Review: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class 747 London To San Francisco

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I flew Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class on the A340 several years ago, and then a couple of years ago flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class on the A330, which features Virgin Atlantic’s new (but not necessarily better) product. So I was excited to finally try Upper Class on the 747-400.

Virgin Atlantic 19
London (LHR) – San Francisco (SFO)
Tuesday, September 29
Depart: 12:00PM
Arrive: 3:00PM
Duration: 11hr
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 23K (Upper Class/Business Class)

We boarded through the forward door, where we were greeted by two of the crew and pointed right towards our seats. The 44 Upper Class seats on the Virgin Atlantic 747 are located in three cabins — the nose, the cabin immediately behind it, and the forward half of the upper deck.

Ideally we would have snagged seats on the upper deck or in the nose, but we booked last minute, so only the cabin behind the nose was available.

I was able to snag a picture of Upper Class in the nose on the way in, though, which is in a 1-1 configuration. There are a total of 14 seats spread across four rows. It looked quite spacious towards the back of the cabin, and there is something special about sitting in the nose.

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Virgin Atlantic 747 Upper Class, nose seating

Behind that was the cabin we were seated in, which consisted of 20 seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

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Virgin Atlantic 747 Upper Class cabin

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Virgin Atlantic 747 Upper Class cabin

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin 747

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin 747

Virgin Atlantic has herringbone seats in business class throughout their fleet, which aren’t exactly cutting edge anymore. These seats have the advantage of being private, since you don’t have a “traditional” seatmate, but at the same time it also means you’re sort of awkwardly facing other passengers. Shoulder room is also somewhat limited.

I do prefer reverse herringbone seats, as are found on American, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Qatar, etc., as they face away from the aisle and are more spacious.

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Virgin Atlantic 747 Upper Class cabin

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class seats are definitely a bit past their prime in terms of the finishes — the TV screens are quite small, and the seats themselves are really starting to show their age.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, seat 23K

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, seat 23K

Each seat has an ottoman, which can also double as a buddy seat, given that it has a seatbelt (that being said, foot space would be very limited if you had two people at one seat).

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat ottoman

Underneath the ottoman was a storage compartment perfect for shoes or a small bag.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat storage

To the left of the seat were the basic seat controls, which allow you to recline your seat, put it in the upright position, or pull out the tray table (seat controls at this seat are very basic, as you can only push the seat forward or back — there are no other settings).

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat controls

Then to the right of the seat are the buttons for placing the seat into the upright or bed position. Placing the bed in the seat position requires standing up, as the seat basically “folds over” to turn into a bed.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat controls

Underneath the entertainment screen was the controller for the entertainment, which I found sort of clunky and annoying to use. This is also where the headphone jack was located, as well as magazine rack.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class entertainment controls

Above that and to the right was a reading light as well as a small fold our drink tray. Given that it’s at shoulder level, I can’t even begin to imagine how often drinks have been accidentally spilled from it.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seat tray

Below that was a small bottle of water.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bottled water

One cool thing worth noting is that seats have individual air vents, which I find many US airlines don’t have. That’s pretty awesome, given how warm cabins on many European airlines tend to get during the flight.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class air vents

My one concern was that I was seated just a few rows away from the Upper Class bar, which was located at the back of the second business class cabin.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar 747

Anyway, once settled in the flight attendant working my aisle came by to offer pre-departure beverages. I selected a glass of champagne. I’d say she was nice enough, though at the same time not as sassy, proactive, or fun-seeming as some of the Virgin Atlantic crews I’ve had over the years.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class pre-departure champagne

The crew was clearly quite busy during boarding, as passengers continued to trickle aboard.

I took the opportunity to look at the amenity kit, which had been on my ottoman since I boarded. It was a fairly nice kit, though nothing special.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class amenity it

There were also headphones waiting at my seat.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class headphones

Virgin Atlantic offers pajamas on request on daytime flights, so I asked for a pair. It’s impressive that Virgin Atlantic offers them at all in business class (not many airlines do), though I find they’re made of a rather cheap material.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class pajamas

Anyway, at around 11:55AM the captain came on the PA to add his welcome aboard and inform us of our anticipated flight time of 10hr20min, which he thought would put us into San Francisco on time.

