Not all airlines are made the same and certainly not all premium cabin experiences are even memorable, much less something special. As a very frequent flyer, and a tall one at that, I seek out Business Class experiences whenever I can. Some are better than others, and then a few go above and beyond my expectations. In 2015 I once again had the great pleasure of flying with Virgin Atlantic, one of my favorite airlines, on a flight to London where I enjoyed a very comfortable trip across the ocean in their version of Business Class, which they lovingly call Upper Class. Rather than write the somewhat predictable post about comfy chairs and yummy food, instead I thought I’d share a few moments of the travel experience that I believe demonstrate not only why Virgin Atlantic is such a great company, but why they are absolutely the most comfortable and luxurious way to reach London or anywhere else you may be going.
I was so impressed with Virgin Atlantic’s lounges, that I even devoted an entire post to them, which is a rarity for me. But it’s also a well-deserved accolade as they are certainly amongst the best, if not the best, lounges I’ve ever had the good fortune to patronize. While their regional lounges are relaxing and accommodating, it’s their flagship lounge in London’s Heathrow Airport that really steals the show. The London Clubhouse is enormous and among many other features includes a spa and salon, hot tub, great viewing areas, a full bistro restaurant and any number of other ways to relax and enjoy your time waiting for the next flight. One of my favorite perks in the Clubhouse lounges is the food. Instead of the dry and usually tasteless meals served in other airline lounges, Virgin Atlantic features a full menu from which guests order. That means everything is made fresh and to order and from my own personal experience, is usually delicious. The last time I was in the London Clubhouse I also took advantage of the complimentary spa services and enjoyed a 15-minute facial, helping me look my best before my flight home. An airport lounge may not be enough reason to book an entire flight, but it’s a wonderful perk to an overall amazing premium flying experience.
Privacy and comfort
Lounges are of course great, but it’s the inflight experience that counts most when flying in Business Class. I’ve flown in a lot of Business Class sections and they’re definitely not all made the same, and the enjoyment (or lack thereof) starts with the seats themselves and how they’re arranged. One of my favorite Business Class configurations is the so-called herringbone pattern, which is when the seats are set at an angle to each other. Unlike competitor British Airways, which makes Business Class guests sit awkwardly facing each other, Virgin Atlantic’s configuration ensures a high level of not just privacy, but comfort as well. With high walls, I felt cocooned in my chair, a little bastion of peace and quiet in an otherwise chaotic world of travel. From the moment I first sat down, to when the flight attendant made up my bed complete with mattress, I was entirely content, which is hard for a tall guy like me to achieve even when flying Business Class.
Service is key in all areas of the travel experience, and that’s especially true when we fly. Since I take to the skies so often, it’s easier for me to compare and contrast airlines when it comes to service and I’m pleased to say that the onboard staff and crew on Virgin Atlantic is amongst the best I’ve ever seen. The one thing I noticed on all of my Virgin Atlantic flights was the attitude of the flight crew themselves. There were happy, pleasant and nice to the passengers, a sad rarity nowadays. It must be thanks to the corporate culture, which speaks volumes and means that the end line passengers receive an experience found on few other airlines.
Providing amazing travel experiences is both an art and a science. For example, a hotel can buy all the best linens and toiletries, but if their staff is rude then it’s all for naught. There is an intangible element to travel, we just know when something does or does not feel right to us on a very personal level. For me, whenever I fly with Virgin Atlantic everything just clicks. Whether it’s their lighthearted and good-humored corporate personality, or the care they’ve clearly taken in crafting a luxurious Upper Class flying experience, it all just works. It’s nothing I can put my finger on exactly, but the good vibes I get whenever I’m onboard one of their flights, relaxing on my Upper Class bed, I am in my happy place and it’s rare travel phenomenon that makes me coming back to them whenever I find myself looking for flights to London or beyond.