Travel review: Virgin Atlantic Airways

Virgin Atlantic is my and dad’s trans-Atlantic airline of choice. Dad has the Virgin Atlantic credit card, so he collects miles for his purchases. If he spends enough in a year, he gets extra rewards like a free companion flight (yay for me!)

These miles can be used to get reductions in fares (only 2000 miles required for this) as well to get upgrades in class or even for ‘free’ flights. I’ve put parentheses around the word free because you still have to pay the taxes, which is about half the cost of the ticket. It is also very important to realise that there are limited numbers of reduced / upgradeable / free seats on any individual flight, so it’s important to book these seats early

Most of Virgin’s flights depart from London Heathrow Terminal 3 with a few leaving from Gatwick. At Heathrow, they have their own dedicated check in area. There’s a free-form check in and queueing system, which is a little chaotic at times as the staff make no attempt to organise the queues. Dad and I prefer the 1 common queue for all counters system to remove the stress of trying to guess which queue will move the fastest. My top tip is to check in online at home and then head for the shortest queue and pray

Virgin’s aircraft vary depending on whether you get onto an older aircraft like some of the 747s serving Las Vegas or one of their newer A340s serving New York. The new aircraft have the latest seatback touchscreen entertainment systems. In fact, the entertainment system is the best thing as they have up to date film offerings as well as dad’s favourite – lots of comedy shows. The older planes’ screens are a little grainy but the systems on the new planes are superb and have the facility for you to plug your own multimedia player in and watch the content on the big screen


Legroom is similar to the standard for economy seats on most airlines. It’s fine for shorties like me and dad but can’t be pleasant for tall people. Fortunately, with the entertainment system to occupy us, the flight seems to go past quite quickly these days

The food is fine for airline food. Be aware that at 40000 feet, your tastebuds are less sensitive, so have food which packs a punch. They do little things like the odd choc ice, which is a nice treat. I do appreciate that if I’m sitting on a spare seat next to dad, I frequently get offered food. Hehe

The service has varied over the years. When dad and I started flying to the USA regularly around 10 years ago, Virgin service was superb, putting in sharp contrast British Airway’s stiff, corporate, we’re doing you a favour attitude. Then, it went through a few years where Virgin seemed to lose the love and I heard cabin crew barking unnecessarily at customers during takeoff and landing. I’m glad to report that things seem to have returned to better levels recently and the service was good last summer on the flights to and from New York and San Francisco

Dad and ‘future mom’ had a nice surprise flying back from the USA last summer. They didn’t quite get the upgrade for getting engaged but nonetheless got a little something special to remember the trip 

One last tip if you’re flying to New York. Our favourite trick is to hustle out of work at 5pm and catch the last flight, which leaves at 8.30pm-ish. You get into New York at around 11pm local time and the next day, you wake up in the States, ready to start your holiday and not waste a day travelling

Our dream is to fly first class just for one flight as the service includes being picked up by a chauffeured limousine from home

Virgin Atlantic Airways


1 thought on “Travel review: Virgin Atlantic Airways

  1. Pingback: Travel review: Newark Liberty International Airport | Teddy Rambles

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