Irishbean
Topic Author
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Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:26 am

Anyone more details on this?
http://www.rte.ie/news/2012/0206/virgin-business.html

Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, is to spend £100m sterling improving its first-class cabins.
The changes, aimed at improving Virgin's share of the business traveller market, include better seats, a futuristic bar and other cabin updates. Travellers in first class - called "upper class" by Virgin - will have customised menus and new crockery.
The new look will be seen first on the carrier's London-New York morning services and will be rolled out on all Virgin's Heathrow airport flights over the next three years.
 
UAL777UK
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:32 am

Quoting irishbean (Thread starter):
Travellers in first class - called "upper class" by Virgin

First Class? Its never been a product to compete with F, its always been a J product. Very poor reporting there but that said I will be eager to see the final product. If VS is going to continue as a go alone, in no alliance airline it really needs to differentiate it from the pack.
 
Irishbean
Topic Author
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:40 am

I am a big fan of VS, their upper class product is still an industry leader, even though its dated now. Their clubhouse in Heathrow is by far one of the best lounges in the world, far better then the concord room in T5. IMHO The seat is very comfortable to sleep on when flat, your still get PJs (does any other airline give this in business?), when traveling alone its very private, every seat has isle access (better then BA Club) you have a bar, which is a great way to pass a few hours chatting to crew and fellow passengers. And in general the crew are always excellent, very friendly. I hope they do not go away from the herringbone seat layout, this is the major reason I would fly VS over BA, there is nothing worse then downstairs in the middle in Club world climbing over people to go to the bathroom!
 
Airbus A3XX
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:18 pm

Quoting irishbean (Reply 2):
our still get PJs (does any other airline give this in business?)

QF does
 
nclmedic
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:19 pm

The cabin layouts in J have their pros and cons. For many, the herringbone that VS offers (the first airline to do so as well) is unpleasant when travelling with a companion and does mean those at window seats have to strain to see out. Many see the current seats as 'coffin-like'. Having flown this and BAs J regularly, I have to say I prefer the latter - ok the reverse facing seats are a bit weird, but in terms of hard product it's far superior.

VS have had longstanding issues (often echoed by fellow A-netters on here) that they have been all about brand and nothing about product and delivery. Even their recent paltry 'upgraded' Y-offering has been in for criticism. They have been trying to compete with legacy airlines by effectively providing a super-up charter service. They've been criticised for having very hit and miss onboard service and dire catering.

Why does this matter? Well it's going to take a lot more than better-padded seat, and wider screen and a few soft funishings to make VS into a boutique experience. VS seriously need to address the quality of service all-round, and sometimes that involves more than throwing money at a problem.
 
anstar
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:29 pm

Quoting nclmedic (Reply 4):
Why does this matter? Well it's going to take a lot more than better-padded seat, and wider screen and a few soft funishings to make VS into a boutique experience. VS seriously need to address the quality of service all-round, and sometimes that involves more than throwing money at a problem.

Well they are trying...

Total refurb for the leisure fleet, New aircraft, new upper class suite and new upper class food service. They are also changing caterers.

So Don't knock em for trying.
 
nclmedic
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:32 pm

Quoting anstar (Reply 5):
So Don't knock em for trying.

No you're right of course - what I should have added is that this is all progress in completely the right direction.

My only issue was that shiny new seats and £££ adverts can never replace genuinely good customer service.
 
slinky09
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:50 pm

Really looking forward to this, I still believe the UCS is leagues better than many airlines including BA's J class, but new UCS will be better still. Let's face, a large number of business class fliers are on their own or with colleagues, frankly, I don't want to be necking my colleagues and the UCS works very well indeed.

I'm a 50+ flight a year flier on VS and in the last year I've probably had one bad flight - VS's service is excellent, recent improvements in in flight dining are going down very well, their crew are just about the best (recently flew to MNL on SQ, talk about stiff, and don't go on about BA's, I mean, really), and the on the ground service at LHR is world beating. The new JFK clubhouse sounds amazing and will have others looking over in jealousy.

Quoting nclmedic (Reply 6):
No you're right of course - what I should have added is that this is all progress in completely the right direction.

My only issue was that shiny new seats and £££ adverts can never replace genuinely good customer service.

Sounds like you had misplaced expectations or a bad day on baord - my experience is completely different.
 
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readytotaxi
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:51 pm

Quoting anstar (Reply 5):
They are also changing caterers.

Now thats interesting, going for better meals or cheaper price ?
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
Growing older, but not up.
 
skipness1E
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:18 pm

Last throw of th dice prior to an attempted sale IMHO.
 
slinky09
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:50 pm

Quoting readytotaxi (Reply 8):
Now thats interesting, going for better meals or cheaper price ?

VS is increasing the amount of spend on UC dining and drinking.
 
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readytotaxi
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:55 pm

Wonder why the current supplier could not step up to the mark?
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
Growing older, but not up.
 
imag
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:56 pm

Just had a mail from Virgin about their new JFK lounge. The interesting thing is the opening lines are:

"We’re sure you’re looking forward to your upcoming flight to New York, and there’s some exciting news which will make your experience even more special. On 5 March 2012, we’re opening a brand new Clubhouse at JFK International Airport."

Well, I don't have a flight booked to New York, but if you're willing to fly me for free, I'm more than happy to try the lounge!
 
anstar
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:37 pm

Quoting skipness1E (Reply 9):
Last throw of th dice prior to an attempted sale IMHO.

Surely they would put off any capital expenditure to boost the balance sheet if they were going to be put up for sale again?

The seemed damned if they dont improve their product and damned if they do! Can't win with some poeple.

The UCS has been in planning for years as have the leisure refits... I guess they have decided to revamp the service and food to match a new seat.
 
skipness1E
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:45 pm

I would love them to get this right but they are getting squeezed badly by alliances and BA and AA having ATI. i agree the investment is needed, I would be surprised if the company exists in it's cuurent form before it's completed though.
 
LHRFlyer
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:17 pm

It's good to see investment in the products and standards being raised. This keeps competition on its toes.

It's noteworthy that VS is putting an A330 on the JFK route. I wonder, with aircraft being returned to lessors and A330s being delivered (thus reducing capacity) we'll see VS accentuating its role as a niche carrier rather than the much speculated joining of an alliance.
 
willd
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:34 pm

Quoting LHRFlyer (Reply 15):
It's noteworthy that VS is putting an A330 on the JFK route. I wonder, with aircraft being returned to lessors and A330s being delivered (thus reducing capacity) we'll see VS accentuating its role as a niche carrier rather than the much speculated joining of an alliance.

IIRC the overall number of seats the airline offers is not changing that much really. Four 346's going but 7 330s joining plus a 744 which is coming back from its lease in Bolivia.
 
skipness1E
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:18 am

Quoting willd (Reply 16):
Four 346's going but 7 330s joining plus a 744 which is coming back from its lease in Bolivia.

One B744 returning and four A346s leaving, there are no more then five A330s for this year, unless Ryan International go bust in which case G-VINE will be at a loose end as well.
 
Gabrielz
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:20 am

Long overdue. The seats are too cramped and tattered, and everything feels so 90s. The clubhouse at LHR is super nice, but not enough to keep me from following the frequency and perks of a network carrier.

Losing the United/CO Mileage arrangement is going to hurt as well.

G
 
steve6666
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:23 am

Quoting anstar (Reply 13):
Surely they would put off any capital expenditure to boost the balance sheet if they were going to be put up for sale again?

Waste of time, oldest trick in the book....historical and forecast capex trends are fundamental things to look at in any proper financial due diligence process. And any shortfall deducted from the purchase price.
A306, A318, A319, A320, A321, A332, A333, A343, A346, A388, B722, B732, B733, B734, B735, B73G, B738, B742, B744, B752, B753, B762, B763, B764, B772, B773, B77W, B787-8, BAe-146, Cessna Something, DC-10, E175, E195, ERJ145, MD-11, MD-80, PA Something
 
laca773
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:46 am

It's about consistency. If they can't deliver a consistent product, they will continue to have issues.

At this time, it really sounds like VS needs to enter an alliance. Sky Team?
 
Motorhussy
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:10 am

There have been rumors about Virgin adopting NZ's new Y+ product and NZ has also enhanced the biz premiere product it has on licence from VS, maybe they're doing something similar. Also, rumors on this side of the world that NZ's current CEO may make a move to VS.

Regards
MH
come visit the south pacific
 
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alaskaqantas
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:07 am

hi all,

here is a bit more info
http://www.ausbt.com.au/virgin-atlan...ng-edge-upper-class-business-class

nothing too revealing, but at least they get the business class v first class issue right!

~Cheers-
~~Kyle
to some people the sky is the limit, to aviation enthusiasts, its home!
 
anstar
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:51 am

Quoting motorhussy (Reply 21):
There have been rumors about Virgin adopting NZ's new Y+ product and NZ has also enhanced the biz premiere product it has on licence from VS, maybe they're doing something similar.

Premium Economy is not changing... It is new economy seats and new UPPER.

Quoting laca773 (Reply 20):
t's about consistency. If they can't deliver a consistent product, they will continue to have issues.

I believe that is what they are doing - ie making the LGW/LHR fleet consistent rather than having to products.
 
Kleiner
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:49 pm

Quoting alaskaqantas (Reply 22):

I guess they are taking delivery of the A380!
 
skipness1E
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:12 am

Quoting anstar (Reply 23):
I believe that is what they are doing - ie making the LGW/LHR fleet consistent rather than having to products.

