Book your flight on Virgin Atlantic here.
I managed to book this flight using my Delta Skymiles – in fact I used 130,000 Skymiles to travel to Europe in business class. That is 30% more than on United and US Airways at the time of booking but I really wanted to use my remaining Skymiles before they devalue further.
I also wanted to try Virgin Atlantic Upper Class – a product that has been on my list for a while but never fit my travel plans (or was bookable without huge fuel surcharges).
Now Delta Skymiles partners with Virgin but seats are scarce. Think about 1-2 seats per route a month. East Coast routes are more available than West Coast. I was happy to find availability that would fit my plans. Outbound from Vancouver and inbound to Los Angeles.
After my visit to the lounge I went to the gate just 30 minutes before departure without a boarding pass. The lounge attendant said that would be no problem – and indeed it wasn't. A cheerful (yes, more than friendly) gate agent issued my boarding pass in seconds.
The business class cabin felt huge and was about 50% filled (so much for releasing award seats to fill the whole plane). Most passengers were already enjoying a glass of champagne before departure.
I received my pyjamas right away and went on to explore the business class seat. My first impression – way less privacy and fewer seat controls than say on Cathay Pacific. The seat feels a bit cramped but comfortable.
I also took a quick peak into the Premium Economy section of the plane.
We took off on-time into the sunny Vancouver skies. The pilot announced a much shorter flying time of just 8.5 hours to London due to heavy tail winds.
After take-off it took some time for flight attendants to get drinks and food service under way – about 30 minutes for the drinks and 80 minutes for the first appetizers. That was longer than I thought for a rather late flight (8PM departure).
The entertainment system looks cool but only has a few movies unfortunately. I could only find one that I liked – but hey, I had a movie to myself 🙂 The screen is just too small and low-contrast for my taste.
The food served was fantastic. Certainly ranks in my TOP 10 airplane food ever. The salmon appetizer was tasty and fresh. The chicken salad was 100% paleo and delicious.
The cheese dessert was equally delicious. The red wine I selected really contributed as well.
I could have not asked for better food.
After dinner it was time to sleep (especially with the shorter flying time). The flight attendants arranged my bed quickly.
While the bed surface is 100% lie-flat, the bed isn't very wide. I found it hard to lie down straight or even on my stomach. Curling up on your side works perfectly though. A couple more inches and the seat would have been perfect – there was also a hotel-like duvet that contributed to the sleeping experience. While I slept right until breakfast it wasn't my best sleep experience. The hip did hurt in the morning.
Breakfast was good as well. Not as stellar as the dinner but still very good.
I hurried to get out of my PJs before landing – I was surprised hardly anybody else put them on during the flight.
In sum, this was an excellent business class flight. The flight attendants were cheerful (though borderline bossy), the food spectacular and the seat was pretty good. I'd rate Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines higher because of the better seat. But Virgin has a very solid product. With an updated seat they would be award-winning (again).
Book your flight on Virgin Atlantic here.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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