A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to fly Virgin Atlantic for the first time; actually it was my first time flying on any Virgin aircraft. I had a lot of expectations going into it; the airline is famous for its fun attitude and attention to detail. I was also fortunate enough to have been upgraded to Upper Class, the slightly cheeky name for their business class service. With that upgrade came a much-coveted invitation to their Upper Class lounge and what I think may be the best lounge system in the world.
Let me preface this by saying that I did not get a chance to experience the best Virgin Atlantic can do when it comes to lounge awesomeness. By all accounts their massive lounge at Heathrow in London is the best the company has to offer and even within the United States they’ve begun the process of refurbishing their lounges, like at JFK. Armed with this knowledge though I still say that the lounge at Dulles in Washington, DC was without a doubt one of my favorite lounge experiences.
That’s saying a lot too, I’ve been in some pretty spectacular airport lounges around the world. And in terms of pure aesthetics and size Virgin Atlantic would not win that contest. The Air France international business lounge in Paris and the South African Airways lounge in Johannesburg are both exceptional examples of pampering loyal flyers. No, it’s the unique personality and the little touches of luxury that make Virgin Atlantic stand out.
One complaint I usually have with lounges is the lack of good food options. In the United States you’re lucky if domestic airline lounges give you some fruit and nuts. Internationally the food gets better, but it’s rarely great. Often times the food is overcooked, tasteless or worse. And this is where Virgin Atlantic excels.
Instead of overly corny country themed buffets (pretzels in Germany, croissants in France, etc.) and instead of food that’s been sitting in chaffing dishes for hours, they provide guests with a menu from which they may order. I know, I know, it sounds like a ridiculously simple concept and immediately it seems like a great idea, both of which are true. The menu has a little bit of everything for all palates and dietary restrictions from light snacks to delicious mains and even dessert.
It’s about more though than getting good food the way you like it prepared quickly, it’s about the luxury of the experience. You just feel important and more valued as a guest, it’s obvious that they care and that’s a quality seldom seen nowadays in the airline industry.
Add to the food and beverage funky chairs and couches, plenty of places to recharge your electronics and background music featuring Virgin’s top artists and it’s hard not to feel like a rock star.
Flying isn’t the most pleasant experience nowadays and any way I can feel a little more human goes a long way. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t just make flying not as bad; it has turned it back into a truly pleasurable experience.
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