Virgin Atlantic’s next-gen Airbus A330neo will jet off in October, sporting the airline's most luxurious cabin offering yet – a sleek ‘business plus’ suite dubbed The Retreat – alongside the latest evolution of its successful Upper Class suite.
Taking pride of place in the first row of business class, The Retreat comprises just two exclusive suites offered for an extra £200 (A$352) on top of the standard Upper Class fare.
By opening up the front row space and footwell, Virgin’s in-house design team and London-based Factorydesign were able to unleash their imaginations to create the airline’s biggest suite ever.
The Retreat boasts a 6’ 7” fully-flat bed, an ottoman which doubles as a companions seat for dining for two, and a 27” Bluetooth-enabled HD monitor – 10” larger than its Upper Class equivalents – for an IMAX-like experience in the sky.
Carving out this bespoke front row treatment – and charging for the privilege – is an increasingly popular approach with airlines, among them JetBlue's A321LR Mint Studio and the forthcoming Business Premier Luxe Suites from Air New Zealand.
In fact, the entire A330neo business class cabin is arguably Virgin Atlantic’s best yet, with the spacious new Upper Class suites gaining sliding doors and a handy ‘do not disturb’ mode to put privacy at the forefront.
The A330neo Upper Class seat and The Retreat are the latest highly-customised versions of Thompson Aero Seating’s Vantage XL platform, best known to Executive Traveller readers as the Qantas Business Suite from its Airbus A330, Boeing 787 and refurbished A380s.
Arranged in a 1-2-1 layout for direct aisle access, notable features include a 17.3” touchscreen HD monitor with Bluetooth audio streaming to your own headphones and, in common with The Retreat, wireless charging, AC and USB power outlets, high-speed WiFi and a mirror so travellers “can check they’re looking runway ready.”
“Let’s adjourn to The Loft”
All Upper Class passengers can also stretch their legs and share a drink in The Loft, Virgin’s fresh take on its signature social space.
Similar to The Loft on the larger A350s, The Booth has seating for four passengers with standing room for an additional four, a 27” monitor with Bluetooth audio, wireless charging, plus a self-service fridge and drinks dispenser.
The Loft will be better suited to the A330neo’s trans-Atalntic journeys than The Booth on Virgin’s leisure-oriented A350s, which is a smaller semi-private lounge for two.
Part of a wider transition to a greener fleet, Virgin will take delivery of its first A330neo aircraft in September, with passenger flights jetting off to Boston from October; two more A330neos will follow by year’s end, with up to 13 more arriving through to 2026.
In short, the A330neo has everything Virgin Atlantic needs to step up its challenge to trans-Atlantic rival British Airways and its business class Club Suites.
Additional reporting by David Flynn.