Susie Bearne talks us through her first experience of flying Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic and wonders how she will ever go back to Economy again!
It’s 8.15am. I receive a text telling me the car is waiting for me outside my flat in east London. My chauffeur takes my luggage while I slip inside the spacious car and help myself to one of the bottles of water.
This was just the start of my upper class experience with Virgin Atlantic, which offers all upper class passengers a chauffeur transfer service. After driving through rush-hour traffic I arrive at Heathrow, where I bypass the queues and go through a private security channel before swiftly arriving at Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse.
After spending two hours in The Heathrow Clubhouse – lapping up a complimentary massage at its Cowshed spa and drinking cocktails while looking out into the cockpit, I make my way to the gate to board the flight.
Of course this exclusive and astonishing way of travelling was not lost on me, being an economy traveller and all and one that had never even flown with Virgin Atlantic before. Instead this rare upper class experience was courtesy of Virgin Atlantic, which had organised a press trip for half a dozen journalists for the launch of its JFK Clubhouse.
Still I try and keep my excitement under wraps as I board the front of the plane and find my seat, otherwise referred to as the ‘suite’. At 6’6” long and 22 ” wide, it’s like a magical mini sofa that at a touch of a button can turn into a bed.
Drinks and food were aplenty, champagne (served before the flight took off) was always ready to be quaffed down and a three-course meal akin to a restaurant dining experience was provided. I learned that not only hotels serve high tea. Up in the air the hostesses brought a three-tier cake stand covered with finger sandwiches, scones and delightful cakes. It’s safe to say I was not following a calorie counting regime.
The suite features a TV screen that can be set in different positions and a table so apart from eating, although this was a little too frequently for my waistline, I managed to watch a couple of films, including Drive, where I became the latest person to develop a crush on Ryan Gosling. I’d like to say I made use of flying with a bed for the first time, but alas no; it’s possible the excitement of it all (hence wanting to experience ALL seven hours of this once-in-a-lifetime event) took over me and I failed to sleep one wink.
But seven hours later we arrived in New York, where sadly upper class passengers don’t have the queue-jumping kudos when it beating to the one-hour plus immigration waiting line.
The experience did leave me begging the question: ‘How on Earth will I adjust to flying economy again?’ But since I’ve flown economy on low-cost airlines in the last couple of weeks, I can easily say you soon get back to reality.
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