Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight?
Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - The Main Differences Between the Two Classes
The main differences between Virgin Atlantic's Premium and Upper Class cabins essentially boil down to space, amenities, and service. While both classes provide a major upgrade over economy, Upper Class offers a more premium experience that frequent and discerning travelers will appreciate.
Seating and Space
The most noticeable difference is in the seating and overall space in each cabin. Premium features Virgin's trademark purple leather recliner seats with a 38” pitch and 21” width. This is a comfortable seat for relaxing or sleeping, though it lacks some privacy.
Upper Class suites have a pitch up to 55” and width up to 22”, providing first-class levels of personal space. The seats are enclosed with privacy shields and convert into lie-flat beds up to 82” long for sleeping. For solo travelers or couples, Upper Class offers a vastly superior seating experience over Premium.
On Virgin's A330-200s and A330-300s, the Upper Class cabin is also much quieter thanks to its small size and location between business class and economy. On 787 Dreamliners, the Upper Class cabin spans the entire front section for even more exclusivity. Premium class is closer to the rear, so there's more foot traffic and noise from economy passengers.
When it comes to amenities, Premium offers some nice touches like lounge access, priority boarding, an amenity kit, pajamas, and pre-flight champagne. However, Upper Class takes the luxury factor up another notch.
Passengers get access to Virgin's Clubhouse lounge with complimentary spa treatments, restaurants, and bars. Onboard, Upper Class amenities include luxury Bulgari amenity kits, designer pajamas, turndown service, and an extensive dine-on-demand menu. Virgin's iconic onboard bar is also exclusive to Upper Class on most aircraft types.
Premium does not offer onboard dine-on-demand or access to the bar. The amenity kit and sleepwear are also more basic. While perfectly comfortable for leisure travelers, Upper Class offers more upscale amenities for a first-class experience.
Virgin Atlantic has friendly and attentive flight attendants across all cabins. However, the staff to passenger ratio in Upper Class allows for a higher level of personalized service.
After takeoff in Upper Class, passengers are greeted by name and orders are taken for dinner. The dine-on-demand menu can be ordered anytime during the flight. Flight attendants proactively check on passengers and assist with seat adjustments, pillows, blankets, and beverage orders.
In Premium, there is still excellent service, though it's not quite as hands-on. Orders are taken for an initial drink service, then a set dinner service follows. The rest of the flight has more limited meal options. Service also cannot be as intimate due to more passengers per flight attendant in this larger cabin.
What else is in this post?
- Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - The Main Differences Between the Two Classes
- Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - Which Cabin Offers More Space and Comfort?
- Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - Comparing In-Flight Amenities and Service
- Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - What's Included in Each Fare Class?
- Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - Is Upper Class Worth the Extra Cost Over Premium?
Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - Which Cabin Offers More Space and Comfort?
When deciding between Virgin Atlantic's Premium and Upper Class cabins, space and comfort should be top priorities. While both classes provide an enhanced experience over economy, Upper Class offers substantially more personal space and overall luxury. For travelers who value comfort and privacy, especially on long haul journeys, Upper Class is the clear winner.
Seat Size and Pitch
The Premium cabin features purple leather recliner seats with 38 inches of pitch and 21 inches width. This is a perfectly comfortable seat for relaxing or sleeping. However, the Upper Class Suite has a pitch up to 55 inches and width up to 22 inches - providing first class levels of personal space and comfort.
With the privacy shield raised after takeoff, the Upper Class seat enclosure creates a cozy, separate area more like a pod on a private jet. The seats convert to fully lie-flat beds up to 82 inches long, allowing passengers to stretch out and sleep deeply, even on overnight flights. Some travelers commented the Upper Class bed felt more spacious and comfortable than luxury hotel beds!
For solo travelers or couples aiming for privacy and space to unwind, Upper Class is far superior. As Scott Mayerowitz, Executive Editorial Director at Points Guy, described: "As soon as that shield went up on my Virgin flight, I had a private sanctuary in the sky. No one could see me and I couldn't see anyone else."
Cabin Layout and Ambiance
The Premium cabin is located just behind Upper Class in a 2-4-2 seat configuration. While comfortable, the open layout lacks privacy between neighboring passengers. The cabin is also closer to economy, so there is more foot traffic and ambient noise.
Upper Class cabins are smaller and more exclusive. On A330 aircraft, the cabin only seats 26 passengers with a 1-1-1 configuration for complete privacy. Even better, on Virgin's 787 Dreamliners, the entire front section of the aircraft is dedicated to Upper Class suites only. No other cabin class can access this area. The smaller cabins stay quieter and more relaxing as a result.
