a bar with a drink in it

When you take away the branded fonts and colors, most airline experiences are pretty bland these days. The same seat width, pitch and chicken or fish pretty much sums up the experience, with few exceptions. Maybe there’s wifi? Who knows.

Virgin Atlantic is one of the few airline which held on to its unique selling points, even as it received new airplanes like the Airbus A350, while competitors slashed away at spaces for passengers and crew, in favor of more (smaller) seats and more (smaller) seats.

As far as those unique selling points go, an on board bar is a pretty awesome one, and as the UK lifts covid-19 restrictions, Virgin is opening its on board bars again, along with its New York JFK Clubhouse Lounge.

a bar with stools in a room

Virgin Atlantic Reopens Onboard Bars

One of the many joys of flying Upper Class is the chance to have the ‘James Bond’ flying moment. That means a martini at a bar, on a plane, cruising at 33,000 feet, while making a pouty face and looking with intrigue out the window.

The pandemic put a temporary pause to that. Social mixing has been a no-no for a long time, but as vaccination rates in the UK and US continue to climb, and the UK lifts all covid-19 restrictions, it’s back to the days of saying “cheers”. Per Virgin Atlantic…

“The airline’s innovative social spaces, which are open to those travelling in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin, will reopen on all Green and Amber Virgin Atlantic routes across the airline’s worldwide network today, including Antigua, Barbados and Grenada.”

Virgin Atlantic

Yep. Bar service is back, and so is hanging out in GSTP favorite ‘The Loft’. Virgin maintained strong service levels throughout the pandemic, but the bar has long been a customer favorite on leisure routes. Who can blame them!

a round couch in a room

Virgin Atlantic Reopens JFK Clubhouse

From July 19th, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Lounge at JFK Airport in New York has reopened. The space means all Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, Flying Club Gold and Delta Gold Medallion and above members flying transatlantic can access the space.

Virgin is partnering with Plaza Premium Group on its lounge spaces outside of London Heathrow. The move is said to leverage learnings from Plaza Premium across airport lounge spaces while providing extra consistency for Virgin Atlantic.

It’s possible that a “paid” option could be introduced for Plaza Premium customers during off peak hours in the future, but as of yet there’s no news. Virgin Atlantic says customers can return to enjoying “a complimentary a la carte menu featuring five-star dining, tapas dishes and afternoon tea plus a wide selection of cocktails, wine and soft drinks”.

The Golden Age Of Innovative Cabins?

Slowly but surely, it seems like travel is coming back.

Around the world, double decker Airbus A380’s offered some of the more aspirational social spaces and cocktail bars on planes, but with many entering, or already reaching early retirement, Virgin Atlantic’s bars in the sky are some of the last unique hold outs of exciting airline innovation. If you haven’t had the chance to try one, there’s no time like the present.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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