Virgin Atlantic

About Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic, a British airline with its head office in Crawley, West Sussex, was established in 1984 as the main competitor for BA on its transatlantic routes. The airline operates a mixed fleet of Boeing and Airbus wide-bodied aircraft -- it began introducing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to its fleet in October 2014, and now flies them to destinations in the USA and the Far East. In 2014, Virgin carried 6.1 million passengers from its main hubs at London Heathrow and London Gatwick, with a total fleet size of 39 planes -- the fleet size will shortly be increased, with the addition of 17 more Boeing 787s.

As well as its international services, Virgin in 2013 began offering domestic flights within the UK. These have been operated on Virgin's behalf by Aer Lingus, using the narrow-body Airbus A320, under the name Little Red. However, this venture has proved unsuccessful, and will end in September 2015.  

Upper Class

Virgin's premier class offering is described as a first-class experience at a business-class price. The unique herring-bone seat configuration of the Upper Class Suite means that every passenger has easy access to the aisle, and a further innovative feature is that the seat flips instead of simply reclining, enabling different materials to be used for optimum comfort. The new upper class seats are 87 inches long when flat out, and 34.5 inches wide, with exceptional reclining when in seated mode.

Every seat in upper class is provided with a 12-inch touch-screen monitor, with a touch-screen hand-held control panel similar to a touch-screen smartphone, loaded with Virgin's own VERA entertainment system. There are RCA and USB ports for charging and using your own devices in-flight. Most aircraft now have the AeroMobile system installed, meaning that you can use your own phone to make and receive calls, and send texts.

Virgin have introduced new fine dining menus for their upper class passengers, as well as a pre-dinner drinks service including their special signature cocktails. At both ends of the journey, passengers can benefit from a chauffeur-driven limo service for airport transfer. At Heathrow, the limo brings passengers to the Upper Class Wing, where they pass through the Private Security Channel and wait in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, which is more like a luxury hotel than an airport lounge.

Premium Economy

Back in the 1990s, Virgin Atlantic pioneered the concept of the premium economy class, when it brought in what it then called its Mid Class. Since then it has always been ahead of the game in bringing in new innovations, and in 2013 it was voted Best Premium Economy product in the Business Traveller Awards. The airline has been regularly increasing the numbers of premium economy seats on its aircraft, as the popularity of the product grows.

In this class the check-in process is faster than in economy, and luggage is given a special tag so that it comes out of the hold more quickly on arrival. In the cabin, the purple leather seats provide a touch of class -- they have a 38-inch seat pitch, and there are footrests that come out from the seat in front. There are also some business-class touches, such as a glass of champagne on boarding, and meals served on china with stainless steel cutlery.

Economy

Virgin's economy cabins have an average seat pitch of 31 inches -- you can upgrade to a seat with more legroom, but this costs extra. However, all passengers get their own seat-back TV with a choice of channels, and on the newly-fitted aircraft such as the Boeing 747s, there are touch-screen entertainment systems. Economy passengers from the UK even receive complimentary amenity kits.