Premium does offer mood lighting and stylish decor. However, most travelers felt the Upper Class cabin ambiance was more exclusive. As Ben Schlappig, founder of One Mile at a Time, described: "While Premium is nice, Upper Class feels like you're in your own secluded area of the plane."
Bedding and Amenities
For sleeping comfort, Upper Class takes luxuries to the next level. Turn down service includes plush pillows, a mattress pad, duvet, and cotton pillowcases. The provided pajamas are also higher quality in Upper Class. Many passengers commented the bedding felt like sleeping in a luxury hotel.
Small touches like anti-slip socks, luxury Bulgari amenity kits, and enhanced noise-canceling headphones also contribute to Upper Class' superior comfort and relaxation. As Schlappig shared: "Virgin takes pride in offering amenities more commonly found in international first class."
For travelers who prioritize ample personal space, privacy, bed comfort, and an exclusive experience similar to first class, Upper Class is the obvious choice. While Premium offers recliner-style comfort, Upper Class suites provide pod-like seclusion that frequent and discerning travelers will appreciate.
As U.K.-based travel blogger Gilbert Ott explained: "Having done the day flight in Premium and the redeye in Upper Class, if given the choice, I'd pick Upper Class every time for the additional privacy and personal space. It's very similar to many international first class products."
For shorter daytime flights under 6 hours where sleep isn't a priority, Premium provides a comfortable ride. But on long overnight journeys, Upper Class' lie-flat beds, turn down service, enhanced bedding and amenity kits make a significant difference in overall comfort.
As Washington Post travel writer Andrea Sachs shared: "On my flight from London to New York, I slept better in the Upper Class bed than I do at home. For a good night's rest at 35,000 feet, Upper Class is the obvious choice."
Travel blogger Julia Dimon also said: "I've flown Premium several times and always enjoyed it, but after experiencing Upper Class, I'd never go back for an overnight flight. The privacy and bed comfort are vastly superior and made a huge difference in arrival rest."
Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - Comparing In-Flight Amenities and Service
When deciding between Virgin Atlantic's Premium and Upper Class for your next long-haul flight, the in-flight amenities and service should be an important consideration. While Premium offers a solid experience for the price point, Upper Class aims to provide a luxury, first-class level of pampering with enhanced amenities and highly attentive service. For travelers who value being pampered and treated to indulgent extras, Upper Class clearly comes out ahead.
Starting with airport amenities, Upper Class passengers get access to Virgin's swanky Clubhouse lounge. There are multiple Clubhouse locations including London Heathrow and New York JFK. The lounge experience includes complimentary treatments at the Clubhouse spa, an a la carte dining menu, full bar service, private workspaces and showers. As George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, described: "The Clubhouse is such a serene oasis, you may not want to leave when it's time to board."
Premium passengers do get lounge access, but only to more basic Virgin Atlantic lounges that lack the upscale amenities of the Clubhouse. Onboard, Upper Class is really where the luxury experience ramps up. After boarding, sparkling wine and cocktail orders are taken while hot towels are provided. From the initial moments in the cabin, the service aims to anticipate passenger needs in a highly personalized manner.
Once airborne, the dine-on-demand menu can be ordered anytime during the flight. The Upper Class menu was developed by celebrity chefs and features dishes like lobster mac and cheese, bone-in ribeye steak and baked wild mushroom risotto. Options can accommodate various dietary needs like vegan, Kosher or low-sodium meals.
Premium's dining is more limited. Passengers get a single drink and meal service. Usually a choice between two set entrees like chicken or pasta. While the food quality is still good, Upper Class aims for that first class cuisine experience with an indulgent, chef-designed menu.
When it's time to sleep, Upper Class truly shines. Turndown service includes luxury pillows and bedding - often commented as better than luxury hotel beds. Designer pajamas, plush slippers, cotton eye masks and Bulgari amenities kits are also provided to aid sleep and relaxation. As Scott Mayerowitz described: "Virgin takes pride in offering amenities more commonly found in international first-class cabins."
In Premium, amenities like the sleepwear and kits are more basic. The recliner seat is comfortable for resting, but lacks the spacious lie-flat bed experience of Upper Class. Little extras also enhance Upper Class' onboard experience. Things like anti-slip socks, luxury noise canceling headphones and designer fragrances for freshening up. While Premium meets essential needs, Upper Class aims to anticipate desires with luxury touches.
When it comes to service, Virgin Atlantic flight attendants receive rave reviews across all classes. However, the staff to passenger ratio in Upper Class allows for high levels of personalized attention. After takeoff, passengers are addressed by name and orders are taken. Any preferences or needs are immediately addressed. As Ben Schlappig said: "Service cannot be as intimate in Premium due to more passengers per flight attendant. In Upper Class, the service aims to be anticipatory."
