What it’s like to fly Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic

 

I’ve had the pleasure of flying Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic Airways on a few occasions recently – coming back from New Delhi to Heathrow as well as a return trip to Cape Town – so I thought I would take this opportunity to describe what you can expect when booking the airline’s equivalent of a business class seat.

The first thing to note is that the Virgin Atlantic service begins from the moment you leave home. They’ll send a limo to your house to pick you up and take you to the airport (and take you home on your return) – a real treat, meaning you are dropped at the airport entrance, not having to worry about parking and all that that entails. In my case, I was driven to Manchester Airport where I also used ‘Little Red‘, Virgin Atlantic’s new domestic service for a quick and efficient way of getting to Heathrow. Despite it being just a short flight, I was served a drink and a packet of ‘plane’ crisps, and didn’t need to worry about my main case which was automatically checked through to Cape Town. The Little Red service operates multiple daily flights between London and the cities of Manchester, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Once at Heathrow, the process of changing terminals couldn’t have been easier and I soon found myself at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, a place where you could very quickly forget that you’re even in an airport at all. Here you can just relax with a drink and read a magazine, have a meal, do some work, or even get yourself a haircut or a spa treatment.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

This is the perfect start to air travel and a sign of things to come. With such a relaxed atmosphere, the last thing you’re thinking is “I’ve got a plane to catch” so it’s a good job that someone will come and find you should you forget.  Once on-board the aircraft – with priority boarding of course – you’ll find the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats are arranged in a herring-bone pattern in order to make optimum use of the space available and to give passengers the option of a very comfortable 33-inch wide flat bed.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats

Your footrest can serve as a seat should you wish to sit face-to-face with a travel companion for some of the journey or, if you just want some alone time, the pull-out screen offers everything from the latest films to TV to Skymap – in fact, it includes more than 300 hours’ worth of entertainment so should help even the longest of flights should pass relatively quickly!

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seating

There’s a pull-out table and in-seat laptop power should you wish to get some work done, as well as Aeromobile, allowing you to stay connected with texts, email and the internet.

With a pre-flight glass of Lanson Black Label Champagne in hand and a pair of pyjamas provided for the journey should you wish (I don’t envy the flight attendants having to diplomatically ask passengers what size they would like, but they do it admirably!), your attention soon wanders to the dinner menu.

Forget your usual airline meals; here your table is neatly laid with designer linen and you get ‘proper’ cutlery, crockery and glassware. The choice is good and the quality of food excellent given the restraints associated with serving food at 40,000 feet. Choose from main dishes such as herb-crumbed fillet of British beef with potato rosti and carrot purée, free range grilled chicken breast with a mushroom gravy and celeriac colcannon mashed potatoes and herb tournée carrots, or Goan-style prawn curry with basmati rice and sautéed cabbage and red pepper.

To accompany your meal, there’s a selection of fine wine from Berry Bros. and Rudd, one of the UK’s most innovative wine merchants, boasting five Masters of Wine – or a choice of beers, spirits, etc. – as well as water from One whose profits fund amazing roundabout powered water pumps in Africa.

Need to stretch your legs after dinner? No problem. Upper Class passengers even have access to a futuristic on-board bar where they can sit and socialise with others over their tipple of choice.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar

To book a flight with Virgin Atlantic, log on to www.virginatlantic.com or call 0844 20 92 770.

Comments (98)

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  1. Anna Parker says:

    We’re flying upper in a few weeks, and ba first in the other direction! Will be an interesting comparison… I love ba first so seeing virgins best offering will be interesting!!

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Anna… hope you have a great trip… where are you off? I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with Upper Class but will be interested to hear how you get on.

  3. Anna Parker says:

    Off on the third for a week, qasr al sarab for 3 nights then Abu Dhabi shangri la then xva hotel in Dubai

    I love ba first but will be interested to ‘get’ the Virgin brand. I like the idea of on board internet!

    Will let you know what i conclude!!!

  4. Gillian Evans says:

    I was disappointed with my Virgin Upper Class flight – which was a couple of years ago. We normally fly Premium Economy with Virgin but decided to give ourselves a treat on our flight to Jamaica.
    First – we live too far away to take advantage of the limo pick up!
    The Clubhouse was superb. Made full use of the facilities and had a manicure while waiting.
    The meals on the flight were very ordinary yes served on plates and using proper cutlery but ordinary all the same. But the joy of having a pre-lunch Bellini was not worth the extra cost.
    My baggage coming off first – I get the same with Premium Economy.

  5. Mike Platt says:

    I am glad you enjoyed yourself BUT there is another Virgin Upper Class and this is when you fly on their Boeing 340 service which is quite different.
    They market it as the ‘New’ Upper Class and I for one hope it does not spread to the full network.
    The seats are much more cramped together with tiny footstools. You may also find far more upgrades as they are planning to sell these on departure to the highest bidder.

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Gillian, thanks for dropping – sorry to hear you weren’t as pleased with your flight. With regards to limo pick-up, it’s my understanding that they’ll pick up from anywhere in the UK, but that surcharges can apply if you are more than 75 miles from the airport. In my case, I travelled from Cumbria to Manchester by limo (which is about 80 miles), and took the Little Red to Heathrow.

    For me, the in-flight meal (particularly the outbound leg to Cape Town) was, I would say, among the best I’ve ever had on an aircraft. Sorry to hear you didn’t have the same experience.

    Paul

  7. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks for the information, Mike… having not used that option, I can’t really comment, I’m afraid.

  8. Monica says:

    Mike platt…there is no such thing as a Boeing 340? There is Boeing 747? Or Airbus A340? And even then Virgin have three different types of A340…the 300 the 600 and the 330….all of which have different style upper class cabins….not sure which one you are referring to?

  9. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Monica… I think Mike meant “A330″.

    Paul

  10. Mike Platt says:

    The wonders of the Twitter Typo!
    Comments still stand.
    They seem to have focused their new cabin on their newest equipment and on holiday routes.
    From what I understand the upgrade lottery will apply everywhere.

