JONAS
Jonas Rask Eilersen
Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class
New York Newark - London Heathrow, Boeing 787-900, Upper Class (Business Class)
15th December 2016

In addition to Virgin’s multiple flights between New York JFK and London Heathrow, the airline runs a daily evening flight from Newark.

As this route is usually operated by Virgin’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, I thought it’d be a fun way to travel between to of the cities I spend the most time in. Read on for my honest review.

Check In
Unlike many locals, I don't have a preference for JFK over Newark, and I usually find that the time to get to either airport from Manhattan is approximately the same; some 40-45 minutes (traffic permitting...)

With the flight leaving around 2200, I was dropped off at Newarks' Terminal B around 2000 - which was plenty of time. There was no queue at the Upper Class check in desk, and I was attended to immediately. The check in attendant was extraordinarily friendly and courteous and seemed genuinely happy with providing great service. My bag was tagged to Heathrow, my seat assignment was sorted without fuss, and I was provided with access documents for both the security fast track and the lounge. Full marks.
The Lounge
I was through security in a minute, thanks to the fast track, and could make my way to the lounge. This is located midway through the concourse, one floor up. It's a mini version of the Heathrow Clubhouse, and a really nice one at that.

It would be unfair to judge the Heathrow and Newark Clubhouse equallly (given that Virgin only has one or two flights a day from Newark), so don't expect all the bells and whistles the Heathrow edition offers. That said, with the lounge recently gone through renovation, it looks better than ever.

The focus here is as much on eating and drinking before the flight, as it is to escape the dreadful public concourse downstairs. There's plenty of seating space, both for lounging and working - as well as private "television chairs".

I sat down at the bar with my laptop and ordered a caipirinha; this arrived almost instantly. A very nice supper menu was available too. I just had some nuts, finished work, and then left for the gate.
Boarding
Boarding announcements were made in the lounge. At the gate I was able to go through fast track and straight onto the plane without delay. I was shown to my seat, 6K.

All was done very quickly, yet courteously.

I was immediately offered a drink; I opted for sparkling water. The captain welcomed us onboard, advising a very short flight time of less than six hours.
The Cabin, Seat and Service
This being one of the newest planes in the entire fleet, the cabin looked, quite simply, immaculate. With the LED moodlighting turned on, it felt completely on brand with Virgin's space age look and feel.

The seat is the newest Upper Class product, arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration with all seats facing forward. Crucially, the cabin does not feel as "tight" as on the Airbus A330 (although not as roomy as on the A340 or B747). There are 33 of them - and every single one was occupied.

I was also happy that the dividers between the seats are not see-through, as they are on the A330s.

The seat goes completely flat, although not (as with most other airlines) at the touch of a button. Unless you're a frequent flyer on Virgin, you are going to have to ask staff for help with flipping over the cushion, turning the seat into a bed. I was impressed, however, with how incredibly efficiently the crew were able to turn 90% of the seats into beds within minutes of us having completed our ascent to cruising altitude.

Every passenger was also offered a black pajamas; I accepted. Particularly notable: the high quality bedding - the pillow surely being among the best in the air.
Food and Drink
I was provided with the usual neat little purple food and drink menu, and was advised that all options were available (note that it's not a given that every option is available on Virgin Atlantic....). As I had an early start the following morning, and because the flight time was so short, I just got the mesclun salad and asked for my seat to be turned into a bed.

The menu looked great, however - particularly the beef fillet. I noted that another passenger just had dessert and cheese - and it looked mouthwatering. As customary onboard Virgin, there is both a bar and several signature cocktails available. The wine list looked good, too.

However, it was clear that most people simply wanted to sleep - and many handed in the breakfast cards in the menu, enabling you to choose what you want to eat in the morning and then have it served at the time of your choosing. The breakfast selection was ample, with everything from just some fruit salad to, literally "The full works" (i.e. English breakfast).
Inflight Entertainment
Vera, Virgin's IFE system offers a good selection, particularly of TV series - and several TV series with multiple episodes. What I particularly like, however, is the high quality screen and the fact that the contents are not highly edited. The headphones did feel a little tight, I have to admit.
Arrival
An early arrival into Heathrow saw my sleep getting cut short. But: I'd slept like a baby. The cabin was very clean, the crew friendly and chirpy. As Upper Class passengers, we were invited to get off the plane first - and I went quickly through immigration and to the Virgin Revivals Lounge, also in Terminal 3. It could hardly have been better.
Verdict
It was almost too short a flight, but it was an excellent one. While it ain't cheap, it's worth paying more for the bells and whistles of the Virgin experience (just do avoid the A330s).