While Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747 fleet may be long retired, the London-based carrier is preparing to take on a new Queen of the Skies in honor of Elizabeth II.
Up in the air
Although the Airbus A330neo, registered as G-VEII, is not set to join Virgin Atlantic until April, the carrier is already hyping up its entrance. In line with Virgin Atlantic’s long history of naming its jets after strong, female icons, the latest aircraft will be named after the late Queen Elizabeth II, who passed in September 2022.
This is the second jet to be named in honor of her late majesty. In 2004, Elizabeth II led the unveiling ceremony for a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600 during a state visit to France, also dubbed Queen of the Skies.
“Just like Queen Elizabeth during her historic 70-year reign, Virgin Atlantic is proud to fly the flag for the United Kingdom around the world,” explained Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operations Officer at Virgin Atlantic.
“We’re delighted to soon be welcoming ‘Queen of the Skies’ to our fleet and hope that it serves as a fitting tribute to an unforgettable, much-loved monarch.”
Photo: Virgin Atlantic
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Queen of the Skies will join Virgin Atlantic’s small group of A330neos, which currently includes Billie Holiday (G-VJAZ), Space Oddity (G-VTOM), and Eliza Doolittle (G-VLDY). Over the next several years, Virgin Atlantic will expand its A330neo fleet over the next several years, taking on 13 more efficient next-generation jets.
Why the A330neo?
Hoping to fly on the new Queen of the Skies? Your best bet will be on transatlantic services out of London Heathrow Airport (LHW).
Despite only beginning service with Virgin Atlantic in October, the new A330neos have already been put to work on the carrier’s popular Heathrow to Tampa (TPA) route.
The type is scheduled to operate roughly 11% of Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow-based flights during summer 2023, being set on routes to New York JFK (JFK), Miami (MIA), Atlanta (ATL), and Tel Aviv (TLV).
While boasting significantly improved green and noise credentials compared to previous generations, the A330neo also offers a refreshed interior for Virgin Atlantic’s passengers, including the addition of its unique The Retreat Suite premium offering.
The two ultra-exclusive luxury seats are available within the carrier’s Upper Class cabin, providing two 2-meter-long lie-flat beds and a massive 27” touch screen in-flight media system – providing a temporary home away from home in the skies.
Thirty additional Upper Class suites are also available on the A330neo, configured in a 1-2-1 setting. While ever-so-slightly less spacious than the lavish Retreat Suite, the Upper Class seating provides customers with customized mood lighting and a 17.3” IFE screen for catching the latest movies mid-flight.
“Our vision is clear – to become the most loved travel company, and to be sustainable and profitable. This fleet renewal is integral to that journey,” Koster explained during the launch of the new suites in July 2022.
“Virgin has always been about innovation. It’s in our DNA. It’s who we are. We are passionate about customer experience and great products that are brought to life by the passion and care of our crews and teams across our network. It’s the human connection that makes a difference.”
Will you be flying with Virgin Atlantic this summer? What other historical figures would you like to see celebrated by the carrier? Let us know in the comments.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- London Heathrow Airport
- Year Founded:
- Shai Weiss
- United Kingdom