Flying economy on Virgin Atlantic just got a whole lot better. (Photo: Virgin Atlantic)
Millions of people make the famous New York to London flight annually. It’s a journey of 3,459 miles, and one that now takes a mere six hours when tail winds are in your favor.
But over the past few years, there seems to have been a focus on improving the flying experience for those in First or Business class on long flights. Those of us who usually sit at the back of the plane have noticed our seats getting tighter, and the economy cabin feeling more cramped, all to make the cabins at the front of the plane more spacious.
But not anymore. Enter the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for Virgin Atlantic.
This plane has been in service for other airlines for a couple of years, but this week, Virgin launched its New York to London route—and hopes to have 21 of these planes in service by 2018. But the thing that makes Virgin’s version of this spectacular vessel different is where they’ve placed a lot of their focus: the Economy cabin.
Don’t get me wrong. The Upper Class cabin is still impeccable. But here are five reasons why the Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner, nicknamed “Dream Jeannie,” may now be the best way to fly transatlantic….in economy.
1. There’s more space.
The Dreamliner was built with more space in mind. Everything looks and feels bigger. The cabin height is several feet higher than it is on other planes, due to an impressive vaulted ceiling. The aisles are wider. The overhead bins are larger, but placed higher up to avoid those awkward head-banging incidents that anyone over 5’ 5” will have certainly experienced. The seats are designed to be thinner, meaning they take up less room, providing several inches more leg room. Plus, the seats pitch back further for a much more comfortable experience. Even the toilets feel bigger. I swear, there’s enough room to swing a cat in there, which is a serious rarity in the usually-coffin-like airplane bathrooms. Virgin has managed to provide passengers with an innovative Economy cabin that feels spacious and airy, resulting in a much more comfortable journey.
Look at all that leg room! (Photo: Virgin Atlantic)
2. There’s great wireless.
People are very attached to their mobile technology, and Virgin has taken note. The plane is fully wired for wireless services that even work when you are flying over the middle of the Atlantic. For around $20, you can stay connected to the outside world for the duration of the flight, meaning you can update your Facebook status and check your email from 38,000 feet.
To coincide with the Dreamliner launch, Virgin even announced the #SkyhighSelfie, offering passengers the opportunity to update their Facebooks from the air, free of charge.
And to make sure that you are never left short when it comes to your battery life, every single seat on the plane has power access via USB, so you can charge your phone or tablet during the journey.
3. There’s mood lighting. Yes, mood lighting.
Jetlag sucks. And it has the potential to ruin your trip. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, being able to adjust to the new time zone is vital to your overall experience. As any frequent traveler knows, the best way to trick your circadian clock—the fancy term for your internal body clock—is through light therapy, where you trick your body into thinking it’s a different time by exposing it to light at specific times.
Sound complicated? Thanks to Virgin Atlantic, it won’t be.
The new Dreamliner has been outfitted with a revolutionary new ambient mood lighting system throughout the main cabin, designed to help passengers adjust to the changing timezones—and that’s because it changes color throughout the flight. The light begins at a soft “rose champagne” color as people board, to help them de-stress and relax. It then changes into “purple haze” to make people feel comfortable and cozy, before transitioning to “amber warmth,” which is designed to feel like candlelight for when people are dining. Lastly, it morphs into “silver moonlight” to help people fall asleep.
It’s like seeing your flight through rose-colored glasses. (Photo: Virgin Atlantic)
There is then an eight-minute “sunrise” sequence, too, designed to gradually wake people up in the new time zone. Not only does it work, but it looks beautiful and completely changes the aesthetic inside the cabin.
Good morning, passengers! (Photo: Virgin Atlantic)
4. It’s cleaner, quieter, and more efficient.
For those of you worried about your carbon footprint, this plane provides quite the feel-good factor. Not only is it 60% quieter than other aircrafts of the same size, it is a lot more fuel efficient, burning approximately 20% less fuel than similarly sized planes.
The advanced air filtration system also means that the air you breathe in the cabin is a lot cleaner. This is an amazing fact for those of us who get a bit squeamish about the thought of all the germs swimming around in the air. This system also helps increase the humidity on board. Considering that most planes in flight are more arid than a desert, this has a huge impact on everyone’s overall health and comfort during the journey.
The air in the cabin is cleaner than ever before. (Photo: Virgin Atlantic)
5. It’s all about the little things.
There are a ton of new little touches on this plane that you will not see on others. For instance, there are full-length mirrors in the bathrooms, which not only make them feel a lot more spacious, but actually serve a purpose, allowing passengers to give themselves full-length once-overs after a long, disheveled journey.
When you first board the plane, crew members hand out dinner menus, a service that you may only expect in Upper Class. This makes everyone on board feel special.
And another unique innovation is the auto tint windows, which no longer have a shutter. Instead, you just push a button, and they gradually darken. It’s all very futuristic.
Lastly, the staff is incredible. While this isn’t specific to this particular plane, it is certainly a major selling point of this airline in general. Crew members are dynamic, friendly, and extremely accommodating. It is clear that Virgin Atlantic hires staff members who love their jobs, and genuinely want to ensure that the passengers on board have an enjoyable experience.
All these changes combined make a massive difference to the overall experience of flying in the Economy cabin on a long flight. Virgin’s launch of this plane and its new route is going to change the way airlines compete for business and loyalty. They are showing that they care about every passenger on board, not just the ones paying more for their fancy seats.
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