After rushing through a very crowded London Heathrow Airport to catch our flight to New York’s JFK, we all but fell into the arms of the gracious flight attendants servicing the cabin of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class service. Our reaction? Confusion and delight, as we kept wondering how we could have been in such massive chaos earlier, only to now be in such luxury. The best part is that the seats in Upper Class are in private pods, which instantly resolves personal space issues that flare up when one stands shoulder to shoulder with the masses in busy airports.
We loved our pod, especially the little ottoman where we could stash our shoes before donning the black and purple Virgin socks in our amenity kits. The ottoman also doubled as a seat where the flight attendant, dressed spiffily in a white blouse and red pencil skirt, could sit and explain the nuances of our pod—how our seat could be raised or laid out flat (79 inches long) with the touch of a button; how a large white tray would pop up when we wanted it to; and how a screen, offering scads of television shows and films, would swing around to just the right angle if we so desired. If we wanted to go to sleep, no worries, they’d set us up with big cushy pillows, a mattress and soft white blankets. In fact, she told us that if we didn’t quite remember any of the things she’d told us, she’d be available to give us a hand with whatever we needed. Which was good, since we were already in the land of Zen by then.
As we took all of this in, we sipped our welcome glass of Champagne and ordered lunch: poached flaked salmon salad served with avocado and feta cheese with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Dessert was a choice between the “clotted-cream cheesecake with strawberry compote” and the “summery berry pudding.” We opted for the cheese plate (think Denhay cheddar and Cornish Camembert), which came with a glass of port.
What were other tests of the fabulousness of the service? The flight attendant asked us if we wanted olives or chips to go with our Bloody Mary, and when we opted for olives, she brought us a dish of the pitted green variety. We swallowed hard as we prefer black olives, Kalamata to be exact. However, upon eyeing them we realized they looked ultra-fresh and appealing, and downed them in a matter of minutes. Who would imagine at this stage we’d become converts to green olives—on an airplane no less!
Did we mention the bar? Yes, there is an open bar on Upper Class with rows of liquor bottles awash with Virgin’s standard purple lights. We were, however, clearly done with the drinks by then, and we’re glad we saved room for more indulgences—namely, cupcakes to go with our tea and, later, ice cream.
Note: If you book Upper Class, arrive at the airport with plenty of time to enjoy the Upper Class Clubhouse, where the luxuries include table service offering complimentary cocktails, a full dinner and snacks.