The Virgin Atlantic/Delta alliance is getting the two airlines ever closer – and now there are daily flights from both London Heathrow and Manchester to Atlanta on Virgin, in addition to the daily Delta flights between Atlanta and Heathrow. I tried out Virgin’s Upper Class on a flight from Heathrow to Atlanta.
That said, the seats are very comfortable; I love the large and quite sturdy table, the screen for IFE, the good quality headphones. Also notable is the comfort of the bed; the only issue here is that you can't just lie down without having to get up and flipping the cushion over - this seat requires a bit more effort.
A - relative - weak point was the service. On this flight, it did not at all feel as polished and sleek as the Virgin brand would like you to believe it is; I thought the cabin crew, with one exception, were all quite cold and, honestly, sometimes even unpleasant. They lacked genuine warmth and responded curtly to very minor requests - for example, I had lost my menu and the cabin crew member rolled her eyes when I asked if I could see another one. Not great. Furthermore, the meal service was really slow.
It turned out that the four unoccupied seats across from mine were all crew rest seats and so were occupied with sleeping staff for much of the flight - and it seemed as if several of the other seats in the cabin were occupied by other Virgin staff who were not working on the flight.
On this slightly over nine hour long flight, there are two meal services - lunch and afternoon tea. The menu is provided in a smart looking purple pamphlet. In addition to the special meals requiring booking in advance, for lunch there are three starters and three mains.
For my starter, I chose the leek and potato soup which was just ok (in hindsight, I would've chosen the prawn, avocado and tomato tian). I'd opted for the soup as I'd decided on the fillet steak for my main. However, after I'd finished the soup (which took ages to arrive) , the cabin crew told me that "they'd run out" of steak. I found it odd that she'd only announce it at that time, as, surely, given the fact that orders had been taken so much earlier, there would have been plenty of time to work this out. "Upper Class" this wasn't.
I then accepted a second choice, the roast chicken. This was nice enough, but nothing too exciting. I also opted for one of the three red wine options, a 2011 Viña Koyle Malbec - I was not crazy about this one (too sweet). The best part of the meal; a bread pudding. Delicious.
During the flight, I paid a short visit to the bar where I enquired about the possibility of a Bloody Mary. The cabin crew told me that she was busy with other passengers (which is fine enough), but she made me feel like I was asking the world. In the end, I did get my drink - although I had felt bad for asking.
Some two hours before arrival into Atlanta, an afternoon tea service was provided. This too was slightly underwhelming - the sandwiches were all very much akin to what you'd find in a plastic wrapped triangular sandwich at the newsagents. I did enjoy the small Battenberg cake and my mint tea. Again, all was served with cabin crew wearing some awfully fake smiles.