Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Review feature image

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Review

Since I flew coach on Virgin Atlantic in my early days of travel, this airline had been in the back of my mind as one I wanted to experience on a premium level.

So, when I was planning a complex trip to Asia, I researched them and decided to look for a seat from the US to the UK. I remembered a sleek, chic cabin with purplish mood lighting, a fun attitude, and comfy seats. 

I was extremely happy with the experience we had! The airplane felt fresh and new, and the environmentally conscious choices made a real impact on me. The menu felt inspired and trendy, and the service was on point – comfortable, yet attentive. 

Snapshot Verdict

Virgin Atlantic is one of my favorite airlines! The personality of the company is front and center for me, and their commitment to customer service is obvious.

Less obvious but equally as important is their dedication to their employees. They embrace diversity and individuality, and are fostering a culture of inclusivity.

Not only are they modern and cutting-edge, but they espouse values that I share – environmentalism, sustainability, humanitarianism, and equality.

Couple their ethical practices with a sparkly new hard product, thoughtfully designed seating pods, environmentally responsible amenity kits and onboard products, and a health-focused ethically sourced menu, and you have a recipe for greatness with an eye toward the future. 

Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Empire embody cool. An entrepreneur since the tender age of 16, his empire began with a mail order record company, which went on to become Virgin Records and sign acts including the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones, and Culture Club (one of my all-time favorites). From trains to spaceships, this guy has done it all! His adults-only cruise line, Virgin Voyages, is geared toward the younger hip set and is on my bucket list for sure.

The Airline

Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Empire embody cool. An entrepreneur since the tender age of 16, his empire began with a mail order record company, which went on to become Virgin Records, signing acts including the Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones, and Culture Club (one of my all-time favorites).

From trains to spaceships, this guy has done it all! His adults-only cruise line, Virgin Voyages, is geared toward the younger hip set and is on my bucket list for sure.

Branson founded Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, with the original name of British Atlantic Airways. Its main hub is London Heathrow, with a secondary hub in Manchester, UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic nearly bankrupted the company, and they have since joined the SkyTeam Alliance, which is great news for points junkies! The airline is partially owned by Delta, which is also a key consideration when booking flights on Virgin with points.

The airline currently partners with all of the major transferable points ecosystems: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One, Citibank ThankYou Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy points, and BILT Rewards

So, you can transfer any of those points to Virgin and get great redemption rates for flights that pass through LHR. In addition, you can often find great deals on Delta flights through the Virgin Atlantic site.

But look out for hefty fees and keep in mind that you cannot transfer Delta SkyMiles to Virgin

The Fleet

The Virgin Atlantic fleet consists of the Airbus A350-1000, the 787-9 Dreamliner, the Airbus A330-300, and the Airbus A330Neo, each of which is named after “iconic women in British culture, both real and imaginary”. Some examples include Billie Holiday, Eliza Doolittle, and Uptown Girl. 

Virgin Atlantic Fleet website screenshot

The Details

The airline’s destinations include 32 cities over 5 continents, including Shanghai, Dubai, and Cape Town, and there is a surprising density of stops in the Caribbean. 

Virgin’s aircraft feature 3 classes of service: Economy, Premium (Premium Economy), and Upper Class (Business Class). Wi-Fi is provided onboard for a small fee, and every seat has an electrical outlet, so you can stay plugged in for the entire flight. 

Their frequent flyer club is called, creatively, ‘Flying Club‘, and has three tiers – Red, Silver, and Gold. Benefits increase with each tier and are similar to what you will find with other airlines.


A really cool feature they offer is their Status Match program.

If you have elite status with one of 12 other airlines, you can apply for a status match and submit proof of your status. 72 hours before your Virgin flight, your status will be upgraded!

This will get you bonus points, priority check-in and boarding, free seat selection, extra luggage, and in some cases lounge access and a companion ticket.
This is definitely worth the time and effort if you are booked on a Virgin flight but have status on another airline.

Virgin Points can be earned by flying, through their branded credit cards, and by joining Virgin Red and earning points on everyday spend. You can shop through their shopping portal or transfer points from the abovementioned programs. 


One of the best parts of traveling Business or First Class is the experience on the ground. Lounges introduce you to the airline and set the tone for your trip.

Virgin Atlantic has 5 lounges called Clubhouses at London Heathrow, JFK in New York City, San Francisco International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

There is also an arrivals lounge at LHR called Revivals, which is open in the morning (5am till 12:30pm) and accessible to passengers flying Upper Class or members of the Flying Club Gold Tier. More about this later.

If the airport you are flying out of doesn’t have a Clubhouse and you are flying Upper Class, you can use Delta Sky Club. These are consistently nice, with a good selection of hot and cold items on the buffet, a full bar, and comfortable seating. 

Because Virgin Atlantic joined SkyTeam, passengers traveling on a SkyTeam airline in the Premium cabin and SkyTeam elite members can access their lounges, as well as Plaza Premium members (but only if your membership came through Capital One, not Amex), and Priority Pass members (during limited hours). 

