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Virgin Atlantic is the Austin Powers of airlines and I mean that with true admiration. There is no shortage of frills, laughs, innovative style and quirkiness to be found when flying the airline and there is simply no better place to test out Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class product than from their flagship London Heathrow base.
If you are flying Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic, which we did by redeeming Delta Skymiles, arriving at Heathrow is quite the experience. Virgin has created an entire section called the "Upper Class Wing". Before arrival you can call Virgin Atlantic and give them the license plate number of the car you will be arriving in. Once at the airport license plate detectors recognize your vehicle allowing you past barriers and into the "Upper Class Wing". Even cooler? When the license plate is recognized it prompts agents in the terminal to print out your boarding passes and have a luggage porter meet your car. When we arrived at the private wing our bags were taken from our trunk and we were greeted by name with boarding passes in hand by a fantastic Virgin Atlantic desk agent.
Upon snagging our boarding passes for VS25 we proceeded through the Upper Class Wing to its dedicated private security. Private security was a really great touch and we made it from car to lounge in less than ten minutes without having to wait in line behind any painfully slow rookie passengers. What a win!
Once through security we proceeded to the pièce de résistance: The Flagship Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. The Candy shop for grown ups which we raved about in New York was entirely outdone in London. Pool tables, movie theatre, jacuzzi, sauna and loft bar overlooking the Tarmac are just a few marquee features of this glamazon space. As always we thoroughly enjoyed the food and cocktails but one real highlight was the free bumble and bumble haircut!
A great Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse feature is that they "call the gate" meaning guests in the lounge are told when their flight is ready to board. Virgin Atlantic generally boards all economy passengers and waits for "last call" to invite Upper Class passengers to leave the lounge allowing more time to eat and drink and less crowd at the gate.
Onboard the Airbus A340-600 the charm offensive continued in tact with a welcome glass of champagne and a friendly greeting from what I must say is one of the best flight crews I have had across any airline. A nifty feature that I believe is exclusive to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is the "dine together" seating. Each seat converts to a full flat bed with an ottoman but before turndown service the ottoman can be used to have someone join you for a meal. A truly unique experience! The menu was substantial and offered a great variety of food which catered to all tastes. I found the wine menu curated by Berry Bros & Rudd to be first rate and enjoyed sampling some unique selections including an ancient red varietal from Romania. As for the seat I found Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to be a substantial step up from other business class products. At 6'2'' feeling spacious on an airplane is no easy task but I felt that I could truly stretch out on this product and get a real nights sleep which has been a struggle on other airlines. For the record Virgin Atlantic does claim that they offer the longest business seat in its class and I am certianly not going to argue!
All Virgin Atlantic flights have an on board bar which fully completes the Austin Powers motif in the greatest of fashions. Our flight was in air during new years and at the Upper Class bar the crew arranged a midnight champagne toast for anyone who was up and about and they joined with ginger ale. The captain notified the crew of the 10 second countdown with the fasten seatbelt sound and everyone counted down and cheered which was a really neat and unexpected experience. After our meal it was off to sleep which was no problem for Laura as evidenced by the photos!
You know its been a good flight when you wish you didn't have to leave and that was certainly the feeling we had upon touching down. I am very excited to try out Upper Class again later this year en route to my wedding on the new 787 Dreamliner which Virgin Atlantic just launched last month. With any hope the beds, pressure and lighting will be even better which would seriously be saying something. Five Stars.
Has anyone experienced Upper Class from Heathrow? Thoughts?
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