I’m lucky enough to fly Virgin Atlantic a lot. As the UK’s boutique airline, it’s supposed to be a cut above British Airways. So, I hold them to high standards. I generally fly on their 787, and even though it has an older seat to the new A350, I still hold it in high regard. In fact, the 787 is by far my most flown aircraft and I love flying on it.
Recently, Virgin have been running their onboard menus on 6-month rotation which is a problem for someone like me who fly’s the same route a lot. However, a couple of weeks ago they announced a new menu, so this trip was a good chance to try it out!
Anyone who reads mine or Chris Wests posts knows that we book A LOT of Premium Economy tickets. We’ve both become wizards at upgrading those tickets through various means. This flight was no different. I booked a flexible Premium Economy return to Los Angeles and upgraded to Upper Class with points. Originally, I was flying back via Seattle because that was the best deal when I booked. However about 2 weeks before departure, no less than 8 reward seats opened up on the direct flight from LAX to London, so I jumped at this opportunity and changed from the indirect flight, to direct. The inbound flight is arguably the most important as it’s a night flight and I want the bed to sleep. There were no reward seats on the outbound flight until online check in opened and some appeared, so I upgraded that one too.
Moral of the story… always check for reward seats! They can appear anytime.
Generally speaking, Virgin is very good at offering last minute reward seats if the flight is not full. So always look in the days leading up to the flight and don’t be afraid to ask at check-in or the Clubhouse.
Upper Class Wing
I’ve been using the Upper Class wing a lot recently. Not only because of the Upper Class upgrades, but because Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members can now use it. So even if I fly Premium Economy, I can still use the wing which is awesome.
I arrived at the wing on the afternoon of my flight, and it was completely empty. I had a nice chinwag with the ladies running the wing that afternoon. In true Virgin style, they were wonderful and even got my moved into one of my favourite seats – 1G. Unfortunately, 1A wasn’t available! Usually, 1G is blocked as it’s the bassinet seat, so the one of the ladies made a quick phone call to unblock it and just like magic, the seat was mine. It always pays to be friendly with the staff!
After barely a few minutes, I was through the private security lane and headed to the lounge.
I think the Clubhouse is one of the best lounges in the country. Today it was quiet, which was surprising as I thought it would be busier for a Friday afternoon. I enjoyed a hotdog, some cold meats from the deli and some light drinks while waiting for my flight. One of my favourite places to sit in the lounge is behind the bar. It’s quiet and you get a great view of the aircraft on the apron outside the lounge.
If you’ve never used the Clubhouse, you can easily waste a couple of hours in there and not get bored. You can even use the outside terrace to watch (and hear) planes taking off and landing.
The gate we were using today was gate 22, which is a bit of a walk from the lounge – about 10 minutes. I headed down there early and boarding was already underway by the time I arrived. Today’s aircraft was G-VBOW, Amazing Grace. I think the name has changed, because I’m fairly sure G-VBOW was Pearly Queen… But anyway, I got onboard and settled into 1G for the flight.
One of the downsides of this seat is there is no overhead bins for it as the crew rest area is in the ceiling directly above the seat. So, I wanted to be early to grab some of the overhead bin storage above seat 1K. I’d say this is the only downside of seats 1-5G. So if you’re in those G seats and travelling hand baggage only, bear this in mind.
It didn’t take long before boarding was complete, and we had a short taxi to runway 27R for take-off.
After take-off, the FSM made herself known to me by welcoming me back as a Gold member. From what I could see, there was only 2 other Golds in Upper Class today. All the seats were full, so I expect others took advantage of upgrades too as there were multiple seats available in the days leading up to travel. The crew commented to me how Premium and Upper went from half empty to full in the 24 hours to departure which was unusual and clearly indicated that others upgraded.
I asked the crew for a sleep suit, and the only negative thing I could say about their service was that it wasn’t offered proactively, I had to ask. Which for an evening flight isn’t great but the rest of the time their service was amazing.
As I mentioned earlier, this flight was a chance for me to review the new menu. As usual, the menu and amenity kit were at my chair when I boarded.
I went with the serrano ham to start which was super tasty. Sometimes the starters are too vegetable heavy for me, but this was a good choice. Meaty but not too big.
Serrano ham starter
I chose the safe option of Herb roasted chicken for the main, which was OK. It was like a mini roast dinner which potatoes, broccolini and mushrooms. Truth be told, I saw someone with the roasted trout fillet and wish I’d have gotten that instead. Oh well, I’ll be having that next time!
Herb roasted chicken main meal
Then for dessert, I got the millionaires delice. Given its chocolate, that’s a hard one to mess up.
For a final snack, I enjoyed the cheese plate but declined the port as I’m not a fan.
Later in the flight I was peckish so decided to try the lamb flatbread. It was a tiny bit too spicy for my liking, but it was a good snack. On one of my future flights, I’ll try the satay chicken boa bun which smelled amazing.
The Virgin 787 seat hasn’t changed. And it’s still a favourite of mine. Its comfy, its got a great blend of private and openness. It’s easy to get in and out of. And when it’s in bed mode, it’s one of the comfiest in the sky.
Virgin Atlantic 787 window seats
I didn’t use the bar much on this flight, but I do love it as a place to work. I also use it when travelling with friends or colleagues to dine with them. The crew will happily serve your meals at the bar rather than you seat. It’s a great experience to dine at a bar when your 36,000 feet in the air!
Virgin Atlantic 787 bar
Arriving to LAX
Just as I thought we were about to finish a really nice flight, we landed at LAX and found there was no gate for us. We waited 20 minutes and eventually the pilot decided we’d use a remote stand. By the time that happened we’d been on the ground about 30 minutes. Once we got to the stand, we then had to wait for the best part of an hour for busses to turn up and for the jetbridge to attach. It was not a great experience. This wasn’t under the airlines control however, it was a by-product of all the building work LAX is experiencing in the run up to the Olympics in 2028.
Once we were off, it was a 5-minute bus ride to the terminal, and I was through customs in a flash thanks to Global Entry.
I’m enjoying the new menu. You can read about the inbound options on my flight back in a couple of weeks here and the items I haven’t tried, I’ll get to experience in December on my Las Vegas trip as this menu is good for Austin, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle.