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
To say I was looking forward to this ride is putting it mildly. As an #AVgeek this was way up there on my “to do list” of products to fly. Did it live up to the hype? In some ways yes and in other ways really not so much.
Despite the fact that Delta now owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, there is very little seemliness in the travel experience. When I went to check-in online only my South Bend to Atlanta boarding pass printed. I called and was told I had to check-in at the airport, either as you see above at the Virgin Atlantic check-in airport side or,
Near gate F6 secure side. Oh, and I could only do so 4 hours before my flight as the desk would not be open before that. Frustrating? You bet. Another oddity is that Delta will allow a legal 30 minute connection arriving in Atlanta and departing on Virgin but there is very little chance of you making that without a boarding pass in hand. We, as you saw from the first post, had plenty of time as it was the only way to secure 125,000 Delta point round trip LEVEL 1 business class award tickets.
I was really wanting to fly a Virgin 747 but the A330 is what awaited us. I was still stoked and excited to try the Virgin Upper Class experience.
Boarding went rather smoothly as despite the smallish boarding area, that mostly poured into the concourse, they did call for Upper Class before the rest of the boarding zones.
Virgin, much like Delta, offers individual aisle access for all Upper Class seats. It is in a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration.
Much like the Delta 777 seats, if you are flying with someone, sitting across from each other is better if you want to look over and chat as the seat next to you in the middle is not companion friendly.
I choose the middle seat. One thing I noticed right away is there is NO overhead space / storage for the middle seats. None.
My wife had the “window” side and I say that in quotes because window access is just about blocked.
For those who like to stare out the window at the great views below, this seat configuration is not for you unless you like yoga in-flight.
Before I go on, some first impressions. I liked the trendy look. A bar onboard? Sure why not and how uber kool. The FAs were all really kind, warm, smiling, welcoming, funny and just fabulous. My amenity kit was waiting with menus and drinks were quickly offered as well as a kind offer to show off the seat features etc. I was really impressed. But, as you may have been told by others, service and food are very good on Virgin, the hard product is not the greatest. You will see I agree completely with this assessment. But more on that in a bit.
The IFE is good as far as a TON of choices. They fire it up right away so you can enjoy it from gate to gate with the normal 50 interruptions for safety demos and sales pitches and flight info. For all the advances in technology it is often better to have your own IFE to avoid all this I have found and my Samsung Galaxy 8.4 Pro does this very very well.
Once above 10,000 feet you can undock the screen and swing it out. Seems like a good idea but we had issues (both Lisa & I). My arm and screen were really dirty. Just nasty sticky. Lisa’s “arm” was so loose that she had to fold her menu into a wedge to keep the screen from hitting her in the face.
And it did not end there. The screen really is in the way of the tray table. The on-screen controls are a bit buggy but there is a controller at your seat. This is good and you do NOT have to take it out to use it (also good as mine was also just dirty and nasty on the sides).
The seat controls are rather simple because these seats do not, with a push of a button, become beds. The FAs have to come flip the seat forward, and with some effort, make it a bed with a very thin duvet. This really is a strange design and it gets worse.
I have to say this is just about the worst full flat seat I have ever been on. It is narrow. It is short. The aisle between seats is so tiny your feet will get bumped by everyone who passes by, waking you up. One of the list of many failings of this bed seat is that when your neighbor lifts and drops back their tray table it is VERY loud and very near your head. Be ready to be awakened by a “CHUURCHUUNNK” if you have decided to sleep through breakfast (as I attempted to do). I used to think the Delta 777 DeltaONE seats was the worst full flat seat – it is a gem compared to this one for a night flight.
Now on to the amenity kit. Are you under wehlemed by the photo? Good, you should be. Most of us like to reuse the amenity kits themselves for laptop cords or power adapters or whatever. This thing is cheap and worthless for that function. This inside stuff is just about equally chincy. All the stuff did the job but they all just felt cheap and “lower class”.
Time for dining choices. The menu was straight forward and what I did not get a photo of was the very extensive breakfast choices sheet. For a night flight I tend to skip breakfast anyway and just grab a bite in the club when I arrive. But for dinner I went with crab and mango salad. Then the beef followed by the cheese cake.
First a bowl of crisps. An interesting appetizer.
The crab and mango was just pleasant. Funny comparing this to the cold shrimp Delta normally provides. Both I like and would have again.
The beef was good as well as the potatoes. The baby spinach was aptly named as it was mush and only good for baby food. Bread was a little stale as is often the case on airlines I have found. It is hard to do bread well on a jet. One thing you just gotta love are the little airplane salt and pepper shakers. They are plastic and they don’t mind if you “pinch” them (it even says pinched from Virgin on the bottom of the feet). A tip, if you do keep them, pull off the fronts and dump out the extra salt and pepper you did not use as they hold a TON!
Dessert was good but not amazing. Overall I would say a pleasant meal and for the most part lived up to my expectations. Every bit as good as DeltaONE meals and I truly think Delta does food right both domestic and internationally. Well done here Virgin.
As mentioned already about the seats, I slept but not great. I expect, as you will see in the review of my return trip, that these seats are better for daytime flights not nighttime flights. USB power is close at hand but standard power is center under your seat. If you have your laptop plugged in you will have to keep in UNDER your bed as you sleep. I really dislike have to get out of my seat to get to power. Delta seats tend to do a much better job at this.
More tips. You can, as the menu says, have dinner at the bar with your +1. The seats at the bar are not very comfortable. The bar area is small. I would not do this. It is fine for a drink and chat with an FA but that is about it. I know some love the idea of spending the flight at the bar, not for me. Next, you have no air vents in the middle section. Please use one of the vents on the window side pointed towards you as it should NOT hit the window flyer. My flight was hot and I wish I had known this tip.
Overall the flight was fine and just what I was told it would be. Great soft product and “MEH” at best hard product. I think calling it MEH is being kind. This is, for now, one of the only ways to get LEVEL 1 business class awards to Europe and I can see why – it sure is not worth more than 125,000 SkyMiles round trip.
Would I fly it again? Yes, but stick with daytime flights but more on that in the review of the return trip. Next up the Escape Lounge Manchester T3 – René
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