So after 31 years I finally did it. I flew Virgin Upper Class.
Was it what I expected and how did I complete the journey from budget traveller to luxury traveller read more to find out….
As they say it’s all about who you know rather than what you know and luckily my best friend has a lot of air miles. I could never really afford to fly Virgin Upper Class myself so the opportunity to use air miles and just pay taxes to upgrade and fly to Miami over the Independence Day holiday was too good an offer to refuse.
I had quite high expectations and I have to say they were definitely matched by Virgin with just a couple of hiccups. Here’s a timeline of how my experience went upon arrival at Heathrow to getting to my seat on the aircraft.
I arrived quite tired after an early start at Heathrow and we had arranged to check in at Virgin’s Upper Class wing. Our driver took us straight through to a fancy front office that looked like a hotel reception. Because you book in advance for this and give your number plate for the vehicle staff are already expecting you. As I stepped out of the car I was greeted by name and handed my boarding pass before being directed to a private security channel literally a few steps from the entrance.
I’m already in the duty-free shop – yes it did really take six minutes to get from the car to departures. Wow! I bought myself some new Bleu de Chanel and headed for the Virgin Upper Class Clubhouse.
I have a massage booked, I am sat on a comfy sofa sipping a breakfast martini and already have some eggs benedict on the way. The past 20 minutes have been the most enjoyable entrance to an airport I have ever had.
I spend the next hour eating and drinking, fresh salmon, fresh breads, fresh pastries, granola and Italian meats to a few more martinis and vodka cocktails. The clubhouse is quite fun to explore. They have a pool table, a library, a grey goose bar, a deli, a spa and a rooftop area which looks over the airport.
It’s time for a my spa treatment and I spend the next 30 minutes dozing off whilst receiving an excellent back massage.
After a complete refresh and a few orange juices I grab a few of the complimentary magazines for the flight. They have everything from Cosmopolitan to FHM.
I am sat in my upper class seat right in the nose of a Boeing 747 ready for take off!
As you can see the airport experience itself was fantastic but for some one like myself who is 6ft 4in tall the joy of stretching out my legs and fully reclining on board the aircraft was amazing. The food and service onboard was, as expected, quite a bit better than economy and the flight seemed so quick because I felt truly relaxed. Being able to slowly enjoy dinner on a proper table without being cramped up was great too.
After dinner they bring round a cheese selection trolley and offer glasses of port – yum yum yum
Other little perks are an onboard bar with snacks, hot towels, a menu of many choices for food, an amenity kit, pyjamas for the overnight flight and of course the chance of boasting about turning left when you board and being able to disembark before anyone else (this turned out to be critical in Miami with the long immigration queues)
I did think the toilets would be bigger but no they were the standard cramped, impossible for me to do a stand up wee, typical aeroplane toilets!
So my experience of Virgin Upper Class was almost perfect. Now to the couple of niggly bits….
- I like to tuck my knees up when I sleep and there wasn’t enough room for this.
- Virgin are using an old terminal in Miami and it is miles to walk from the gate to customs. On the return flight it meant a really old 80’s style lounge which to be honest was pretty awful. The free food was dry and stale although the drinks were help yourself, spirits too, which meant some healthy measures. Comfort wise though it wasn’t great the sofa’s in a Starbucks are better and I would expect Virgin to use much better partner lounges than this in the USA.
Hopefully one day I will get to fly Virgin Upper Class again it was a sweet experience and I never thought all those years ago whilst lugging a backpack full of dirty clothes around that I would ever get the chance. I’m saving my own air miles these days but am still quite a long way off so need to be a bit more clever.
So back to reality now my next flight will be on Ryanair in a few weeks time! Have you ever flown First or Virgin Upper Class? What did you think?
For disclosure I want to make it clear that my whole trip to Miami was paid for in full by myself from the pennies I earn working hard in a full-time job. The flight upgrade was achieved thanks to my best friend who had a lot of air miles. I’m proud to say: No sponsorship, no handouts, no freebies – my views are completely unbiased