Spotter Snaps First Pics of Virgin America a321NEO, First Routes

In December 2015, Virgin America announced its plans to acquire 10 Airbus a321NEO aircraft.  The “NEO” stands for New Engine Option and is Airbuses’ more fuel efficient version of its pre-existing aircraft.  For Virgin America, in addition to a more fuel efficient aircraft, the a321NEO holds 40 more passengers than the airlines current largest aircraft.  Virgin America stated that it planned to use the a321NEO on longer transcontinental flights beginning in 2017.  The airline added that it expected to receive its first a321NEO sometime during the 1st quarter in 2017.

It’s looking as if Virgin America’s first a321NEO is going to arrive on time.  Spotter Tobias Gudat, photographed Virgin America’s first Airbus a321NEO (registration D-AYAL) in Hamburg, Germany at an Airbus assembly facility.  D-AYAL is expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.

Virgin America’s first Airbus a321NEO (Tobias Gudat on Flickr, All Rights Reserved)

The image above shows a fully assembled Airbus a321NEO in Virgin America colors, however, still bearing German registration.  As of February 26, there isn’t any flight activity available on Flightradar 24 meaning it’s very likely that this aircraft has yet to get airborne.  It still appears as if Virgin America will receive its first a321NEO on time.

The First Airbus a321NEO Routes

Virgin America’s first Airbus a321NEO will depart from San Francisco bound for Washington-DCA on May 31st.  This is according to Virgin America’s flight schedules and a report found on AirlineGeeks.com.  VX flight number 1 departs at 8:00 AM and will arrive at 4:15 PM.  The seat map is found below.  Note that Virgin America’s current largest aircraft, the Airbus a320, only goes up to row 26.  The seat map below goes up to row 33.

Additionally, beginning June 14th, Virgin’s Airbus a321NEO will begin flying between San Francisco and New York-JFK.


Overall

This is some pretty exciting news for Virgin America and its passengers.  There had been a lot of speculation regarding how many seats Virgin America would put in its three cabins.  How many First Class seats, Main Cabin Select, Main Cabin?  It appears that we now know how many seats.  Unfortunately, Virgin America stuck with just 8 seats in First Class and it appears that the product onboard will remain the same.

Do you plan on catching a flight on Virgin America’s Airbus a321NEO?  What do you think about Virgin’s first routes?