Finding Level 1 Delta business class awards to Europe (Sweden) – Part 1
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class outbound via Manchester – Part 2
The Escape Lounge Manchester T3 – Part 3
KLM Euro business class to Amsterdam & Gothenburg – Part 4
The smallest lounge EVER – the Ford business class lounge in Gothenburg GOT- Part 5
The Club Carlson Park Inn by Radisson Stockholm – Part 6
Hertz Presidents Circle GOLD club rental in Sweden – Part 7
KLM Euro business class to Amsterdam & Manchester – Part 8
The KLM Crown Lounge Amsterdam #25 – Part 9
ASPIRE lounge #26 Amsterdam AMS Priority Pass lounge review – Part 10
SPG Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel Schiphol suite review- Part 11
The Escape Lounge Manchester T2 for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class guests review- Part 12
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Manchester to Atlanta – Part 13
Final thoughts, costs and Virgin vs. DeltaONE to Europe – Part 14
What a trip. This was one that I “worked” to not flush my hard earned $kyRubles down the drain. Sure, some of the layover times were long, but I did them somewhat on purpose as I had things I wanted to do along the way like have BBQ lunch with a friend in Atlanta and a LONG layover was allowed since international SkyMiles awards do allow up to 24 hour connections.
This trip was my first time flying Virgin Atlantic and I was very pleased with the service, the meals and the selection of inflight entertainment. The Upper Class “hard product” really is just bad. I would only pick this seat again if there was no other choice and I just had to for a LEVEL 1 SkyMiles award. Yeah, it is that bad on reflection and after having now flown it one more time since this review.
Equally frustrating was the fact that Virgin, who has a big presence in Manchester, does not have a dedicated Upper Class lounge. The 3rd party lounges really are fine if you need them for free as a Priority Pass member (free with non-Delta AMEX Platinum cards btw) but either of the two lounges I went to were NOT “Upper Class” worthy. They really need to either allow folks into their “Virgin Vacations” lounge (and provide free drinks) or open another lounge. Speaking of frustrations, Virgin offers car service by request for Upper Class passengers but NOT for those on awards. Loyalty rewarded? Really not so much.
Once again I am impressed with KLM. KLM is a unique airline. They provide so much Delta could never ever provide on short flights. Their FAs are really good and attentive. The hard product, however, on short hops is just a tiny coach seat. I can’t understand why they don’t put in some real business class seats. Then again, I don’t understand why Delta does not put in a “real” comfort plus seat that is more than a coach seat with extra space. I have not had the chance to fly KLM’s new full-flat seats (because they never seem to release space to SkyMiles members) but all the reviews look good. I may have to send some points to KLM one day and try it that way.
I am also more and more frustrated with the changes to the Club Carlson credit card because I really have changed my attitude toward Club Carlson hotels, that is, I now like them very much. I do like the free GOLD status the Club Carlson card gives me and if I were going to stay more with their brand I would keep the card just for this perk alone. There is still value there but much less than there once was.
SPG continues to impress me. Each time I think about giving up on SPG Platinum status for the following year I have a great and just about perfect stay, including a sweet suite upgrade, and I then realize I should try to qualify again for another year (I need just two more stays this year and I am good for 2016). Since I will always HOLD a non-Delta AMEX Platinum card I am at least set with GOLD SPG status. I really value SPG points and not just for stays. Even with all of this said I just don’t know about 2017. Heck, I don’t even know if flying on Delta will be my main focus next year so hotels really are way down on the “what do I do” list. 🙂
What about cost? For 125,000 SkyMiles each round trip there was value to me. I would have loved to have had the chance to stop over for more than 24 hours along the way and it just continues to burn me that Delta has ended “real” stopovers on awards, that is, taking a few days to enjoy some city along the route. It is not like I am flying anything different than I did so why intentionally penalize me for my Delta loyalty. Heck, Alaska air allows one stopover on a one-way and two on a round trip. Yes, this does make me think about where to focus my earnings next year. One of the biggest reasons I will fly Delta less and less is the end of stopovers on awards. This really is a crushing blow to me.
Now the biggest takeaway from this. Virgin vs DeltaONE. It really is a simple choice. Delta’s international business class seats are FAR superior to Virgin’s on the A330. The food is comparable and the service is comparable. IFE on both are also similar but the Delta screens and setup are better. Power access is MUCH simpler on Delta. So it boils down to the hard product and the DeltaONE seat wins hands down. No way would I EVER pay real money for this Upper Class seat. Having said that, if I were to pay for a Comfort Plus type seat, then Virgin’s Premium Economy is a domestic 1st class Delta seat at a price slightly more than coach. That is something we all should remember. – Rene