VIRGIN – ON THE EDGE OF THE ATLANTIC
Virgin Atlantic, a trading name of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited and Virgin Atlantic International Limited is a British airline established in 1984 as British Atlantic Airways in Crawley, United Kingdom. The company was created by Randolph Fields and Alan Hellary to fly between London and the Falkland Islands. After having changed the name to Virgin Atlantic Airways, Fields sold his shares in the company after disagreements with Sir Richard Branson for the management of the company. The maiden flight took place on June the 22nd 1984 from Gatwick to Newark Liberty International Airport. Today the company operates a fleet of 46 airplanes based out of Manchester, London Heathrow and Gatwick from the Airbus A330 to the brand new Dreamliner onboard which you’ll be boarding shortly.
The today’s trip will embark you onboard the B787 between London LHR and New-York JFK in the Virgin Atlantic’s Business called “Upper Class”. This flight is operated daily as “VS45” and departs the English capital at 14h30 to land in the U.S. at 17h15.
At Heathrow airport, Virgin welcomes its passengers at Terminal 3. The latter offers a large selection of duty frees, that are all located in the same circled area which makes it a little bit congested and doesn’t give that sensation of space that some other terminals can give even if the airside area is clean and offers all needed amenities.
Upper-Class passengers and Flying Club Gold members can enjoy a free access to the Clubhouse Lounge opened from 6h30 to 10h30. The latter offers “A La Carte” meals, a 14-meters long bar, games room, spa, showers and a luggage store to the customers. We will unfortunately not be able to show you these because we were late due to a delayed connecting flight and we’d like to sincerely apologize about it. Moreover, a chauffeur driven car service is available to take customers from and to the airport.
Virgin Atlantic likes to start the boarding of its flights early, indeed, the passengers were invited to take the bus to the airplane about an hour before departure. The today’s bird is a 2.4 years old Boeing 787 registered G-VMAP named “West End Girl” and equipped with two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.
Once onboard, the Virgin’s Dreamliner offers a warm atmosphere to its passengers. Indeed, the white color of the Business Class’ main bar perfectly reflects the pink color of the mood lighting which creates a very appreciable ambiance. Moreover, drinks, magazines as well as various drinks are disposed in the bar area at the passengers’ disposal from boarding to landing. Once seated, the friendly crew takes care of the customers’ coats and a welcome drink is then offered.
For its Upper Class cabin, Virgin Atlantic has chosen a 1-1-1 configuration with 31 full-flat leather seats turned to the inside of the cabin.
Even though this cabin configuration is not idealistic for couples traveling together in Business Class, the footrest is equipped with a seat belt that allows another passenger to sit on it face to face with the main occupant of the seat. These are pretty comfortable and offer a pitch of 79.5″ for a width of 22″ and a length of 78″ when in the bed configuration which is large enough to provide a good freedom of movement to the passengers. In addition to that, this living space offers its working travelers a personal lamp and a reading light to be able to work in the best conditions.
Regarding the Amenity Kit, the latter is provided by the Canadian brand Herschel Supply Co. and is composed of the basics items of a Business Class’ one.
Another good point of this cabin is that the restrooms are well set up for people traveling with kids as many amenities are available.
The weak point, however, is clearly the lack of storage. Indeed, the space behind the sit is occupied by the bedcovers and there is only a small part on the left side of the IFE (In-Flight Entertainment System) that is dedicated to the customer’s personal belongings.
On this 7 hours flight, the catering service was organized in two parts, the lunch first and the pre-landing snack composed of a small choice of chips and sandwiches were offered shortly before arrival. For its Upper Class, Virgin Atlantic proposes an “A La Carte Menu”, menu that hasn’t been loaded in the airplane resulting in the crew writing the menu on a piece of paper and passing it along to the passengers.
The choice was good, indeed, 3 starters, 4 main courses as well as two types of desserts were available. The meal service begins with an appetizer composed of chips and a drink: the “Gardet Brut Premier Cru” champagne.
Today, you’ll be discovering the creamy mushrooms as well as the Fillet Steak and its wine’s sauce. Both were well cooked, tasty and well spiced. The whole was accompanied by bread, butter and a drink of choice which would today be a rather good 2016 Laurent Combier’s red wine. The meal service ended with a chocolate pudding, a selection of cheese as well as a hot drink.
Entertainment-wise, Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class is equipped with an 11-inch Panasonic IFE which is actually smaller than the ones used in the company’s Economy cabin. Vera, the name of the airline’s entertainment system gives you access to over 100 movies, 360 albums and podcasts, 90 TV shows, 20 games and 30 hours of kids’ content to choose from.
In order to enjoy them, a headset of a good quality but without the noise-canceling option was at the customers’ disposal.
Wifi was also available onboard and two internet plans were at the passengers’ disposal: 4.99GBP for 40MB and 14.99GBP for 150MB. The whole was globally slow and expensive for a business class product. A Duty-Free and Vera, Virgin’s in-flight magazine were also available in the seat pocket.
On this route, Virgin Atlantic suffers from a very strong competition. Indeed, Delta, American Airlines and British Airways are also flying on this route. Our today’s airline product is correct but not more if we take in account the whole performance and the price. Regarding the crew, the later was very friendly and regularly passed along the cabin with drinks. They were also regularly restocking the drinks on the bar during the flight.
Finally, We would also like to thank you, dear readers, for your unfailing support and your faithfulness and hope that you have enjoyed this article.