18 February 2013, 10:13
It was just like this… but with bangs.
Despite my self-proclaimed international playgirl status, I still fly economy most of the time. I love first class, but the prices are eye-wateringly hard to justify. Most of the time, you can find me in coach with the screaming babies of the world.
I think that may have all changed, though. Uh oh.
You see, I booked my flight to London through Virgin Atlantic — because really, who else would you want to fly to Europe with? — & even though I ummed & ahhed over upgrading my seat, I decided not to.
In a fantastic twist of fate, a few days later, I had an upgrade to Upper Class!
Was it all luck? No, not exactly! I won an upgrade to the Clubhouse by tweeting as part of Virgin Atlantic’s Christmas giveaway… But when they emailed me for my details, I sent them a sweet email not-so-subtly begging for an Upper Class experience!
Cheeky? YES! But cheeky is my middle name!
Thankfully, my cheekiness worked on my contact at Virgin — or maybe it was just that I told him he’d be “my new best friend”?! — & my new BFF Joshua upgraded me to Upper Class for my flight both to & from London.
Spoiled rotten, for sure.
It was the experience of a lifetime, so of course, it only seems fair to let you in on the details…
Virgin’s Clubhouses are one of the things that make flying with them such a delight. Now, having a dedicated lounge at the airport is nothing new: most airlines have them, & they’re pretty lackluster. They usually have a bar, some seats, but most importantly, they serve as a much-needed respite from the aforementioned screaming babies.
But Virgin’s Clubhouses are on a whole other level. For example, you can eat & drink all you want, & it is totally complimentary. Both times I was in there, I ended up devouring a full English breakfast, because let’s face it, you just can’t get good baked beans in the U.S.A.!
Secondly, they offer spa treatments, like facials, massages, haircuts & blowouts, & they are free. FREE!
It was a sublime experience: divine aromatherapy, hot towels, exfoliation, serums & wonder. After my slightly hellacious morning, in which I’d woken up at 5am, caught a taxi to Gare Nord, taken the Eurostar to London, & caught a black cab to Heathrow, it was exactly what I needed.
Afterwards, my therapist handed me a glass of water infused with strawberries & mint. I mean, hello. That is perfection.
But if you’d rather not have a treatment, that’s okay, there is plenty to explore. Heathrow’s Clubhouse — their mothership — comes complete with a rooftop garden, a Grey Goose loft bar, hanging bubble chairs, a restaurant, a deli & approximately three million power-plugs for ailing laptops.
I love you, Richard Branson.
Ultimately, a cool glowing purple cabin & a killer Clubhouse don’t mean diddly-squat if you’re squished into a teeny-tiny seat.
Thankfully, I didn’t have this problem.
Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class is an actual slice of heaven in the sky. Filled with ambient purple light, it’s a big space full of oversized seats & ottomans, which recline to become a full bed. Your little pod comes complete with a fluffy pillow, a plump duvet, & even a slim but luxurious padded mattress which transforms your seat into the perfect place for a snooze.
Look, anything beats trying to catch a bit of shut-eye with your knees jammed up against a seat & a terrible thin pillow wedged between you & your noisy neighbour, but this is a pretty exceptional experience by anyone’s standards.
I actually fell asleep before we took off. Oops…
If you are not dead tired like I was, there are plenty of things to occupy you in your Upper Class playground. Like a trillion movies (when I finally woke up, I watched Pitch Perfect & Ted), a power point for industrious workers, all the food you can think of & infinite drinks.
...Which, if you wanted, you could drink at the bar.
Yeah, that’s pretty badass.
I fly Virgin as much as I possibly can, even choosing to fly with them when their fares are a little higher, simply because the service is so good. If you’ve ever flown with them, you know this to be true… & as you can imagine, their Upper Class service is even better.
Checking in was a breeze, & all the staff members I encountered were 100% charming & sweet. They went out of their way to make me happy & comfortable. For example, when I decided to pass on breakfast, the flight attendant brought me two little chocolate muffins.
“Just in case,” she said, smiling.
They also will transform your seat into your bed for you: pressing the buttons, laying out the mattress, duvet & pillow just so. Pampered, for sure!
One of the coolest things? The private security channel at Heathrow. You hold your boarding pass up to a scanner on the wall, & the panel beside you — which just looks like a wall — swings wide open. You walk through, & right up to an x-ray machine. You don’t have to stand in a long, snaking queue. There is no waiting & no standing around. It is GENIUS.
Of course, the problem with service like this is that you start to want it everywhere else, too…
Had to snap a photo of this! If you’re interested, I had the carrot soup, roast chicken breast, & some cheese. The perfect meal! The afternoon tea, served just before landing, was an incredible treat, too: a warm scone with cream & jam, sandwiches with the crusts cut off (my FAVE!), & a raspberry macaron. Helloooooo lover!
So, do I recommend Virgin Upper Class?
Honestly, you’d be mad not to. The whole experience was wonderful from start to finish — from the Clubhouse where I was able to get work done as well as a facial, to the delicious meals, to the smiling service, right down to sleeping through half the flight.
Before we took off, I snuggled down in my oversized seat with a view of the door, watching people walk onto the plane. A mother with a fussy baby boarded, & I watched in amazement as the crying noises disappeared into the back of the plane.
Now, that’s worth paying for.
These days, we expect there to be no disruption to our routine, despite flying at 30,000 feet. We want to be able to work, to eat snacks & the ability to take a nap at all times… & Virgin has been able to provide this.
Are we all just being a little spoiled? Yes, definitely. But when you find someone to indulge your whims, you run with it!
P.S. This is not a sponsored post… But if Richard Branson wanted to hang out, I would totally not be opposed. Just saying. Call me, Richard!