I’d been looking forward to a vacation for many months, and on June 7th I flew back into London Heathrow after spending some time on mainland Europe. I decided to clock another night in the fantastic W hotel in central London and caught the Heathrow Express into the city and then grabbed a taxi from Paddington to the hotel.
After being left wondering about the cost vs. value of Heathrow Express and I arrived at a pretty empty Virgin Atlantic check in area. I wandered over to the purple area and was immediately greeted by one of the staff who escorted me and my three sizeable bags (mainly swag for friends and A&F clothing) to the check in desk. I had checked in the night before, only managed a shameful SEQ5 due to dodgy 3G data in London.
At The Airport
After a swift check in, only padded out by a nice little conversation with the girls, I was ascending in the private lift to the security channel a good 6 hours before my flight. It really was a private security channel this time, floating through in seconds with my fastidious stripping of all metallic objects and having the iPad in hand before reaching the machines. After the sanctum of the experience thus far I was about to be dumped into the shopping/building/ikea shelving nightmare that is the product of years of under investment in UK airports. I unleashed the power walk to The Clubhouse and breathed a sigh of relief as I reached the top of the stairs to be warmly greeted by a lady who stowed my carry on and walked me over to the spa area, whilst apologising about the spa tub being out of order at the current time.
As I still had a mamouth amount of lounge time I booked myself in for the cut throat shave, it’s called something fancy by VS marketing, the name escapes me at the current time. It was £35 and booked in for 4pm. I made my way over to the TV area, grabbing a few fresh cookies on the way. They were still warm in the centre, beautiful. After catching up on some emails, whilst taking in some Sky News, I could feel the power breakfast running out of steam. The dining area was empty, I grabbed a spot in the booth, being instructed to ignore the reserved signs. I ordered the clubhouse burger as per usual and it lived up to it’s reputation of being reliable and tasty – all washed down with a ‘couple’ of Redhead. A visit to the bathroom to wash off the burger grease from my face, rather like hoovering before the cleaner comes, and a game of pool later it was time for my treatment.
My treatment girlie was beautiful and also very excited about doing the shave, apparently they don’t get to do it often. I am not a beauty type of guy, face wash is about as metrosexual as I go but I really enjoyed the treatment. I was in there for over an hour and treated to a plethora of creams, ointments and toners I emerged cleanly shaven. All done with a smile and really nice chat.
I then went out to grab some last minute UK requests from duty free and returned for a long shower and steam. The shower rooms were really clean, well stocked with towels and toiletries and had a good water pressure. The Clubhouse was still quiet so I was invited to take as long as I wanted.
Feeling like I’d been through a reality show make over I strutted through the bustling clubhouse and found a quiet spot in the library to do some work. The internet speed seems to be much better of recent.At around 8.45 I decided to take a breath of air outside in the garden and have a look at some activity at the airport. At around 9pm I made my own way to the gate to have a look at the 346. I used the priority line and was in the holding pen within minutes and on-board shortly after.
Welcomed back by name with a brilliant smile and escorted to my seat, being asked my drink order at the same time. Champagne in hand within seconds by another chripy crew member, this set the standard for the entire flight. Nothing was too much trouble. Two sleep suits were delivered, I take a medium on top and large below. A champagne top up arrived whilst the other upper classers took their seats. I am unsure why VS do it, but I have honestly never heard so many announcements, mainly warning about drinking onboard and moving seats, whilst boarding. It didn’t create a welcoming environment.
The captain announced that we had been allocated a later slot and that he was trying to negotiate an earlier time. He came up trumps and the crew rushed around prepping for wheels up. A seemingly long queue; we lifted up and as soon as the seatbelt sign went off I bedded down, taking advantage of the extra pillows and doubling up on my mattress topper. A hot chocolate was accepted and a request for breakfast confirmed.
I am big fan of the VS bed, it has everything I need – privacy, comfort and flatness. I can’t stand the angled feeling of slipping downwards. Keeping a 6ft 3 guy comfortable on a flight is never an easy task, but VS nail it. The cabin temperature was perfect, nice and cool so you could use the duvet.
I was gently awoken at around 1hr 20 to landing and selected the sausage sandwich. Whilst it arrived I changed back into my clothes and made the bed into a seat. The sandwich was edible, it wouldn’t pass the Gordon Ramsay Kitchen Nightmares test but it fills a hole until home. A visit from a senior member of staff for choosing VS and a quick chat about Dubai before the seat belt sign came on and the approach to into DXB was the fly around with short taxi, opposed to the long taxi option.
T1 was littered with the usual transit pax but e-gate was completed in seconds and luggage priority tagging worked like a dream.
Virgin Atlantic provide an excellent lounge experience in London Heathrow (their home airport) and an excellent seat for sleeping; some may not like the layout and the window being over your shoulder