Virgin Atlantic’s 787 Economy Class

Hello from London! While I’ve tried a lot of premium products courtesy of decreasing airline prices and my mom’s inexplicable generosity and support for me on this site, I knew that as a student I’d be flying economy longhaul a lot. With all the pricing options, this time I opted for Virgin Atlantic, with their new 787-9s.

I’ll spare you five minutes and say that the plane was stylish and we landed safely (kind of more than what you already expect from economy). But yeah, it just wasn’t great, compared to the other economy products I’ve tried this year.

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Virgin Atlantic 787-9 Hong Kong Airport

So, where do I start?

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class Seat

Virgin Atlantic’s 787 features seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, much like the norm of other airlines. The seats are 17 inches wide, which is pretty much already a bad sign.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Cabin

I was tempted to try out extra legroom, but decided to see how “regular economy” would go, especially since I saved myself HK$590 doing so. There wasn’t enough legroom there to justify HK$590 for 13 hours, but there’s a much bigger chance of an empty middle seat, as no one would pay more for that.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Extra Legroom Seats

The seat is a slimline seat, so while legroom isn’t too bad at 31″, the padding isn’t good. The seats aren’t rock hard, but they definitely aren’t up to Cathay Pacific’s/Thai’s standards.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Legroom

The seat offers a pillow and blanket, both of which are pretty standard for economy.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Pillow and Blanket

Thankfully, the headrest was plush and made of soft leather, and my seatmate Chareese was an adequate cushion to use throughout the flight. Add that to the fact that the inflight entertainment was also good, and the entire experience was fine.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Airshow in Cockpit View

But at 17 inches and with minimal padding, it really wasn’t the best place to spend 13 hours in.

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class Headphones

The headphones on Virgin Atlantic were standard economy headphones, which actually had some pretty good sound, so no complaints there.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Headphones

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class Lavatory

The 787 lavatory on Virgin Atlantic is sure stylish, with blue hues when the door’s unlocked and springing into white. I don’t see any real complaints with the bathroom, especially since the plane’s just over a month old (it started flying commercially less than a month ago – that’s even newer than the A350 I flew last week!).

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Lavatory

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Lavatory

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class Food

While I was rather disappointed by the Virgin Atlantic experience (more on that later), the food impressed. Sure, the choices were rather limited, and the bottom of my pasta was burnt, but it’s the first time I’ve ever had a good-looking (though, still, horribly presented) egg dish on a plane.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Dinner Main Course – Fusilli Puttanesca

Sure, the fries were every bit as soggy and disgusting as they looked – but at least the frittata was good, which I really don’t expect in economy.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Breakfast – Spinach and Sweetcorn Frittata

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class Service

For the first time in my trip report writing career, I got up completely unaware that the seatbelt sign was on. I don’t know if it was late or if I was just out of my mind, but I was definitely screamed back in line by the flight attendant, who said “you need to sit down now“.

I was expecting service to be unattentive with the Virgin Atlantic “vibe”, but instead it just felt strict, unwarm and indifferent at best. While the flight attendant serving us did have her friendly moments, on the whole I was unimpressed.

Bottom Line

While I went in with low expectations, I still came out disappointed. Virgin Atlantic’s economy seat is tight, the seat isn’t particularly comfortable, and the service isn’t good either. While the food isn’t bad, it levels the competition and the rest of the experience is beyond any redemption.

I’m hoping the premium economy experience in two weeks will be better than this, and I’m happy to have finally tried the 787.

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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class Window

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