Daydream Believer (G-VMNK) flew to Gatwick this week for finishing touches before it enters into service in March 2018.
During next month Scarlett O’Hara (G-VWND) and Honky Tonk Woman (G-VMIK) will also join the airline with a fourth, Strawberry Fields (G-VLNM) arriving in spring 2018. All are ex-AirBerlin aircraft.
The 287-seater planes are fully Wi-Fi equipped, and will initially operate flights from Manchester to New York, Boston, San Francisco and Barbados.
The interiors however are basically AirBerlin’s. Full Virgin Atlantic seating won’t be installed until winter 2018/19 because of the lead time in acquiring new seats.
They offer 19 fully flat beds in Upper Class with three new seat styles – the Love Suite, the Freedom Solo Suite, and the Corner Solo Suite – all with direct aisle access – just clever names for old AirBerlin kit.
There are also 46 extra leg room economy seats and 222 economy seats.
Virgin Atlantic has also purchased one of its old A340-600’s (G-VNAP) from Airbus Leasing, which flew back from Lufthansa Technik in Manila on the 27th January. The aircraft was never used by anyone else – and is due to enter Manchester’s paint shop in the next two weeks after presumably, reinstallation of her old seating. She’s been in storage for three years following the end of her original 10 year lease.
This whole situation is partly the airline using circumstances to get cheap aircraft which is fair enough, but G-VBUG is a direct response to the effective grounding of up to three 787-9’s at a time as they wait for Rolls Royce to replace the engines.
My concern is that Virgin Atlantic is very much a brand of experiences, and second rate seating at Virgin Atlantic’s premium prices is hard to swallow.