Passengers flying to and from Barbados with the United Kingdom-based airline Virgin Atlantic are able to do so now with more panache aboard the airline’s spacious and technologically advanced Airbus A350 aircraft.
The new plane, which started to fly to Bridgetown in August for the first time, carries a total of 335 passengers – 44 in the upper class, 56 in the premium economy, and 235 in the economy.
The airline offers three different types of tickets for the economy class – there is a regular economy where passengers pay less and do not have carry-on luggage.
There is an economy classic that allows one carry-on luggage and then there is economy light, which has the advantage of slightly more legroom, priority boarding, and allows for one carry-on.
Virgin Atlantic’s Country Manager for the Caribbean Hannah Swift recently gave a guided tour of the aircraft to members of the media in Barbados. She said the twin-engine airplane was a new one that formed part of the company’s wider plan to become more efficient.
“It is really sustainable. It is one of the most sustainable planes in the sky. So if you are concerned about the environment and travelling in a green and sustainable way the A350 is the one for you,” said Swift.
Virgin Atlantic had invested some US$4.4 billion into purchasing 12 A350-1000 from Airbus in 2016, eight of which were to be purchased and four of them leased.
This investment was part of Virgin’s fleet modernisation programme, which would result in about half of its aircraft – Boeing 747 and Airbus A340-600s – being replaced over time.
The airline received its first Airbus A350 aircraft in 2019 and expects to receive all 12 aircraft by the end of this year. The Airbus A350 is just over 237 feet in length with a wingspan of over 212 feet and has a range of up to 7,950 nautical miles.
In addition to being spacious and stylish, the aircraft allows passengers to travel in layers of comfort.
In the Upper class, for example, passengers are able to transform their seats into a bed in their own enhanced private suite, which also has adjustable moonlighting.
These passengers are also able to stretch their legs and meet for drinks from the bar in an area called the loft, a unique social space.
Economy premium is finished with custom leather seats and high-end finishes with a four-way adjustable leather headrest and boasts a lot more storage than other aircraft, a generous 13.3-inch screen for entertainment.
The rest of the economy class, which consists of a 3-3-3 configuration, features new upgraded seats in luxury woven fabrics and wool blend, and 11.6-inch seatback screens.
Swift said in addition to added comfort, passengers can expect the “same wonderful service” onboard the new aircraft. She said the airline also continued to take the matter of health and safety seriously.
“Onboard each of our aircraft every passenger receives a wellness kit which has a medical-grade face mask, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes,” she said.
Adding that the advanced filtration system, the EpiFilter, was of superior quality and allowed for cleaner air, Swift said it “refreshes the air every two to three minutes, along with stripping out about 99.999 per cent of all the nastiness that you would find in the air – allergens, bacteria. . .”
“So we take safety very, very seriously at Virgin Atlantic. The safety and security of all our passengers and crew are paramount,” she added.