I personally visited the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK in Terminal 4 several years ago, and I was impressed. It was busy but did not feel crowded because of its open-floor plan and abundance of seating.

The decor was contemporary and trendy, decorated in shades of gray with pops of red and purple.

You can access the menu via a QR code and place your order. Shortly after, a server will bring your selected items. We found the service to be excellent and the food contemporary and delicious.

Showers were available, and when we visited the spa was still open. Unfortunately, the spas closed down during COVID and haven’t opened back up. 

Mission Statement / Unique philosophies

Virgin certainly stands out from other airlines. It has a very different vibe that I find refreshing and fun. But the differences go far deeper. 

I like the fact that they take steps to minimize their impact on the environment and are committed to sustainability. Their goal is to reach net zero carbon by 2050, which is an ambitious but admirable goal for an airline.

They offer responsibly sourced, recyclable products onboard, and have replaced 90% of their single-use plastic since 2019.

They have regulatory standards for the items used to create their menu, using ethically sourced foodstuffs, fair farming, and sustainable fish, among other measures. The menus in their lounges are 70% plant-based and use locally farmed items. 

I also love their dedication to inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. They are making efforts to honor gender neutrality, providing uniform choices that cross gender lines, and including preferred pronouns on employees’ name tags.

They support LGBTQ+ rights, gender equality, ethnic diversity, and embrace people with visible and invisible disabilities. This is great for the employees, and great for the customers, because happy employees provide better service!

Overall, I’d say Virgin is looking toward the future and I am thrilled to do my small part to support their efforts. 

Our Experience


We were on our way to Vietnam for an epic adventure. I found Upper Class seats on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Atlanta, Georgia to London Heathrow for 99,000 points and $98 each. I transferred points from my American Express card to book the seats on their website. 

When I search for the same flight today, I am seeing seats in Upper Class available for 47,500 or 89,000 points plus $997 (USD) for that same flight.

If it were an option, I would choose to book this flight in the other direction, from LHR to ATL, so I could make use of the Upper Class Wing and the Flagship Clubhouse at LHR. The fees are a bit hefty, though!

Departure Lounge

Unfortunately, there is no Clubhouse in Atlanta. The good news though is that Atlanta is a Delta hub, so we had our choice of Delta Sky Clubs. 

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta has 9 Delta Sky Clubs. As one of Delta’s main hubs, there are Sky Clubs in every terminal – A, B, C, D, E, F and T.  Any of these lounges are fine, but if you have time, the lounge in Terminal B is worth the extra legwork (unless you need a shower – those can be found in the lounges in terminals E and F). 

This lounge is gorgeous! It boasts soaring ceilings and tons of seating options.

Its floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the runway and the city skyline, while the buffet offers a nice selection of chef-created seasonal dishes alongside a bar menu that is more than adequate. The decor is modern and colorful, enhanced by local art. 

Our Flight

We made our way to the gate about 50 minutes before our flight. I drive my husband crazy, because I like to be at the gate as soon as boarding begins, even when flying coach!

I like to get settled in and claim my overhead bin space. When we are flying Premium, I want as much time as possible on the plane! I like being among the first to board. 

Our aircraft was an A350-1000. At the time, I didn’t know they named their aircraft, so I didn’t notice whose namesake ours was, which is a shame.

Entering the Upper Class cabin kinda felt like walking into a chic ultralounge, with the magenta mood lighting that I remembered from my first experience with Virgin. This cabin had 44 open suites in a 1-2-1 layout, with 6’7” long, 20” wide lie-flat beds. This may have been a little tight for larger customers, but there was plenty of room for me, at 5’2”.

I chose middle seats, 3D and 3G, since there were two of us. There was a divider between the two seats, which could be closed or opened.

I always choose seats near the front, but I avoid bulkheads. I find that the noise and light from the galley and toilets annoy me. And, when sitting in a regular seat, I like to put my bag under the seat in front of me for easy access, and you can’t do this when sitting in a bulkhead seat. So, rows 2 or 3 are my usual choices.


For taller and/or larger folks, bulkhead seats often provide a little more room, and that does seem to be the case on these planes.
If I were flying solo, I’d have chosen a window seat, A or K.

On some flights, there are larger suites called Retreat Suites. These are geared toward sharing, and have ottomans which double as a second seat, so that a companion can join you for dinner.

The screens are larger at 27”. Availability for these suites does not open up until 14 days in advance. So, if you are booked in Upper Class and want to select one of these as your seat, you need to get online at that time and snag the seat (for a fee).

The window seats had overhead bins, but there were none in the middle, which really gave the cabin an open feel. The seats were spacious and decorated in a minimalist fashion, which I like. The muted gray colors are soothing to the eye, and the dark eggplant leather of the seats add interest without overpowering the visual image. 

Plenty of storage was available, with little cubbies on the side and room under the footrest. The amenity kit and recyclable can of water were in the side cubby, a pillow was in the seat, and bedding was in the overhead bins.