Shortly thereafter the cabin service supervisor, Tonya, came on the PA to add her welcome aboard. She seemed super sassy and fun, and I especially loved how she referred to the overhead bins as “hat racks.” Hah!

At 12:05PM we began our pushback with a completely full Upper Class cabin (best I could tell, at least), at which point the crew prepared for a manual safety demonstration, as I guess the video wasn’t working properly at the time.

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Virgin Atlantic 787 London Heathrow

We began our taxi to our departure runway at around 12:10PM. The taxi took quite a while, though fortunately there was plenty of fun traffic enroute, as we taxied past Terminal 3, and then eventually past British Airways’ Terminal 5.

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Taxiing to runway London Heathrow

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Air Canada 777 London Heathrow

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Cathay Pacific & Virgin Atlantic London Heathrow

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London Heathrow Terminal 5

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British Airways 777 London Heathrow

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London Heathrow Terminal 5

By around 12:20PM we were in the takeoff queue for Runway 9R, and about 10 minutes later we were cleared for takeoff.

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Lining up for takeoff London Heathrow

The 747 takeoff roll is always quite fun, and this flight was no exception. Soon enough we rotated, and had some great views of Terminal 4 on the climb out.

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View after takeoff from London Heathrow

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View after takeoff from London Heathrow

It was a gorgeous day in London (and had been an abnormally beautiful few days, for that matter), so the views were great. The downside to herringbone seats is that you really have to twist your neck to look at the window, since you otherwise face the aisle.

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View after takeoff from London Heathrow

I was surprised by how quickly the seatbelt sign was turned off. Non-US airlines consistently turn the sign off faster than US airlines, but in this case it was off just six minutes after takeoff.

I started by browsing the airshow on the entertainment screen. Not only was the screen small, but I found that it had terrible glare.

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Virgin Atlantic airshow enroute to San Francisco

I then browsed the entertainment selection, which was fine. It wasn’t as good as what you’d find on Emirates or Etihad, but was still solid.

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Virgin Atlantic inflight entertainment system

I decided to watch an episode of “2 Broke Girls,” which I hadn’t yet seen.

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Virgin Atlantic inflight entertainment system

After that I decided to watch a few episodes of “The Middle,” which I had on my iPad. The entertainment screen acted as a great “base” on which to rest the iPad.

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My entertainment of choice on Virgin Atlantic

About 30 minutes after takeoff hot towels were distributed.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class hot towel

Shortly thereafter Tonya came through the cabin to distribute menus and welcome each Upper Class passenger abroad. She was friendly, and clearly took pride in what she did.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class menu

I asked her where the power adapter was, and was informed that this plane was ancient, and didn’t even have a standard outlet. Instead they just had special outlets which required a further converter. The problem is that they don’t load enough of them for all passengers, and there were none left, despite asking at the beginning of the flight. About halfway through the flight a flight attendant finally brought me one. It’s ridiculous that in 2015 an airline like Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have standard power outlets on their planes.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class power adapeter

Anyway, I browsed the menu after being presented it. The menu read as follows:

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And the drink list read as follows:

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I found service after takeoff to be really slow, as it was an hour into the flight before drink orders were taken. I ordered the raspberry and acai daiquiri, and a glass of water to go along with it. I was also offered some crisps.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cocktail and crisps

After being served the drink, my meal order was taken. I requested a soup, appetizer, and main course. I didn’t think that was excessive, though was informed that they might not have enough, so I may have to choose between a soup and an appetizer. Alrighy then!

Again, service was exceptionally slow, and it was another 50 minutes — at this point almost two hours into the flight — before tables were set.

