I lost my Virgin-ity!

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  MarkivJ 3 Nov 2017
at 19:20

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  • MarkivJ

    Yep folks, after years of flying BA (the last 4 trips being on Club World), I finally flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from SEA to LHR aboard their 789. A VS-virgin I no longer am!

    Compared to BA Club World, all I can say is “wow, what a difference”.

    Where VS wins:
    * Almost everywhere! Fancy new aeroplanes meant stronger and sturdier seats, television screen, table, everything.
    * Intelligently designed seats with more storage space: footwell for the shoes (I remove my shoes as soon as I board a plane) or the side strap for the bottle of water unlike BA’s CW where I have to shove everything inside the little drawer or hold on to the bottle of water.
    * Classy – be it the toiletries kit, the night dress (BA doesn’t even bother giving one), the crockery and cutlery, crisps in a nice bowl vs BA that just hands over a packet of Kenyan cashews, wooden’ish plate for bread versus nothing in BA, salt and pepper shakers versus the Mcdonalds type sachets (BA), etc. even the tissues are bright red and look classier.
    * More 1:1 attention to customers: whether it’s the whole ticking your breakfast options on the card, or prompt proactive refills of your glass, etc.
    * The washroom – it’s massive! Or as my American teenage friends would say “that’s sick, dude”! Very spacious, I like how they have a separate seating area next to the loo. It felt proper premium
    * Overall look and feel – whether it’s the cabin interiors, the psychadelic stuff that plays on the TV screen by the bar, the bar itself, even the trays and trolleys, everything just has that “high end” touch to it.

    Where BA wins:
    * The bed! yes, I know, those of us with a window seat have to crawl over our neighbour’s legs to get to the washroom and all, but I somehow like that bed and the sense of privacy and I felt I could breathe. With the VS layout and bed, when seated I felt a lack of privacy – I could easily see what my neighbours are upto, what they’re watching, etc. as I’m sure they could, mine. When sleeping, it felt claustrophobic (I now know why that bed is jokingly called the coffin).
    * The snack bar: whilst VS’s is fancy, i don’t really care for marmite flavoured popcorn in the middle of the night. I just want good ol’ Cadbury. BA has some good choices… and on some flights they have ice cream too!
    * The cabin crew: This might not be a popular opinion on this site, but I love BA’s cabin crew. They’ve always been extremely sweet and friendly with me, chitchat when I want to, and leave me be when needed. With VS, this whole “oh we’re friendly and casual and want to connect with the customer” came across at times as being fake, forced and quite overbearing. Not their fault, it was just quite annoying!

    Overall, I’d happily use VS once again (infact, I am – in Oct, when I fly back to Israel). Great overall product. But I also don’t want to poo-poo BA. It does have its strengths as well. And frankly, I’d any day land in T5 than in T3!


    Try a VS flight to a popular holiday destination and the rear seats in Upper Class have to suffer loud noise from the bar area, caused by the economy staff travellers enjoying copious quantities of free booze. I’ve heard enough to put me off VS.


    I did two flights with VS to CPT, must have been just before they dropped the route, perhaps 6 years ago.

    I was massively underwhelmed. At the time, even BA were better.

    VS is all about slick marketing and what a nice fellow Sir Richard is. The reality diverges significantly from the hype.


    I used to have Gold status with VS for many years when they first came out, loved the lounges and the funkiness of the airline, I also once received a personalised letter from Branson when something went wrong on a flight and he promised me his undivided attention if ever I needed him…

    What you dont know is that if things go wrong they are horrendous and consequently have never flown them again…

    50 hours delayed on their inaugural flight to JNB as the plane went technical and they had no replacement and at the time SAA flew Boeing and VS Airbus

    9 hour delay in Heathrow because they couldn’t get a plane from LGW to LHR ( in that time I could have walked the plane) and the general disregard annoyed me.

    I wrote I complained and asked for Branson’s undivided attention, didnt get it and have never set foot on a plane again, at the time I was user chooser for 15 people, they also never flew them again….

    As Capetonianm states slick marketing and Sir Richard who????


    As Capetonianm states slick marketing and Sir Richard who????

    AKA “Old Beardie” 😉


    My wife and I flew with Virgin from Manchester to Boston last month in J. We bought our tickets in one of their £999 sales and we enjoyed it. The service was very good and very friendly (very northern), food & entertainment was very good and we enjoyed the bar. Being an A330, the seating was a bit cramped but not as bad as I had been led to believe. The worst part was trying to sleep on the return but I am a terrible sleeper on planes in any case and it was far more comfortable for sitting than AA’s 777-300 that everyone raved about last year and in reality is the worst seat I have ever had the misfortune to travel in.

    In general, the experience was up with the standards I had in the late 90’s when I was a regular on the LON-NYC run and I would definitely fly with them again.


    I’d always choose Virgin Upper Class over BA Club World. Fast track, lounge, service, food, drinks and even the bed all better than BA. You may disagree about the bed, but what I like is the way it folds over and a perfect-fit clean mattress cover is put on top – plus the sleeper suit. The only plus points for CW:
    You are travelling as a couple and want to sit side by side in the middle seats.
    You earn Avios that can then be used for European flights with only a small service charge.