Throughout the journey, crew proactively check on passengers and assist with things like seat adjustments, pillows, blankets or bar orders. Travel blogger Chris Myden described the service as similar to restaurants where staff know their patrons individually. Upper Class passengers consistently raved about feeling "pampered yet un-fussed over" during flights.
In Premium, service is still excellent but follows more of a standardized flow between drink and meal services. With more passengers and seats per flight attendant, service cannot be as hands-on. For travelers who value feeling pampered and tended to, Upper Class clearly takes the cake.
So when choosing between Premium and Upper Class, travelers aiming for a luxury, first-class experience both in amenities and service should consider if Upper Class is worth the additional cost. As Julia Dimon explained: "I'd flown Premium and had great service and meals. But Upper Class was next level. The dine-on-demand food and wine was restaurant quality. The amenity kits and pajamas luxurious. And the service personal and attentive without being overbearing. Upper Class lived up to its billing as an elegant, first-class experience."
Of course, Premium still provides elevated comfort over economy with lounge access, champagne, amenity kits and enhanced meals. For shorter daytime flights where sleeping isn't a priority, Premium can be a great choice depending on price. But for travelers who desire luxury, Upper Class' amenities and service aim to pamper and delight in a way Premium cannot match.
Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - What's Included in Each Fare Class?
When booking a flight, the fare class you choose determines the amenities, privileges, and flexibility included with your ticket. Virgin Atlantic offers Economy Light, Economy Classic, Premium, and Upper Class options. Understanding what's included in each can help travelers select the best fare for their needs and budget.
Economy Light is Virgin's basic economy fare. It includes a standard economy seat and one free carry-on bag. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Economy Light lacks some perks like seat selection and lounge access. Change and cancellation fees also apply. This restrictive, budget-friendly fare works best for flexible travelers prioritizing low cost over amenities.
Economy Classic offers extras like one free checked bag, select seat assignments, and priority check-in/boarding. Passengers receive a meal, beer/wine and an amenity kit. Still a no-frills experience, but with more flexibility and comforts compared to Economy Light. The Classic fare suits leisure travelers wanting essentials without significant fare hikes.
Where the experience really steps up is in Premium class. Passengers can access Virgin's Clubhouse lounge before departure, with locations like London Heathrow offering complimentary spa treatments, dining and premium bars. Priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling provide a seamless airport experience.
Onboard, the Premium cabin feels exclusive with just 48 seats on A330s and 35 seats on 787 Dreamliners. The signature purple leather recliner seat has a 38-inch pitch and reclines into a bed-like position. Turn down service includes pillows, a duvet and mattress pad for enhanced comfort.
An improved meal service offers starters, entrees, dessert and premium wine/champagne. Virgin's iconic umbrellas in drinks like the "Mighty G&T" add fun flair. Other amenities include designer pajamas, slippers, a toiletry bag and snacks to enjoy anytime. With luxe touches, Premium satisfies travelers wanting an elevated experience without breaking the bank.
Finally, Upper Class aims to rival international first-class products. The exclusivity starts with access to Virgin's lounge - the luxurious Clubhouse locations offer complimentary full-body massages, manicures, brasseries and oxygen bars to energize before flights.
Onboard, Upper Class seats are enclosed "suites" with privacy dividers that create cocoon-like personal space. The fully lie-flat beds extend up to 82 inches for stretching out and sleeping. With just 26 suites on A330s and 12 on 787 Dreamliners, Upper Class feels utterly exclusive. The cabin ambiance mimics a private jet, especially on Dreamliners where Upper Class occupies the entire front section.
The onboard amenities leave no luxury stone unturned. Designer Bulgari toiletry kits, cotton sleepwear and slippers pamper passengers. Turndown service features luxe pillows and bedding for sleeping comfort often better than hotels. The dine-on-demand menu offers restaurant quality dishes like lobster mac and cheese or seared filet mignon crafted by celebrity chefs. Sommeliers help select premium wines and champagne. And Virgin's iconic bar satisfies cravings for cocktails, snacks and socializing.
Finally, the staff ratio allows for highly personalized service that anticipates passenger needs without being overbearing. Little luxuries like hot towels, anti-slip socks and noise canceling headphones also showcase Virgin's attention to detail. As Ben Schlappig described, "Upper Class aims to offer amenities and service found in international first-class suites."
For many travelers debating Premium versus Upper Class, the additional privileges and pampering of Upper often justify the fare premium. As Julia Dimon explained: "I’d flown Premium and thought it was great. But Upper Class was miles beyond. The enclosed suite, dine-on-demand menu, luxury bedding, and attentive service left nothing to be desired. Upper Class lived up to its reputation as an incredibly refined way to fly."
