Surfing the Skies with Virgin Atlantic: Review

Virgin Atlantic business class is one of the premier brands for international travel through London. The ambience is modern, trendy, and upscale. While the product has lost some luster over the decades, it’s still on par with the competitive landscape of today.

Here’s some photos of my trip from San Francisco to London Heathrow Airport (SFO to LHR):

Thu, Jul 27: San Francisco, CA

Virgin Atlantic 787-9 Dreamliner
Virgin Atlantic 787-9 Dreamliner

Inside the SFO Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at SFO (San Francisco) is easily the best looking lounge at that airport. Located in the International Terminal A, and up the elevator to the 5th floor, there is a small check-in desk and a number of comfortable chairs and tables to relax in.

At each table, or counter location, there is a sign with a QR code for you to order food and drinks. The QR code is table specific, so don’t just scan a random QR code (like I did) before you find your final spot. After placing an order, someone will eventually stop by to drop off your order.

The food quality and presentation is excellent. The chips and salsa included guacamole. Such a treat. The charcuterie board was amazing. The only knock, albeit a small one, was the lack of design in the latte foam. I think though, that is because they use a fully-automatic espresso machine rather than a human barista.

Saving money on a Business Class ticket to London

The best way to save money on a ticket is to be flexible with your travel dates, for example:

  1. Go to google flights and put in your starting and ending airports to find who flies there, preferably non-stop.
    For me, it was Virgin, British Air, or United.
  2. Use the calendar feature to check out pricing for your trip to find the cheapest dates that work for you.
    Here I found that coming a couple days earlier saved enough to pay for a hotel stay. A “free” vacation!
  3. Purchase your tickets. I like to buy direct from the airline to minimize any hassle should something change in the future.
    I discovered that it was cheaper to book though Delta Airlines (which code-shares the Virgin flights)
  4. Sign up for the “Track Prices” feature, so you can be alerted should the price drop.
    I bought the ticket about 2.5 months ahead of time, and the price dropped $400USD, so I rebooked and now have some Delta flight credits.
Virgin Airways SFO gate
Virgin Airways SFO gate. Ready to start the journey.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class Review

Virgin Upper Class Seating

Virgin Atlantic flies two types of aircraft between SFO and LHR. The 787 and the A350. The aircraft types will change over time, but it pays to do some research on the seating types and arrangements. The 787-9 layout is the coffin-style where all the seats angle inward and look like narrow rows of coffins. Terrible. The A350-1000 however, is more the normal herringbone-style, so the window seats angle outward toward the windows. Much better.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Virgin Upper Class Amenity Kit Review

One negative about flying Virgin Atlantic these days, is the absolutely lame amenity kit. It’s some wrinkled, plastic-paper, zippered pouch. Too cheap to reuse or gift, too overkill for something to trash.

Either use something decent that can be reused (preferred), or just use a paper bag that’s meant to be tossed.

Virgin Atlantic sorry amenity kit
Virgin Atlantic sorry amenity kit

Virgin Upper Class Meal Review

Unlike the general perception (and reality) of the poor food found in England, meals on-board Virgin Atlantic is on-point. It all starts with the beautifully designed, golden, salt and pepper shakers. It’s a step up from the cheaper clear plastic ones they used to have years ago.

The food itself is very tasty, more-so when you consider it’s being served at 36,000 feet. After a few delicious meals, and some long naps, we are ready to land.

Arriving and Getting to London

The first thing to do when you arrive at LHR and exit customs is to hit the ATM to get some local currency. Then, hit the Sim Local store to get a SIM card to cover the duration of your trip. The best deal for cell coverage in England is a company called, Three.

Connect to the free LHR Heathrow Wi-Fi and download the Three app to manage your mobile plan.

There’s a small terminal where you can purchase tickets on the Heathrow Express to get to London Paddington station. Go down the ramp and follow the signs to get to the train platform.

TIP: If you get the Heathrow Express Business First seats, go to either end of the platform to wait. The first class cars are the first and last cars of the train.

Get more information on the official Heathrow Express Business First class page.

Have you flown on Virgin Atlantic? How did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Part of the Megalithomania UK Mysteries of Ancient England Tour

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *