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The people at Virgin have a genius for PR and spin that many senior politicians would happily kill for. The latest example is the announcement of a range of new Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats, with some pretty exciting names:
- Love Suite
- Solo Freedom Suite
- Solo Corner Suite
Phil Maher, the airline’s executive vice president of operations said, “The Upper Class cabin introduces three new styles of seating … as well as extra touches such as a barista-style coffee menu and free Wi-Fi messaging,”
So, this all sounds like quite a big deal – until you realise it’s basically just superb spin (I raise my hat!).
Are the new Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats actually real?
Well, in a manner of speaking….
What’s happening is that Virgin Atlantic has bought a few of (bankrupt) Air Berlins’ A330-200s, which feature a staggered 1-2-1 layout. Rather than re-fitting them to match the Upper Class products already available on other Virgin Atlantic aircraft, the airline has decided to simply engage in some seriously good PR instead.
It’s not exactly a cutting edge product these days, but I actually really like the versatility of the Air Berlin layout and commend Virgin Atlantic for turning that into a virtue. As you can see above, the ‘true’ window seats (Solo Corner Suites’) are genuinely quite private, and the ‘true’ middle seats (Love Suites) are very good if you’re travelling with a friend or loved one.
I rate the ‘Solo Freedom Suites’ less highly, but everything is lie-flat and has direct aisle access, so it’s really not bad. If you can bag a Solo Corner Suite or Love Suite (if travelling with someone you want to spend time with), then I think most people would agree that you’ll be happier than in the standard Upper Class configurations:
The former Air Berlin aircraft are scheduled to begin operations in March from Manchester to Barbados, Boston, New York and San Francisco.
It may not be revolutionary, but the staggered 1-2-1 cabin is a very decent way to fly and will probably make me more likely to consider flying Virgin. Either way, top job on the spin!
Hat-tip: Travel and Lesiure