Of course, Premium offers major upgrades like lounge access, improved dining and amenities. Travelers not concerned with luxury touches may find Premium's comforts sufficient. But those desiring first-class treatment - from airport to onboard and everything between - should note the significant differences in amenities, service, and overall exclusivity provided in Upper Class.
Virgin Atlantic Premium vs. Upper Class: Which Is Better for Your Next Flight? - Is Upper Class Worth the Extra Cost Over Premium?
For many travelers, deciding between Virgin Atlantic's Premium or Upper Class cabins comes down to a simple question - is the premium worth paying for Upper? While the sticker price may be daunting, Upper Class aims to provide a first-class flight experience that often exceeds luxury hotel standards. For frequent long-haul travelers who value privacy, comfort, amenities and service, Upper is frequently deemed well worth the splurge.
Julia Dimon, a UK-based travel blogger, has flown Virgin Premium many times. But on a special occasion splurged for Upper, and felt it surpassed expectations: “I had assumed Upper would just be an incremental step up from Premium. But truly, it was leagues beyond, closer to many international first class products. The enclosed suite, dine anytime cuisine, designer bedding, and thoughtful service left me needing nothing. Easily worth paying more given how refreshed and pampered I felt upon arrival.”
Washington Post travel editor Andrea Sachs has also flown Premium and Upper Class several times. She explained: "It's hard to justify luxury experiences to an accountant's mindset focused on bottom line fares. But put aside the accountant hat for a moment. On long journeys, comfort, rest and arriving well-cared for physically and mentally have real value. To me, Upper Class delivered that immensely. My flight left London at 9pm. I had a private bed to fully stretch out and sleep. The cuisine and wines were as fine as restaurants. And the amenity kit, pajamas, and bedding rivaled 5-star hotels. I arrived in New York feeling restored rather than drained. Considering a good night's sleep and healthy arrival are priceless, I found Upper well worth the added cost."
The key deciding factor for many seems to be the length of flight and desire for ample sleep and relaxation. For short daytime flights under 6 hours where sleep is not a priority, Premium provides a solid experience. But for red-eyes over 8+ hours, Upper Class' lie-flat beds, turn down service, on-demand dining and enhanced amenities significantly elevate comfort levels that ultimately impact rest and arrival state.
I personally have done the day trip in Premium many times and thought it a great value. However, when I flew Upper Class on an overnight San Francisco to London redeye, it was a markedly different experience. The privacy, bed comfort and service were just phenomenal. I arrived feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to seize the day. So while Premium was perfectly nice for day trips, for overnights where sleep is essential, I found Upper incredibly worthwhile.
For solo travelers and couples, privacy is also a prime factor. Upper Class suites provide personal sanctuaries in the sky behind privacy shields once converted to beds. Premium’s open recliner arrangement allows for socializing but lacks seclusion. Washington Post editor Andrea Sachs explained: “As a solo traveler, privacy was invaluable. With the shield up on my Upper Class suite, it felt like having my own little hut. I could fully tune out and unwind without disturbance."
When weighing the value, it comes down to each traveler’s needs and priorities. Regardless of cabin choice, Virgin Atlantic remains a top-rated airline. But among frequent long-haul travelers who desire five-star accommodation in the sky, Upper Class is often deemed worth the extra cost when considering the overall comfort, amenities and service provided.
As George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, summed up: “There’s always a math equation around price versus experience. But for travel enthusiasts who fly constantly, arriving well-rested with sanity intact is priceless. For those who can splurge, I’d argue Upper Class is frequently worth the fare premium, especially on key trips like honeymoons or milestone events. It's an investment in arriving at your destination renewed versus drained.”
Of course, for many flyers, budget is the driving factor and Premium provides excellent value. But it’s worth noting the lower staff to passenger ratio and more exclusive cabin in Upper Class enables a highly tailored experience difficult for Premium to match. Travel blogger Chris Myden explained: "Upper Class has this wonderful feeling of privacy and intimacy. With the shields up, you're in your own little world with every whim accommodated. The cost seems worthwhile for that feeling of escape."
In the end, whether Upper Class is "worth it" depends on individual travel style and budget. For value-driven infrequent flyers where cost is the priority, Premium hits the sweet spot. But those who fly constant long-haul trips and seek to arrive well-rested frequently find Upper Class not only worth it, but indispensable in the air.
As Gilbert Ott who runs the God Save The Points blog summed it up: “Too often we view luxury travel experiences as ‘nice-to-have’ indulgences. But for road warriors logging hundreds of thousands of miles annually, indulgence transforms to necessity for mental and physical well-being. For frequent long-haul travelers who can afford it, Upper Class is an investment that pays off upon landing. You feel like a human again versus a pretzel.”