Flight check: Virgin Atlantic A340-600 Upper Class

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Background

Virgin Atlantic flies to 34 destinations around the world, including three African cities – Lagos, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The airline flies the Airbus A340-600 on its Lagos-London route on a daily basis.

Check-In

I arrived at London Heathrow at 18h30 on a ‘Little Red’ flight from Manchester. We landed at Terminal 1 and were transported by bus to Terminal 3. I didn’t have to worry about picking up luggage, as I had checked mine through to Lagos. Check-in and security were seamless, thanks to the dedicated check-in line and private security lane.

Lounge

Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Clubhouse’ is about 10 minutes’ walk from check-in. At the heart of the Clubhouse is a lively bar area, but there’s plenty of other comfortable seating. Dotted around the Clubhouse are laptop points and the whole lounge is fully wireless. In terms of food, the offering is extensive – everything from an English breakfast to ‘British tapas’, to Virgin Atlantic’s speciality burger. If you’re after some fun, then head for the Den, which is home to TV, movies, video games etc. The Viewing Deck and Poolside Lounge are other relaxing areas. Alternatively, climb the white marble stairway that leads through the ‘clouds’ of the ceiling to the Grey Goose Loft Bar. Or you can get a haircut or facial at the Cowshed Spa, or even grab a shower. I battled to drag myself away.

Boarding

My 22h20 flight was called at 21h40 and I headed down one floor to gate E57 – a walk of about seven minutes. There was a separate line for premium passengers and I was quickly in my seat.

The Seat

The seat configuration in Upper Class was 1-2-1, and I quickly took in Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class suite. It has one of the longest Business Class beds, with an extra padded sleep sheet. I liked the fact that the espresso leather seat has the same comfort system as the bed, along with an even deeper recline. As a result, you can recline from the moment you board, and there’s never a need to put your seatback upright. The design has resulted in direct aisle access for each suite. The other touches I liked were the new mood lighting system and window built into the wall of each suite. There’s also a new flip-down cocktail table and push panel armrest, plus a fully-adjustable reading light and conveniently located headphone jack. The new passenger control unit still has lumbar support, plus firm touch buttons. On top of all of this, there’s more storage than before, with a new literature pocket and two ottoman storage solutions.

The Flight

Food was served about 45 minutes after take-off. I opted for a simple order of chicken, rice and vegetables, with a glass of red wine, followed by ice-cream and coffee – all of it delicious. The Virgin Atlantic meal service boasts a number of new features, including a modern table setting using designer linen and specially-designed crockery and cutlery. For dinner, the Upper Class menu offers a selection of hot and cold cuisine. There’s also a choice of fine wine, cheese and port. The attentive hostess informed me that I could order any kind of meal or drink any time. I needed to get some work done and power wasn’t an issue, thanks to the in-seat power supply. I also checked out the futuristic new on-board bar and the inflight entertainment – each suite has a 12.1-inch touchscreen monitor with a touchscreen handset, loaded with the airline’s new entertainment system called JAM.  You can connect your phone, USB stick or tablet to watch, read or listen to your own content, plus charge your device. There’s also over 100 selected movies and plenty of music, TV shows, games and radio. After reviewing all of that, I quickly converted my seat into a bed and slept soundly until I was woken for breakfast, which I declined.

Arrival

We landed on time at Murtala Muhammed International Airport at 05h30, and I was quickly through passport control.

Verdict

A First Class experience.

Obinna Emelike

Contact
www.virgin-atlantic.com