Virgin Atlantic does have very nice table settings, and I love the airplane-themed salt & pepper shakers.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class table setting

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class salt & pepper shaker

A little over two hours into the flight I was served the soup and appetizer, as well as a roll from the bread basket. I had a glass of water and the Sicilian white wine (which was really sweet) to go along with it.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class starter and soup

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bread — white Kaiser

The soup was quite good for what it was (there’s not all that huge of a variance in the quality of leek & potato soup, in my experience).

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class soup — leek and potato soup

The appetizer was excellent, especially the salmon and avocado.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class starter — prawn, avocado and tomato tian

For the main course I had the salmon fishcakes, which were tasty, though a bit dry. Fortunately they came with some dressing, which added a bit of flavor.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class main course — salmon fishcakes

Tiffany’s niece had the chicken.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class main course — free range roast chicken

For dessert I had the bread pudding. I mean, what’s not to love?

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class dessert — warm brioche and butter pudding

After that the crew came around with a cheese cart, though I was full at that point.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cheese cart

While the meal service was slow to start, it was actually pretty quick once underway, as the meal was done in about 45 minutes. Service throughout the meal was fine. Ultimately the crew was friendly, though they weren’t especially charming or attentive.

At this point we were over Iceland, with a bit over seven hours to go to San Francisco.

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Airshow enroute to San Francisco

After the meal I had a quick look at the bar. It’s certainly not to the level of the Emirates or Qatar A380 bars, but it’s nice enough.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar

There were a selection of snacks available, as well as quite a selection of liquor on display.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar snacks

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar liquor

I decided to watch an episode of “Impractical Jokers,” which I used to watch quite frequently back in the day.

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Virgin Atlantic entertainment system

At that point I was a bit tired and wanted to sleep, so I made my own bed. In my experience Virgin crews will typically proactively offer turndown service, though it wasn’t explicitly offered in this case. I know I could have asked, though I’m perfectly capable of making my own bed, so it wasn’t a big deal.

The bed was quite comfortable, though it’s not the widest bed out there. As mentioned above, you literally have to flip the seat over in order to turn it into a bed, which also means there’s no way to slightly angle the seatback up, for those of us who prefer to sleep with our head a few degrees above our feet.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bed

While I was hoping to sleep most of the way to San Francisco, that wasn’t meant to be, it would seem. After the meal the Upper Class bar was packed, and people were so loud. There’s no separation between the cabin and the bar, so even with earplugs I wasn’t able to sleep, they were so loud. But I won’t beat that topic to death, as I wrote about that experience shortly after the flight.

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Upper Class bar noise

Since I couldn’t sleep I decided to browse the entertainment system. I decided to watch “Get Hard,” starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. It was hilarious, at least for an airplane movie.

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Virgin Atlantic inflight entertainment selection

About four hours out of San Francisco the crew came around the cabin to see if anyone wanted anything from the “Extra Bites” menu, which read as follows:

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I figured I’d have the warm spinach and ricotta quiche. Within a minute of ordering it I was brought a cute table setting.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class table setting

Literally a minute later I was served the quiche. I’m guessing they pre-heated all the options shortly before asking people if they wanted any. The quiche was quite good.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class snack — warm spinach and ricotta quiche

I also had a cappuccino, which was excellent.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cappuccino

I got some work done on my laptop for the next couple of hours, and then about 90 minutes before landing the crew performed the pre-arrival service, which consisted of afternoon tea.

The afternoon tea menu read as follows:

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This service consisted of them rolling a cart through the aisle, and then each passenger would have a little layered tray filled at their seat.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class afternoon tea cart

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Virgin Atlantic afternoon tea service

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Virgin Atlantic afternoon tea service

On the top level was a scone (with jam and clotted cream) as well as sweets.

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Virgin Atlantic afternoon tea service — sweets

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Virgin Atlantic afternoon tea service — scones

Then on the lower level were finger sandwiches.

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Virgin Atlantic afternoon tea service — sandwiches

Everything was tasty, though as far as afternoon tea services go, it was fairly simple.

