Less than twenty-four hours after arriving home from our Alaska trip, we booked a flight to England. On our cruise, we had learned that my father-in-law's illness was actually cancer that was progressing fast. We are grateful to have arrived in England with enough time to see him before he passed. We were even able to share our pictures from Alaska with him. Although the trip was very difficult and emotional, we treasured the time that we were able to spend with our family and friend's in England. It obviously wasn't a planned holiday, but we still did a few touristy things and I took pictures with the intention of blogging about our trip.
I'd be remiss if I didn't share our spectacular experience flying Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic. My in-laws insisted on paying for our plane tickets and also insisted that we not fly economy. This was so generous and thoughtful of them, especially during such a difficult time. My father-in-law is a former British Airways flight engineer and although we first looked to book with British Airways, the prices for last minute tickets were astronomical. Virgin Atlantic wasn't cheap, but it was less than half the price of British Airways.
Additionally, the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class ticket comes with some nice perks. The biggest for us was the tickets come with a chauffeured ride to/from the airport. This saved us a lot of stress and money. It was particularly nice in England, since initially we had opted to skip renting a car. My in-laws live about an hour from the airport and having a ride to their home, especially after getting very little sleep, was much appreciated.
When we arrived at the airport, we were taken to a special entrance and greeted curbside by two Virgin Atlantic employees. They checked our ID's, took our luggage, and handed us our boarding passes. The process took minutes. We were whisked through a private security area and taken to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. From exiting the car to ordering a cocktail in the lounge, it took maybe ten minutes. Zero hassle.
LAX's Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse has a restaurant set up and several lounge areas. Wanting to try every specialty cocktail on the menu, we had two rounds of drinks and ordered several dishes to share. Everything was fabulous. Here's what we ate-
Korean Beef Wholemeal Tacos
Butter Lettuce Salad with Chicken
Chili Crab Toast
California Sparking Wine Jelly
The Upper Class section of the plane was filled with individual pods that convert to beds. We were a little bag with toiletries and we were offered pajamas. What I liked most about the seats was that when they're in chair configuration, they have a footrest. It was very comfortable for the entire flight. I also liked that each seat faced the aisle. I could get up and not disturb other passengers. I prefer aisle seats for this reason. I dislike the feeling of being boxed in.
Here's a look at the pods in bed conversion. I have trouble sleeping on planes, but I was able to snooze for about four hours.
Virgin Atlantic is all about fun. In the spirit of fun, they have a bar in the Upper Class section. The bar was often manned by a flight attendant, but when they were busy, it was also open for passengers to help themselves. I love the idea of the bar, but if I'm able to fly Upper Class in the future, I will pick a seat away from the bar. It got noisy and rowdy. You can't see it from the picture below, but there are bar stools around the perimeter of the bar, holding about 8-10 passengers.
For dinner, I had a green salad, steak, and a chocolate cake. My favorite part was the adorable airplane shaped salt and pepper shakers!
After dinner, we were given a breakfast form to fill out. The choices included everything from a Full English Breakfast to lighter options, like cereal or yogurt. Two hours prior to landing, I was woken up by the flight attendant with my breakfast tray.
Our experience upon arriving in Heathrow was also a breeze. The only hiccup is they didn't have a car that could hold all of our luggage, so we had to split up and take separate cars. We didn't have this problem on the way home, as we called in advance and arranged to have a larger vehicle pick us up. Living in America, we forget that many of the vehicles in Europe are smaller.
The return trip home was similar with regard to the expedited arrival experience and security. We had a much further walk through Heathrow to get to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. Dan took this picture of me with the queen at the Duty Free shop. I love the reaction of the guy in the background. He works there, he must see other people taking this shot. Right?
The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow is massive; much, much larger than the one at LAX. There are several dining options and lounge areas, including one with a view of the runway. The lounge offers complimentary spa treatments and has a Bumble and Bumble Salon. I adore Bumble and Bumble! It is definitely not a bad place to spend your pre-flight time. I love the swinging bubble chairs.
We only had an hour, so we went for cocktails and lunch. Here's what we ate-
Confit Asian Duck Bao
Pan Fried Rainbow Trout
The Clubhouse Cheese Burger
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Appetizer plate with Salmon, Cheese, and Crackers. ( Self selected from the deli)
Our flight home was during the day, so we stayed awake the entire time. We were served soup and roasted chicken for lunch. My favorite part was the afternoon cream tea with cucumber sandwiches and scones.
The arrival process back in Los Angeles was just as easy and a driver was waiting to take us home. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class isn't cheap, but it's certainly worth it.