New Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Seats… Including ‘Love Suites’

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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.

Bottom line

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


  1. Jon Champs says

    This article is hysterically funny and worse still toadying and psychophantic! Th se are not new Upper Class! They’re mildly decent AirBerlin kit that are only there until Virgin rip them next winter. The only reason they can’t put their own in is the lead time and delay ordering new seats.

    You clearly haven’t seen the hacked off complaints about the non existent Premium Economy either. You’ve done little more than spin Virgin spin even faster for them. Rather than face second rate seats as being just that – you accept them dressing it up in positive PR as a solution? Just awful. You’ve been on too many jollies and freebies to have an unbiased view.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Hi Jon – I’ll take “hysterically funny” as a tremendous compliment any day of the week, but toadying and sycophantic are certainly a little harder to spin 🙂 .

      I think we actually agree on the substance here (i.e. this is a relatively minor, temporary change) – “So, this all sounds like quite a big deal – until you realise it’s basically just superb spin…”. The fact this is not new Upper Class (at all) is kind of the point I was trying to make here (perhaps I should lay it on a bit thicker in future).

      That said, I do genuinely have some admiration for the spin/PR side of what they’ve done here – I see so many PR own goals every week from other travel companies, that it’s quite nice to see a PR department firing on all (or at least some) cylinders for once. It’s perfectly possible to commend good spin, and see past it at the same time – which is what I hoped this piece achieved.

      On the substance, I genuinely rate the ‘true’ window seats (for solo travelling) and the ‘true’ middle seats (for travelling with a partner) higher than Virgin’s other offerings. Is it a QSuite or Etihad Studio though? No, of course not – but it’s only fair to compare apples with apples, and do you really consider the ‘new’ Virgin seats as second rate compared to the existing VA offering?…

      As regards potential “jollies” clouding my judgement, I’ve never received so much as a free pencil from Virgin Atlantic (or any other Virgin company).

      The aim here was to let people know about the different cabin they might encounter, at the same time as acknowledging (but also gently mocking)the thought that went into VA’s PR.

  2. Charles Henry says

    I stopped flying BA due to this staggered layout. The centre double seats men that passengers have to clamber over the legs of the Aisle Seats to reach the Toliet……not good news for older passengers who need the facility in the night. Lao the BA configuration had a simple small Fan Screen between the centre seats and those in the aisle meaning your head was in close proximity to your unknown aisle neighbour….with only this flimsy separation.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Hi Charles,

      Just to clarify, when I say staggered I mean in terms of how the layout differs between the rows, rather than all being the same. Thes rows here are all 1 – 2 – 1, rather than the 2 -4 -2 that BA has in Club World, so no clambering required!

      The ‘true’ window seats are genuinely very private for individuals, and the ‘true’ middle seats create a nice sort of private-ish pod for couples.

  3. ColinJE says

    If you look carefully at the photos you can see that the centre pair ‘love seats’ have direct aisle access without clambering over anybody. This isn’t the same arrangement as the BA one. However, I agree with the issue of being close to a total stranger and with only a shallow partition separating you if you miss out on the single seats by the windows.

    • Charles Henry says

      Thank you for your very swift response and I am glad to note that Virgin have not replicated the BA centre-seat Problem. Virgin certainly have excellent PR. However, as you know, on their normal Business Class the window seats are angled and being a tall person, I find my feet project into the aisle. Also, on the Virgin Flights I have made, it was necessary for the Steward to arrange the flat bed ….rather than my simply pushing a ‘recline’ button. It is no wonder that the middle-Eastern airlines are thriving, although Delta 1 is my favourite for the USA .

      • Joe Deeney says

        Yep – the angled seats are why I say I prefer this staggered product over the normal VA seats. Depending on how tall you are, it could still be a bit tight maybe, but I’m 6ft and found the ‘true’ window seats comfortable and private, when it was Air Berlin flying these planes anyway. You can make them go flat yourself nice and easily too.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Cheers Colin! – yep, I wouldn’t really fancy being stuck in the ‘true’ middle seats with a stranger, but that’s on;y 4 seats out of 19 (and likely in demand by people who actually want to sit together), so you’d be unlucky for that to happen I think.

  4. Craig Sowerby says

    I’m not sure that any airline has solved the Business Class layout puzzle of a) passengers traveling alone don’t want to be stuck sleeping next to a stranger and b) a couple traveling together often don’t want to be split up.

    So you might as well make a virtue out of B if that’s the configuration chosen. And MAN is surely a bit more leisure-focused than LHR.

    As for the lack of PE, I haven’t been following along, but surely VS are allowing ticketed PE passengers to reroute via LHR to stay in PE, rather than forcing downgrades on people?

    • Joe Deeney says

      I honestly think this sort of 1-2-1 staggered cabin is one of the best solutions really, as it at least provides a variety of different options for people. Obviously, QSuites is another level of innovation/flexibility and I’d rather fly SIngapore/Etihad etc, but I certainly prefer it compared to BA/Virgin/etc

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