April 22, 2024

Virgin Atlantic, Upper Class, London Heathrow-Los Angeles

THE FLIGHT: I was scheduled to fly to the ‘City of Angels’ with Delta but on the morning of departure was informed (via the Delta app) that I had been switched to a flight on Virgin, an alliance partner, as my intended Delta flight (DL5977) was due to be delayed by up to six hours. My flight (VS23) took off just an hour after the original scheduled Delta departure. The route is operated by a A350-1000 aircraft and takes around 11 hours.

THE CHECK-IN: Terminal 3 was busy on this Sunday afternoon but, arriving three hours before my flight, there were few passengers at the four Virgin check-in desks. My bags were quickly dispatched, I was pointed to Virgin’s dedicated fast track lane, was through security in 10 minutes and spent an hour in Virgin’s own well-stocked lounge, where I dined in the sit-down ‘restaurant’ on parsnip soup and a plant burger.

THE SEAT: 5G. I was seated on the right of two middle seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. Virgin feature 44 Upper Class cabins on the A350-1000. There was a single USB port and the headphone dock. The little glass divider between the seats, that slides three-quarters of the away across at eye-level height, was also not working. I was impressed by the 18.5-inch touchscreen and close charging point.

THE SERVICE: Upon boarding I was offered Champagne and orange juice and an amenity bag that included cotton socks, a bamboo toothbrush and REN lip balm, moisturiser and hand cream. There was also a can of water (not a plastic bottle) and the menu. Dinner was served early after take-off. My starter of salmon gravadlax with pickled cucumber and grain mustard mayonnaise and pumpernickel bread was superb, as was the main of Tonagashi marinated halloumi bowl with sushi rice, braised pineapple, seaweed salad, edamame beans and crispy onions. Then it was lights out and bed and mattress down for a few hours – the seat reclined into a 6 foot 7 inch long fully-flat bed. A couple of hours before landing – around 03.30 UK time – snacks (a cheese sandwich with coleslaw and lettuce on a crunchy brown bread) and coffee and tea were served.

THE VERDICT: The layout and look of the Upper Class cabin was undeniably sleek and sexy, befitting of the Virgin image, with the purple colour scheme and mood lighting oozing style and quality, although the seat width felt a touch narrow and also had limited storage area. However, I liked being able to order anything, from Champagne to afternoon tea, directly from the seat, using the in-flight entertainment system. The hours over the Atlantic and across the US into Southern California passed seamlessly and very comfortably. Although we arrived in Los Angeles around 21.30, it was still a ‘night flight’, which meant we saw little of the crew for most of the flight, which created a quiet and cosy sleeping environment. 

THE DETAILS: Return Upper Class flights from £3,571


Steve Hartridge