I thought I would start the year off in style and talk about my favorite in-flight and pre-flight experience. A friend of mine recently mentioned that she was flying to London on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and I started to get giddy. She was confused. I realized she had no idea what a treat her flight would be and I was all too eager to tell her.
This was our 2008 trip to the U.K. and we had not finalized our flight plans yet. Our travel agent called one morning to tell us that there was a promotion with Virgin Atlantic. The promotion would last for only 20 minutes and it offered Upper Class seats at a fraction of the price. It was still an expensive flight mind you, but us middle-classers might not ever be able to afford a true full-priced ticket. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel like millionaires. We called everyone in our travel group to see if we were all on board. My one rule was that everyone had to agree – either we are all in or we are all back in coach. I loathed the idea of one of my pals sitting alone with the masses while we sipped champagne. Fortunately, we all decided to take the plunge. We booked it.
Most people agree that the airport experience is at the very least a drag, if not totally stressful. Unless you are Samantha Brown and somehow enjoy the wild frenzy. Your Virgin Atlantic Upper Class ticket provides access to the posh clubhouse lounge. While others are dodging shoulder-bumping crowds searching for a place to sit, you will be resting in quiet serenity. At LAX, the lounge is shared with Air New Zealand and is located on the second floor. You are literally elevated above the rest of the terminal.
After showing your ticket – and proving your temporary worthiness – at the front desk, your vacation begins. Clean, classy furniture, showers, food buffet, and an open bar are at your disposal. Most of it was self-serve and it was all-inclusive. Fill your plate as many times as you want. I have heard some business regulars call it average in the world of chic lounges. Yes, in comparison to the lounge at Heathrow, which looks more like an upscale Austin Powers set, the LAX lounge is simpler. Definitely get there early for the Heathrow lounge. There is a larger selection of food, spa services, and various areas for play/reading/resting. I especially liked the pool table. One person in our group tried to book a massage at Heathrow, but no appointments were available. Neil Patrick Harris happened to be there at the same time and was also turned away.
The flight was amazing. You are greeted by smartly dressed staff members that are ready to help you stow your things. You are given a small bag of goodies including toothpaste, a toothbrush, lotion, lip balm, and socks. You are also given black Virgin Atlantic pajamas (“sleep suit”). Your seat is more like an angled pod. You have a footrest, an adjustable television with several channels, and a fold-down table. There is a menu from which you can order as many courses as you like. If you are a wine-drinker, someone will be around to help you pair the right glass to your selections. The footrest also functions as an extra seat. Thus, Aaron and I were able to dine together in his pod space. When you become restless during the long flight, get up and go to the bar. You can chat with the bartender and mingle with fellow Upper Classers. When you are ready for bed, head to the lavatory and change into your new PJ’s. By the time I got back to my pod, the staff had already converted it to a bed, sheets and all. The television adjusts perfectly so you can fall asleep to whatever fluffy show suits you. Now you can dream about the adventures ahead with no worries of any jet lag.
I might not be able to fly like this again, but it was definitely worth the extra cut from my paycheck. Besides, when are you ever going to see Neil Patrick Harris in PJ’s? Well, for an online journalist like me, it’s probably a one-time deal. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is nothing but class. From the moment you enter the lounge to the moment you glide your carry-on off the plane, you are treated like royalty. By the way, you are allowed to bring an extra carry-on to Upper Class. Frankly, you can just pack some day clothes because the rest is on them.