Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is one of the most sought after business class products for travel to and from Europe.
Operating primarily out of London-Heathrow and Manchester, Virgin Atlantic covers almost all major US cities, with many more routes to Africa and Asia.
In fact, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have any short-haul flights within Europe, and primarily flies long-haul, with a couple of short flights in the Caribbean.
In this guide, we’ll explore why Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is so popular. We’ll go over the entire Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience, from before you board, to what you can expect in the air.
Lastly, we’ll look at all of the available routes, and of course, the best way to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class with miles and points.
The Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Experience
Virgin Atlantic certainly tries to separate itself from other airlines. The Upper Class experience is a far cry from your traditional business class product.
The vibrant neon lights and the onboard bar provide a more lively atmosphere for your journey than the more classic, business-like cabin found on most other airlines.
Indeed, one of the highlights of the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience is the onboard lounge known as “The Loft,” located on most of Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350 aircraft.
Additionally, every Upper Class seat is able to transform into a fully lie-flat bed, so you’ll be able to sleep during your international flight.
If you’re flying out of London-Heathrow, your Virgin Atlantic Upper Class benefits begin as soon as you arrive at the airport.
Virgin Atlantic has a dedicated drop-off area known as the Upper Class Wing. Marketed as “your own private airport,” the Upper Class Wing is an exclusive check-in area for Upper Class and Delta One passengers.
Through the Upper Class Wing, you’ll be able to breeze through security and onward to perhaps one of the highlights of the Upper Class experience: the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London is perhaps one of the world’s best business class lounges.
Not only does the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse have the usual spread of food and drinks expected of a high-quality lounge, but they go far above and beyond.
One interesting feature is the small fitness centre equipped with peloton bikes to get in a quick workout before your flight.
This outdoor green space provides spectacular views of the tarmac, and is overall a great area to enjoy the unique experience of waiting for boarding while basking in the sun.
London-Heathrow’s Clubhouse is Virgin Atlantic’s flagship lounge, but there are also other Clubhouse lounges available to Upper Class passengers in the following cities:
- Boston (BOS)
- Johannesburg (JNB)
- New York (JFK)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Washington DC (IAD)
If you’re flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class out of another city, you’ll most likely still have access to one of the many shared lounges. The full list of lounges available to you if you’re flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class can be found on Virgin Atlantic’s website.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats may differ slightly, depending on what aircraft you’re flying on. Virgin Atlantic operates four different aircraft types, and all of them have an Upper Class cabin.
All Upper Class seats are high quality and can be converted to lie-flat beds. Upper Class seats on the Airbus A350-1000 are arranged in a mix of herringbone and reverse herringbone seats.
The window seats face away from the aisle, while the middle seats face towards the aisle.
On the Airbus A330neo, all seats are forward-facing, with window seats alternating row-by-row, and seats being either right up against the window or closer to the aisle.
Upper Class seats on Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9 and on the Airbus A330-300 are similar in that the window seats face inwards and the middle-row seats face to the right side of the aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats are between 20 inches wide on the Airbus A350 and 22 inches wide on the Airbus A330neo, Airbus A330-300, and Boeing 787.
All Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats are fairly similar, but there are some important distinctions.
The Airbus A330neo is the newest and most updated version of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class. It’s also the only Upper Class cabin with privacy partitions that fully close around your seat.
The Airbus A350 is equipped with a slidable partition, but it doesn’t provide complete privacy.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats found on the Airbus A330-300s and Boeing 787s have the least amount of privacy, with no sliding doors or partitions.
Not only is the Airbus A330neo the newest Upper Class cabin, but it’s also the exclusive home of the Retreat Suite, located at seats 1D and 1G.
The seats themselves are comparable with all other Upper Class products; however, the leg room and overall space is significantly larger.
Additionally, at the front of the Retreat Suites, there’s an ottoman, which can double as a second seat. With this additional seat and the larger space, you can actually have a guest join you to enjoy a meal.
What’s more, the touchscreen entertainment unit is 27 inches, up from 17.5 inches found in the other Upper Class seats.
The slight upgrades that come with the Retreat Suites, also come with a slightly higher price tag, which we’ll go over a little later.
Food & Drink
Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class dining experience is described as a “restaurant above the clouds,” and during your flight, you’ll be able to choose from multiple options for your four-course onboard meal.
In fact, you can even pre-order your meal on Virgin Atlantic’s website between seven days and 24 hours before your flight.
Meal options can change depending on the season, but options have included North Atlantic cod, roasted Norfolk chicken breast, or a toragashi-marinated halloumi poke bowl.
If you have any dietary requirements, Virgin Atlantic provides alternative options to cover any food preferences or restrictions you may have.
