After an amazing, long, relaxing, sleep filled layover at the New York Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, it was off to London on one of Virgin Atlantic’s A330s in Upper Class.

Before I get into the flight itself, I have to say that there’s something so intriguing to me about the New York to London market, and I can’t decide whether I love or hate flying it. On one hand it’s such a crappy flight since it’s so short — often shorter than flights from New York to the west coast — but at the same time there’s something hypnotizing to me about traveling between the two cities. It’s amazing how many frequencies there are between New York and London, and perhaps it’s also the most “cliche” route for international business travelers.

Really I think my affection towards the route can be summed up in this 30 second British Airways advert from a decade ago:

YouTube Preview Image

Am I the only one that gets excited when watching that advert? Anyone else have similar feelings?

Anyway, on to the actual flight.

The Virgin Atlantic A330 Upper Class Suite

This flight was operated by an A330, which is the only aircraft in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet which features the new “Upper Class Suite.” When I flew Virgin Atlantic in the past it was before they took delivery of their A330s, and the old product was still in a herringbone configuration. What’s interesting is that in the past their Upper Class had three across seating (1-1-1), while the new product has four across seating (1-2-1).

So there are pros and cons to the new product. On one hand it’s a damn sexy cabin, between the finishes and cabin lighting. I thought it was beautiful.

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class-2

At the same time, it also feels a bit more crowded than their old cabin. To put it into perspective, on the A330-300 (featuring the new product) they have 33 Upper Class seats between doors one and two, while on the A340-300 (featuring the old product) they have 25 Upper Class seats between doors one and two.

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class-1

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class-5

I don’t find the seat especially comfortable for lounging since you can’t go back very far, though for sleeping it’s still quite a good product, though you do have to “flip” the seat over to put it into bed mode.

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class-6

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class food

In terms of the food service, I’m not really sure why they even bother. Admittedly this was scheduled to be a 10:30PM departure and we weren’t airborne before midnight due to a delay, but it’s a two course meal with an entree and dessert.

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class-3

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class-4

Then roughly two hours later breakfast is served.

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class-7

Now I had eaten in the lounge so wasn’t hungry and ordered solely to take pictures (after all, it wouldn’t be a very exciting report if I slept the whole way), though I almost feel like they’d be better off serving nothing since 95% of people went straight to sleep, and that way the cabin would be even more quiet/dark.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class service

The service on this flight was okay. In the past I found Virgin Atlantic flight attendants to be phenomenal, among the most fun and professional in the industry, though I didn’t get that vibe on this flight. The crew was extremely senior (by Virgin Atlantic standards, at least), I assume because this was a trip between Christmas and New Years, and they wanted those days off. So while the crew was friendly they weren’t quite as good as I’ve had in the past. They basically felt a bit like an average British Airways crew (and not the mixed fleet variety, as I recently had from London to Los Angeles).

Anyway, a full trip report coming soon, but on the whole I really do love Virgin Atlantic…

  1. January 2nd, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Scottrick said,

    That cheesecake looks bigger than the entree. (And other than the cheesecake, rice, and bacon, it’s hard to recognize what any of it is…)

  2. January 2nd, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Lantean said,

    did you use Delta miles to book this?

  3. January 2nd, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Gil said,

    I take VS from JFK quite often and find the best way to handle the short flight is to eat dinner (and have a treatment) in the JFK Clubhouse, change into my pajamas before we leave the gate, flip the seat into a bed as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, wake up shortly before landing and change back into my street clothes. I then go to Revivals for a shower followed by a treatment and breakfast. It’s the best way to maximize sleep time and VS food is far better in the lounges than what they serve in the air. VS crew is usually quite good, but you can catch them on an off day once in a while. Looking forward to your full trip report.

  4. January 2nd, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Jorge said,

    I have never understood that “breakfast 3 hours after dinner” . Usually flights from the East Coast to London leave @6pm. and arrive at 1:30am EST.

    They want to serve breakfast at midnight ? Either have a light dinner and then a light breakfast, or just have a big “brunch”.

    Personally I eat dinner, and then half an Ambien. And say please don’t wake me up until landing!

  5. January 2nd, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    janyyc said,

    I’ve also never understood dinner and breakfast… Crazy concept.

    That seat looks TERRIBLE!!! Can’t believe it. 1-2-1 on 333 is sooooo bad. No space to put your stuff. AND you have to flip over to go into bed mode?! No thank you! Also can’t stand that the seat is leather. Doesn’t make sense!

    Also who needs a bar on a short 6-hour flight? Should have used that space better!

    AC J on 333 is light years better when compared to this.

  6. January 2nd, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    N said,

    I’ll wait for the full report, but that food looks pathetic.

  7. January 3rd, 2014 at 4:08 am

    lucky said,

    @ Lantean — Yep, full details here:
    http://boardingarea.com/onemileatatime/2013/12/25/redeeming-delta-skymiles-to-europe-for-new-years/

  8. January 3rd, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Farringdon said,

    Is that their regular food or do they (like BA) do a sleeper service on some flights with a limited menu designed to maximise sleeping time?

  9. January 3rd, 2014 at 5:17 am

    lucky said,

    @ Farringdon — The menu on the earlier flights is a bit better, but not much. Food is much better on longer flights, like the one I took from San Francisco to London a few years ago:
    http://boardingarea.com/onemileatatime/2011/03/20/five-star-virgin-virgin-atlantic-upper-class-from-san-francisco-sfo-to-london-lhr/

  10. January 3rd, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Hong Kong Airline News said,

    Ben, can you make a post regarding comparison of the two products?

  11. January 3rd, 2014 at 5:48 am

    Hong Kong Airline News said,

    Slip of mind…*Lucky*, can you make a post regarding comparison of the two products?

  12. January 3rd, 2014 at 5:49 am

    lucky said,

    @ Hong Kong Airline News — Yep, with the trip report I’ll post pictures of both products and do a comparison. :)

  13. January 3rd, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Lantean said,

    Ben, you say that Delta doesn’t allow awards from US to Asia via Europe… but do they allow awards to middle east via Europe? or India? are there any good values there to get an award on VA? Or would the London departure taxes destroy the value?
    thank you.

  14. January 3rd, 2014 at 8:24 am

    lucky said,

    @ Lantean — Yes, you can route from the US to India, Africa, or the Middle East via Europe. As long as you don’t stay in London for more than 24 hours you won’t be hit with the premium departure tax.

  15. January 3rd, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Lantean said,

    @Lucky

    OK, thank you. Are there some good values on the award chart you’d recommend?
    Thanks.

  16. January 5th, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Shane said,

    @Lucky,

    Did you fly the New York/Singapore A340 route before SIA ceased it in Oct/November?

  17. January 5th, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Shane — I couldn’t fit it into my schedule, sadly.

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