    I once asked for a cup on tea after dinner on a VS flight back from US and was told they do not serve tea as they want everyone to sleep! However the were quite happy to serve me a Rum and Coke (full fat!)


    I am still a Virgin as not based in the UK (so no feeder’s flight). But I enjoyed Markiv’s report. And, as him, I like the BA legacy staff. And BA’s bed. One day though, I hope to be able to try Virgin…


    I had to make another business trip to Israel and chose Virgin Atlantic for the SEA-LHR leg. I’m probably going against popular opinion here but I was very very impressed once again. By everything!

    1. I love the whole Upper Class wing checkin at LHR. It makes me feel “premium” from the very get-go. Sure, I paid 35 quid for a taxi I normally wouldn’t have (I’d just have just hopped on the Piccadilly Line, cheapskate bloke that I am!) but it’s really worth it.

    2. The departure lounge and customer service delivered to expectations. They start cooking the lunch menu only at noon, but as my boarding would commence at 1230p, and I had a complimentary massage treatment booked at 1145a, I requested if I could have lunch served to me AT noon when I finished with the massage. They said they’ll “do their best”. Massage done – as soon as I walked to the dining area, I was greeted with a smile, ushered to the table and my food brought out within 2 minutes! As I was grabbing the last morsel of the main course, my dessert was brought out promptly. And the dining area was quite busy, so I was impressed they were keeping my request in mind.

    3. Both legs were brilliant. The flight out of London was pushed back 10 mins ahead of schedule, and surprise surprise we had less than a 5 min wait for takeoff. Hence, we landed in Seattle 40 minutes early. Cabin crew was very nice, responsive and more hands-off (unlike the first time where I thought they were a bit OTT friendly). The aeroplane (789) of course is amazing, and still looks spanky new unlike BA’s 789 (that I use to fly to TLV) which already looks like it’s seen better days.

    4. In my original post, I’d mentioned that the bed felt quite claustrophobic. But as this was my 3rd and 4th time flying VS, I didn’t find the coffin style sleeping that claustrophobic as I did the first couple of times.

    I’ll go as far as saying – the first 2 times on VS, there were parts of BA I missed. Absolutely no BA feelings this time!

    If I could point out areas of improvement:
    * Their My booking section of the website isn’t that intuitive, it never let me book my Asian vegetarian meal in the end.
    * The “evening tea” concept is a bit confusing. The welcome Menu card says you can order any time “after the first meal” so passengers started ordering it pretty much 3 hours before landing that resulted in a lot of noise.
    * The food service needs to be quieter. I’m not blaming anyone, and I don’t know how the noise levels can be brought down. But the flight did feel “noisy”.
    * The snacks bar is very unlike BA’s. BA’s has the “regular” kind of junk food and snacks. But VS’s has weird “marmite flavoured crisps”, etc. – doesn’t look very appetising. Oh wait, I think I already mentioned this in my first post!

    Overall, I’ve now taken 4 flights on Upper Class and they have all been impressive. It seems obvious they’re really putting their heart and soul into making both the SEA route and their collaboration with Delta a success.

    Also, I quite fancied their tea/coffee mugs. When I told the cabin crew the same, they promptly wrapped up 2 (apparently there are 2 designs) and gave them to me as a momento! Also, again, I don’t know if they do this to every Upper Class passenger, but the CSP come running up to me (he was somewhere near row 1) as I was leaving the plane, tapped me on the shoulder and said “Sir, you’re genuinely one of the nicest passengers we’ve had. My crew loved serving you”. It felt nice!


    Nice to hear MarkiJ. Also a big fan of Virgin Upper Class, in particular the 787 product although the refit on the 330 is good too!

    A350 due in a couple of years, lead to believe there will be enhancements too!


    Also, I quite fancied their tea/coffee mugs. When I told the cabin crew the same, they promptly wrapped up 2 (apparently there are 2 designs) and gave them to me as a momento!

    I have had similar treatment from SAA and PLUNA, when I admired some wine, and a condiment set respectively. Unfortunately it didn’t work when I admired the stewardess (on PLUNA, not many you’d admire on SAA these days) but you can’t always get lucky! Sadly PLUNA no longer exist.


    haha! I’d love to see the look on Mrs.Capetonianm had you taken the FA’s home! BTW I’d never heard of PLUNA until now.


    Nice to see that captonianm can be so politically incorrect….if things are ever to improve a bit of political incorrectness is very much needed


    Nice to hear MarkiJ. Also a big fan of Virgin Upper Class, in particular the 787 product although the refit on the 330 is good too! A350 due in a couple of years, lead to believe there will be enhancements too!

    Thank you sir! Yes, I do really think they’re committed to making this a success and the Delta partnership has given them the much needed air cover. DL is clearly the big brother, and yes, VS gets told (erm, bullied) what to do by them. But VS doesn’t seem to be complaining. At least it’s made/making them profitable and given them the courage to risk/try out new things (like the MAN-US flights).

    I do wonder if they’ll eventually buy more aircraft and start flying to more destinations (or least to AMS and CDG given their recent mergers). I suspect continental EU feed is low on US flights.

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