Inside Virgin’s new aircraft: Everything you need to know about the Airbus A330neo jet

 (Virgin Atlantic  Airbus)
(Virgin Atlantic Airbus)

After teetering on the brink of bankruptcy during lockdown, Virgin Atlantic has revealed its brand new offering—and the airline is certainly back in style.

Virgin has revealed its new Airbus A330neo jet which it will use to compete with not only British Airways but also the mighty Gulf carriers of Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad.

Smaller than most long-haul aircraft, it also has ‘intimate’ cabins for a boutique appeal, while only serving premium destinations.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the new Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330neo jet?

 (Virgin Atlantic)
(Virgin Atlantic)

The first unit of the airline’s A330neo aircraft is set to head to Boston on its first passenger service in early October, and tickets will go on sale later this month. Of the order of 16, three A330neos will be delivered in September, and the rest will arrive between 2023 and 2026.

These neos are touted to be 13% more fuel and carbon-efficient than the A330-300s they will replace while being up to 50% quieter.

The jet has 184 economy class seats are arranged in a 2-4-2 formation, not the standard 3-3-3 on most long-haul jets, meaning four passengers have direct aisle access.

Moreover, unlike British Airways, Virgin has installed 28 extra legroom seats, called Economy Delight, which have a 34-inch pitch, the most generous legroom of any carrier in economy class.

They’re all also window or aisle pairs, which makes them more appealing to couples.

Standard Economy seats also have a 31-inch pitch, although there are 28 that have 32 inches, and that do not come with a higher price.

The economy seats also have 13.3-inch screens. Passengers can choose between the 28 Delight seats with a 34-inch pitch or the 156 Classic seats with a 31-inch pitch. Charging can be conducted via AC power or USB ports here.

Virgin has also pioneered Premium Economy, a class between economy and business.

 (Virgin Atlantic)
(Virgin Atlantic)

Unlike Emirates, the 46 seats are arranged 2-3-2, which gives direct aisle access to more passengers.

There are also 30 new Upper-Class suites. All forward-facing, these suites provide excellent leg room, and they’re also complemented with a fully closing privacy door, as well as a “do not disturb” option.

Customers in these seats have the option to control the atmosphere with customisable mood lighting.

Business seats also have a 17.3-inch IFE screen, as well as a mirror for checking that you’re meeting-ready on arrival at destination—there’s also a 1-2-1 formation introduced with this class of seat.

Each of the 46 premium cabin seats also provide 38 inches of pitch, as well as calf rests. There is also a sizeable 13.3 inch IFE screen, which is Bluetooth compatible, and wireless charging.

How many A330NEOs does Virgin have in its fleet?

A330NEO Premium seat (Virgin Atlantic)
A330NEO Premium seat (Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin currently has 10 A330-300s in its fleet, which are supported on long-haul operations by the A350-1000 and Boeing 787-9.

With the A330neo taking over the role of the -300, the airline’s fleet age will be brought down significantly.

After all, on average, the -300s have an age of 10 years while the Dreamliners are six years old, and the A350s average just two.

The A330-300s have been busy on hops all across Virgin’s network. So, whether it’s Orlando, Lagos, or Islamabad, the incoming neos will provide plenty of comfort on long-distance journeys around the world.