As for drinks, you’ll have a choice of welcome champagne or orange juice upon boarding. While airborne, you’ll have access to a full bar, serving soft drinks, hot drinks, wine, beer, spirits, and tasty cocktails.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Cabin
There are a total of four different types of Virgin Atlantic aircraft, and all of them are equipped with an Upper Class cabin.
Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A330-300
Virgin Atlantic operates 17 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which means this aircraft makes up almost half of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet. In addition, the fleet contains 10 Airbus A330-300s.
Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft have an almost identical layout. Both have a total of 31 Upper Class seats arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration.
The middle row on both aircraft, row G, and the right window row, row K, share an aisle.
Row A on both aircraft provides the most privacy, as it doesn’t share an aisle with the middle seat.
With that in mind, if you’re a solo traveller wanting maximum privacy, you’ll want to choose any seat in row A (keeping in mind that seat 1A on both aircraft is closer to the galley and toilets, and may have more traffic and noise).
If you are travelling with a companion, then choosing two seats directly across from each other, one in row G and one in row K, will allow you the best chance of enjoying the flight together.
Both the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A330-300 have a bar on board, available exclusively for Upper Class passengers.
On the one hand, the bars on these aircraft pale in comparison to the lounges located in the Upper Class cabins on the other aircraft.
On the other hand, having a bar on board is still a unique feature, and it’s also equipped with extra seating so you can get a break from your Upper Class seat and mingle with other passengers.
The Airbus A350 has two different Upper Class layouts. The most common arrangement can be found on seven of the nine A350s in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.
This layout consists of 44 Upper Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with a mix of herringbone and reverse herringbone seats.
The window seats face towards the windows, and the middle seats face towards the aisles.
If you are travelling solo, any window seat will provide the most privacy. Seats 1A and 1K are closest to the toilets and galley at the front of the aircraft and this may mean increased aisle traffic.
Seats 11A and 11K are closest to the onboard lounge, which may or may not be a good thing, depending how close you want to be to the lounge and its social atmosphere.
If you’re travelling with a companion, the two middle seats have a sliding partition. This partition can be opened to allow you to enjoy your Upper Class experience with another.
The 44-seat layout on the A350 also has “The Loft,” which is an onboard lounge where you can enjoy drinks and snacks in a space that provides more room than any business class seat.
In fact, the Loft also has a 32-inch TV which you can connect to bluetooth headphones to watch your favourite show on a larger screen.
Virgin Atlantic’s remaining two A350s only have 16 Upper Class seats. These seats are arranged in the same 1-2-1 configuration as the other A350s.
The main difference on these two aircraft is the absence of the Loft. Instead, these Upper Class cabins have what’s called “The Booth.”
The Booth is a significantly smaller lounge than the Loft, and can only be enjoyed by two people at a time.
If you want to spend time in the Booth during your flight, you’ll have to book a spot with the crew as soon as you board.
Lastly, Virgin Atlantic has four Airbus A330neo aircraft in their fleet.
These cabins have 32 Upper Class seats which also have a 1-2-1 configuration. However, the layout is very different from the A350 Upper Class layout.
The main difference is that all seats are completely forward-facing. What’s more, every Upper Class seat has a door that can close all the way for complete privacy.
If you’re travelling solo on the A330neo, and you’re looking to enjoy maximum privacy, one of the following seats is your best choice: 2A, 2K, 4A, 4K, 6A, 6K, 8A, or 8K .
Not only are these window seats, but the seats themselves are right up against the window with your armrest, seat controls, and tray table in-between you and the aisle.
If you’re travelling with a companion, then by far the best seats are the Retreat Suites at 1D and 1G. These special seats allow you to easily lower the partition between the two seats, and you can even share the same table.
That being said, side-by-side middle seats will also allow you to easily converse with your travel partner.
All A330neos have the same Loft lounge that’s found on the Airbus A350s. This lounge is located right behind row 8, in between the Upper Class cabin and the rest of the aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Routes
Virgin Atlantic has an Upper Class cabin on all of their routes, and the airline flies to over 30 locations across five continents.
Most of Virgin Atlantic’s flights operate out of London-Heathrow. However, there is one route that’s operated out of Edinburgh, and four routes operating out of Manchester, as well as a couple of short-haul flights in the Caribbean.
A list of all of Virgin Airlines’ destinations and routes can be found on their website.
How to Redeem Points for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
After many years of operating without being a member of any airline alliance, Virgin Atlantic has recently joined the SkyTeam Alliance.
This means that there’s more opportunities to use points for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flights.
One way to book a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flight is with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which has two published zone-based award charts: one for standard season and one for peak season.
