It looked like I’d be spending the night in London. I was going to miss my flight from London to San Francisco. My plane from Malta arrived late. My connection time was short. I had to change terminals, change airlines, and go through security – again. I practiced deep breathing, got my documents in hand, and hustled through the throngs of rolling luggage, baby strollers, and confused travelers.
At the first security check, the agent looked at the screen after scanning my boarding pass, “As you exit security, a cart and driver will be waiting to take you to your Virgin Atlantic departure gate.” It didn’t sink in right away. I was too busy unpacking my laptop and placing things into bins to be x-rayed.
Sure enough, there was a cart and driver waiting outside security. “Are you waiting for Charlebois?” I asked. The gentleman nodded. He whizzed through Heathrow to gate 31. There were no passengers in the waiting area. An agent in a tailored red uniform waved me forward, “Glad you could make it, Ms. Charlebois.” My boarding pass was scanned, passport checked, and I hurried down the jetway, the last passenger to board Virgin Atlantic Flight 19, nonstop from London to San Francisco.
I was already a fan of Virgin, both domestic and international, but this experience placed the airline at the top of my list. They held the flight for me, one passenger. I was amazed and humbled. The doors were shut immediately, we taxied to the runway, and headed over the Arctic Circle towards home.
I’ve traveled with many airlines. Most are OK, very few are good, some should not be in the business, and one stands out as exceptional—Virgin Atlantic. Here’s why –
The main reasons why you should fly Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic ground and aircrew are exceptional. Passenger safety, security, and comfort are delivered 100% of the time with positive attitudes, style, and smiles—even in the face of negative or abusive passengers, delays, bad weather, gate changes, and other air travel faux pas. I had the opportunity to chat with folks on the ground. When I asked what working for Virgin was like, without exception, all said they wouldn’t work anywhere else.
On my last VA flight, I traveled on a Boeing 787-9 in Economy Class. The spotlessly clean interior of the plane was roomy, beautifully designed, and efficiently laid out. The lighting won me over instantly. After take-off, interior lights were changed from soft white to a cool-mood inducing lavender. It had an immediate calming effect on me, and my rambunctious teenaged seatmates.
My aisle seat was in the back of the plane (my choice). It was comfortable with plenty of leg and fanny room, even with a daypack under the seat in front of me. The adjustable headrest was especially comfy for a tall gal like me. A pillow, blanket, and headset were provided for every economy passenger. Each seat had a USB power port I eagerly used to recharge my phone and laptop.
There is plenty of dedicated storage for carry-ons above and under seats. Nothing needs gate checking. Hallelujah!
Vera, Virgin’s complimentary inflight entertainment system, has 300-hours of on-demand movies and TV. Also included are music, games, news, and flight tracking. The individual seatback HD touch screens also have controls for volume, brightness, and overhead lighting. You may use your own headsets or those VA supplies.
6. Food and libations
You will not go hungry on Virgin Atlantic or want for a drink. Complimentary food and beverages (soft and alcoholic) are served throughout the flight. It’s superior to any airline food I’ve had and quite generous. I couldn’t help but wonder what folks in Upper-Class were having.
Shortly after takeoff, we were given a menu detailing our 3-course Main Meal. Additionally, Mile High Tea was served before landing. Tea included a sandwich, scone, clotted cream, and strawberry jam. A perfect wake-up repast and oh so British. Between the meals in my 10-hour journey, snacks and sweets were offered. If that wasn’t enough, a menu of food items could be ordered for a small fee.
More reasons to fly Virgin Atlantic
Cool lighting, leg-room, and free libations aren’t the only reasons Virgin Atlantic is my favorite airline. They have an excellent safety rating, with 7 out of 7 points awarded by AirlineRatings.
Passenger reviews on TripAdvisor and SKYTRAX tell the story of satisfied customers and an airline working to continually improve service, employee skills, and equipment.
Choice of destinations
UK-based Virgin Atlantic flies to over 30 destinations in the United Kingdom. They also service Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, North America, and the Caribbean.
Virgin Atlantic cabin configuration
All Virgin Atlantic aircraft have a 3-cabin configuration. Upper-Class, Premium Economy Class, and Economy Class. Upper-Class cabins have seats that convert to beds. Upper-Class passengers have access to a chauffeur transfer service and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounges. Virgin Atlantic has three operating bases: London Gatwick, London Heathrow, and Manchester.
How to book Virgin Atlantic flights
Book flights directly on Virgin Atlantic’s website or with your favorite travel booking site.
*No discounted or ‘free’ ticket was given in exchange for this review. I paid for my ticket with my funds and booked on Expedia.
Featured Image: Virgin Atlantic
p.s. Did you enjoy reading Mary Charlebois’ article about the reasons to fly Virgin Atlantic? You may want to read her immensely popular article 4 California Wine Country Alternatives to Napa Valley.