If you are new to the blog you may have missed my friend Chris who joined me on a mileage run not too long ago, and who, while young, has more miles under his belt than many who have been flying for a lifetime! He ventures out into the world on his own if need be to find adventure. He asked me if I would like a trip report about his recent trip on Virgin Atlantic and since I have yet to try it I said absolutely and with lots of photos if you can. So take it away, Chris!
Did you know Delta Skymiles members can book award tickets on Virgin Atlantic Airways without fuel surcharges? I did and I want to share with you my experience. With Delta’s recent 49% buyout of Virgin Atlantic, Skymiles members now have pretty good award space availability using delta.com. Traveling from London Heathrow LHR to Detroit DTW I found availability in “Upper class” (Equivalent to Delta Business Elite) on Virgin Atlantic through Chicago ORD.
Heathrow has many Virgin Atlantic check in counters in Terminal T3, with only a few remaining for Delta flights. Most of SkyTeam is now in Terminal T4.
I proceeded to the “Upper Class” elevator that took me to an exclusive security line. There I scanned my boarding pass and the doors opened for me to proceed. There was no line and within a minute I was air-side in the airport walking to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
The Clubhouse was HUGE with something for everyone. There was even a map in case you got lost! Everything off the menu from gourmet drinks to meals was complimentary.
They had video games, pool tables, a theater, bed-like lounge chairs and views of the tarmac, a quiet area, a luxurious spa (for an extra cost), free showers, and more. An announcement was made that my flight was ready for boarding so I finished my smoothie and proceeded to the gate.
When I looked around the cabin, I knew right away I was on an older plane. Later in the flight I was told it was in fact their oldest Upper Class configuration across the entire fleet (A340-300) and that there were only 2 planes left not updated (just my luck). I took a risk on the Main Meal and went with the beef tenderloin. As many Delta flyers know, meal selection can sometimes be a hit or miss. This time it was a hit and I ate just about all of it, saving room for British desserts.
The built in IFE screen was small and had a small selection of movies with no On- Demand. As upper Class passengers however, we were given a large Samsung tablet device preloaded with about 10 movies to watch on our own time.
One of my favorite things about the flight was the on-board bar. Located near the middle of the Upper Class section, it was fully loaded with expensive Alcohol. This is a strong and very cool selling point for it provides a great location to do work, exchange business cards, socialize, or simply stretch your legs while enjoying a drink and snacks. The crew passed out mini ice cream containers mid flight but they lacked the caramel, fudge, strawberry, and whipped topping one is accustomed to on Delta flights. A flight attendant that had served my lunch came over and chatted for some time about Delta / Virgin Atlantic things. One thing he told me was that Delta frequent flyers he talks to plan to fly Virgin Atlantic more often!
When it was time to sleep, the FA made my bed with the push of a button. The seat flipped over and turned into a flat bed. He grabbed my sheet and blanket from the overhead bin and within a few minutes I was out cold. About 90 minutes later I woke up to my alarm and to the smell of our light pre-arrival snack.
They had a variety of small sandwiches and sweets that I had never seen before. I thought it was interesting that it was served on a multi-level plate. Shortly after I was done eating, the captain announced that we had been cleared for landing so I put my seat back up and stored my tray table as requested.
Overall, Virgin Atlantic exceeded my expectations. The Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow was outstanding and the flight attendants were very kind and attentive. The meal was great and I really like the uniqueness of the bar. My seat was a little uncomfortable but I understand that upgrades will be completed soon. The next time I fly to Europe on an award ticket I will consider Virgin Atlantic again. While I am still loyal to Delta, it is always nice to change it up like René did with Lufthansa!
Has anyone else had a similar experience on VA or another airline? Would you consider flying them instead of Delta? Comments and questions are always welcome. – Chris
Thanks so much Chris for a great report! I cannot wait to try VA myself soon and I am sure readers will chime in what they think of the product vs the Delta experience.- René