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Review: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class LHR – JFK

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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.

Virgin Clubhouse entrance

Virgin Clubhouse entrance

Inside, you’ll find plenty of couches, chairs, lounge chairs, etc. to keep you comfortable.

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

You’ll also find a fully stocked bar with complimentary drinks.

The bar

The bar

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.

Cocktail

Cocktail

Along with a cocktail, I ordered some various small appetizers, including chips and guacamole, and chicken wings.

Appetizers

Appetizers

Still feeling hungry, I also ordered afternoon tea, which is available after 3pm.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

Scones

Scones

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.

Fresh salads

Fresh salads

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.

IMG_2793

Upper Class seat

Below the seat is an ottoman, and the amenity kit.

Upper Class seat ottoman and amenity kit

Upper Class seat ottoman and 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.

Plenty of room!

Plenty of room!

Headphones and amenity kit

Headphones and amenity kit

While taxiing to our runway, there was a nice view out my window – a British Airways A380!

Check out the view!

Check out the view!

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.

The Moscow Mule...sounds fancier than it is.

The Moscow Mule…sounds fancier than it is.

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.

Appetizer

Appetizer

Main dish

Main dish

Dessert

Dessert

Coffee service

Coffee service

Cheese plate

Cheese plate

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.

In the interest of not showing me sleeping, here is someone else sleeping

In the interest of not showing me sleeping, here is someone else sleeping

Halfway through the flight, ice cream was served as a snack.

Who can refuse ice cream?!

Who can refuse ice cream?!

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.

Some goodies at the bar

Some goodies at the bar

A Vodka and cranberry for me.

A Vodka and cranberry for me.

Lots of spirits for the high-paying passengers.

Lots of spirits for the high-paying passengers.

 

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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Comments

  1. Joey says

    Sounds like a great flight! Was it during the night time or day time? Did you get a onesie?
    Also, what did you fly from LHR-BRU or CDG-LHR?
    Do you think the food at the Clubhouse is better than the food up in the air? I ask because I have an upcoming VS flight later in the year LHR-JFK where I hope to simply sleep during the entire time up in the air. I was thinking of going to the Clubhouse early to eat and shower before boarding.

    As for the bar, I think that is a great idea. The only onboard bar I’ve been to is the Emirates A380 business class lounge. They didnt’ have any bar stools, but rather, a quarter-circle-type seat that can seat 3-4 passengers on each side by the windows.
    Thx for the post!

    • says

      Hi Joey!

      It was a daytime flight – late afternoon, getting into the US by evening. To BRU, I flew Aeroflot from JFK to SVO, and then onto BRU; You’ll see a trip report reviewing that flight this week! Stay tuned! CDG to LHR was on Air France; you’ll also see a trip report on that this week, too!

      I think the food in the Clubhouse is BY FAR better than up in the air, though, I think Virgin’s food all around is very good. If you’re able to eat in the Clubhouse, go for it.

      • Joey says

        Good to know! Thanks James! I flew JFK-SVO on Aeroflot earlier this year in economy and was impressed by it (then again I had no expectations!) I look forward reading your review of business class on Aeroflot!

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