Virgin Atlantic debuts new social space called 'The Booth' for A350 leisure routes
Virgin Atlantic continues to innovate the inflight experience with the debut of its newest concept, a sky-high lounge configuration it calls The Booth. It will be featured on the carrier's reconfigured "leisure fleet" of Airbus 350-1000 aircraft that Virgin intends to introduce before the end of 2021.
These planes will be used to handle flight service to popular vacation destinations such as the Caribbean and Orlando, Florida, and are configured with smaller Upper Class cabins to reflect the fewer business travelers on these leisure routes.
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In fact, the first customers who will get to enjoy one of the new "leisure fleet" aircraft will be those flying between London Heathrow (LHR) and Orlando (MCO) in December of 2021. Other leisure destinations such as Barbados will get to enjoy the new aircraft in the new year.
The new cabins will offer 397 seats in total, including 16 Upper Class suites, 56 Premium seats and 325 economy seats. Within the economy cabin, 45 seats will be so-called Economy Delight, offering customers extra legroom as well as priority boarding and advanced seat selection.
Incidentally, the first aircraft in the leisure fleet will be G-VEVE, named Fearless Lady, in honor of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson’s late mother, Eve.
The reconfigured A350s have 28 fewer business class seats but 90 more seats in economy class. If you're looking to redeem your Virgin Points on this route you might struggle to find much availability in Upper Class based purely on the small size of the cabin.
And then there's The Booth, the latest addition to the aircraft social spaces Virgin Atlantic is known for, such as its inflight bar and The Loft, which is a collective space for the airline's business-class passengers on its traditional A350s.
Related: Lofty heights: A review of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Suite on the A350 from London to New York
The Booth is a similar concept, only smaller. It provides a more intimate — possibly cramped — experience. Based on the promotional images supplied by the airline, taller passengers might find the legroom lacking in The Booth.
"Tucked away in the Upper Class cabin, The Booth aspires to create a [cozy] corner, providing comfy lounge-style seating for two, separated by a single leaf table," the carrier said in a statement.
The Booth will have leather seats and almond-hued highlights, and be enclosed by two 27-inch touchscreen monitors, which is said to create an immersive experience for passengers.
Virgin Atlantic says the content displayed on the monitors (think: a digital art gallery as well as camera views around the plane) will be continuously updated and tailored to the route and time of day, which is a clever way to keep the concept fresh for travelers. Passengers will also be able to use headphones in The Booth, as it will be equipped with Bluetooth-enabled audio jacks.
Alongside the social space, the leisure fleet will also feature the airline’s newest Upper Class suite design, which includes all window-facing seats with a 44-inch pitch and fully flat 82-inch bed.
Some people are speculating the airline could allow passengers to reserve The Booth for a period of time — say, for dinner. Given the new design of the A350's business-class seats don't allow passengers to eat and actually face each other, this sounds like an interesting concept, particularly for couples, friends and families flying together.