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Airshow enroute to San Francisco

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Airshow enroute to San Francisco

About 30 minutes before landing the captain came on the PA to advise us of our landing time and thank us for flying Virgin Atlantic.

Shortly thereafter one of the crew came by and asked if I could take a survey about my experience on the flight. Best I could tell I was the only person in my cabin who was asked to complete the survey. I agreed to, though my rankings weren’t especially good (I ranked most things, including the service, as average).

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Virgin Atlantic inflight survey

The views as we flew down the Oregon and then California coast were beautiful.

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View on approach into San Francisco

Eventually we began our approach into San Francisco, whereby we flew past the airport, which made for some beautiful views.

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View on approach into San Francisco

We then circled back around and began our final approach for Runway 28R.

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View on final approach into San Francisco

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View on final approach into San Francisco

We had an extremely smooth touchdown there, and stopped with minimal reverse thrust.

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Taxiing San Francisco Airport

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Taxiing San Francisco Airport

We had to wait a moment to cross Runway 28L, and from there had a quick taxi to our arrival gate, past some Delta and Southwest planes.

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Taxiing San Francisco Airport

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Taxiing San Francisco Airport

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Taxiing San Francisco Airport

We then pulled into our arrival gate next to an Emirates A380. Ahhhh!

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Emirates A380 San Francisco Airport

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bottom line

All things considered I’m a huge fan of Virgin Atlantic, and far prefer the overall experience to flying British Airways.

That being said, this wasn’t my favorite flight on Virgin Atlantic:

  • The crew on this flight was fine — they weren’t actively unfriendly, though also weren’t as engaged and “fun” as some of the better crews I’ve had on Virgin
  • I think it’s ridiculous that Virgin’s 747s don’t have power ports… in 2015 that’s pretty unacceptable
  • With so many airlines getting reverse herringbone seats nowadays, I think Virgin’s herringbone seats are a bit antiquated, though they’re fine for transatlantic flying
  • The food in Upper Class was edible, though not especially memorable

Anyway, when you take into account the whole experience, including the ground experience, I think Virgin Atlantic is still one of the best ways to cross the Atlantic in business class.

If you’ve flown Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. i flew Upper Class from LHR to MIA in July. I was amazed at how dated the product is. I prefer American’s Business Class on the 777-300ER any day. I’d agree with pretty much everything written above. I have also flown the coach product and I simply don’t understand why people think so highly of Virgin Atlantic. I find nothing special about flying with them.

  2. Worst kind of business class seats. No window views, no privacy. I almost prefer economy seats than herringbone!

  3. In the picture the seats look several inches wider than the USAir Envoy seats. I assume that’s not the case?

  4. Your experience *exactly* mirrors mine. Flew UC to New York a few months ago and found the ground service (especially the Clubhouse) to be outstanding, whereas the onboard experience (both hard and soft product) was distinctly average. Certainly nowhere near as good as business class on Emirates or Cathay. I got a seat in the nose, but found the herringbone suites antiquated, uncomfortable and lacking in privacy. The service and food were functional but underwhelming. Friends had raved about Virgin UC, but my lasting impression was ‘meh’.

  5. Agreed. It is not an airline I would chose to fly in J. The seats don’t work for me. There is no privacy. If your neighbor is having a conversation with someone in his buddy seat, you are part of the conversation, like it or not (happened to me on a PVG-LHR flight several years ago). I am surprised that they did not fix this issue with the A330 or 787. They seem not to want to admit that their product is not best in class. As for Economy, no way. I did it once in college and it was way too tight for me. I would do PE on a day flight to LHR from BOS or JFK (and back), but that is it.

  6. Good review, seems that Virgin Upper Class is best described as mildly average, I agree that their herringbone seating layout is past their sell-by-date.
    I don’t think however Virgin are in a hurry to retrofit their 747’s with power ports considering all of their Heathrow based 747’s are to be withdrawn by next year, they have already withdrawn Lady Penelope. In the meantime, their leisure configured 747’s based from Gatwick and Manchester etc. do have power ports however.

