MIAMI — Virgin Atlantic has become the latest airline to join the Boeing Dreamliner club, taking delivery of its first 787-9 today at London’s Gatwick Airport. Virgin Atlantic is the European launch customer for the aircraft and will receive 21 of the type in the next four years in a deal valued at $8 billion.
The 787-9 will be used on many of Virgin Atlantic’s existing routes out of Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports to the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The carrier says it will also use the Dreamliner on new routes including Bangkok, Melbourne,
Rio de Janeiro, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.
The airline will use start its 787-9 service on the London Heathrow Boston route, which starts on October 28. The aircraft will have 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium Economy and 198 economy seats.
The airline is offering a new version of its Upper Class Suite, which will include new mood lighting, a seat that extends into one of the longest beds in business class, along with a new comfort system and extra padded sleep sheet and direct aisle access. It also features a new bar area where passengers can mingle, have a drink, eat, relax and work.
The Premium Economy cabin has also been upgraded, with a more comfortable seat design and a social space where customers can stretch their legs and mingle with other passengers. And economy seats will be the Recaro 3620 model that promises travelers more room to stretch and enjoy their flight.
Virgin Atlantic currently has 12 747-400s, four A340-300s, 13 A340-600s and 10 A330-300s. It also leases four Airbus A320s from Aer Lingus to operate the Little Red domestic routes.