  11. I was lucky enough to get upgraded to first on Virgin Atlantic a year or so ago – this was because they had overbooked the flight and my friend and I were asked if we would stay behind in San Francisco for an extra day. We agreed but consequently were not required to stay back – when we arrived at our flight, we were held back and told we had been moved to first for offering to help!

    Needless to say, I can now comment on first class from the perspective of someone who did not shell out the money to be there. We missed out on the pre-flight experience of the lounge etc, which was a shame, but the service on the aircraft was second to none.

    I must agree with the previous comments about the meal – it wasn’t amazing food (I had salmon starter and steak main) but then I wasn’t expecting gourmet miracles on an aircraft. The wine was fantastic though!

    I adored the sleep suit provided, which saves you sleeping in clothes, and the bed (fully reclining) was extremely comfortable.

    All in all, I would have to say that I wouldn’t have paid the fee they would have asked for such an experience but for a freebie, it wasn’t all that bad!

  12. Ben Alcock says:

    So sad to read today that the airline is pulling out of Australia.

    I was part of the team that launched the Australian service nearly 10 years ago.

    I flew Upper Class loads and still think it’s up there with the very best of the pointy end.

    Love the herringbone layout and ottoman seat for a guest. Met some super-interesting folk at the Upper Class bar and enjoyed the “yes, get-up-and-mingle vibe” of Upper Class. It’s certainly not for everyone (especially if you take yourself very seriously) but if you think flying (even for business) is fun, then it’s hard to go past.

    I will miss seeing the gorgeous, long VS A340-600 at Sydney Airport. Vale VS…the Australian aviation market just got a whole lot less interesting.

  13. Emyr Thomas says:

    I love flying Upper Class with Virgin – you’re right that the service starts way before getting on the plane – every part of the experience makes air travel a joy!

  14. Paul Johnson says:

    @Kelly

    And they say upgrades don’t happen unless you have accrued points… your experience is testament to the fact that there are exceptions.

    Pity you missed out on the lounge – I suppose had you been delayed until the next day, you’d have enjoyed those benefits, but no doubt you wanted to just get to your destination.

    @Ben

    Yes, that it is a great shame. They are still running that route until May of this year, I believe, but then preferring to focus on other more financially viable destinations.

    @Emyr

    Indeed. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again.

  15. Maximus says:

    I think it is important for passengers to remember that Virgin Upper Class is a business class product, one of the best, but to compare it directly to BA First (or any other major airlines First Class product) is not a like-for-like comparison.

  16. Doran says:

    I have loved all of my upper class Virgin flights! From London to South Africa and London to San Francisco they were all superb. I do prefer the over night flights, the service was better for what ever reason. Plus I love the sleep suits, my clothes and I arrive in my destination fresh and wrinkle free! The London Heathrow upper lounge is by far the best. SFO is disappointing after visiting the London lounge. The food is definitely better than any other airline I have traveled with.

  17. Patricia says:

    Hi we flying to Cuba from Heathrow premium
    Class
    Is it possible to upgrade to business class once you have boarded
    I’ve been told its cheaper than trying to do it at the airport
    Ok it’s a gamble . But I was told its worth it

    Thanks any help would be helpful

    Thanks Trish

  18. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m not aware that you can pay for an upgrade after boarding, Trish, but I’ll check for you and see what I can find out.

  19. Jo Foster says:

    Hi Trish,

    Paul’s raised your question with us in the Virgin Atlantic team, and I can confirm that it is possible to upgrade on board. It is processed as part of our duty free sales system, so if you haven’t done it before you board, you do need to sit in your allocated seat for take off and then speak to the crew when the aircraft is at cruising altitude about upgrading.

    Hope this helps

    Jo Foster
    Virgin Atlantic PR team

  20. Mandy says:

    I will be flying Joburg London return with my husband on Upper Class soon. I am seriously disappointed that each seat is “solo”. I was unaware of the seat configuration when booking and no-one brought it to my attention. I have flown Business on Turkish and British with standard seat configurations. Do any other airlines have the herring bone design? Despite flying regularly I despise taking off and landing and am not happy that I cannot have contact with my husband during this phase nor do I want to sit on a ottoman to enjoy my husbands company for the flight. Surely we are not the only couple who enjoy flying as a couple!!

    When I got onto the Virgin Chat line to address the situation the consultant said that it was my responsibility to check the seat layout and that I should have informed the call centre that I was a “nervous” flyer . He said I should inform the staff on boarding of my “situation” so that the staff could keep a special eye on me. How rude and condescending. I did point out that I was not an unaccompanied minor as the offer to keep an eye on me suggested. Sadly, this all started out as a treat and now I am just annoyed that I didn’t choose another airline. For me it is not about food or the crockery but the whole experience.

  21. Paul Johnson says:

    Hello Mandy

    Thanks for dropping by.

    There are a number of airlines that use a herringbone design for business and/or first class passengers (eg. Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Qantas and Jet Airways).

    I’m sorry to hear that this particular configuration from Virgin Atlantic doesn’t sound like it suits you, and that you weren’t happy with their response but, in their defence, I think they are fairly clear about the layout. The pictures on the website, at least, show it fairly well. As an outsider, I think them saying they’ll keep an eye on you is their way of trying to offer you re-assurance, but it’s obviously been taken the wrong way and not in the manner that I would think it was intended.

    Anyway, when I have travelled VA Upper Class, I have either been solo or part of a group, so it’s not really been an issue for me; and when I have seen couples travelling together, they have tended to be just across the aisle from each other – you could certainly make eye contact and talk to one another, I think, but you would not be in easy touching distance if that’s what you mean by ‘contact’.

    I know you also say you don’t want to sit on an ottoman to enjoy your husband’s company for the duration of the flight, and I can understand that, but the timing of the Joburg-London and London-Joburg flights is such that you would probably be sleeping most of the time, I suspect, so perhaps this is less of an issue than you fear.

