Tried & Tested

Flight review: Virgin Atlantic A330 neo premium economy London-New York

4 Jun 2023 by Tamsin Cocks
Virgin a330neo exterior


The A330 neo is the latest addition to the Virgin Atlantic fleet, serving routes to New York, Boston, Tampa and Atlanta. Upgraded engines and a longer 64-metre wingspan on the A330 neos offer an 11 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency over the A330-300s. Virgin is the only UK airline currently using the neo option (Delta, Lion Air and TAP also have this aircraft). 

We have previously reviewed Upper Class on this aircraft to Tampa. This is the report of premium economy to New York JFK. Virgin Atlantic was one of the first airlines to introduce this cabin class in 1992.

The A330 neo is configured with 32 seats in Upper Class (business) 46 in premium, and 184 in economy – with 28 seats designated as Economy Delight offering a slightly better seat pitch.


I caught the Elizabeth Line to London Heathrow Terminal 3, arriving at 11.25 for the 1320 departure of flight VS45 to New York JFK. 

I had already checked in online and received my electronic boarding pass (three easy steps on the Virgin App), otherwise this would have been in Zone A.

As this was a media review flight, I was able to use the Sky Priority access to the Upper Class fast track security (this is available to SkyTeam Elite Plus members regardless of their class of travel). There was a large queue for regular passengers, so I would recommend leaving some extra time if you don’t have fast-track access. 

Virgin Clubhouse Heathrow T3 (photo by Tamsin)

While premium economy passengers aren’t automatically granted access to the Clubhouse, you can gain entry for you and a guest if you have an eligible loyalty status travelling on Virgin Atlantic, Delta or Aeromexico flights. (This includes Flying Club Gold, Delta SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallions, Flying Blue Platinum, SkyTeam Elite Plus*, Virgin Australia Velocity Club Gold, Platinum, and The Club card holders, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold, Solitaire PPS Club and PPS Club members, and Air New Zealand Gold or Elite members.)

It’s worth a visit: the lounge is very large with a huge bar, lots of dining and seating spaces, shower facilities, relaxation areas and the statement Peloton bike area. The extensive menu (featuring vegan, vegetarian and kosher options) can be ordered via QR code or from staff, and there’s also a deli bar featuring salads, meats, cheeses and fresh pastries. Don’t miss the loft area with a pool table and access to a rooftop garden in the middle of the airfield.

Virgin Atlantic A330neo premium cabin (photo by Tamsin)


We headed to Gate 32 at 1234. Boarding was already in progress and we were onboard by 1243. Ten minutes later, staff came round with flutes of orange juice and sparkling wine. Boarding was promptly complete by 1302 and crew began prepping for departure.

My first impressions of the cabin was the bold pink/purple lighting scheme – which nods to Virgin’s bold signature colour scheme without bathing the cabin in a horror-like bright red hue.

Virgin Atlantic A330neo Overhead bins (photo by Tamsin)

Overhead bins were very roomy, with plenty of space for my cabin bag, handbag and coat and other passengers’ items, so no issues fighting for luggage space.

A safety demonstration began at 1310 with a short video, and I appreciated that Virgin had portrayed a female captain in their in-flight safety cartoon demonstration.

The captain announced a slight air-traffic control delay at 1315, and gave some information about the flight route.

Menus were brought round before we began taxing, and we took off at 1342.

Seatbelt signs were switched off at 1348 and a round of drinks were served ten minutes later.

Virgin Atlantic A330neo premium (photo by Tamsin)

The seat

As mentioned, the premium economy cabin features 46 seats. These are configured in a 2-3-2 layout. I was in Seat 21A – a window seat at front of cabin, which benefits from extra legroom.

The look of the seats is quite premium, with a maroon faux-leather covering and flashes of the brand’s cherry red in the stitching. According to Virgin, the use of the sustainable faux-leather is around 1.5kg lighter per double seat, and saves around 3,000 cows across the fleet. 

Overall it felt fairly spacious and comfortable. Dimensions are 18.5 inches in width (about half an inch wider than economy) with up to a 38-inch pitch (compared to 31-inches in Economy).

There are some buttons to adjust the seat position on the side with three main functions: recline, extend the leg rest, and release the foot rest – which you then flip over manually. There’s also buttons to control a personal reading light, activate the flight attendant call button, and a plug socket.

Down the side of the seat there is a headphone jack, a small storage pouch and a USB port – these are not particularly easy to access, but the pouch was useful to store the headphones.

A blanket and pillow are in the seat on arrival. The pillow was extremely basic, with a sort of flimsy netting material that wasn’t very appealing. The fleece blanket is a bit more premium, in a rich purple which was soft and warm. As this was a day flight, there were no amenity kits provided. 

There’s also a fairly basic headset, which is wrapped in an envelope to collect change for charity.