  7. “I then browsed the entertainment selection, which was fine. It wasn’t as good as what you’d find on Emirates or Etihad, but was still solid.”

    Doesn’t the entertainment system on Etihad have few Western options? What does that say about Virgin Atlantic then?

  8. Thanks for your excellent and honest trip review. It reminded me of the same complaints I had flying Virgin Business a dozen years ago. Most annoying was the complete lack of PRIVACY! No matter how good the service is, having fellow passengers facing each other across the isle for hours on end feels very uncomfortable. I can’t fly with them again.

  9. flew this same flight the next day (how excited would i have been to fly with Lucky – then i DEFINITELY would have gotten no sleep!) – as it was, i completely agree that the seat is pretty bad – too narrow even for me (i’m 5’2 and weigh 125 lbs, or as the Brits say, almost 9 stone, so i’m not especially wide), although i did sleep pretty well on the night flight SFO/LHR a few weeks before
    re: the noise from the bar – it’s a daytime flight the whole way, and people are simply more active (and loud), no matter where you are in the cabin (i was in 16A, far away from the bar) – i tend to have a hard time getting any sleep on these flights unless i have the cabin almost to myself (i.e. in F)
    i kind of hate getting potato chips with my drink but maybe that’s just me
    i flew Virgin this time because i had DL miles i wanted to use up, and because i LOVE the Clubhouses (both in SFO, where it is surprisingly good, although they have maximum 2 flights/day, and of course at Heathrow, where i sprang for the 30 minute facial for 35 pounds – AWESOME as it included foot soak and foot massage plus scalp massage) – it’s also nice to get a baggage allowance of 3 pieces (i bought a duvet in London, hence had the extra piece)
    i used the Wing this time since i was curious about it – it is pretty cool to get through the magic gates (OK, they are really just like the gates at a parking garage, but you have to give them the car’s registration number pre-arrival to get through…) once you find the darn turnoff – nobody rushed to open my door, and they hadn’t noted my request en route to bump up my bag count, but otherwise the service there was friendly and helpful, and it seemed that the queue for security was less than when i checked in at the regular Upper Class counter a few years ago – security is definitely not quite as private as their video, since they do get a LOT of UC pax at Heathrow!
    your review as usual was spot on, although i feel the service on my flight was more proactively fun and cheerful than yours (maybe not quite as fun and cheerful, strangely enough, as it had been on my night
    flight SFO/LHR)
    big drawback is the awful seat turned away from the window and facing other pax, plus being too narrow – but it seems that Sir Richard has no intention of changing that….

  10. @Miles Down Under -Etihad’s is fine in my experience, but then it has been a while since I last flew them, and it wasn’t a particularly long flight. However though, let’s all agree Emirates’s is without a doubt, the best system anyone has.

  11. I still pack an Empower adapter in my carry-on. It’s tiny and connects to my travel inverter. Not many airlines still use them but UA still had them in 777 J a couple of years ago.

  12. We flew Virgin Upper Class LAX-LHR only once…and then never again. We far prefer UA GF and even BF to the dated and unimpressive seats on Virgin. The IFE is woefully inadequate compared to the other major TATL airlines like UA (which is the best IMO), BA, LH, AF, and even AA, and DL. Service was fine, but nothing special.

    I think Virgin gets so much press about its impressive Clubhouse lounges that people forget that the premium cabin experience when flying Virgin is completely unimpressive. It’s kind of like how Emirates gets such press about its amazing A380 F while a bulk of its fleet’s business class seats are still angle flat.

    Virgin is a pass for us.

  13. Wonderful TR – a bit short 😉

    (okay, realizing that many commenters here just like to chime in how horrible things are or that they’re never reading again, I should clarify that the wink is to denote sarcasm and that I truly am happy that I read this in depth post, and despite whatever slight I might feel from the free content side of the internet has put upon me, I will come again).