    All this aside, have you considered downgrading to Premium Economy? You won’t get all the perks that Upper Class brings, but you will at least then be able to sit more directly next to your husband. Hope this helps.

    Kind regards

    Paul

  22. Gerry says:

    We flew Virgin upper class last October and November (2013). Despite several long briefings to advise on my disability and pre online check in (so only baggage drop needed), we almost didn’t make the flight. The limo service got us to the terminal 3hrs before the flight – but didn’t know exactly where to drop us off. Needless to say gatwick had not arranged any assistance so it took 45 mins to get to baggage drop. Here there were Virgin staff and we thought all would be smooth going, but no. The staff took almost 2 hrs to d/w baggage (4 cases and a scooter (cleared with them in advance)) and we the had a frantic rush -again with gatwick staff pushing the loaned wheelchair – to get to the flight door. Missed the lounges altogether (none at Orlando for the return). Once on the flight attendants and food was good but not great. The seats do lie flat but are curved so you can only sleep facing one direction – no room to curl up facing the other way. A major problem if you’re disabled and need to turn every couple of hours. Entertainment was passable but certainly not HD quality screen so let down somewhat. My 7yr old liked it but the wife thought it over-rated and very separated -best suited to business people travelling alone.
    I ended up with some spectacular bruising from the lie flat bed !
    We’re about to try BA first to compare it.

  23. Max says:

    I’ve booked upper class tickets to fly from Heathrow to LAX in september and i’ve never travelled upper class with Virgin before. I’m not a snob but I hate to look lost and out of place so I was wondering if you could answer a couple of questions for me.

    I’ll be flying from midday and chasing the sun to the west coast. Is there a set time where they turn off the lights and allow you to sleep on day flights? Also, what’s the status quo on the flight pyjamas? Do most passengers wear them?

    I also want to take advantage of the free spa treatment in the clubhouse. Do the best treatments usually get fully booked?

  24. Paul Johnson says:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t rate the experience, Gerry.

    And hi, Max, in answer to your questions… I think I can help with all but the first one (sorry, I don’t know if there’s a set time with respect to turning off the lights on day flights but I’m sure you could check by contacting them directly).

    As for pyjamas, my flights have always been night flights and I think I’ve seen most people accepting them, but not really paid attention as to whether people get changed into them or not. I really wouldn’t worry… if you want to, do… if you don’t, then don’t! :)

    Re: the spa treatment at the clubhouse, I would definitely suggest booking ahead for this. I missed out on one occasion as I hadn’t booked and they were full. On another occasion, they just managed to squeeze me in with a haircut (I think the spa was already full) but again, it would have been better/safer if I had booked ahead. I don’t think it’s a case of the best treatments booking up… it’s more just a case of whether there’s an available slot for any treatment.

    Hope this helps,

    Paul

  25. Monica says:

    max
    Having flown upper class to LA several times let me try to help you…
    The lights are never ‘turned off’ on these day flights to LA but will be dimmed slightly after the meal has been served to allow for relaxation….
    Should you wish to sleep you are provided with ear plugs and an eyeshade which coupled with the flat bed I have always found this sufficient to have a mid flight nap which helps with jet lag !

    i don’t actually remember being given pyjamas on the way to LA? I think they may only be provided on night flights?
    But I certainly wore them as did several other passengers….some chose not to but it was fine to do either…I even saw one man get off in Heathrow wearing his because he wanted to shower and change in the terminal ready to go on to a meeting! As they don’t really look like pyjamas…more of a black leisure suit no one batted an eyelid!
    Ref treatments definitely book ahead as soon as possible to avoid disappointment…
    Enjoy La !

  26. Alexander Lewis says:

    I have been on Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class on their A346 to Los Angeles from London. I was very excited, I couldn’t use the limousine service as I live too far away (I live in Birmingham) but the Clubhouse Lounge was excellent! I loved all the facilities there, honestly felt like I wasn’t in an airport – took full advantage of it. Once boarded, we were greeted with a glass of champagne next to us, which was good too. I don’t think it was that private though, I much prefer BA’s business class model. The meals were overrated, it was with proper food but still overrated. The crew were friendly, but I don’t think I would fly it again. I flew British Airways’ Business on the return journey – much better! I don’t think it’s good value for money.

  27. charlie lowe says:

    Re spa treatments. I’m suprise that Paul (who wrote this article) is recommending booking ahead for spa treatments. I’ve just called VA who told me they stopped taking bookings for spa treatments a coupe of years ago! I did feel a bit foolish
    but I assumed that as Pauls comments were very recent and that he seemed to have a good knowledge of VA that he’d also have up to date information. So, it appears that spa treatments are now on a first come first serve basis.

  28. Paul Johnson says:

    Hello Charlie

    Thank you for dropping by to comment. This is not a “very recent” article (see the timestamp on the post which is Jan 2014 and relates to a trip made in late 2013); I believe you could book treatments ahead when I made this trip over a year ago, but from what you’re saying it sounds like this may have now changed.

    Paul

  29. chris says:

    Hi Paul. Great review. Im flying to Daubi in April and after nearly 15 yrs of collecting airmiles by shopping with their credit card? I now have enough to upgrade to upper. Despite some neg comments above, I am very much looking forward to my UC experience (80,000 airmiles well spent) and your review has helped answer a few of my questions. I cant wait!

  30. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you, Chris… I hope you have a great experience. Do let us know how you get on!

  31. Shona says:

    My fiancé and I flew upper class in September to and from Tokyo using our air miles. We had an amazing experience. My fiancé enjoyed the choice of wines on both journeys and I was especially tickled by the afternoon tea with cake stand each on the way home. Heathrow’s club lounge is just fantastic – the only time I’ve ever wished to be delayed!!! Neither of us is skinny and we both found the beds to be comfortable enough for a good sleep!!

  32. Steve Lavey says:

    Paul –

    I haven’t had the pleasure of Upper Class yet and wondered if the bar area in the back has seats or stools or is it a standup bar?

  33. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Steve

    It is both! From memory, there are three stools along the length of the bar, but people were standing around also if all the seats were taken.

