Excellent Adventure – VS J, QF J, CX J and F – PH, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Novotel, ConradAugust 13, 2016
REVIEW – Virgin Atlantic : Upper Class – London to Tokyo (second time)August 13, 2016
Virgin Atlantic (VS)
- Location: London (LHR)
- Class: Business
- Virgin and Delta Business class
- Virgin Gold and Delta Platinum Medallion status holders
- Date: April 2014
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have mixed feelings about Virgin Atlantic. They have a general air of fun and excitement about their product but it can sometimes fail to deliver. The ground experience in J is as good or better than in F for most airlines. The catering can run the gamut from horrible to pretty damn good.
For some reason though, a holiday seems like more of a holiday when you’re flying on VS. BA feels stuffy and business like, in fact most airlines do when put alongside VS. Their premium cabin is the only one in the world that I can think of that is neither elegant, business like nor particularly luxurious, yet still I look forward to flying it.
On award tickets you don’t receive limo transfers but you are still welcome to use the drive-thru check-in facility. You drive up a walled ramp and emerge into an amazing, elevated, circular driveway, complete with a giant golden orb sculpture in the centre.
On previous ocassions I have been greeted by name by a group of staff, one of whom would take my passport, another my bags and I would be walked to a mini-terminal of sorts, where my bags would be tagged and sent to the plane.
This time the circular drive was full of cars, coming and going, the staff were friendly enough but there was no personal touch, we were handed our boarding passes and sent to a long security line. Immediately the staff headed to greet the occupants of the next vehicle.
Usually the security line has one or two people in it, giving a calm feeling of exclusivity to your journey, today it nearly reached all the way out of the building! To be fair, the staff were doing everything possible to hurry things along, reminding people to remove their iPads, belts etc giving them a helping hand, carrying things etc. Still, the experience on the ground wasn’t exactly screaming premium today.
However, once you clear security and the forced trail through the duty free shop, you can head to my favourite lounge in the World, the VS clubhouse.
Despite recent headlines to the contrary, the staff were not wearing google glass today. We were asked if we needed a tour, I said I was happy to show K around. The look on her face upon seeing the inside of the clubhouse, was priceless.
I quickly took my shoes off and handed them over to be polished, then K and I headed over to the spa reception. K booked herself in for a facial and I asked for a haircut as well as a (paid) hot stone massage.
We took a seat in the fireplace lounge and ordered some coffees and salmon from the deli.
Much like the DTCI situation, I have to say that the clubhouse also seemed very crowded today. I mentioned this to one of the servers and she said that she’d heard this was because of the fact that Delta elites were now permitted to access the clubhouse. Hopefully VS finds a way to deal with the extra passenger load, over time.
After 5 minutes or so we headed off to get our treatments. My haircut was great and as an added bonus I had a view of the TG 747 that recently flew me to BKK!
My massage was really relaxing, as opposed to the weird and cold, masked experience at the TG F lounge. One small note though, I found it somewhat off putting that I faced down onto a metal bar with a safety sticker on it rather than the usual basket of pot pourri, origami etc that most spas place for you to look at during the massage. Not a huge deal, just a small observation.
K said that her treatment was super brief and not that good but was able to console herself by ordering some drinks at the bar.
We then wandered up to the Grey Goose lounge and briefly went up to the roof before being told off for taking glassware up there. Last time I was here there was a small tennis court set up for Wimbledon with a champagne bar, it looks like the regulations have tightened up since then. Bit of a shame really, it’s always nice to enjoy a drink in the open air, watching the AA, VS, SQ and TG planes.
With an hour to go before our flight we decided to order some more drinks and a few small plates from the restaurant menu. They were all pretty good but none of them beat the fresh selection of meats and fish available at the deli counter. Having said that, the chocolate brownie with raspberry coulis was as good an example of the dish as I’ve had in recent memory.
We liked the deli stuff, from earlier, so much that we got a couple of smoked salmon sandwiches on sourdough to go (you never know what the food will be like on board and the flight is over 12 hours).
Soon enough, it was time to head to our gate and play the VS aircraft substitution lottery.
- Part 1:
- Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse – London Heathrow Airport
- Part 2:
- Virgin Atlantic: Upper Class – London to Tokyo
- Part 3:
- Park Hyatt Tokyo
- Part 4:
- ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto
- Part 5:
- JAL Business Lounge – Narita Airport
- Part 6:
- Qantas Business Lounge – Narita Airport
- Part 7:
- Qantas: Business Class – Tokyo to Sydney
- Part 8:
- Qantas: Business Class – Sydney to Melbourne
- Part 9:
- Park Hyatt Melbourne
- Part 10:
- Hilton Cairns
- Part 11:
- Windjana Villa, Mission beach
- Part 12:
- Park Hyatt Sydney
- Part 13:
- Qantas Business Lounge – Sydney Airport
- Part 14:
- Cathay Pacific: Business Class – Sydney to Hong Kong
- Part 15:
- Cathay Pacific The Arrival Lounge – Hong Kong Airport
- Part 16:
- Novotel Century Hong Kong
- Part 17:
- Cathay Pacific The Wing: First Class – Hong Kong Airport
- Part 18:
- Cathay Pacific The Wing: Business Class – Hong Kong Airport
- Part 19:
- Qantas Combined F and J Lounge – Hong Kong Airport
- Part 20:
- Cathay Pacific: First Class – Hong Kong to Tokyo
- Part 21:
- Conrad Tokyo
- Part 22:
- Tokyo sights
- Part 23:
- Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse – Tokyo Narita Airport
- Part 24:
- Virgin Atlantic: Upper Class – Tokyo to London