Virgin Atlantic is launching a stellar new aircraft into the skies this October. The A330neo will debut for the airline on the London-Boston route and features Virgin’s most ambitious cabins to date. There’s nowhere that’s more true, than in Upper Class.
There’s bluetooth connectivity at every single seat in every cabin, allowing you to use your own headphones, to chill out, wireless charging and a variety of impressive new feeatures.
Since the unveiling of the “wow factor” ‘Retreat Suite’, Virgin’s new first-class-esque row of extra spacious seats, though — I’ve been bombarded with questions. Can I use miles for the seats? Are there any free upgrades? Are they really that nice?
Here’s what’s known right now and how you can secure yourself a right.
The Virgin Atlantic A330neo Retreat Suite
The Retreat Suite is Virgin Atlantic’s clever new invention for the front of the plane. It’s not being billed as first class, and won’t be for sale as a different cabin. With that said, the seat, err suite, is first class in every way.
A passion project of Virgin CCO & COO Corneel Koster, Daniel Kerzner, Henry Buckley and a stellar design team, the seat takes ‘Upper Class’ to a new level of luxury.
The 6’7” bed with an open footwell means even an NBA player could stretch out in comfort. An ultra spec 27” inch monitor is about as first class as in flight cinema gets and the privacy door ensures no one will see you weeping during Love Actually.
Storage is off the charts, wireless charging is lovely and it’s really a sight to be seen.
The ottomans, or foot rests, on each of the two Retreat Suites can also convert into seats, creating potential for a private four person dining experience in the two suites. Now, onto the detailed questions.
Are There Really No Windows?
For now, the first A330neo aircraft delivered will feature two (2) Retreat Suites in the first center row of the aircraft. They’ll feature full scale privacy doors allowing for a total retreat, but as interior seats, they don’t have their own windows.
With the door open, a retreat suite guest would look out to the A and K seats to their side, where they’d see windows.
Airlines are always tinkering with layouts, and if the retreat suite proves to be a huge hit, Virgin Atlantic could always install more, and that might mean window seats in the future.
How Can You Book The Virgin Retreat Suite?
According to Virgin Atlantic, the Retreat Suite will be available for Virgin Upper Class passengers to book in the 14 days before flight.
The Retreat Suite will be sold as an extra experience, like a reasonable upgrade price from their already stellar business class seat into one with more privacy and space. A few sources indicated pricing could start as low as £200 each way, but demand could change that.
It is expected that there may be some opportunity to use Virgin Points, rather than cash to book the new suites. If that does come true, it’s not entirely clear how many points would be charged, but it could be phenomenal value, especially if the suite starts to fly on longer haul routes.
Will There Be Retreat Suite Upgrades?
Who knows? Intelligent airlines like Virgin Atlantic are always testing and these days, surprise and delight can go a long way.
I’d imagine just about everyone in the cabin would be tempted to pony up for paid upgrades, even if just for the novelty, but if a seat was going empty, it wouldn’t seem too crazy to think upgrades could happen.
What’s The Point Of Only Having Two Seats?
If you could make something great even better, why wouldn’t you?
Virgin Atlantic saw an opportunity to add a row with added comfort, due to the unique A330neo layout — and they’ve created an experience within an experience. I’ve had lots of questions about the practicality, and I see lots.
Traveling with a colleague, friend, or loved one, these two seats together offer endless potential for dining and conversations without as much eavesdropping.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to fly first class, rather than just business, you really notice the extra space these added inches bring. You don’t need to curl up sideways to sleep and if you want all your belongings around you, it’s easy.
For a mega-star celebrity, the chance to close a door and enjoy full privacy for the full flight is a rare treat on the US-Europe route map, and this offers exactly that. For a high flying solo business traveler, the extra table room to work, sleep and multi-task could be huge.
And of course, for a family, creating a private dinner table in the sky is going to lead to some break the internet photos, and real memories.
When Does The Virgin Retreat Suite Go On Sale?
Boston has been announced as the first A330-900neo destination for Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow and accordingly, it will be the first destination to experience the Retreat Suite.
Virgin says the new plane and cabin will be loaded into the system sometime in August and the first flights are expected in early October. Aviation geeks should set alerts for any aircraft changes in hopes of snagging a first ticket.
As noted, The Retreat Suite is being sold as an optional add on to the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience, so someone would need to use cash or points to book an Upper Class ticket first, and then upgrade once the 14 day window hits.
Happy deal hunting!
Gonna be very interesting to see. I think this seat simply came down to practicality – they had a bigger space so thought they would try something new out – minimal downside, got the attention of many (almost to the detriment of the new biz seats), creates aspiration for those flying upper class, differentiates from BA biz while mimicking BA first at a much lower cost (only 200 to upgrade)… and if successful, likely we’ll see more seats on each flight.
Highly doubt it will be only $200 to upgrade for long. Jetblue is commanding almost $400 for their suite.
Truly great discussion starter of a comment. I’m now really interested in what a “side by side” comparison of those two prices will be in a year’s time, starting from October. So many potential outcomes! So many interesting reviews to come. Thanks for this interesting thought!
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