    Paul

  34. Andrew says:

    Wow. Such great reviews. I recently flew from Johannesburg to Edinburgh via Heathrow.The Upper Class Lounge in Jhb is suberb with great food and drink. The upper class allowed me to have a normal nights sleep. My only gripe was you don’t have access to the lounge on arrival if you are connecting to a Uk flight. Please correct me if I am mistaken. Other than that I can highly recommend this service. I will only use Virgin Atlantic due to the service and helpful cabin crew.

  35. albert says:

    i am flying upper class heathrow to miami on an airbus 340-600 (346) and wondered what door is used for the exit at miami airport. can anyone help please?

  36. Paul Johnson says:

    Sorry, Albert, I can’t help with that one.

  37. Michael says:

    Hi, flying back from the UK to Atlanta on VS103 in November. Wondering if anyone has suggestions for the best Upper Class seats for two passengers traveling together? It’s difficult to tell by looking at the seat map.

  38. Linda says:

    Hi Paul

    I enjoyed reading your article. I’ll be flying UC for the first time in Sep on an A330/300. Silly question, but when you’ve changed into the sleep suit/PJs what do you do with your clothes? Is there somewhere to hang them or do you just fold them away into your hand luggage. Any help, advice or guidance gratefully received. :)

  39. Paul Johnson says:

    It was a while ago for me now and I don’t recall if I used them or not but, if I did, I’d have probably just put the clothes in my bag or hung a jacket up. I’m pretty sure (but am answering from memory) that there’s an area where you could fold and stow your clothes beneath your feet once the seat is in a flat bed configuration if you should wish. I certainly don’t recall there being any space issues.

  40. chris says:

    I flew UC last month to Dubai. You have to get changed in the small toilets and then put your clothes into hand luggage and store over head or you could squeeze them under the foot stool, but that’s very small. I saw some people hang coats up, but the fsm didn’t take any other items than the coat to hang. Enjoy the trip!

  41. Jan Clark says:

    We are flying Virgin Upper Class in September from Manchester to Orlando and return on Upper Class also. Our upgrade is very expensive but includes limo service both ways. My only gripe really is that going to/from Manchester – there is no Upper Class lounge – just the shared Ecsape lounge where anyone can pay to go to and it’s cheaper than V-room, so is likely to be pretty full, and there is no guidnace to where it is in relation to gates etc. We have paid extra to be allowed to go to V-room. I f you fly from Heathrow you get all the perks plus private security channnel – but us poor relations in the North have to “make do”. Hope the Upper Class Service is worth it.

  42. Paul Johnson says:

    Hello Jan… I hope you enjoy your flights. When I flew Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic the first time, it was from Manchester and I used their Little Red service that connected me to Heathrow. That service was fairly short-lived, though, since I believe it’s been discontinued. It’s a pity – it worked well. That said, I have been to the Escape lounge at Manchester a number of times. On the last occasion, I just used the small computer room because I needed a desk to work from and I had that room to myself. I don’t recall the rest of the lounge being desparately busy but I guess it has peaks and troughs. It’s nowhere near as nice as the Virgin lounge at Heathrow admittedly, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to live in the Lake District rather than London!

  43. Jan Clark says:

    Hi Paul, thanks a lot for your reply. I agree with preferring not to live in London – I live in Cheshire! It just made me think that us Northerners don’t get half the perks. Anyway – I’m very excited, but just wondered if you could tell me please – is the on board bar free, cash, or card? I drink very little alcohol, but may have a small tipple! I will be on holiday after all! ☺️

  44. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Jan… I grew up in Cheshire… in Hale, just a short drive from the airport, in fact. Remember the bigger picture of where we live and I think you’ll quickly forget about those perks. :)

    The on-board bar is free. There isn’t a great deal of seating at the bar (just three stools from memory), but a little space to stand for one or two people at each end. I didn’t find it too busy and was usually able to find a space when I wanted. If there isn’t a space for you, you can order a drink and return to your seat with it, of course.

    Have a lovely holiday, and do come back and let us know how your flights went when you return… :)

  45. Dot Bailey says:

    We’re flying from LHR to Boston in Upper Class with Virgin in September. Now the Little Red service from Manchester is no longer available our only option is to drive ourselves to the airport. Such a shame we can’t use the chauffeur service. We’ve booked into an hotel for an overnight stay and will park our car in the business carpark before checking in at the first class desk. I have read there’s a lift which will take us to the first class lounge but I’m wondering where we go through Security and do we have to walk through duty free to reach the lounge?

  46. Lesley Cartledge says:

    We are flying upper class on 11th September 2015 from Manchester to Orlando, but I am very disapointed that we do not get to enjoy the upper class lounge or fast track security that is afforded to the London airports. We cant even use the Virgin Vroom as we are flight only. It will make me think twice about using Virgin again.

  47. Paul Johnson says:

    Surely these are all things you knew prior to booking, though, Lesley? (it’s all made fairly clear, I think, at http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/gb/en/travel-information/airport-guides/manchester/shared-lounges.html )

    I’ve never been in the v-room at Manchester but I can’t imagine it offers you a great deal more than the Escape Lounge – unless perhaps you’re travelling with children in which case I guess it would maybe hold greater appeal.

    If this bothers you, you could pay the £24.50 pp to gain access to that particular lounge or, for future VA flights, just take the train down to London and hop on the Heathrow Express.