During the standard season dates, a one-way ticket in the Upper Class cabin to or from the UK will cost the listed number of Virgin Points to the following destinations:
- USA – Northeast: 47,500
- USA – Midwest & South: 47,500
- USA – West: 67,500
- Israel: 28,000
- India and Dubai: 37,500
- Caribbean: 57,500
- Nigeria and China: 57,500
- South Africa, and Indian Ocean: 57,500
During peak season, you can expect the number of points required to go up by around 10,000 Virgin Points per one-way flight.
Additionally, on any of these routes, you can travel with an infant under two, who will be travelling on your lap, for only 5,000 extra points in Upper Class.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points are fairly easy to earn, as Flying Club is a transfer partner of most of the major US banks. In fact, you can transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points at a rate of 1:1 from the following programs:
- American Express US Membership Rewards
- Bilt Rewards
- Capital One Miles
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
Additionally, there are often transfer bonuses of up to 30% for you to take advantage of, offering the opportunity to snag an Upper Class flight between London and New York for only around 36,600 points when transferring from one of the above programs.
However, it’s important to note that when booking any Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flight departing from the UK, you’ll be subject to the United Kingdom’s Air Passenger Duty (APD), which can certainly add to the cost of your ticket.
For example, a one-way Upper Class flight from London-Heathrow (LHR) to New York (JFK) can be booked for only 47,500 Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points, but you’ll also have to pay £627 in taxes and surcharges.
Despite not having to pay APD when flying into London, the taxes and surcharges for that same route but instead from New York (JFK) to London-Heathrow (LHR) carries similar fees.
A way to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class without having to pay exorbitant fees is through Delta SkyMiles.
The same Virgin Atlantic Upper Class New York to London one-way flight that we mentioned above will only cost $5.60 (USD) in all taxes and fees when booking through Delta SkyMiles. However, it will cost over five times the number of Delta SkyMiles than it would with Virgin Points.
Indeed, this trip comes out to a whopping 260,000 Delta SkyMiles.
The third, and perhaps best, option is to use Air France KLM Flying Blue miles to book your seat in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin.
Using this program, the same flight from New York to London costs 75,000 Flying Blue miles and $227.50 (USD) for the taxes and fees.
Flying Blue miles can be earned by transferring from the following loyalty programs at the listed ratios:
- American Express Membership Rewards: 1:0.75
- American Express US Membership Rewards: 1:1
- Capital One Miles: 1:1
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: 1:1
- Citi ThankYou Rewards: 1:1
- Marriott Bonvoy: 60,000:25,000
Redeeming Flying Blue miles for an Upper Class flight is a great option because the points required are significantly lower than Delta SkyMiles, and the taxes and fees are less than half of what you’d pay if you were to redeem Virgin Points.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Award Availability
You can look up any route Virgin Atlantic flies and search month-by-month for award availability.
It’s easiest to find availability in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class by booking using their own Flying Club loyalty program.
If you want to redeem using Delta Skymiles or KLM/Air France Flying Blue miles, you’ll have the most success by booking far in advance.
Tips and Tricks for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Even though it may cost more to fly out of London-Heathrow, doing so will grant you access to the Upper Class Wing and the famous Clubhouse lounge.
With the fitness centre and the rooftop garden, it may just be worth the APD fees.
If you have the choice, you’ll want to make sure you book your Upper Class flight on either the A330neo or on one of the seven A350s that have the Loft lounge.
In order to ensure you’re booked in the A350 that has the Loft lounge, you’ll want to check how many Upper Class seats there are.
If the A350 has 44 Upper Class seats, then it’ll be the aircraft with the Loft. If you happen to book one of the A350s that doesn’t have the Loft, you’ll still have access to the smaller lounge, the Booth.
However, make sure to book your time for the Booth right away, as it can only accommodate two passengers at a time.
Lastly, if you’re flying on the A330neo, and you want to experience the extra space that comes with the Retreat Suites, you’ll have to try and pay for an upgrade.
Notably, the Retreat Suites can’t be booked directly – they can only be booked by passengers with a confirmed ticket in Upper Class.
In order to book the Retreat Suites, you’ll have to reserve the seats for an additional £200 each for a one-way flight, and this can only be done 14 days before departure.
Whether or not the extra £200 is worth it depends on how much you value having the extra space and the unique experience.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is the complete package from the ground experience to the onboard service.
The world-class Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in London is especially unique with a fitness centre and a rooftop garden.
On board, you can relax in your fully lie-flat seat, or head over to one of the bars or lounges to enjoy the journey from a different area.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club requires the fewest number of points, but costs the most in fees and surcharges. Delta SkyMiles is the cheapest for taxes and surcharges, but costs significantly more miles.
Flying Blue miles arguably provides a happy medium, requiring a reasonable amount of miles, and a mid-range cost for fees and surcharges.
The best program to book with will largely depend on how many points or miles you have in each, and how much you’re willing to spend on fees and surcharges for an Upper Class flight.