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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).