  48. Mary Bentley says:

    I am a fan of Virgin Atlantic and fly with them whenever I can.
    Upper Class on a 747 is a far better experience than on an A330. The seats in Upper class on the A330 are like coffins, cramped & uncomfortable. Your head is lower than your feet and the pillow is far from comfortable. The is nowhere safe to place a glass or a cup, nowhere to stow your glasses. I put mine behind the monitor thinking thay would be safe until a passing steward slammed the monitor shut. Apart from the ease of getting out of the seat on an A330 Premium is a much better option.
    The food is very disappointing outbound, usually better inbound – on my last 2 flights outbound: Flight no 1: each main course contained mushrooms. Flight No 2: each main course contained nuts & gritty pea soup.
    Several Upper Class passengers requested meals from other cabins, we had Shepherds pie – Aldi make a far nicer one!
    Afternoon tea disappointing – not everyone likes chocolate.
    I have a throat problem, I find it difficult to swallow ~ so at breakfast I explained this to the Stewardess who was anxious to give me a bacon butty (this was after they had lost my breakfast menu) we agreed that porridge would be perfect – it arrived covered in chopped walnuts & I had to decline it – This is how it comes she stated. No description of nuts on the menu – Can’t believe you have nuts on board!
    So much as we love Virgin Atlantic we have to say that next time we join you we will be bringing a picnic and if it is an A330 we will be in Premium Economy.

  49. Lesley Cartledge says:

    No Paul I did not know these things, I presumed it was the same as Gatwick and Heathrow. I would be willing to pay the £24.50 charge for the vroom but they wont allow it as you have to be a virgin holiday customer.

  50. Paul Johnson says:

    Oh, OK. I didn’t realise that even with the £24.50 payment, it was exclusive to Virgin Holidays customers, but it looks like you could be right.

    Unless you’re travelling with children, I don’t get the desire to be in there – the added attributes seem to be things such as table football and a gaming zone with Xbox Kinect room.

    If travelling without kids, I would be inclined to favour the Escape Lounge. It’s nothing particularly special and nothing like the Virgin lounge at Heathrow, but really it’s OK.

    Enjoy your trip to Orlando. :)

  51. Sally says:

    Hi Paul,

    Great comments and very helpful! We are flying to Barbados UC tomorrow from Manchester with our two children, one of whom is 19 months old and therefore under the age limit stated for the Escape lounge which according to their website is 6 years. It doesn’t say anything on the Virgin website, just that we can use the Escape lounge. Do you happen to know what they will let us do? Seems harsh that we won’t be able to use a lounge even though all of us are travelling UC.

    By the way we live in Hale! Love being only 7 mins from the airport!

  52. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Sally

    Sorry, I was away at the time of your comment so unable to respond in time. Let us know how you got on at the Escape Lounge – I don’t recall ever seeing young children in there but I’m guessing they might have just used their discretion and perhaps bent the rules in your favour, but maybe you weren’t quite so fortunate? Anyway, regardless of the outcome, I hope you had a good flight and enjoyed the UC experience thereafter.

    It’s 30 years now since I lived in Hale but I go back occasionally (still follow Altrincham FC for my sins!) – it doesn’t seem to have changed a great deal. We were on Grange Avenue, just off Hale Road…

  53. Barbara says:

    Hi Paul,

    Flying Atlanta to London and back in a few months with my husband. Do you recommend the 330-300 or the 340-600? Looking for a comfortable sleep if possible. Delta is an option on the return, but not the outbound due to fare difference.

  54. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Barbara

    My experiences have been limited to the A330 so I don’t have anything to compare with. I have read people say that it’s more cramped – it is true that there are more seats, but I still felt I had ample space.

    Paul

  55. Amanda says:

    Hi,

    I’m flying upper class with Virgin to and from Miami. Does anyone know whether the lounge in Miami has shower facilities. Late flight after work and I’d rather freshen up.

    Thanks

  56. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Amanda

    Virgin Atlantic uses the Club America lounge in Miami. I’m afraid I’m not certain whether they offer shower facilities, though.

    Enjoy your flights – perhaps you could let us know how you get on with Upper Class and confirm the arrangements in Miami for us?

    Paul

  57. Chris says:

    We are flying Upper in November from Manchester and looking forward to the comfort. As a rule we travel in VA’s comfortable PE cabin and imagine Upper will be excellent. I did suggest to a lovely agent if VA would consider making arrangements with the V-Room at Man Airport for Upper pax as opposed to the Escape Lounge… the Escape is dire, used it once and won’t do so again, even if complimentary – there are many reviews regarding the poor food options and oft busy Escape Lounge. It certainly wouldn’t make me reconsider flying in Upper though, VA is strictly our airline of choice. Luckily we are staying at the Radisson Blu and will have breakfast there before checking in. So, any VA reps here would you perhaps consider also passing forward the suggestion of Upper pax being able to access the V-Room please.
    Thanks to all for their appreciated information regarding Upper. Regards to all :)

  58. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Chris, thanks for dropping by to comment. If you’ve enjoyed premium economy in the past, I’m sure you’ll love Upper Class!

    I took a look at recent reviews for the Escape Lounge at T2 ( http://goo.gl/BvgdEs ) and – oh my – they do seem to have gone somewhat downhill! It’s been a while since I’ve used it and, when I have, I’ve just had my head buried in the computer, working!

    I’ll pass your suggestion on to VA.

    Kind regards

    Paul

  59. Chris says:

    Thanks Paul. I’m going back to 2011 when we used it and whilst it was okay to get away from the madding crowd of departures we found it tacky, the chair arms were really dirty and torn, apparently it’s no better. There was no hot food at that time other than toast and the poor lass bringing it from the kitchen was mobbed within feet of the kitchen door and it was gone. Have you looked at some of the photo’s on Trip Adviser and reviews on there? There are complaints about stag and hen parties realising they can consume copious amounts of alcohol for circa £17 a head afore flying off – this caused problems for other guests in the Escape and Styal. Apparently The Styal is worse but as they are basically the only lounges in T2 it’s a bit of a captive audience! Excuse me for repeating… it wouldn’t stop us flying Upper with VA from Man but it’s a very poor reflection/start of the service VA’s Upper is known for.
    It would be canny if VA could set up an arrangement with the V-Room but I understand this could be logistically difficult with two fights to MCO and one to Atlanta most days. Thank you sincerely for your time, kind regards :)

  60. Anna says:

    Dear Chris,

    We are so sorry to hear of your disappointment with the Escape Lounge and we’ll definitely take your feedback on board. We are currently working with them on how they can enhance their offering and we have seen a recent improvement. They are due to refurbish the lounge which is also good news.
    We have spoken to Virgin Holidays as the V-Room is a great product and we would love our customers to be able to experience it, however there just isn’t the space. The V-Room gets really full especially in school holidays and unfortunately can’t take in any extra guests.

