Virgin Atlantic plans all-new business class for Airbus A350s

Virgin Atlantic plans all-new business class for Airbus A350s

Virgin Atlantic will launch an all-new Upper Class business class seat in mid-2019, going head to head with the next-gen Club World seat of British Airways.

Both airlines will debut their latest business class seats on Airbus A350-1000 jets, although Virgin Atlantic is more actively talking up its seat as a 'revolution' over its current design (shown below) compared to previous BA expectations of a more measured 'evolution'.

Virgin is believed to have locked down the seat's design ahead of a possible media reveal in the first quarter of 2019, with the seat itself believed to see Virgin adopt a more conventional 1-2-1 layout.

“We’ve seen it, I’ve sat in it, it’s a fantastic seat,” enthuses Oliver Byers, Virgin Atlantic’s senior vice president of sales and customer loyalty.

“What you’ll see is that it’s a next-generation product but it’s incredibly Virgin Atlantic," Byers tells our UK sibling Business Traveller. "It’s exactly what you would think Virgin Atlantic is in terms of the look and feel, the design, the feel of the cabin and the warmth of the environment."

Virgin Atlantic has 12 Airbus 350-1000s on order, with its flights from London to Asia – specifically Hong Kong and Shanghai – tipped to be among early routes.

AusBT review: Review: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 'Upper Class' (Hong Kong-London)

“What we really want to do is grow both of these markets over time by first looking at how we can add more capacity through going from a (Boeing) 787 to an A350-1000, and then in the future whether we can have second flights," Byers predicts.

However, the new Upper Class seat isn't expected to appear on Virgin's existing Airbus A330s or Boeing 787s.

Also read: BA to launch new Club World business class seat in July 2019

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Jason Bird


    3 Nov, 2018 02:06 pm

    This could be very interesting as Virgin Atlantic have has always had an eye for details.. Granted, the current Upper Class is long in the tooth, however, it was revolutionary in its day.

    So I’m expecting good things. NOT quite Qatar Airways QSuit good, but something not far off.
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  • Vik Jay


    4 Nov, 2018 05:30 am

    Seeing as it’s VS, I’ll believe the “revolution” only when I see it.
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  • Chris_PER


    5 Nov, 2018 11:50 am

    This isn't about casinos and gyms, this is about a seat awaiting rollout. Virgin across all airlines has got a very good track record of having good quality hard products first.
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  • Andrew Wakefield


    4 Nov, 2018 08:27 am

    Well based on pic above it looks like getting more seats in middle. I don't really think that's revolutionary!!
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  • reeves35


    4 Nov, 2018 02:35 pm

    That's the current Upper Class.

    Always a bit worries when someone claims their new seat to be revolutionary. The last revolutionary seat was the W seat on the QF 789 and we all know how that turned out.

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  • Sr Batrill

    Sr Batrill

    4 Nov, 2018 09:39 am

    Are they still serving 'bangers'n'mash' in Upper Crap? Embarrasing.
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  • Marty Brennan


    4 Nov, 2018 12:29 pm

    I love sausage and mash with butter melting on it.
    Member who gave thanks


  • David Ryan


    4 Nov, 2018 10:05 pm

    I don't like the look of the window seats facing away from the window. I'd prefer them angled towards the windows like on VA's A330's.
    Members who gave thanks

    tmck89, Boeing-Tragic

  • David Ryan


    4 Nov, 2018 10:07 pm

    They seem to have forgotten that couples like to be able to converse on a flight.
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  • Tom Wilson


    5 Nov, 2018 10:02 am

    To be hoped that they get rid of the "coffin class" layout.
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  • grov


    5 Nov, 2018 03:26 pm

    I find the existing seat layout, same as used in other airlines, very confining with nowhere to store anything with ready access. Also the confusion when couples who have booked A/B seats realise that wasn't a good move and then the attempts to re-seat them elsewhere. So a change to this arrangement would surely be welcomed.
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  • Jason Hamilton


    5 Nov, 2018 06:28 pm

    That herringbone (or sardine) configuration looks quite disturbing to me.
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  • Tony D


    7 Nov, 2018 02:31 pm

    Plain terrible seats.
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  • Tom


    7 Nov, 2018 03:59 pm

    I quite like the original Upper Class, still in use on the 747 and 330 as well as AirNZ, but the one with the glass panels as in the photo is awful, significantly less space around the shoulders, and it really does feel coffin like. That said it is a bit old now and has been overtaken by better products. Hopefully VS will come up with something to leapfrog the competition again as I’m looking forward to trying the VA/VS combo To London via HK.
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  • Herman  G


    7 Nov, 2018 04:58 pm

    Horrible design...claustrophobic...narrow that to move out you have to close everything... absolutely it feels like cows on truck to the slaughter... NZ is the same today. it feels "confined" to a slot... BA is the same in different configuration... charging the same or more and making more money... I prefer to go where my money has more value than a cluster. 

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  • dennis626


    7 Nov, 2018 05:34 pm

    looks a bit like the terrible CX - 747 layout I flew with in 2011. A coffin style as already said where no storage and the difficulty of turning made the journey AWFUL. never again!
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  • Mikana


    7 Nov, 2018 05:35 pm

    My experience of this config on both Virgin and Air NZ is not totally negative. The seat is actually very comfortable and the bed even better. I've had some really good sleeps on them. The FAs dress up the beds to make them even more comfortable (if only SQ would develop a comfortable bed in J). I have never felt like I'm in a coffin, nor too confined. I do hate not being able to look out the window without needing a chiropractor later, and it's not much chop being so eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe with people I don't know and don't wish to know (my, some people have ugly feet and hideous socks.)
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  • Charles Furrows


    7 Nov, 2018 07:36 pm

    The seat shown isn’t the current model - it’s the failed Upper Class Dream Suite which was too tightly packed.

    The Virgin Atlantic / Air NZ seat is arguably the best to sleep in of any airline seats.

    Sure, it doesn’t face the windows and storage space is poor. But still, at least you don’t have to stick your legs in a hole under somebody else’s seat.

    I’d still pick the NZ seat over the VA or QF seat on any night flight!
    Member who gave thanks



20 Jul, 2019 10:08 pm


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