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Review: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class LHR-JFK
I’ve flown Virgin Atlantic two times now in their Upper Class (Business Class) product. It’s not my favorite amongst the major carriers, though certainly has it’s perks.
Let’s start with the Virgin Clubhouse in London’s Heathrow Airport. If there’s heaven on earth, this is it. If I could live in this lounge, I’d pick up my life right now and move. The Virgin Clubhouse is located just above the American AAdmiral’s club.
Inside, you’ll find plenty of couches, chairs, lounge chairs, etc. to keep you comfortable.
You’ll also find a fully stocked bar with complimentary drinks.
Food and drink are ordered at your seat via a menu. Wait staff circulate the lounge and you’re able to easily flag any one of them down for any of the items on the menu.
Along with a cocktail, I ordered some various small appetizers, including chips and guacamole, and chicken wings.
Still feeling hungry, I also ordered afternoon tea, which is available after 3pm.
Afternoon tea was absolutely delicious. You could order the full tea service, or pick and choose any of the individual parts; I selected just the scones, as I wanted to save room for the meal onboard the plane.
Walking around the lounge, you’ll find a Skyy Vodka lounge, a small theater, library, children’s play area, salon, a full-service restaurant and shoe-shine station. There’s even a full butcher area, where you can order meats and salads and such and have them cooked to order. Can the Delta SkyClub provide this for you? I don’t think so.
Food and drink are complimentary, as well as all of the services inside. If you’re on a Virgin flight, I recommend getting to the lounge early so you can maximize your time inside. This isn’t one of those places you want to arrive at the last minute at.
Boarding for all VS flights are announced within the lounge, and there’s a flight information board for your convenience.
Once my flight was announced, I left the lounge and headed to the departure gate. While walking there, there was a sign notifying me of a 20 minute walk to my particular gate. It must have not been working, since the gate happened to be within about a 30 second walk of where I was (although, admittedly, I do walk fast).
Boarding of the economy passengers had already commenced, and nearly finished, which is a nice tactic Virgin Atlantic uses to keep their premium passengers inside the lounge more where they can enjoy themselves. Once on the aircraft, I turned left into the Upper Class cabin.
The A330 aircraft I was on is configured in a 1x1x1 layout. I was in seat 3a. Seat 3a is on the right side of the aircraft, next to the lavatory. While being next to the lavatory wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, just prior to landing in JFK there was an annoying “hiss” sound coming from inside.
Below the seat is an ottoman, and the amenity kit.
I found the cabin fairly spacious, though I’m not a fan of the Virgin old-style reverse herringbone seats. I have two main gripes — the cocktail table is situated in a position where you have to turn your body to put anything there, and then in order to turn the seat into a bed, you need to get up, place the seat down, add bedding and then get in. This makes the process cumbersome and bothersome.
The seat does have plenty of room, though is exposed to the rest of the cabin. On the 777, there’s a way in front of you if you are seated on the left hand side, which adds more privacy.
While taxiing to our runway, there was a nice view out my window – a British Airways A380!
After takeoff, and once at our cruising altitude, drinks were offered, as well as a snack of crispy, salty potato chips. I ordered a Moscow Mule – Vodka, Ginger Ale and Lime.
Then, dinner menus. I ordered the crab starter, steak main dish, and bread pudding dessert. This was followed by a cheese trolley and coffee service.
After dinner, I decided to watch a few movies, before napping. Virgin’s inflight entertainment is good, though not as plentiful as some of the longer-haul Asian carriers. There’s a good selection of movies and tv shows to watch. This is my second Virgin Atlantic flight, and both times I’ve found a very interesting documentary to watch, which aides in passing the time. The British certainly do know how to put together a good tv show!
After watching some shows, I decided to nap. As I mentioned before, this is a process since you have to get up, move the seat down, and then dress the bed with the provided linens. It’s a bit cumbersome, but once assembled, is comfortable.
Halfway through the flight, ice cream was served as a snack.
One of the best parts of the Virgin Atlantic experience is the on-board bar. While they aren’t the only airline with an onboard bar, it truly is a luxury. The bar is located between the Upper Class cabin and the Premium Economy Cabin. It’s well stocked, and is open throughout the flight, with the exception of during turbulence. There’s a flight attendant always on hand, and I found the bar full throughout the entire flight. There are three bar stools in front, so if you aren’t one of the first three to be there, plan on standing since there’s nowhere else to sit.
How did I book this flight: I booked this flight using 100,000 SkyMiles pre-devaluation.
What was included in my booking: Round-trip business class airfare to Brussels, then out of Paris.
Pros of the flight: Friendly service, on-board bar and second-to-none airline lounge.
Cons of the flight: The cocktail tray table is in a terrible place, and the bed requires you to stand up in order to put it together.
Overall, a good experience and one I would do again, if I needed to fly to Heathrow or connect.
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