    Great to hear that you love flying with us though! Hope you have a great trip in November.

    Thanks

    Anna

  61. Chris says:

    Thank you very much Anna, I am obliged to both yourself and Paul. I’d guessed allowing Upper pax access to the V-Room would be a step too far logistically… well, nowt for it then girl, now that VA are also servicing some Man fights for Delta you’ll have to build a small Upper Class Lounge, I’ll kick it off by supplying a dozen bricks :)
    Hopefully the Escape Lounge aren’t blowing smoke as their representation for Upper quality is not in keeping with the service VA are known for. I’ll keep my ear to the ground regarding a much needed refurbishment but we’ll continue to abstain until refurbed.
    Personally we find other airlines lacking vs VA, I’m slightly disabled and Special Assistance and VA never fail with their accommodating and helpful service. The American carriers could learn a fair amount from VA’s customer service training!
    Thank you!

  62. Sally says:

    Hi Chris,

    We recently flew UC from Manchester and used the Escape Lounge. It is actually a different one to the ‘normal’ Escape lounge (I think this one is only available to passengers using a premium cabin). We had young children with us and we were shown to a separate lounge to one side of the escape lounge which was great with the children.

    Food was pretty good, lots of sandwiches and nibbles and a bar you could help yourself to. It’s certainly not a patch on the Clubhouse at LHR (that is awesome!) but it does the job. Just get on the plane early for a couple of glasses of fizz!
    Have a great trip!

  63. Chris says:

    Thank you Sally – I knew the Escape had another section it opens up when the small area where the food and drink is became busy, but wasn’t aware they had a totally separate room for Upper pax, that is interesting. I read some recent reviews and it seems to have deteriorated further, the bacon and sausage sandwiches most unpleasant – one couple realised halfway through their sandwich the roll was moldy! Well, at least they had some penicillin before flying :) I booked the Rad Blu as we can have brekky there before heading up, up and away :)
    Thank you again for your kind reply. Chris :)

  64. Denise says:

    I am flying Upper Class from Manchester to Orlando next week as a belated 65th birthday present to my husband…over a number of years we have accumulated 100,000 points and we are using them towards the flight. This will be our first time flying Upper.So looking forward to it…watch this space.

  65. Colette Lynch says:

    My husband and I hope to fly UC to Miami with VA. Which two seats do you recommend so we can be close together and chat ? This is a real treat for us and we want it to be perfect.

  66. Paul Johnson says:

    In all honesty, the herringbone pattern does not lend itself brilliantly to being able to sit and chat from your respective seats for the duration of the journey. Seats next to each other are screened, so you might find it better to be across the aisle from each other. Also note that each seat has an ottoman and you can probably chat to each other more easily when using that.

  67. Colette says:

    Thanks Paul. That’s helpful. I think we will request seats across the aisle from each other. And as you say we can move around and chat to each other. We are considering BA world too. Any opinions would be appreciated.

  68. Mike Platt says:

    I have flown both quite a few times and have to say I prefer BA if I am travelling with someone or to avoid Virgin’s A330 which has problematic new seats jammed in to increase loads.
    With both airlines they seem to offer a more downgraded experience on Caribbean or other holiday routes with less space and more upgrades.

  69. Gail Bridger says:

    I booked Premium economy seats for trip to Antigua in April and was able to choose seats at time of booking. I then managed to get outward upgrade in Virgin sale but was not able to choose seat and having checked a few times website says ‘seat map unavailable, contact customer services’ Will I have to do this or will the seat map eventually become available?

  70. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m sorry, Gail, I don’t know… I would suggest you contact them.

  71. Linda says:

    Gail

    It’s a known IT issue that for some reason the seat map is lost whenever an upgrade is actioned. A quick 2 min call will resolve it.

  72. Richard says:

    I’m flying to SFO from LHR on Dec 31st upper class will the plane be a A340-600 or an 787-9 they keep changing the seat maps fro one to another I’m booked on the earlier plane at present

  73. Ian says:

    Does anybody know what discounted upper class with virgin Atlantic is ,we thought we got a limo to and from the airport but you do’nt

  74. Lesly says:

    A question. I am travelling VUC Gatwick to Orlando, flight only, early next year. Reading the reports and comments here leads me to believe that there are two versions of VUC, one for people travelling on a Virgin holiday and one for people travelling Virgin flight only. Is that correct? Or am I reading it wrong?

  75. Christine says:

    Hi Lesly – not sure how you’re misinterpreting UC, as there is only one UC. On VA 747 flights from LGW to MCO they have 14 pod seats in the front cabin (in front of downstairs PE). There’s no such thing as two different classes in Upper. Google Virgin Atlantic Upper and click on ‘images’ – also take a look on seatguru.com, select VA and click on their 747 LGW config. We flew Upper on 15th Nov from Manchester, it was an excellent service, very comfortable, very attentive, helpful and friendly crew, good food, plenty of drink and a bowl of fruit on the bar. We return 13th May and I’m hoping to catch some zzz’s on the flat beds. Go early Lesly and make the most of the Upper Lounge at LGW, it’s apparently exceptional – have a free beauty treatment :) Sadly at Man Upper pax are dumped in the dire Escape Lounge, it really is a bad lounge, we didn’t waste our time going in. Considering the amount of flights VA now operate from Man hopefully they’ll consider a lounge there some time in the not too distant future. There is the excellent V-Room lounge but that is strictly for Virgin Holiday customers. You’ll have a very comfy flight… enjoy :)

  76. Lesly says:

    Thanks, Christine, but your last line says it all. ‘V-Room strictly for Virgin Holiday travellers’ confirms there are different arrangements for different classes of UC travellers. No?

