The Complete Guide to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
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If we were asked to name a "cool" airline—that is, one that truly embraces fun and socializing onboard—we'd have to pick Virgin Atlantic. The London-based airline, founded by Sir Richard Branson, has long been known for being the cool younger sibling of British Airways. From dedicated onboard social spaces in Upper Class to gender-inclusive Vivienne Westwood uniforms for flight crews to some of the best airport lounges in the world, Virgin Atlantic is, quite frankly, simply fun to fly.
What to know about Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Virgin Atlantic has the distinction of flying all long-haul routes—all between the United Kingdom and the United States, the Caribbean, Lagos, South Africa, Israel, India, and China—so each aircraft in its fleet is equipped with an Upper Class cabin. But there are two very distinct Upper Class seats: Upper Class and Upper Class Suites. The former can be found on the Boeing 787 and A330-300, and they are very cramped, very non-private, and very outdated. They're arranged in a herringbone pattern that leaves every seat facing away from the windows.
But the Upper Class Suites on the A350 and A330neo, however, are vast improvements on the old models, with far more spacious and private configurations—ones that allow you to look out the window with ease. In both cases, however, all Upper Class seats have direct aisle access.
That said, Upper Class as a whole is a huge step up from both economy and premium economy (called Premium). For starters, all Upper Class seats are lie-flat, though there are two types of seats depending on the aircraft, and they are not made equal. (Pick the A350 or the A330neo, trust us.)
Upper Class also comes with a social space, a full multi-course meal menu, and more free-flowing drinks. But amenity kits and a pre-departure glass of sparkling wine aren't limited to Upper Class—you'll get those in Premium as well. On the ground, Upper Class passengers have an expedited check-in desk and access to some of the most highly regarded airline lounges in the world.
Best routes for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
The A350 and A330-900neo, both of which have Upper Class Suites, can be found on the following U.S. routes and their returns. Please note that aircraft can change any time, so there's no guarantee you'll end up on your desired aircraft.
- LAX-LHR (some flights)
- JFK-LHR (some flights)
Real deals found by Going in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Miami to Marrakech for $1,193 roundtrip
- NYC to London for $885 roundtrip (Mistake Fare)
- Boston to Dublin for $2,592 roundtrip
The Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience at the airport
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lounge access
Upper Class passengers are granted access to Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses, which can be found at Heathrow in London; Boston; New York; San Francisco; Washington, DC; and Johannesburg, South Africa.
The high-design flagship lounge in London is undoubtedly the finest, located in Heathrow's dedicated Upper Class Wing. The 26,000-square-foot space has multiple seating options, including a restaurant section where servers will take your order, a bar, working spaces, and relaxation areas. There's also an outdoor patio overlooking the runway and a gym with Peletons. The satellite lounges are far smaller, but provide similar amenities.
Virgin Atlantic also has a Revivals Lounge at Heathrow, which is designed for passengers arriving on red-eye flights. There, you can have a full English breakfast, read the morning paper, and take a shower before heading off into London.
For airports without Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses, Upper Class passengers can use partner lounges in each of the airports that the airline flies to. In the U.S., that typically is a Delta Sky Club (Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic), though it also includes the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX and The Club at LAS.
Upper Class passengers have dedicated check-in desks at all airports. And at Heathrow, they actually have an entire check-in wing to themselves, which includes a private security line. Given the wait times that build up at the main Heathrow entrance, this wing can be extremely helpful.
Baggage allowance in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Upper Class passengers can check two bags for free, provided they measure no more than 35.5 x 29.5 x 16 inches and weigh 70.5 pounds or less. They can also carry on two bags, plus a personal item. The weight limit for one carry-on bag is 26 pounds, while the combined weight limit for two carry-on bags is 35 pounds. Do note that the TSA limits hand baggage to one carry-on and one personal item, though, so you would only be able to bring three bags onboard if you're not flying to or from the U.S.
The Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience in the air
Seats in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- 787: Virgin's 787s are among the oldest in its (still very young) fleet, and its seats could use a good update. They are not motorized, so you can only recline to one fixed position. They do, however, lie flat—but that requires a flight attendant to manually flip the seat into the bed position. They're arranged in a narrow 1-1-1 herringbone pattern, in which both window seats actually face away from the window, requiring you to turn your head at an awkward angle to look out. The good news is you still have an 11.1-inch TV (although that's pretty small by business class standards these days), as well as a USB and outlet. But there's pretty much zero storage space, save for a tiny tray. Upright, the seats are 22 inches wide, but when flat, the beds are 6 feet, 6 inches long and 33 inches wide. There's vastly little privacy in this cabin, so choose your seat wisely. The social space in this cabin is called The Bar, and it's right next to row 11, and it can get noisy. Row 1, on the other hand, is next to the galley, which can also get noisy. It's best to opt for the A seats somewhere in the middle of the cabin; the G and K seats face each other, which reduces privacy even further.
- A330-300: The A330-300 Upper Class cabin is practically identical to the 787's layout, with one key difference; The Bar is set behind the cabin, so chatty passengers there won't disrupt the sleeping ones as much.
