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Virgin Atlantic Business Class London to Los Angeles Trip Report – Boeing 787-9

23rd March 2016
Virgin Atlantic Flight 7
Depart : London (LHR)
Arrive : Los Angeles (LAX)
Departure time : 10:10am (Actual 11:14am)
Arrival Time : 1:40pm (Actual 2:25pm)
Boeing 787-900
Seat : 5A
Flight Time 11h 10m
Meal Service : Lunch & Afternoon Tea
Aircraft : Ruby Murray
Delivered : 15th May 2015

The last time I flew Virgin Atlantic was in February 2014 on one of the Heathrow based Boeing 747-400’s.

 A few things have changed since then. Virgin no longer has any Boeing 747’s based at LHR and only a few for the leisure fleet based at LGW & MAN.

The main replacements for the 747’s have been the newer and more advanced 787-9’s which came into service a few years ago.

I was also excited to relax in the London club lounge and also see the improvements that Virgin have made to the seats on the 787’s.

I arrived very early to London Heathrow and had plenty of time to look a round.

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Virgin Atlantic uses Terminal 3 at London Heathrow and there is a dedicated private upper class check in which passengers can use.

To use the upper class private check in you need to arrive by car and you can then check in using the private entrance. Alternatively you can arrive at Terminal 3 and use the main check in area and then head upstairs and still take advantage of the upper class security, simply just scan you boarding pass at the door.

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After clearing security it was about 8am and I had plenty of time to spare and wanted to really take my time at the clubhouse.

The clubhouse is located upstairs in Terminal 3 simply follow the signs to find it and then take the elevator upstairs.

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After scanning your boarding pass you are invited into the lounge. The Club house is a fantastic place, not only is there a sit down breakfast, lunch or dinner service but there is also so much to do. You can go and relax in the Hot Tub, Yes HOT TUB, or you can have a hair cut or a shave, or book an appointment to go and enjoy some relaxation therapy. There is even a pool table, and lets not forget the massive bar and outdoor deck for watching planes.

I took a look over the breakfast menu and decided to give the English breakfast a try with some coffee

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The breakfast was pretty good, though the eggs were a little wet for my taste.
I really like the fact that the clubhouse is all waiter and table service, it makes for a really nice experience.

I was tempted to play a game of pool, but I had no one to play !

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There is also a very extensive cocktail menu in the club house.

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After a great morning in the club house it was now time to head to the gate.

I arrived at our gate after a long walk and waited in the holding area before we could board our flight.

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 Boarding was called right on time with upper class passengers being called first.

After being welcomed on board I headed towards my seat

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Virgin Atlantic has Herringbone seating on all of their 787’s and A340s and remaining 747’s.

A lot of people really don’t like it that much and find the layout very close, I personally don’t mind it that much, but it does make it very hard to look out of the window.

My seat 5A is located on the left hand side of the plane. If you want a more private seat, pick a seat down the left hand side, as this side is then separated by a wall between you and the passengers in the middle, if you are sitting on the right side of the plane, your seat will face directly at them.

The wall is fairly high and gives you a good amount of privacy

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I settled into my seat and was greeted once again with a smile, the flight crew on board Virgin had been so friendly and were very welcoming, it made me look forward to the journey ahead.

I picked out some Champagne for my pre departure drink

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I then took a look around the seat to find out what made it different compared to the older seats Virgin Atlantic offers.

The first major things to notice is the improved IFE screen, its bigger,better and the picture quality is improved. It also has a USB power port located just in the bottom left corner of the screen for charging items.

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There is now also a universal plug socket, which is amazing compared to the EMpower plugs that the older A340’s have which has no real use anymore.

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Those really are the main new features of the seat, everything else is pretty much the same.

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Reading light button

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Seat controls

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The other thing I noticed compared to my previous flight is that the amenity kit is now made by Herschel.

The kit was very nice indeed and is worth keeping, I’m now using mine to store all the cables I take around with me when I travel.

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It contained all the usual items, but nice to see Virgin keeping up with a better amenity kit.

After sitting on the ground for about thirty minutes the crew informed us we would be departing late as we had a cargo item that did not have the correct paperwork and it needed to be fixed before we could push back.

 We pushed back about an hour behind schedule and made our way to the runway. Take off was very smooth and not much bumping around at all

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We reached 10,000 FT very quickly and I just relaxed. The 787 does have bigger than normal windows that really let in a lot of sun light. The dimming button for the windows is also a fantastic feature and you can dim it enough to stop the sunlight blasting into the cabin, but also at the same time you can look out of the window.

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The drinks service then started and I had some crisps to kick things off

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I then decided to have a Whiskey and some more crisps.

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My table was then set for lunch

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I still love the Salt & Pepper shakers Virgin uses,

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I was then given the usual hot towel to freshen up

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At this point I checked out the Air Show to see how far we had gone

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To start with today I was going to try the Tomato Soup

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And then for main I picked out the Chicken Biryani

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The Biryani was very good and still had some spice to it which was nice, I find this a particularly good dish on an airplane as with dulled down taste buds it still retains a good amount of flavor.

For dessert I finished with the chocolate cake

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During the dinner service across the Atlantic we passed by a SAS Airbus A340-300. It was a great thing to see and interesting that we were indeed going faster than it.

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I then decided to spend some time at the bar and have a few drinks. This is a new bar setup on the 787’s and is different to Virgin’s bars on the 747 and A340. It’s definitely more modern, but I’m not sure if it works better as a bar as there really is nowhere for the bartender to stand apart from almost directly in front of the people in the last row of upper class.

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It has a rather limited selection of Alcohol to choose from and mid-flight the crew took away the Vodka, Brandy and Gin and informed everyone at the bar they only had one bottle of each on board and that they needed it for the return trip. You would have thought they would have figured out what most people like to drink and put a few extra bottles in.

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The bar features a TV which displays the Air Show, a rather nice feature.

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There is also a snack basket located at the bar where you can help yourself

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One of Virgin Atlantic’s on board cocktails.

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At this point I noticed on the Air Show that we were passing over Greenland and I looked out the window which had some fantastic views that you can really only ever see when flying.

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  At this point in the flight I returned to my seat to catch up on some shows and test out the improved IFE.

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The movie and TV selection was really good and the IFE screen itself was very sharp and was not blurry compared to other IFE screens I have seen.

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With about four hours remaining I decided to order some of the light bites from Virgins Dine when you want menu

I started with the cheese plate

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Then the Samosa’s and onion bites

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followed by the Mini Burger with side salad (bit of an overstatement on the salad)

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I then relaxed and enjoyed the smooth ride as we made our way over the United states working our way down to Southern California.

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With just over one hour and thirty minutes to go it was time for Virgin Atlantic’s afternoon tea service. They seem very proud of this part of the service on flights, It was OK, nothing that amazing, the sandwiches were very dry and lacked any real filling at all and the cakes were enjoyable with the weak cup of tea.

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The rest of the flight was perfectly smooth and enjoyable

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The weather the entire way had been fine and the flight very smooth.
We made our approach into LA and all was going well, with about five minutes remaining a rather freakish weather system had formed over Los Angeles airport, which for Los Angeles was a rather freak and rare occurrence. I don’t think anyone could have predicted how bad this quick passing storm would be, we made out way down to about 2000 FT and had started to experience a rather bumpy ride.

With the ground insight and about a thousand feet to go, the pilots started to experience wind shear and decided that it would be best to perform a go around.

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The engines powered up to full power and we lifted off back into the skies and the storm, the next fifteen minutes were pretty turbulent with us being thrown around in the cells without being able to see a thing. We did a full circle and once we had gone around the weather had cleared up again and we made our way into Los Angeles with ease. Once we landed I Listened to the ATC from the pilots and it’s always reassuring to hear how relaxed and calm the pilots were in this situation.

My overall impressions of Virgin Atlantic were good and the crew on this flight were excellent and very polite and professional, I had a really enjoyable experience and would fly them again. I just wish Virgin would change the seats into reverse herringbone as this would be a much better layout.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy London to New York Trip Report – Boeing 787-9 | When I Travel The World - May 10, 2016

    […] Atlantic’s afternoon tea, this was a slightly scaled back version compared to what I had in Upper Class a few months ago, the main differences being the […]

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