Virgin Atlantic replaces on-board bar with comfortable seating on new plane
Virgin Atlantic’s on-board bar once featured in a James Bond film but the airline is not including the facility on its latest aircraft.
The carrier is replacing the counter and stools set-up with an eight-person social area featuring comfortable seats and a large screen for watching movies.
The new design – known as The Loft – will feature in the Upper Class section of the airline’s Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, which enter service this summer.
Virgin Atlantic says it was the first airline to introduce an on-board bar.
Daniel Craig’s James Bond character took advantage of the facility to drink cocktails in 2008 film Quantum Of Solace.
Mark Anderson, an executive vice president at Virgin Atlantic, told the Press Association: “We know the bars work very well. We know people love to socialise but we also know we can only get three or four people around the bar.
“We wanted to do something that brought more people into the party – a more flexible space.
“You can have it for a meeting, you can watch a movie, you can have your dinner.”
Mr Anderson denied the switch is in response to some passengers complaining about noise from the bar, but admitted: “In any kind of social space you can have people enjoying it too much.”
He said: “There’s an element of wanting to take it to a more democratised level, because for some people the bar could be a bit intimidating.
“If there’s a group of people there already and you’re by yourself, you may not feel quite so able to go and relax.”
Asked if he believed Virgin Atlantic could tempt James Bond to use The Loft, Mr Anderson replied: “I’m sure we could.
“You’ll have all the things you had with the bar and more.”
Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website Head for Points, said bars on planes have become “out of step with modern trends” as excessive in-flight drinking has become less acceptable, especially when travelling on business with colleagues.
He described a recent version of Virgin Atlantic’s bar as “so small you can easily miss it” and revealed he has “rarely seen many passengers using it”.
He added: “From my conversations with the airline, I’m not even sure that they are certain how passengers will choose to use The Loft, but it is good to see them trying something different.”
The Upper Class section of Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350-1000 contains a number of other new features, including an 18.5in screen at every seat, a partial privacy screen and seats which face towards windows.
Economy seats will be upgraded with new fabrics and adjustable headrests, as well as a larger screen exceeding 11in.
The announcement comes weeks after rival airline British Airways revealed a major overhaul of its business class seating.