It's still three if you throw in G-VSUN I think. Four if you count the JAM system on the A330s.
 
jfk777
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:50 pm

Any photos of the NEW UC suite ? IS it going to be like Cathay's newer J class seat ?
 
slinky09
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:28 pm

Quoting skipness1E (Reply 25):
It's still three if you throw in G-VSUN I think. Four if you count the JAM system on the A330s.

I really don't get this consistency issue - how many J seats does EK have, BA for that matter (is it four at the moment, new CW, the 318s, isn't old CW still on some 767s, other?), how many IFEs does BA have too? Seems that VS is roundly criticized for having the same business class seat on all of its fleet but different IFE systems, as if that's worse than anyone else. After all BA isn't even planning to install new F on about 20 of its 747s, but that's not a suitable comparison for some!

All airlines undergo upgrade programs, few have the same seat / IFE / etc. on every aircraft in long haul - VS has had the same UCS on all of its fleet for several years.
 
skipness1E
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:36 pm

If you have a dig, the Gatwick operation on time performance is awful compared to Virgin at LHR or comparable BA routes from LGW. The B744s in the beach fleet are worked hard and not really well looked after as far as interior trimmings go. Hence 21st century built B744s are dismissed as ancient. Cabin service levels also appear to differ, giving the impression that the leisure routes are in some way second class.
 
virgincrew
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:38 pm

Bottom line here is that VS has listened to it customers, they are spending alot of cash to re-fit the entire LGW / MAN fleet and bring it in-line with the LHR product. They have also spent cash to re-vamp the economy servce and are introducing a totally new Upper Class Cabin & Service, with the introduction of the remaining A330 aircraft due this year.

I have always agreed that VS seemed to forget about their LGW fleet & seemed to concentrate more of the business traveller, however they are bringing their standards back.

There are many comments that VS are still living on their old reputation, but when it comes to it, VS are still an industry leader for innovation when it comes to product & service. However, I am not saying they get it right all the time - NO airline does.

When you look at VS's route network and the fact they are still an alone airline - they are still an industry leader and an airline to be watched !
Hello Beautiful !!!
 
VC10er
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:49 am

Virgin was such a huge blast in the beginning but after 2 years worth of many trips I got so board of those seats and feeling squeezed in between the 2 walls I went back to BA and UA and got into F many times. Plus a BA 747 rocks.

Also I hated being stuck on Virgin unable to look out the window upon take off or landing.

I hope Richard out does himself!
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
bojangles
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:33 am

Skipness1E, you really don't like BA, do you?! Did they date your sister or something?    
 
skipness1E
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:42 am

Quoting bojangles (Reply 31):
you really don't like BA, do you?! Did they date your sister or something?

No, I rate BA highly, more so than VS. Whatever makes you say that? I know I don''t see a future for LGW short haul but a LHR / MAD IAG two hub strategy has potential.
 
koruman
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:36 am

Air NZ has used the Upper Class Suite under licence (unlike the unlicensed products used by AC and DL).

Last year they massively changed their Economy product - they added flat-bed Economy SkyCouches - and Premium Economy - they moved to 2-2-2 in a 777, but they only did a minimal upgrade to the Upper Class suit, with a softer mattress, better IFE and table and superior duvet and pillow, accompanied by use of real ovens to allow them to freshly grill meat and fish onboard.

The result was superb - the product is utterly wonderful. Virgin just needs to copy its licensee!
 
virgincrew
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:32 pm

Quoting koruman (Reply 33):
The result was superb - the product is utterly wonderful. Virgin just needs to copy its licensee!

I am not sure what VS is planning for it's new Upper Class Cabin, but I agree with you, they could just refresh it. The current Upper Class Suite & Cabin is still an industry leader in hard & soft product.



I am glad they are re-fitting the Gatwick & Manchester fleet of 747 aircraft, as they are very dated and overdue for this in the Economy & Premium Economy Cabins. There has been inconsistency in the Premium Product for years:



1st generation Premium Seat
Current Premium Product


I hope the new VS economy Product from the A330 is used on the 747 re-fits as it has received good feedback from pax's:

Hello Beautiful !!!
 
bojangles
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:49 pm

RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:23 am

Quoting skipness1E (Reply 32):
Quoting bojangles (Reply 31):
you really don't like BA, do you?! Did they date your sister or something?

No, I rate BA highly, more so than VS. Whatever makes you say that? I know I don''t see a future for LGW short haul but a LHR / MAD IAG two hub strategy has potential.

Whoops, that was directed at slinky09, whose post was immediately above yours, not you. Sorry!
 
HDA212
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RE: Virgin To Spend £100m On New Upper Class Cabins

Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:37 am

I think it is about time for VS to update their J class products. Although the product is still above standard when compared to some of their counterparts, but it would be nice to see something new coming out to compete with the other elite carriers

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