The TV was 18.5 inches and had a touch screen. There was no remote, but you could pair your phone and use that instead. There were tons of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and music selections, and the headsets were fine – not super high-end, but fine. 

Virgin First class TV screen

The amenity kits were not the most luxurious I’d seen, but I appreciated that they used sustainable and recyclable materials. Sometimes there is a trade-off, and I think Virgin has struck a great balance between luxury and environmental responsibility. 

The zip up pouch for the amenities was made out of recycled paper and labeled ‘Goodie bag‘. It contained basic items to make your flight more comfortable, including an eye mask, socks (mine were black and red striped!), ear plugs, a pen, a dental kit (including a bamboo toothbrush), and REN natural skincare products. 

The bedding was soft and comfy, with a fluffy white duvet and poofy pillow. The flight attendants will make your bed with a mattress pad if you’d like. 

Shortly after settling in, our flight attendant brought pajamas. My husband refers to the PJs we get on these flights as “dystopian future pajamas,” and these fit that moniker perfectly – soft, yet drab long-sleeve gray shirts and black pants.

There was no obvious branding that I noticed, but they were nice. They come in three sizes, and I chose the S/M. I think they tend to run large, so keep that in mind.

The Upper Class cabin had a seating area for eight called The Retreat, where you can mingle and share cocktails, or watch a movie on the big screen. We never noticed anyone sitting there, but it would be fun if you were traveling with a group. During the flight and between meals, you can find snacks in this area.

The Menu / meal service

Our flight attendant came around with a tray of pre-poured, pre-departure beverages including water, sparkling wine, and orange juice. Of course, I chose the sparkling wine.

Full transparency – I don’t know what type it was, but it was nice and pretty dry. There were four on offer (only one true champagne), all retailing for $40-50 USD per bottle.

Their menus change periodically, and ours was great. For dinner, I chose the smoked salmon with Asian slaw, sriracha mayo, and micro greens. For my main course, I had the three-cheese ravioli with a glass of the South African pinotage, and for dessert I chose the cheese plate.

The appetizer and cheese plate were delicious, while the ravioli was OK.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Appetizer

As this was an overnight flight, I watched a movie and settled into sleep. A neat feature available on our TVs was a screen notification that lets the flight attendants know whether you want to be woken up for breakfast, and I did. 

About an hour and a half before landing, I enjoyed the full English breakfast with a strong cup of black coffee, and we landed a little early at LHR.

Arrival Lounge

We had a long layover in London before our First Class experience on Emirates from London to Dubai. We landed at Terminal 3, passed through customs, and headed to the Arrivals Hall.

We had made reservations at Excess Baggage Company to leave our bags while we got out and explored London, which cost us 15 GBP per bag for 8 hours of storage. 

We noticed a sign for Arrivals Lounges. We had never visited one, and didn’t realize we had access, but we decided to check it out anyway. Look for a yellow sign that reads ‘Arrivals Lounges’. Underneath, you will see ‘Virgin Atlantic/Delta,’ and a set of elevators. Follow the signs and you will find it!

Signs to Revival Lounge

We entered the lounge, and the receptionist took our information, granting us access! 

The lounge is only open from 5:30am to 12:30pm and is designed for those of us leaving overnight flights to freshen up for the day. You can access the Revivals Lounge if you:

  • Are a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class passenger
  • Are a Delta One passenger
  • Are a Flying Club Gold member on a Virgin Atlantic or Delta flight into Heathrow
  • Have a Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion card and are flying from the US to London to Heathrow on a Delta or Virgin Atlantic flight
  • Have a Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion card and are flying from the US to London to Heathrow on a Delta or Virgin Atlantic flight
  • Have a Virgin Australia Velocity The Club card and are flying into London Heathrow on a Virgin Atlantic flight
  • Have a Virgin Australia Velocity Club Platinum card and are flying into London Heathrow on a Virgin Atlantic flight

This was a nice, unexpected treat! The lounge is decorated in Virgin’s Signature style, splashes of red and purple on a palette of neutral grays.

The seating and dining areas were relatively small, as this lounge is more purpose-oriented than loungey. It is more of a ‘get in, freshen up, grab a snack, and get on with your day’ kinda place.

Revivals Lounge Toilet and shower

There are 20 shower rooms available, and we made use of two. The shower rooms were spacious and sparkly clean, stocked with REN toiletries and fresh white towels. They will even press your clothes while you shower, but we didn’t make use of this service. 

As for breakfast, you can order directly from a server, or scan the QR code provided on your table and order that way. We chose the latter, and noshed on Eggs Benedict and coffee before making our way to the train so we could explore the British Museum and grab some fish and chips. 


Virgin Atlantic play by their own set of rules, and are working hard to provide a unique, luxurious, modern experience, while minimizing their environmental impact and giving back to the community. The hip vibe, modern decor, and social awareness are enlightened and current. 

Feelings and cultural sensitivity aside, the hard and soft products are top notch, luxurious without being wasteful, and in vogue. Looking toward the future, I hope Virgin adds more destinations to its portfolio and continues to make luxury travel more environmentally sound.

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