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Best Flights: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Review
Hong Kong is a vast yet efficient airport, so check-in was trouble-free and speedy. Within a few minutes, we were passing through security and immigration, and then on to the airport train which takes you to the departure area. The Clubhouse is located on the upper level here, near the gate. Unlike many airline lounges, the atmosphere inside is bright and breezy, and the space is colourful with lots of nooks and crannies in which to relax, and an open balcony overlooking the action below in the terminal. We spent a pleasant 45 minutes here, enjoying Laurent Perrier champagne and reading magazines while waiting for our flight to be called….which it was about 30 minutes out from departure time.
Our flight was on a A340-600 with a three class configuration - economy, premium economy and Upper Class. On this plane there are 51 suites in upper class, and it was a packed flight with every single suite occupied. In the Upper Class cabin, the suites run 3 across, in contrast to the configuration on other 747-400 aircraft, which is 4 across. The suites running down along the edges of the plane (by the windows) are placed diagonally, and the long row which runs down the middle of the cabin, like a spine, was divided in two. Here the first six rows faced left, and rows seven to sixteen faced right. That explained by we were told we were sitting "together" and yet were in different rows - 15 and 16. In this cabin a window seat isn't that important - the way the suites are placed, you don't really get to see out of the window anyway. The cabin decor is bright and modern, although the large rows of high-sided suites don't make it feel especially roomy.
Virgin offers Upper Class passengers a Freedom Menu, which gives you the flexibility to eat what you want, when you want. As our flight was an overnight haul, however, we were offered dinner shortly after takeoff, and most people took up the offer so they could then sleep. The menu consisted of starters, a choice of four main courses, a cheese platter and desserts. As the flight was full, and we were seated in the last few rows of upper class, it turned out that our first choice for a main course wasn't available, but with four appetising mains to choose from this wasn't a problem. The only curious things was the use of plastic cutlery - which undoubtedly took the edge slightly of the overall elegance.
The Upper Class suite has a seat which converts to fully flat to a bed at the touch of a button, and is one of the longest in the business class category at 202 cms. It also has a generous width across the shoulders, stretching to 84 cms. The fabric is a soft plum colour, and the suite pod itself is gentle on the eyes muted silver. Suites also have a buddy seat, so if you're travelling with someone, they can visit you comfortably during the flight; from memory I recall that BA was one of the first to come up with that idea, which they used in their new first class seats some years ago. You also have your own interactive entertainment system which you can watch and operate via a decent sized TV.
This was an excellent flight, too short to really enjoy fully if anything, and really the only thing missing from the service was proper cutlery, and some kind of back massager in the seat. But with a total lie-flat maybe this isn't a possibility. Virgin Atlantic has always prided itself in providing quality service which is more affordable, and when it comes to business class travel, it's still doing just that.
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For more information on Virgin Atlantic, visit www.virgin-atlantic.com or call 1300 727 340.
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