So far when you do a dummy booking there is still a B747-400 showing between Atlanta/New York JFK for Summer 2017, as well as the B747’s on the two MCO runs. The A330-300 is also still listed for certain flights. However only on the MCO and New York flights operated by the B747 can PE be booked. On the Atlanta runs, still listed as either A330-300 or B747-400, PE can’t be selected, so it looks like Virgin intend to switch these to A330-200 (minus PE) in due course.
I was under the impression from a number of other forum discussions that Manchester flights to Atlanta, Boston, San Franscico and New York would become A330-200 from May for the forseable future (12 months minimum) minus PE (at least for the intial services this summer). The Virgin press release confused the issue somewhat as it suggests that these flights will only suffer a loss of PE (A330-200 switch) until the end of May.
Clearly the dummy bookings on the system imply that PE will be cut on flights throughout 2017, with the exception of MCO and some of the JFK runs, where one of the 2 “based” B747’s is deployed.
So far G-VWND (ex D-ALPF) and G-VMIK (ex D-ALPB) two ex LTU/AB aircraft (15/16 years old) have been added to the UK register, with two more additions anticipated in due course. I know that AB announced they would refit a refurbished business class product in 2017. I know that it made at least one of the ex LAN Air Berlin aircraft G-ABXE but I'm unsure if it made the ex-LTU aircraft Virgin have acquired.
The difference in the two products doesn't seem huge but it included reupholstered seats, minus Air Berlin logo, and a change in the side panels from blue to white and a better screen position etc. This first review shows the old product >> https://thepointsguy.com/2017/09/air-be ... ss-review/
and this review shows the new product on G-ABXE >>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng92rCL1XvI.
Both the new and old product have the same 19 seat arrangement in business class, so the new Virgin seat maps for the A330-200 don't really help much in regards to this. I'm imagining that Virgin may reupholster the seats if they haven't recently been upgraded. Some of the AB reviews commented that the old seat material was showing its age and I can't see how they can easily hide the Air Berlin logo either. All in all it looks a decent product in both Business class and Economy.
It really would be nice if Virgin could reupholster the seats, add some LED mood lighting and give the planes a full metallic red paint job (not just a Red Virgin tail and simple titles like they did with the 767 years ago). I've no idea if all of this would be feasible in the time frame but it does look like they have 3 months or so before they enter service. With the airframes currently just sitting around in Shannon etc there seems plenty of opportunity.