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Air Berlin’s 2017 demise was calculated and swift — unlike bankrupt Alitalia, which has been kept afloat by the Italian government time and time again, Germany’s carrier was all but abandoned immediately after declaring insolvency. It was at the same time impressive and painful to watch, given that customers were left stranded and many of the airline’s employees lost their jobs.
The carrier’s A330s haven’t been grounded for long, though — four have now made their way to Virgin Atlantic’s fleet, and the first just underwent a livery overhaul, emerging in Virgin Atlantic’s colors:
Virgin sent out a press release to celebrate its new acquisition, positioning the A330-200s as a new product, complete with “new seat styles” — which are really just the old Air Berlin seats with a bit of marketing magic. As the airline explains:
The unique Upper Class cabin introduces three new seat styles for Virgin Atlantic customers to choose from — the Love Suite, the Freedom Solo Suite, and the Corner Solo Suite — all with direct aisle access. Customers will also be able to select from a special barista style coffee menu; receive free messaging, and an improved amenity kit featuring ‘Happy Socks.’
Now, before you get excited about that “Love Suite,” it’s really just the same old (read: actually old) “honeymoon-style” center seats already installed by Air Berlin, which I reviewed toward the end of last year:
And here’s that “Freedom Solo Suite,” which Virgin Atlantic says “Lets customers unwind and stretch out with direct aisle access:”
And finally the “Corner Solo Suite,” which “Provides customers with extra privacy and a great view:”
While these seats have already been flying for years for Air Berlin, TPG considers them to be a step up from the older herringbone configuration on some of Virgin Atlantic’s existing fleet — although I haven’t flown Upper Class before, I’ve experienced a similar seat on Air New Zealand, and I do find these A330-200 seats to be more spacious.
There will be four “new” A330-200s in total. They will follow in the longstanding Virgin Atlantic tradition of giving its jets cheeky names and registrations, often with references to rock and roll. The first, “Daydream Believer” (registered G-VMNK), will enter service in March, followed by “Scarlett O’Hara” (G-VWND), “Honky Tonk Woman” (G-VMIK) and “Strawberry Fields” (G-VLNM) in the spring. They’ll be assigned to flights from Manchester to New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), San Francisco (SFO) and Barbados (BGI), offering 19 Upper Class seats, 45 extra-legroom economy seats and 222 regular coach seats, both in a 2-4-2 configuration with on-demand entertainment and Wi-Fi. A premium economy cabin will be added later this year.
Know before you go.
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