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sharonsunshine

flying with virgin, upgrade advice please

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I'll let you know how we get on.

My car is booked in for valet parking, to be collected from that fancy drop off place, my daughter usually gets dropped off there by the chaffeur service they use. My son in law has insisted we get to LHR early to enjoy Virgin's hospitality, he likes the included drinks and food....

Our flight is 09.20 so we shall fall through the doors of the Clubhouse as they open at 06.30. We are staying the previous night in the Radisson and getting the shuttle bus with all the poor people so will have to go to the Upper check-in in Terminal 3.

Don't want to rub it in Sunset but she's also treated us to theatre tickets for the Saturday night ( Jersey boys - wife's choice).

I have my fingers in my ears and I going Na Na Na Na....

 

By your description I reckon you're talking Whaplode drove.....

Very close. Do you know the area well?

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Setting off shortly, picking up daughter and son in law on the way near Leicester, aiming to be round the M25 and in the lounge by 1400.....traffic permitting, flights not until 17:00ish!

 

Know of your area, pass through it as have customers in the fens, Peterborough area and my brother lives near Whittlesey.

 

More later!

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Know of your area, pass through it as have customers in the fens, Peterborough area and my brother lives near Whittlesey.

It's better to live in than to visit. But then it would need to be...

 

Looking forward to hearing your experiences of Virgin's Upper and Premiun Economy flights.

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We love the clubhouse, even select a later flight to get lunch there

Sadly this was the only flight to Chicago that we could get using our Air Miles. But we will be going to Boston next year (reward seat availability permitting) and will aim to follow your advice.

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Well, what can I say...?

If I had the spare money I would travel 'upper class' all the time...unfortunately I want to have more regular holidays than one very expensive one occasionally!

 

I said I would report back about Virgin's Upper Class, so here goes.

 

My car was booked in to the upper class drop off area, valet parking arranged to collect. They say '10 minutes from car to bar' and I can certainly vouch for that. our luggage was unloaded, 'Upper class' tagged and whisked away by the time I'd got my jacket off the back seat. We entered the private check-in area, my daughter who's a frequent flyer with Virgin was recognised and they couldn't do enough for us, politely shown to their private security line we breezed through there and stepped through the door (unfortunately) into the duty-free shopping area.

 

The Virgin lounge is a short stroll though the duty free area, once there you have options of a cold meats/fish & salad bar, limited menu of some nice choices and of course drinks at no charge....hence the reason my son-in-law insist we get there earlier than necessary!

We had a very pleasant lunch, a few drinks, played pool and a couple of games on the video machine (no charges on those either). None of us bothered with any 'treatments', haircuts or shoe shines. At all times the staff were attentive but not invasive, making sure we had whatever we needed. It's certainly the best time I've ever had waiting for a flight!

 

Once the flight was announced we ambled down to the gate, passed through the throngs and were waved straight on board, Lucy my hostess introduced herself, took my jacket and showed me round my seat after serving me with my choice of juice, champagne, Buck's Fizz/ mimosa or something else from the bar.

My first beer came with a nice bowl of nibbles, top ups offered every time anyone passed my seat!

As the flight progressed Lucy came to me asking if I had a chance to peruse the menu for dinner, my choice was asparagus and prosciutto to start followed by a very nice fillet of beef with a medley of cabbages and some mash , all sat at my good size pop up table with a proper table cloth, cute little cruet and metal cutlery. Choices of quality wine ( according to my wife - I don't do wine) in proper glasses. An excellent cheesecake for dessert and a glass of port from the cheese trolley (declined the cheeseboard, I was full.....)

There was the option of sitting opposite my wife to have dinner, the foot rest is a reasonable size seat so you can share the table as my daughter and son in law did but I decided to relish the space and comfort of my own little pod!

 

Once again, at all times the air crew were attentive, and very eager to please.

Once the dinner service was over Lucy asked if I would like my bed made up but I decided to watch a movie instead of sleeping my time away.

 

Upon arriving in New York we picked up our bits and walked off the plane first, into immigration before the masses and by the time we got to the luggage carousel our suitcases popped out first and we were off to the taxi rank before most of the economy passengers (usually including me and my wife) were through border control!

 

All in all, a very pleasant experience, one I look forward to enjoying again when ever I get the opportunity or I win the lotto.

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Thanks for that report. You have us itching to catch our flight to Chicago in September.

 

One question - in the Clubhouse I understand that the food and drink are without extra charge but what about the hairdresser, treatments etc?

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You know something? I never thought to ask...

My daughter mentioned that her colleague always booked in for a massage but never mentioned it being a chargable option.

 

went on Virgins website, seems if you're a Virgin customer most of the treatments are complimentary, if you're with one of their partner airlines its chargable.

http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/content/dam/VAA/Documents/TravelInformation/Clubhouses/LHRspamenu/LHR_Spa_menu_2016.pdf

Edited by Oscarsgrandad

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seems if you're a Virgin customer most of the treatments are complimentary, if you're with one of their partner airlines its chargable.

http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/content/dam/VAA/Documents/TravelInformation/Clubhouses/LHRspamenu/LHR_Spa_menu_2016.pdf

Thanks for that link. I read it the same way, too.

 

How did the return journey in Premium Economy turn out?

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Premium economy was great compared to our normal method of travel (cattle class as we call it) comfy seats and enough legroom and extras to be worth the extra money on long haul, especially on the return trips when I have to be able to sleep before I drive home from the airport.

 

I had a stroll round the plane mid flight (don't sleep that well on planes) and economy was half empty, having spoken to the air crew they said that of the mere 120 in economy, 95 of them had just come off a NY to Caribbean cruise, so essentially we were on a chartered flight, most of those at the back had rows of seats to themselves.

