The all around flight experience with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
(Deutsche Version) Trip Report TXL-LHR-LAX
Not too long ago I came back from New York. Now I’m going to fly in that direction again, but this time a little more west. I’ll fly with an unusual Airline Partner to Los Angeles, accomplished by the following routing:
BA on stage TXL – LHR, so that I might fly with one of my preferred carriers and can collect some miles
VS 007 on the second stage LHR – LAX
Why actually Virgin? The answer is simple: For decades, everybody who took a flight with Virgin is dreaming about it. So I had to look at this myself and bought a ticket for Virgin instead of a Miles First Class ticket at BA, as I already booked it for this trip.
Take off Berlin, Check-in
As usual, it all starts in Berlin at Gate A05. After printing the boarding tickets for the first part I receive the hint that the second boarding ticket will be available in London at Virgin. Anyhow, my seat is reserved already and the online check-in didn’t work, so this is not going to be a problem.
Without doing anything, my luggage is brought in the next aircraft, even though I change plane and airline. This makes it completely uncomplicated and stress-free. After that I get a little breakfast in the lounge, which is way too early at 5:40 AM. Arriving at the gate, the queue is so long that I decide to use the “hidden entrance” at Gate A04, where LH completes their London machines. The airplane takes off with bright sunshine in Berlin, Tegel, after I boarded quickly.
When I was just thinking about writing an E-Mail to BA and please them to change breakfast it arrives. Basically always the same, but at least the yoghurt changed and a new and solid smoothie replaces orange juice.
A little nap later we are already circling (once again) London and wait for landing permission. Arriving in London I quickly move to transfer by bus, as it’s the fastest way, to get to T3. The bus journey takes only a few minutes and is quite easy. After entering T3 there is, just like at T5, a little security check following.
The airline lounges in T3 are divided by letter, which makes it easy to find them. Virgin is settled in the area of “H”, in the upper level. Already when entering the stairs of elevator you get a high-class impression. The lounge has the style of a bar or club, not so much of an airport lounge.
The clubhouse is also divided into several areas: Right after the entrance there is a service for cleaning shoes. A little more in the back you find the restaurant area with a quite interesting counter, where you can take a look at the ingredients.
In the middle, there is a vast number of seating furniture: benches, seating groups or simple and comfortable lounge chairs. Everybody is supposed to feel good around here, which the airline of Sir Richard Branson took well care of. Besides a playing area for kids there is also such one for adults. A billiard and football table and pokies are supposed to make the stay as diverting as possible.
If you like to work or have to, you find an office area with Wifi, which is free in the whole area (sometime a little slow), desk, printer, working utensils and something to read. But there are two other factors that divide this lounge from others: there is a SPA, where you can get treatments for free. Similar as the Elemis SPA by British Airways at T5 or JFK airport, you can get a massage or go to the hairdresser (yes you can).
The big and well-equipped bar offers beverages of all kind, a lot of cocktails and a great service, as in any other part of the clubhouse. Finally no boring buffets but food a la card of high quality. If it’s too warm inside, one can suntan on the rooftop garden (if there is sun in London) and get a glance at the runway.
The sad thing is that I had only 3 hours time in London – I could have made it a day. A little work, eat, relax in the SPA, play and watch a movie on the huge screen – what more do you want ;-)?
In today’s Airbus 340-600 they have the current Upper Class, which will be completely revised in the next month, according to Virgin. In a few points this is necessary. Even at the very front, in the cabin that contains three kinds of seats (Eco, EcoPlus, Business) there is no socket. Since my Macbook is ready to run for 8 hours straight, this doesn’t bother me too much.
Seats are ordered in a herringbone pattern (1-1-1 in the Upper Class) and window seats provide two windows. One provides a sidewise view, while the other is only visible when the seat is rebuild to a bed.
Unusual is also the process of seat rebuilding. It doesn’t simple move backwards, but turns down, so that you’re lying on the backrest. This, on the other hand, implies the advantage of being flat and not having the typical “dents” that you wish for on a comfortable seat. For travellers of my size the bed’s size is completely sufficient. With it’s 52cm seating width, it’s way smaller than the Club World Seat at British Airways, which is still my favorite.
One thing is done completely right by Virgin: Even on day flights there is a bed with sheet and pad. This is just offered in First Class at most of the other airlines and in Business Class you get only really thin blankets.
The inflight entertainment is indeed outdated and needs a renewal. Even if I don’t use it, 50 movies on a relatively small screen are not up to date. Seat and bed are comfortable, even on a longer journey (today 10,5 hours to LAX), but the adjustment possibilities are limited. Armrest and loin brace are adjustable, but that’s it. The footrest is fixed and can be used in order to eat something with fellow passengers, which leads us to the next point
For lunch they served 2 starters (pea soup and shrimp cocktail), followed by three main courses. These imply beef, a chicken curry and pasta. The kitchen greeting, a tomato-mozarella-snack as well as the soup were very delicious.
The beef was a little too done, but together with potatoes, carrots and asparagus it was well served and tasty. Porcelain plates are used together with a white-brown table cloth. Salt and pepper come in a dredger and the jus came separate.
Also the dessert was delicious. This time I took lemon pie with berry compote and later on some ice cream, which I find very pleasant on long flights.
[pe2-gallery] [/pe2-gallery]If that’s not enough for you, there is a bar between Upper and Economy Class that serves fruit, little snacks and such. If not so hungry, you can get three different dishes during the flight at all time: A mini burger, Caesar salad and vegetarian sushi.
After proceeding to Los Angeles, it’s time for Hight Tea. Coming with it are sandwiches, scones or pie, rounded by a selection of different tea sorts.
I almost forgot the selection of beverages. From Bombay Gin over Whiskey, Grey Goose Vodka to Cognac and bier you can get everything. If you prefer wine, Virgin offers a German, French and Australian white wine and three reds from Spain, Argentina and Chile. The Champaign is a Lanson Black Label, which was already offered before take off.
Adding it up, for me it was a pleasant and relaxing flight. Undeniably great is the service before and during the flight, as well as at the Check-in, in the lounge and in the plane. Staff is motivated and tries to make the flight as good as possible. The seat is OK for me, for bigger people it could be a problem, since they cannot really stretch. By the slight bending towards the footrest, the seat is sufficiently broad, but the end is directed to the corridor. The IFE urgently has to be renewed. If you care about this, you wont be keen by this at Virgin.
Flight number VS007, LHR-LAX
Paid ticket (ok, I admint it’s not paid by me, but by the customer)
Booked at: cube-travel.de