  14. I think you mean most non-US airlines lack air vents, not most US airlines? In my experience US airlines are usually pretty good about having them.

    And at least the Virgin 747s (from LHR, anyway) are retiring within the next 6 months. The real travesty is that their A340s, which will be around a while longer, also lack regular power plugs. And their A330s and 787s have regular plugs in Upper Class, but no plug at all other than USB in premium economy or coach.

  15. The cabin looks rather filthy to me on your close-up photos. Am I the only one bothering about dirty compartments and buttons on a premium class?

  16. I don’t know why, but I always seem to get those surveys and I never see anyone else filling them out. I got them on both CX F flights, a JL F (we were the only ones in the cabin) and also on a CX J longhaul flight. The only flight I didn’t get a survey on for last trip was a regional CX J flight. And that was the only flight I actually wanted to ream them on the terrible seat that killed my neck for the next few days. They really need to retire that old seat.

  17. I flew VA to LHR last month- and never again. The service was good, but not great and perhaps the greatest drawback was the seats. The placement makes it almost impossible to speak with a travel companion- in this case, my wife- who was seated immediately behind me. One would have to get up and sit in a small chair – that closely resembles a child’s seat -facing the other passenger. Totally ridiculouse. Worse yet is the attempt to sleep. First, the seat’s are not nearly as wide as other BC seats on other carriers. Next, to get to the prone position, you need to call an attendant who then has to go through a series of machinations far beyond the working knowledge of even the most experienced traveller. One is then stuck in that position, for to return to the seated position – even for a short while – you need to again call the flight attendant. Totally ridiculous in the extreme.

    Finally, usually on long distance flights, the FAs turn on the cabin lights to alert the passengers that they will be soon arriving at their destination and to receive the breakfast which they ordered earlier in flight. The FAs did neither. The result was that I was awakened 45 minutes before landing and was told that my ordered breakfast would be “tight” to be served. I settled for two pastries and a cup of coffee. Why take a breakfast order and then not take measures to insure it is served? Absolutely absurd.

    Truthfully, I don’t know what all the buzz is about VA. My wife is even more negative than I am as she thought the food was, at best, of coach quality. We will never travel VA again

  18. Flown virgin Atlantic 3 time and will not be flying them again. Twice i have had the 747 swapped out for the a340. Last time i flew them was on 15 sept mia-lhr and it took more then 2 hours for the cabin to cool down it never got cold and the flight leaves at 2200hours

  19. VA – The only airline where I want to fly later in the day so I can spend as much of the day in the lounge as possible.

    The LHR clubhouse is plain awesome and worth flying UC alone IMO!

  20. Hey Lucky!
    In your opinion, which British airline (BA or VS) has a better afternoon tea? I think BA has a pretty good afternoon tea service, however, I haven’t flown VS J yet. Thanks!

  21. The first meal seems fine but not anything impressive as you say, but their mid-flight snack options and their afternoon tea runs rings about BA’s in Club World for sure! BA’s “Club Kitchen” is a joke compared to being offered 3 or 4 options, some warmed up for you on a flight of that stage length! And the options do sound appetizing. Also VS’s options offered and presentation of afternoon tea is a hell of a lot better than what BA offers, a couple of sandwiches still in plastic wrapping plopped on a plate with the sweets on the other side of the tray.

    Hard product for me especially on the 744 is a miss for sure, and their crew are some of the most inconsistent – you can get an absolutely amazing set or a very ambivalent one. To be fair I’ve never gotten a downright rude crew.

  22. Years ago I flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class three times between San Francisco and London. All three flights were so disappointing that I’ve never flown Virgin since. The female cabin crew seemed put-out to have discovered that rather than just model their skin-tight red uniforms, they were actually expected to WORK during the flight. The meals, indifferently served, were never more than just okay, and the noise from the masters-of-the-world braying at the belly-up bar continued unabated throughout the flights.