Virgin Atlantic A330neo wireless charging (photo by Tamsin)

The wireless charging port is a very cool feature – available in premium and Upper. This worked immediately after takeoff (you’re not supposed to use it during taxi, takeoff or landing). It worked consistently and boosted my phone from 30 per cent to 70 per cent over the course of the flight, in between lots of heavy usage.

The only downside is it’s really only big enough for one phone and you have to share the space with your neighbour – which can be a little awkward to navigate with a stranger, who’s turn is it to charge? However, there are other charging outlets available.

The tray table is very well designed for getting it in and out. It’s located in the side arm rest with a one-push mechanism that pops it out easily, and then it folds down and can be adjusted further or closer to you. It’s also a fairly good size, I could fit my laptop on it comfortably to work. It wasn’t hugely sturdy, but it did the trick.

The flight

Being a day flight, it was a very busy service – and this felt particularly noticeable at the front of the cabin as this was next to the galley and bathroom. There was lots of traffic from crew and passengers and the extra leg room was frequently invaded by passengers passing each other. The curtain was meant to be closed off to the galley but remained open virtually the whole flight, and you could also overhear all of the crew discussions – for example, at 1615 there was a juice crisis, with crew panicking there wouldn’t be enough juice for afternoon tea due to the 70 kids onboard… which was distracting to say the least.

Another problem I had with this seat is the fact that the TV is not mounted on the wall in front, but is stowed in the central divider and does get in the way if you want to exit your seat while watching TV. So while the front row benefits from extra leg room, I’d say avoid this seat unless you are exceptionally tall. 

I did however enjoy the window seat, with fantastic views on the day flight, particularly on descent into New York, tracing the strange skinny finger of Long Island into the downtown metropolis. 

The IFE system is comprehensive, with a large selection of films and a decent 13.3-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth audio meaning you can use your own headphones. The menu included new Hollywood releases, alongside hits from Bollywood, Lollywood and Nollywood, plus Chinese-language options. There was also a selection of TV shows, audio playlists, retail browsing and games.

The A330neo is supposed to have Virgin’s fastest-ever wifi, which can even handle streaming content, and I was looking forward to trying out. However, I couldn’t seem to connect on my flight which was a real shame.
The paid-for wifi package options are as follows:
Messaging full flight – £3.99
One hour pass – £5.99
Full flight pass – £20.99

Virgin Atlantic A330neo premium meal

Food and drink

The first round of drinks were promptly served at 1358 – 16 minutes after take off. I asked for Coke Zero, though only Diet was available and it was served a miniature-sized can, which I always think is a bit stingy. I was offered ice and a slice, and given a little pack of pretzels.

Meal service followed about an hour later. The front row was served last, despite being closest to the galley, but service was quick. I was served at 1510.

The meal tray came with proper cutlery and plates, featuring a starter and dessert, with recyclable plastic covers, and foil over the main dish. The starter was a delicious quinoa, butternut squash and crumbled feta salad with a ciabatta roll. 

Main options included a chicken casserole, shepherd’s pie and Thai green curry. I opted for the casserole, which didn’t have the most appealing presentation, but was tasty, with the mustard mash offering a powerful flavour, with sweet bursts from mini shallots. The chocolate and caramel crunch for dessert was sweet and satisfying.

For drinks, there was an option of water, soft drinks and two wines, a French Sauvignon blanc and an Argentinian Malbec. I ordered the Malbec, and was surprised when it arrived in a freezing cold can, which didn’t feel particularly premium. Sparkling wine is also on the menu – but is purchased at cost.

Plates were efficiently cleared at around 15.35 and around half an hour later crew came round with coffee and tea. I thought the coffee was good, a strong, creamy blend served in cute coffee cups with aviation-inspired designs. A tray of ice lollies was also brought round at 1740.

Virgin Atlantic A330neo premium afternoon tea

A lighter afternoon tea meal service was also served at 2000, which I thought was a charming service. It comprised two finger sandwiches (cheese and pickle, plus egg mayo with chives) and a scone with gorgeous clotted cream and jam, and two other cakes. This was also served with a choice of juice, water, tea/coffee. I really enjoyed the detail of this generous second service – even the meal tray table had a paper lining describing the origins of afternoon tea, a lovely nod to British culture.


At 2020, the captain made an announcement that we would be shortly starting our descent. A tray of love heart sweets was brought round for landing and we touched down ahead of scheduled at 1600 local time. 

We quickly taxied to the gate and offloaded at 1613. At immigration there was an enormous arrivals queue – it would easily have taken 90 minutes of waiting. Thankfully, our media group was whisked through the premium lane, but it would definitely be worth investigating Global Entry for future visits.


I really enjoyed my flight. I was able to get lots of work done (despite the wifi not working). The Virgin crew were friendly and helpful and the meal services were memorable, particularly the afternoon tea.

Fact box

Flight duration

7hrs 54 mins



Seat width

18.5 inches


Return fares for an premium economy flight from London-New York start from £1,074

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