On the Ground: Virgin Atlantic’s complimentary ground transfer to the airline’s Upper Class check-in area at Heathrow, known as the Upper Class Wing, is pure James Bond and highly ego-boosting. My VA-arranged car pulled up to a private gate at the terminal, where a security guard asked the driver for my name. After checking his computer to confirm my reservation, the guard released a concrete roadblock that lowered itself into the roadway, allowing the car to approach the Upper Class Wing entrance. After a no-line, two-minute check-in, I fast-forwarded through the wing’s security lane and walked to the Clubhouse, a large, busy lounge with dozens of windows letting in afternoon light. Upper Class passengers were in constant motion here, walking between the massage station; the wait-staffed restaurants, where you can order meals from an extensive menu; the Cowshed revitalization treatment; the hair stylist; and an extensive Champagne, wine and cocktail bar — all complimentary. Just about any type of edible item a human could ingest — from Jing teas to organic muesli to grilled sardines on toast — was offered self-service or brought by a waitress. Complimentary laptops and free WiFi were available around the room. My senses were totally overwhelmed, and I was thankful to have arrived at the lounge three hours before my 4 p.m. flight. (30/30)
Pre-flight: Entry into the aircraft was fast and efficient via the separate Upper Class boarding lane and cabin door. Virgin Atlantic’s interior décor has a subdued pink and purple glow which may have pretensions, but I found the aura relaxing. This Airbus A340-600 aircraft had 45 lie-flat Upper Class suites in the front cabin, arranged in an angled 1-1-1 configuration, so no seat was next to another. Two-thirds were window seats and one-third in the middle of the cabin, with an aisle on each side. Champagne and refreshments were served prior to take-off, which was about 50 minutes late due to Heathrow air traffic. (28/30)
In-flight: The Upper Class suite, a comfortable beige and brown seat surrounded by a thick plastic shell, is somewhat of a technological wonder, efficiently folding down in an unconventional way to form a lie-flat bed. In the upright position, it provides an ottoman for resting your feet. Even the seat tray and entertainment monitor are ingeniously designed. VA’s Freedom Menu allows Upper Class passengers to eat meals whenever they want, but after the delayed take-off I was ready to eat shortly after the cabin crew took dinner orders. Appetizers were oak-smoked Scottish salmon and watercress and potato soup, served with warm rolls. For the entrée, I chose pan-seared cod fillet with buttered new potatoes, carrots and asparagus. The other two choices — pork loin with glazed apple and Somerset cider sauce or fresh macaroni, sautéed wild mushrooms and baby spinach — sounded equally delicious. Dessert was a selection of English cheeses, sponge cake and chocolate marble cheesecake. Prior to landing, the crew offered sandwiches, scones and desserts. We landed at Newark about 25 minutes late, due to the delayed departure from LHR. (38/40)
The Experience: Flying Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic is a real treat, not only because of the in-flight amenities but because Virgin’s pre-boarding VIP experience is even better than what you would design for yourself if you were Richard Branson for a day. The celebrity treatment that begins with a chauffeured car and continues within the luxurious Upper Class Clubhouse extends into the aircraft itself. This is not your cookie-cutter trans-Atlantic airline, and VA’s savvy, high-tech, customer-friendly attitude is evident from airport arrival to wheels-down on the other side of the big, salty pond.
Read This Next
Jamaica, Tryall Club, Chef Kai Bechinger
2011 / March 2011Mar 1, 2012
FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
Salem, Massachusetts, Announces 2023 Festival Schedule
The town of Salem, Massachusetts, may get a lot of attention come October and Halloween, but this year-round destination offers a full schedule of festivals perfect for any season.
Enter to Win $500 and Get Six Months’ Free Access to the New GT App
Now through May 8, sign up for a free six-month trial of the Global Traveler app and be automatically entered for a chance to win a $500 gift card of your choice for Amazon, Apple or American Express.
4 Lesser-Known Museums to Add to Your Madrid Trip
With some of the world’s most iconic artists hailing from Spain, narrowing down which museum to visit when in Madrid can be challenging. Often, the fun of visiting a museum goes away when feeling pressured to see absolutely every famous work of art in a museum. Instead of venturing to one of Madrid’s larger and more well-known museums, choose one of these lesser-known museums for an equally enriching (and less-crowded) experience:
7 Hotels Prepare to Celebrate the Coronation in London, Ireland, Scotland
The coronation of King Charles III will be held Saturday, May 6, and seven hotels around London, Ireland and Scotland will get in on the festivities with different offers and amenities.
Exclusive Savings: Cruise Along the Danube River with Global Traveler
Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler
Luxury La Casa del Playa, Riviera Maya, Opens Estero Restaurant to Guests, Area Visitors
The 2-year-old La Casa de la Playa, an exclusive, award-winning luxury boutique hotel by Grupo Xcaret, recently announced the opening of its signature Estero restaurant to the general public.
Blue Zone Culinary Tour of Sardinia
5 Great Hotel Terraces and Rooftops
DailyMar 16, 2023
Wellness, Wildlife & Scenery at Alaska’s Tutka Bay Lodge
Within the Wild Adventure Company, a transformative adventure company in Alaska, ushers in a new vision for its hospitality offerings. Celebrating 40 years in south-central Alaska, with founders Carl and Kirsten Dixon at the helm, the mutigeneration-run company now focuses on a series of new adventure and wellness programs at its Tutka Bay Lodge, including the addition of a luxury-focused collection of hospitality services to add to its already outstanding reputation in Alaska.
Share Your Travel Preferences with Global Traveler in a Short Survey & Win
Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!
March 2023Mar 16, 2023
Arctic Adventure: Embark on an Eco-Friendly Expedition in Greenland
Is Greenland really green?