On Location: Flying Virgin Atlantic's Upgraded Classes


For our flights to and from London we got to try two upgraded Virgin Atlantic experiences—both Premium Economy and Upper Class. 

Heading over to New York, we flew Premium Economy, which has some very comfy leather seats configured in a 2-3-2 arrangement. The seats lean back comfortably, and a footrest is attached to the seat in front to help keep legs elevated as much as possible. There is also a good range of entertainment options on the personal TVs, so passengers should have no problem staying occupied. (One downside: There did not seem to be any electrical outlets for laptop computers that we could find.) 

The food in Premium Economy was quite good: We opted for the Chicken Tikka Masala, which was quite nice and came with a tiny bottle of wine. (The full English breakfast in the morning, however, was a little disappointing, but the tea was good and strong.) 

Flying back, we were upgraded to Upper Class (pictured), which has a huge range of perks, including a dedicated bar in the cabin (and a truly impressive drink menu, including Bombay Sapphire gin and Aberfeldy single-malt scotch). 

The seats are arranged at an angle and each has an ottoman that can serve as a guest seat (it even has its own seatbelt—just in case!) or for storing small luggage items. Nice touch: Much like Qantas, Virgin Atlantic Upper Class guests can get pajamas for overnight flights—and they’re even adjustable for a secure fit. (They’re also quite comfy.) 

The seats do fold flat, but not with the ease that many other airlines’ business and first class seats do: A flight attendant must set the bed up and put on the mattress pad and duvet. Once it’s set up, the bed is perfectly comfortable (and the configuration of the seats guarantees plenty of privacy), but when one is ready to sit up again, one must wait for assistant. 

The Upper Class dining menu is also very impressive, with a very tasty Asian-inspired braised shin of beef and cheese and butternut squash tortellini for the vegetarian option. We didn’t get to try the cheese and port before nodding off, but it was certainly tempting (and thoroughly English, with cheeses from Leicester, Shropshire and Cornwall). If one is feeling peckish after dinner, there are also plenty of snacks available throughout the flight, including salad, sushi and a mini burger. 

Oh, and electrical outlets for American plugs are also not to be found at the Upper Class seats, so be sure to bring an adaptor.


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