  77. Paul Johnson says:

    I think there’s a bit of confusion here. As I understand it, at Manchester Airport, there can be different lounge arrangements for UC passengers depending on whether they are VH travellers or not. The actual flight experience should be no different. Does that help?

  78. Christine says:

    Thanks Paul – Lesly, you asked if there are different classes of Upper, no, there isn’t. The UC cabin has 14 flat bed pods as previously mentioned.

    Are you confusing the Upper Clubhouse vs Virgin Holiday’s V-Room? As you’re travelling UC your fare includes access to the highly rated LGW Clubhouse. Take a peek at LGW’s Upper Clubhouse amenities here – http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/us/en/travel-information/airport-guides/london-gatwick/clubhouse.html

    Enjoy the Clubhouse and your flight, it’s well worth the extra to travel UC :)

  79. Terri says:

    Paul, you obviously know a great deal about travelling upper class with Virgin. I went upperclass, to Orlando, in August and found it an amazing experience. I’ve booked a return trip, with family, for next June. As stated, I loved the experience. I’ve always hated flying but the upgrade made it a highlight of my holiday. I’ve only got one concern: I read that someone had a dreadful experience, due to drunk and aggressive fellow passengers. Have you ever experienced this? If so, how do cabin staff deal with it? I’m all for people relaxing with a drink, but this had made me a little apprehensive. Can you advise?

  80. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Terri – I’m glad to hear your experience was a positive one. I have been on a few flights in the last few years (none of them Virgin flights) where I’ve had passengers who’d drunk too much in close proximity to where I was sitting.

    On one, a ‘lady’ was verbally abusive to the person she was travelling with, until she eventually thankfully just fell asleep for the rest of the flight.

    On another, the person just got progressively more drunk (shouldn’t really have still been being served) and I saw her next after disembarking looking very much the worse for wear at the luggage carousel, with an angry friend who was having to look after her. She never really got aggressive or abusive – just had far too much.

    On the third (and most recent), it was a man who’d drunk too much (even before he’d boarded, I suspect) and was just looking for confrontation with any other passenger who would take the bait. Someone on the other side of the plane eventually did and it got quite abusive, before cabin staff approached the men involved and gradually managed to diffuse the situation.

    Sadly, these things happen more often than they should but staff are trained to deal with these situations so I wouldn’t let it worry you unduly.

  81. Terri says:

    Thanks Paul, glad the experiences you had were not on Virgin flights. Those incidents sound alarming, but mercifully quite rare. I think there should be a limit on how much passengers are allowed to drink whilst on the aircraft; I think in UC you can drink as much as you like, and some overindulge. On another note, as I Iive fewer than 65 miles from Manchester airport, should I be entitled to the limo ride? I paid £180 for executive car last time. I’m sure I’ll love the UC experience without it, but it would be nice. 😄

  82. Marilyn says:

    Hi Paul, we are travelling to Grenadain February with Virgin UC on a A330 from Gatwick, we have no idea how we find the lounge and do we check in with everyone else or is there a different desc for UC passengers, as you can tell this is a first time experience, our flight is at 9am, andy info would help thanks Marilyn.

  83. Kate Coombes says:

    I am flying for the first time with virgin upper class to Orlando this year but when I read about everything online it is always about Heathrow rather than Gatwick – is there any must do’s for Gatwick that we should be aware of?. Thanks in advance for your help.

  84. Jodie says:

    Hi Paul

    Just found this thread and hope you don’t mind me asking a question. I have booked Upper class flights from New York JFK to Manchester next February. The first leg of the flight is JFK to Atlanta (3 hrs) operated by DELTA airlines. We then swop in Atlanta and fly on to Manchester. I have two questions, firstly I booked the whole ticket with Virgin as Upper Class so does that mean I will fly buisiness / first with Delta? Secondly will I be able to get access to the Virgin clubhouse in JFK?

    Thank you in advance

    Jodie

  85. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Jodie

    I would have thought it would say on your ticket. I’d imagine you’d get to go business class with DELTA but would check in advance if it’s not clear.

    My wife recently did a not too dissimilar journey in reverse (MAN-ATL-DFW and then DFW-JFK & LGA-MAN coming back) on an economy ticket, and each leg of the booking class is marked on each leg of the journey.

    I’d also imagine you’d have access to the Virgin clubhouse at JFK. On the Virgin website, it says:

    DO I HAVE ACCESS TO VIRGIN ATLANTIC CLUBHOUSE LOUNGES?

    Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge access is available at select locations to Delta One™ and Upper Class passengers and Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members with a same-day nonstop transatlantic flight between North America and the U.K. that is operated by Delta or Virgin Atlantic. Diamond and Platinum Medallion members may access Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses in London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick, New York-JFK, Newark, Washington-Dulles, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco Airports. Gold Medallion members may only access Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses within the U.S. (New York-JFK, Newark, Washington-Dulles, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco Airports). Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members are allowed to bring one guest. While access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in the U.K. (London-Heathrow and London-Gatwick) is not available to Gold Medallion members, these members may enjoy the No. 1. Traveller Loungeopens in a new window at LHR’s Terminal 3. Please travel with and be prepared to show your Medallion card to the Virgin Atlantic representative to receive these benefits.

    Here’s some further reading if it helps at all:

    http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/where-we-fly/flight-partners/virgin-atlantic-partnership/virgin-atlantic-faqs.html

    http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/gb/en/travel-information/our-partner-airlines/delta.html

    http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/where-we-fly/flight-partners/virgin-atlantic-partnership/virgin-atlantic-faqs.html

    Kind regards

    Paul

  86. Christine says:

    Hi Jodie – if you’ve booked via VA then it should show in ‘My Booking’ on their website whether you’re Delta business, or economy. If in business/Upper then, at a guess, you should be eligible to enter the business class lounge at JFK. If unsure contact VA directly.
    Have a great trip Jodie, you’ll likely be on the Airbus 330 on the Atl to Man segment – take a peek on Seatguru.com to see the VA A330 Upper seat map – http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways_Airbus_A330-300_3C.php

  87. Lesley Cartledge says:

    Can anyone tell me if there a Virgin upper class lounge at Orlando please. As we are flying upper return from Orlando to Gatwick in October.

