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Earlier this year we found out that Virgin Atlantic would be acquiring A330-200s from Air Berlin after it went belly up. I’d flown one of these Air Berlin planes a couple of years ago and a similarly configured Etihad A330, and have been interested to see how Virgin would make their mark on the fleet. Well…the wait is over. They’ve released photos, the planes will soon be flying ( I may even hop on one of these flights as they will be servicing Manchester), and those old, tired, Air Berlin cabins now feel very fresh and revived. Virgin Atlantic is always savvy when it comes to branding, and the new A330s are no different. They’ve renamed the 3 different seat types: Love Suite, Solo Freedom Suite, and Solo Corner Suite.
Here’s a look at the old “Love Suite”
I’ve included photos from an Etihad flight I took from Abu Dhabi to Joberg in 2015 as the layout is similar. While I didn’t fly the “Love Suite” on Air Berlin – I did fly it on Etihad. Yes, they are lie-flat, but they are UBER close to one another. Couples, who get along ( heh, heh ), will love it. Strangers will find themselves bumping eachother’s elbows on the arm rest and quite close shoulder to shoulder.
The New “Love Suite”
The look is VERY Virgin. Futuristic, clean, sleek, with classic Virgin colors, and I love the dual pillow. While I still feel this cabin is inferior to the traditional Upper Class, I’m intrigued to fly these Love Suites with my girlfriend.
The “Solo Freedom Suite”
And then the New Solo Freedom:
The image below is from the front row, which has great aisle access, and probably why they chose it for promo photos. It’s hard to tell from the general cabin spec photos how other solo freedom seats have been updated and if the squeeze to the aisle is any better, but this front row window seat is the best for solo travelers.
The Solo Corner Suite
These seats are on the aisle with quite a bit of exposure, but offer lie flat seats, and some floor space to keep your carry on during flight. The table, IFE controls etc are located to the window seat side of the “pod”
The old version:
The new Version:
Here’s a look at Premium Economy and Economy seating as well
Where will Virgin fly these retrofit A330-200s?
- Manchester to:
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles ( May 2019 )
- LGW to
- Barbados/St Lucia
Where I would sit
Solo: I would choose the front row Solo Freedom Seats, then any Freedom Seat, Corner Freedom, and lastly Love Suite.
Couples: Front row love suites. While there is a bathroom at the front of the plane, I found when flying a similarly configured Etihad plane, many passengers headed to the galley that will separate premium econ and upper. Haven’t flown it, but right now, that’s what I would choose.
You’d expect nothing less from Virgin when it comes to design and image. They’ve been able to use marketing to convince passengers that they are flying the coolest, sexiest cabins in the sky. I’m not saying this isn’t the case, but I’d say AA, Delta Suites, and United Polaris offer better hard products than any Upper Class configuration in the sky. With that being said…does it matter? If you “feel” you’re in the best…does anything else matter?
Would I go out of my way to fly this configuration over their normal herringbone Upper Class? Perhaps when flying together I would, plus I’d like to get a review done, but in all other situations I wouldn’t go out of my way to get in this cabin.