- A350: This is where Upper Class changes to Upper Class Suites, which are practically a different class entirely. They're all forward-facing seats arranged in a 1-2-1 pattern—no awkward craning of the neck to look out the window. They offer a fair bit of privacy thanks to retractable privacy screens that partially shield each seat from the aisle. But they do lack storage space, which is limited to shelves again. The seats in the middle of the aircraft have dividers that can be lowered if you're traveling with a partner (book odd-numbered seats to be closer together). The seats are only 20 inches wide, though, both in upright and bed configuration (which is 6 feet and 7 inches long. But they are motorized so you can adjust the recline to any angle yourself. The TV screen is 18.5 inches, and there are two USBs and one outlet. Note that the footwell is larger in row 1 than all the other rows, and that A and K seats are situated closer to the window than C and G seats. Other than that, each seat is pretty much created equal. The social space on this aircraft is called The Loft, and it's two banquettes rather than a true bar; it's located behind the cabin, but noise may trickle out to seats 11A and 11K.
- A330neo: This is Virgin Atlantic's newest aircraft, and it has its most advanced Upper Class cabin. It, like the A350, has the Upper Class Suites, but here the motorized seats are 22 inches wide with 17.1-inch TVs with Bluetooth audio. There's also far more storage, and the door fully closes to the aisle for extra privacy. The cabin also has the addition of the Retreat Suites, two extra-large seats in row 1 that have ottomans that double as social seats. Passengers in other seats can sit on the ottomans to have a meal or play a game with the Retreat Suites passengers over a small table; a divider between the Retreat Suites can be lowered to make it a social space for four. The other social space in this cabin is The Loft, which sits behind the seats. There's a self-serve refrigerator with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, plus comfy benches for sitting and chatting with travel companions.
Upper Class has a dedicated suite of flight attendants, though the specific number depends on the aircraft. But service is always quick and always delivered with a smile. Upper Class passengers also receive pajamas and eco-friendly amenity kits in paper bags, which include bamboo toothbrushes, eye masks, a pen, earplugs, socks, and mini REN toiletries.
Meals in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Most Virgin Atlantic flights include two meals, whether breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, or dinner then breakfast on a redeye. Each is a multi-course, plated affair; dishes can range from grilled asparagus and quail’s egg to garlic and ginger prawns to a fig and goat cheese tart. There are also desserts and cheese plates available. For light meals, you can order things like cream tea, carb cakes, and superfood salads.
Your flight starts with a pre-departure glass of bubbly, followed by an apéritif, then drinks with dinner. That ranges from wines to a rotating selection of beers to spirits and liqueurs (Grey Goose Vodka, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, and Amarula Cream Liqueur to name a few). There are also cocktails like a Bay Breeze or an English Garden, which is a gin drink with elderflower, apple, mint, lemon, and cucumber.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class vs premium economy
The main differences between Upper Class and Premium are that Upper Class has lie-flat seats, multi-course meals, pajamas, extra checked and carry-on baggage, and access to a social space onboard, plus lounge access on the ground. At Heathrow, Upper Class passengers also have their own check-in wing with private security. Otherwise, Premium passengers still have their own priority check-in desk, receive priority boarding, have amenity kits, and even are served a pre-departure glass of bubbly—all benefits you'll find in Upper Class, too.
How to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
How much does it cost for an Upper Class ticket on Virgin Atlantic?
Upper Class tickets vary in price based on route, season, and availability. They typically cost several thousand dollars, but Going has found our members deals from the US in the range of $2,000-$3,000 roundtrip.
How to upgrade to Upper Class of Virgin Atlantic for free
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members can use their miles to upgrade for free. Otherwise, Delta Diamond Medallion members can use Global Upgrade Certificates to upgrade to Upper Class Virgin Atlantic flights, based on availability.
How much does it cost to upgrade to Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic?
Paid upgrades cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars; it depends on the route, season, and availability. For a cheaper upgrade, you can bid for one before your flight, setting your maximum price that you'd be willing to pay. But there's no guarantee the upgrade will go through. Confirmed upgrades are typically more expensive.
How many miles to upgrade to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?
The number of miles needed to upgrade to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class depends on the class you originally booked, the destination, and the time of year. Upgrades on flights between London and the West Coast of the United States, for instance, fluctuate between 67,400 and 116,200 miles.
Given that all Virgin Atlantic seats are lie-flat, that's a pretty solid deal no matter how you cut it. But the difference between the old Upper Class seats and the new Upper Class Suites is vast. If you had no other choice, the narrow herringbone Upper Class seats will do the trick in terms of being able to eat a proper meal and lie down to sleep (albeit slightly uncomfortably) on a redeye. But we would go out of our way to book a flight with Upper Class Suites, which offer far more privacy. The ground experience is exceptional no matter what aircraft you're on; the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and the Revivals Lounge at Heathrow are particular standouts.
Read more about business class:
Frequently asked questions about Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
What does Virgin Atlantic Upper Class include?
Do you get lounge access with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?
Do seats in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lie flat?
Is food served in Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic?
How many checked bags do you get in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?
What are the best seats in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?
Published February 10, 2023
Last updated December 21, 2023
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