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What Is It Like to Fly Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350-1000 in Upper Class?

Full review of a flight from Los Angeles to London Heathrow aboard Virgin Atlantic's flagship, the Airbus A350-1000

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper-Class bed / Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic operates the longest variant of the Airbus A350 as its flagship aircraft on long-haul routes. With eleven units in its fleet, the British carrier maintains its glamorous and glitzy brand image.


In Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the Virgin check-in counters are located in Terminal 2. However, as the British carrier is a core partner of and partially owned by Delta Air Lines, Upper Class (business class) passengers can use the Delta One private check-in lounge, which is situated on the arrival level of Terminal 3.

Photo: Sky Club, Los Angeles International Airport. Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

I took advantage of this by walking over to the lounge and found the TSA staff to be very friendly. After that, I took the elevator up to the beautiful Delta Sky Club for a quick bite before heading to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. It was convenient to do so as all terminals are now connected airside.


I spent some time at the Star Alliance lounge in the international terminal before my flight, where I met up with a friend. Even though Virgin has joined SkyTeam, they still use this lounge. An hour before departure, I walked to the main concourse and joined the line by the purple SkyPriority sign. The aircraft, named Ruby Slipper, looked stunning as it gleamed under the SoCal sunset during the ten-hour flight.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, The Loft. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

Boarding was through door 2L, which led to a unique area called “The Loft” for passengers in the forward cabin to socialize. It had two banks of sofas with eight sets of seatbelts and Bluetooth audio jacks. There was also a 32″ flat-screen TV on the wall. After meal service, the crew set up snacks in this area.

The Seat

In the front cabin, Virgin Atlantic has installed 44 Safran Cirrus NG seats with sliding privacy screens in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration on seven of their aircraft. The seats have a white high gloss lacquer finish with rose gold trims and are covered in maroon faux leather and fabrics, giving them a sleek and serene look.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

The first-row seats have larger footwells. For example, I sat in seat 1K on the 8 a.m flight from New York-JFK to London flight, also known as the chairman’s flight. On my LAX-LHR journey, I chose seat 5K on the starboard side.

On the side table, there was a menu and a hard paper amenity kit titled “goodie bag.” Many airlines have switched to sustainable pouches, but the hard paper bags seem impractical. A can of Cano still spring water was placed on the small open storage shelf.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000 IFE. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

It would have been better if Virgin had added a mini cupboard door. In the cubby hole beneath the larger window were a pair of headphones, a copy of Vera, the in-flight magazine, and a safety card. Other seat features included power and USB sockets, a remote control, and buttons to adjust the seat from reclined to lie-flat mode.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, amenity kit. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

The premium economy class is in the middle of the plane, with 56 Collins Aerospace MiQ seats arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration. The economy class is in the rear section of the aircraft, with 235 Recaro seats arranged nine abreast. The mid-galley area transforms into a self-service snack station for premium economy passengers to enjoy.

The Flight

As the Upper Class passengers settled in, smiling flight attendants in signature red and brown uniforms walked through the cabin, enhanced by ambient mood lighting.

They handed out pre-boarding drinks and pajamas to those who needed them on this red-eye long-haul flight. I requested a medium-sized pajama set, which I planned to take home and wear.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, Upper Class bedding. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

One cool benefit was that the takeoff could be viewed on the pull-out 18.5″ touchscreen via the tail camera. Once the plane was leveled, the crew walked the aisles to take dinner orders and offered warm towels. They also placed a bowl of potato chips and a ruby mocktail I ordered on the large pull-down tray table.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

After I picked a movie to watch in the rich entertainment system, a flight attendant came by to lay down an oval mat instead of a tray and served bread and butter and the duck salad on separate plates.

Two golden plastic salt and pepper shakers in the form of mini airplanes named Orville and Wilbur anchored the table. They sometimes appear in silver and red, and Virgin encourages passengers to take them home.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, Upper Class appetizer. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

The entrée I ordered was a strange interpretation of seafood paella, topped with crispy rice.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, Upper Class dinner. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

Luckily, the dessert of fruity cornbread pudding soaked in sweet, creamy sauce saved the evening.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, Upper Class dessert. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

After dinner, I refreshed myself with REN toiletry products in the forward lavatory with a window — the English call it “the loo with a view.”

I also checked out “The Loft” and grabbed some packaged sweets. Walking back to my seat, I removed the mattress pad and comforter from a giant white cloth pouch I had previously stored in the overhead bin. I made my bed to catch six hours of sleep.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, The Loft. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

About 90 minutes before landing, the pleasant crew began the pre-arrival service. I chose the typical English breakfast accompanied by a flaky croissant with chocolate chips, a bowl of fresh fruit, and a glass of juice.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000, Upper Class breakfast. Courtesy of Benjamin Chiang

Preparing for landing, I changed the IFE channel to the plane tail camera to witness the touchdown at London Heathrow on a cloudy Friday.


Since the arrival of this flight was past noon, I did not rush to Virgin Revival Lounge, the only international arrival lounge run by a SkyTeam carrier, since it would close by 12:30 p.m. It’s quite a walk from the gate to immigration in LHR Terminal 3. Nonetheless, the e-gates at passport control are convenient and speedy for US passport holders.


As it was an overnight flight and I was in need of rest, I opted not to spend time in The Loft. Typically, I don’t engage in conversations with fellow passengers during flights. Nevertheless, The Loft provided a comfortable spot to stretch out and unwind, offering an array of delicious snacks, fresh fruit, and beverages.

A Luxurious Experience

The route between LAX and London Heathrow is crucial for the entertainment industry, trade, and tourism. Despite Delta discontinuing this route, Virgin operates two daily flights using Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

Photo: Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350-1000. Courtesy of Aric Cheng / Unsplash

Additionally, other major and low-cost airlines offer connections between the typically sunny Los Angeles and the often rainy London. However, for travelers seeking a luxurious experience, Virgin is the top choice.