many affected by issues with Trent 1000 Rolls Royce engines fitted to some Boeing 787 Dreamliners, and so is leasing the A330 aircraft to fill a capacity shortage.

The aircraft came in a two-class economy and business class layout (albeit with 46 extra legroom economy seats), and though Virgin was not originally planning on fitting a premium economy cabin, the airline recently announced the addition of ‘Premium’ from November, offering the same premium economy seats as on its 787s, with a total of 35 seats and 38 inches of pitch.

The 2-4-2 economy cabin is also receiving reupholstered seats, though the real winner is the aircraft’s ‘Upper Class’, Virgin Atlantic’s business class cabin. 

The new business class seats will come in a staggered forward-facing 1-2-1 layout, very different to the aged 1-1-1 herringbone seat currently featured across Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.

The carrier has attempted to put a positive spin on this “exclusive” layout, marketing the seat options with names like the “Love Suite”, the “Freedom Solo Suite”, and the “Corner Solo Suite”, and from November the revamped seats will feature fabric “entirely upholstered with natural and soft Espresso leather, underlining the cabin’s distinctive Virgin Atlantic flair”.

 As well as providing increased privacy and space, all passengers in the new business class seats will have direct aisle access.

The A330-200 aircraft were initially scheduled to operate on routes from Manchester to New York, Boston, San Francisco and Barbados (Note: San Francisco service is being dropped in favour of Los Angeles next spring), and Virgin said that “whilst the number one priority was to ensure no customer journeys were impacted, steps were immediately put in place to guarantee the full Virgin Atlantic flair would be evident in every cabin.”

Commenting on the revamp Daniel Kerzner, vice president of customer experience said:

“Earlier this year, we acquired A330-200s to maintain our flying programme and were committed to refurbishing these aircraft to our high standards. We quickly gathered insights from our customers that have influenced the exciting product we’re launching later this year.

In only a few months we’ve been able to source, design and manufacture new cabin interiors, which is a true testament to our teams and their focus on giving our customers a truly Virgin Atlantic experience. When life gives you lemons, we say – make sparkling lemonade!”

Virgin also noted in the press release that it is set to take delivery of its first A350 next year, with Upper Class seats for this aircraft “currently in development to set another industry standard for business class travel.”