  88. Christine says:

    Hi Lesley – apparently if flying VA Upper from MCO you can access The Skyclub Louge (Delta shared lounge apparently) – http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/us/en/the-virgin-experience/our-clubhouses/shared-lounges.html or take food vouchers from VA check-in desk, which many opt for. Delta Skyclub http://www.yelp.com/biz/delta-sky-club-mco-orlando – might be worth researching reviews for this lounge.

  89. Paul Johnson says:

    Virgin do not have their own lounge at Orlando but Upper Class passengers do have access to the Delta Sky Club lounge there.

    Paul

  90. Paul Johnson says:

    Sorry – I just notice Christine beat me to that one! :)

  91. Paul Johnson says:

    No problem! It’s a shared lounge at Cancun also, not Virgin’s own – from http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/gb/en/the-virgin-experience/our-clubhouses/shared-lounges.html

    Cancun (CUN)

    Upper Class passengers can use the Mera Lounge. Located past the security check point, exit Duty Free and turn right towards ‘Bubba Gump’ restaurant, then turn right again at the end of the hall.

  92. Renee says:

    Aloha, I live in Hawaii (Honolulu) and I am planning a trip early September this year to Stuttgart STR Germany and back. I never flew on Virgin Airline and now your company is flying to and from Honolulu, Hawaii now. I love the service per your video for the upper deck/first class/business. I went on your website and noticed that VA only flies into London and not Germany. Since that is the case which London Airport would you recommend me flying into for the best possible easy connecting flight to Stuttgart Germany, with easy luggage transfer for me accepting the luggage at my final destination Stuttgart. Which Airline would be best from London to Stuttgart flight. I am a frequent flyer with Delta and they area a VA Partner. Mahalo (Thank you) and Aloha.

  93. Rob says:

    Hi, really liked your write up but thought it missed the downfalls of Virgin. Have you flown on any of their routes to the Caribbean such as Barbados or St. Lucia? Although Virgin offer Little Red this is only to Heathrow flights so unless you live close to gatwick it’s additional cost all round. In addition the chauffeur isn’t available to their cheapest upper class tickets (z class) but clients can pay extra for the service! Also regarding the lounge at Manchester, currently the shared lounge is closed but instead of offer the V-lounge upper class passenger are given £20 vouchers and told to go the food outlets – not good considering the cost of the seats. And my final point the seats are great but only if you don’t like talking to the rest of your party – again bad for families or honeymoon couples.

    No airline is perfect yet.

  94. Christine says:

    Hi Rob… the refurbished Escape Lounge at Man Airport T2 has been open again for about a couple of weeks. Apparently for those paying to gain entry if they want a full English they have to pay a supplement of around £8pp, although I guess that won’t apply to VA Upper pax. Unless they did a turnaround, VA scrapped Little Red’s domestic flights in Sept 2015.

  95. Rob says:

    Hi Christine. Thanks for the update. If the lounge is open it must have been in the last week or so as I’ve received a complaint from clients who travelled mid May. In addition the Virgin Atlantic website is also still saying that it is closed. Also part of my point was a client can book at £400 holiday with Virgin Holidays and pay £25 to use the V-lounge but a client paying up to £6000 to fly upper gets a voucher and told to wonder the airports – considering the upper class capacity from Manchester it just seems poor service.

    With Little Red being scrapped does this mean is sloppy journalism by reposting an out of date review rather than a rewritten piece? Kind of misleads the public rather than be a useful tool??

  96. Paul Johnson says:

    With respect, the blog post is dated at the top – Jan 23, 2014. As is typical with blogs, we archive all content that we publish.

    I also followed up with a comment in June of last year stating:

    “When I flew Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic the first time, it was from Manchester and I used their Little Red service that connected me to Heathrow. That service was fairly short-lived, though, since I believe it’s been discontinued.”

    In fact, a number of the points you raise in your earlier comment, such as the herringbone pattern not being conducive to being able to speak with others in the next seats – and issues surrounding the lounge provision at Manchester – are also discussed here.

  97. Christine says:

    Hi Rob – thanks for replying. The post re-opening Trip Adviser reviews are not positive, but it’s early doors so might improve. One noted children under 6 are now allowed in the lounge and a baby was fractious and nursery rhymes were being used to try to pacify :) Apparently it reopened towards the end of April – https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g9783973-d9813902-Reviews-Escape_Lounge_T2-Ringway_Greater_Manchester_England.html#review_372511413 – we get complimentary entry to the Escape Rob and I still think we’ll avoid it in November, as we did last November. A friend is travelling in Upper in a fortnight and will give a review following their visit to the Escape… apparently Upper pax were/are asked to pay if they wanted a full English and certain alcohol. Believing this unfair she emailed VA about this, who replied stating a manager is attending a meeting to hash out an inclusive Upper package. No argument from me about VH’s well received V-Room whilst those spending thousands to travel Upper are placed in the Escape. Many on another forum say they’ve receive complimentary entry to the V-Room when booking flights/holiday, not sure if booking car hire via VH would allow one to book. I did enquire if Upper pax could be placed in the V-Room during the refurb, unfortunately the figures wouldn’t allow for this and VH are apparently strict that their V-Room remains only to those booking via VH… some state booking hotel only has gained them entry. Reading on another Virgin forum many Upper pax were hopeful VA may have installed a Clubhouse especially as there are now a few daily VA/Delta flights to the US but they may deem it too expensive.
    Hubs and I aren’t too bothered to be honest Rob, we prefer to check-in 75 mins afore push back to let the madding crowd disperse, head straight thro a quiet security and to the gate, but I understand, for many, it’s an integral part of their journey. I appreciate it’s personal choice, for us VA provide a superb Upper service and are our only airline of choice.
    All the best to you Rob :) Chris

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