When my family and I realised there was a deal on 1st class Virgin Atlantic flights, we jumped at the chance to start our East Coast USA trip in style!
The whole process from check in to baggage delivery is on another level when it comes to Upper Class Virgin Atlantic. Let’s start with bag drop. As we parked the car at Heathrow airport, we checked in via the designated upper class check in desks. (However, if you arrive at Terminal 3 via taxi, you are in fact dropped off right outside the doors to the “Upper Class Wing”, so instead you don’t even have to enter the main terminal!) Within the upper class wing you then go to Virgin Atlantic’s own security check. This has a much calmer and quieter feel to it than the usual security route at Heathrow, which has been busy almost every time I have flown from the airport and is often very chaotic!
You still get the opportunity to walk through Duty Free and all the shops in the airport, but you can also access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, which is a lounge exclusively for use by those travelling Upper Class. It only took us 45 minutes from parking the car to sitting down in the lounge – it’s so quick but at no point do you feel rushed!
The Clubhouse is incredible. As our flight was at 11:35, it meant we could have breakfast in the lounge. There is such a wide variety of food, from the deli bar which holds the most amazing selection of cold meats, cheeses, breads, pastries; to the breakfast menu with choices such as the classic English Breakfast. The whole time you are in the lounge you are waited upon. There is no self service, it all centres around relaxation and luxury. I wish I had taken some pictures of the lounge, but I was so impressed by the surroundings I was just taking in the moment. The staff are so accommodating, friendly and welcoming, which really adds to the experience! Announcements about gates and when boarding begins means you’re not constantly looking for the departures board or stressing about whether the gate has opened or not, it really takes the pressure away if airports are somewhere that overwhelm you!
Boarding a flight has never been easier. We literally walked straight up to the gate and onto the plane, no queues in sight. There were only around 150 passengers on the flight, which I think means the plane was only half full. An added bonus is that you’re met with champagne (or orange juice) when boarding!
Nothing is too much trouble for the Virgin Atlantic staff. Every member of staff is eager to please and happy to help you with your every need. I have never enjoyed a long haul flight, as I feel claustrophobic and trapped between people, unable to stand up or stretch out. But in Upper Class it is the complete opposite. You can stand, sit, recline, walk about, go and sit at the bar (you should have seen my face when I realised there was a bar on board, I think the cabin crew thought I’d never seen a bar before!)
As soon as take off is completed, drinks are offered. There is a constant service of drinks and snacks, which is amazing but can be dangerous! (I am writing these thousands of feet in the air and after several glasses of wine so I apologise if I am rambling). I think my favourite part of the whole experience is the food. I hate plane food, and not eating meat I feel the options are always limited. However, the food on board this flight was out of this world. Luckily for you reading this, I took pictures of all the food to help me prove that it is so far away from the plane food stereotype! With a starter of Caprese Salad, Salmon Skewers for main and a White Chocolate Mousse for dessert, along with as much wine as you fancy, I honestly think the food was nicer than a lot of restaurants I have been to!
As if this wasn’t enough, about 2 hours later the staff come around again and ask if you want anything from their “snack” menu, offering choices of a burger or afternoon tea sandwiches, scone with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of mini cakes! The vegetarian sandwiches were amazing, and the burger also got some very good reviews.
Upon landing at Washington Dulles, the staff were quick to disembark passengers as they knew a few international flights were due in shortly after ours. We cleared US customs in no time and our bags appeared on the carousel just as we arrived at the luggage belt! The taxi driver we had booked through Virgin Atlantic was waiting for us in arrivals. Everything went so smoothly. I cannot remember the last time I flew without any delays or inconveniences!
The whole experience felt surreal and I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced this at the age of 22. Although often expensive, I truly feel the experience is something you should consider if you get the chance at some point in your lifetime!
Want to know what I get up to in Washington DC? Stay tuned for a blogpost coming soon which holds an itinerary for an incredible stay in the city.