    Actually, the only Virgin Atlantic flight I DID enjoy – back in the 90’s – was from Athens to Gatwick aboard an A-320 operated by South East European Airways, and painted in Virgin’s colors. The cabin crew upfront was funny and charming and the enormous meal served was delicious!

  23. Hi Ben,

    Quick question- I’m flying Upper Class SFO-LHR next week on what’s supposed to be the 747. If I want to charge my phone will I need an adapter or is there USB outlet that I can plug the USB cable for iPhone in that will work? It’s my first time flying Atlantic and Googling hasn’t helped me so far.

  24. I flew the reverse route in early October. The 744 is easily my favourite airliner but the one I was on was clearly due for the scrap-heap. I sat in the upstairs UC cabin, which is my preference on any 744, received reasonably good service, noted the fact the seat had little padding left in it and the entertainment system was from a pre-Ark era. Early the next morning I walked back to the galley to get a drink (the crew call button wasn’t working) and had a chat with our cabin steward. He said the plane we were on was due to be retired from regular service in January 2016. But Mr Branson wants to keep it in the fleet so that it can be used as a, quote, “party plane”! I suspect that means it’ll be flying between Manchester and Riga or Ibiza. No need to upgrade the cabin for that crowd, although replacing the worn carpet with lino and adding a few garden hoses might be judicious. God help the crews rostered onto those flights.

  25. I flew the SFR-LHR route on 4 October, in UC upstairs and probably on the same 744 (Tubular Belle). The UC cabin on the top deck was a disaster zone. For example, gaps in the cabin wall lining had been filled with plastic foam to stop them grating and squeaking! This fix hadn’t worked. The seats would not be acceptable on most airlines and the IFE worked intermittently. But there was a good reason for the dilapidated state of the cabin (although I shouldn’t have had to go looking for one). On the way to the bar I asked a crew member if this was the oldest 744 still in flight. He said that it probably was and proudly added that it was due to be retired from regular service in January 2016 (about now). The caveat was that the aircraft was being retained in the Virgin fleet, as Sir Richard intended to initiate his “party plane” concept (Virgin Vomit Comet?)! I presume he intends to replace the frayed carpet with lino so the fuselage can be hosed out after each flight. The Virgin 787-9 on which I flew to Shanghai two weeks later now sets the comfort standard for that airline. Apart from the Scottish flight service manager constantly reminding us that we’d never find a virgin on BA, there was nothing startlingly annoying about the crew service.

  26. I flew VA UC from IAD to LHR and back in 2013. The UC space certainly is better than the coach
    or premium coach classes, but the UC seats are rather packed together, so privacy is limited and
    the noise from surrounding passengers can be considerable, preventing sleep.
    As far as the food goes, skip the beef for dinner going EB. The bacon butty for breakfast also was
    forgettable. The sandwiches for tea going back WB were outstanding.
    I didn’t care much for the clubhouse at LHR…too crowded and noisy and the staff were marginal. I
    preferred the smaller clubhouse at IAD. Would I fly VA UC again? Maybe. I can’t give it a ringing
    endorsement.

  27. I took VA Upper Class JFK-LHR-JFK last week after quite a few years of not traveling on VA. What a disappointment. Old and cramped for width seats, couldn’t-care-less, disinterested cabin crew, an unattended, dirty bar, little space to store personal items, old aircrcaft, small screen. I never liked the seats as when you want to lie flat just as you are nodding off you have to get up and make your bed. Try watching the TV which does not tilt on old aircraft with the bed in a flat position. Bottom line is: Virgin lives on it’s sexy hype and image but it does not really deliver a solid product compared to modern carriers, except for the excellent Clubhouse in Heathrow T3.

  28. I have flown twice first class with Virgin and have been looked after very well. I have made a short video on youtube of my recent first class trip.

    Either search James Henwood Virgin first class flight or copy and paste the link below

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz6KPdEpmFM

    Hope you all like. Thanks

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