 

My wife and I have discussed our current situation and decided that on future long hauls we will pay to upgrade on return flights to help compensate for the end of holiday blues, not to 1st, maybe to business or premium economy. Looking at this year's holidays we had a Caribbean cruise in January, this recent NY weekend (free flights), in three weeks time we are at my brothers place in Cyprus, July it's a weeks Med cruise, end of August it's a time share week in Malta and similarly a week in Lanzarote in November.

 

In between those breaks I tend to work 7 days a week ( own business) and my wife works hard in her own business too, we rarely go out, don't smoke and only drink when away, we save up for holidays and book a year in advance to get the best prices. if we were to fly Upper/1st class all the time we could only afford a quarter of the time away and that would be unacceptable to us.

When we had the three kids at home we scraped by on a cheap fortnight once a year, but now they've grown up we can push the boat out a bit.

Our first intention when we retire/sell up is to have a long holiday of a fortnight or more....ideally a world cruise but now I am dreaming!

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Glad you enjoyed the experience,We have done upper twice with airmiles.We did Gatwick once and Heathrow once,Gatwick was ok but Heathrow was amazing.I would quite happily book a holiday arounfpd Heathrow flights?lol....

Did you try the aircraft bar? One reason my husband wanted to go upper was to try that facility.

We always try and get a good deal coming home from holiday in premium.It does help.We can't afford to pay outright for upper flights yet...

We were in economy once,where the flight was half empty and we all had 3-4 seats each.Just as comfy in the end!

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I didn't use the bar facility for a drink but did help myself to some of the fresh fruit on the bar whilst stretching my legs, the air hostesses were so attentive I never got much of a chance to do self service.

 

Can I ask a question of you? Do a lot of you use credit cards that earn air miles or some form of loyalty rewards?

I never look at credit card offers but it seems there are a lot that get flights or treats as a bonus.

We tend to pay for things using our debit card straight out of the bank.

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Can I ask a question of you? Do a lot of you use credit cards that earn air miles or some form of loyalty rewards?

I never look at credit card offers but it seems there are a lot that get flights or treats as a bonus.

We tend to pay for things using our debit card straight out of the bank.

I must admit that we have built our air miles up more from cards than flights.

 

I have an Amex and Visa with Virgin Atlantic. The Amex gives 2 air miles per pound spent on the Amex and 1 mile per £ on the Visa. They always have some sort of introductory offer - just now you get about 30k air miles. But the annual fee is £140. That is for the Black card. The White card account is free but the intro bonus is much smaller and only half the number of points per £.

 

I buy everything with the Amex then immediatley xfer the money onto the card account from my bank account online.

 

If you look at the Virgin website in the Earn miles section there are many other ways to accumulate miles. For example when we go to Chicago I have booked all our hotels with Booking dot com using the Virgin ''Shopsaway'' portal. This will give OH's account a boost of around 5000 miles or so. OH gets air miles by transferring her Tesco Clubcard points, too. There are many ways of keeping the account ticking over without ever leaving the ground!

 

To put it in perspective, a return Upper flight to Chicago is 80k air miles. Eco return somewhere around 35k I think (you do have to pay taxes, mind).

 

One other thing you get with the cards is Eco to Prem Eco upgrades for each £5k spent in a year up to a max of 2 upgrades. So our trip to Chicago is 80k miles for the outward 2x Upper and 2 x return prem upgraded from eco (and at the time there was a reward flight sale with 30% off eco miles needed) so that was 25k miles. So 105k miles for the return trip. Not bad when the card brings in at least 70k Air Miles (maybe more) per year. To buy 70k Air Miles would cost way over £700 which makes the £140 annual payment seem very cheap.

 

It takes a while to work out all the angles but it's worth it - I'm retired, though, and have time to do such things.

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Thanks for the info, I will get my wife on the case.....if we're going to spend money we may as well get something in return, pity we didn't put our recent bathroom makeovers on an air mile earning credit card....they would have taken the sting out of it a bit!

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One other advantage of Air Miles bookings (at least on Virgin Atlantic) is that one way trips cost the same as half a return trip - that may sound self-evident but buying a single fare can often be more that a return.

 

For example, we need to get 2 singles from Barbados in Nov 2017. Using dummy dates for the same period in 2016 (because the booking calendar doesn't show Nov '17 yet) gives a single fare in Eco at around £700 each yet an eco costs 22500 Air miles plus taxes etc of about £60. So for the 2 of us that is 45k air miles plus £120 rather than £1400. Bargain. The downside is that it is a bit of a lottery that you get the date you want but for the £1280 saved we could have a few days somewhere not too shabby to wait for the reward flight. (Actually there seems to be plenty of availability in November '16 so '17 should be similar.)

 

(And a bit cheekily we are using Avios points for the trip to Barcelona where the cruise starts - points gained last year when we had to fly BA because we were on an inclusive deal)

Edited by Tothesunset

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We wanted 2 biz class one way to Sydney to pick up Arcadia. BA wanted double what Emirates/Etihad charged so I asked why and they said they don't discount one way but the nice girl said I'll ring you back when I get a minute. She rang, "off the record". If we booked a "special" that was coming up . Return to LHR , Biz out and economy return, then don't use the return the price was lower by several £100s than the others. Happy days and enough BA miles for a flight within Europe.

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We're on daily watch for the upper class upgrades. Got premium but so many points we could upgrade 8 people and nowhere to spend them right now.

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Hi everyone

Looking forward to our first cruise in March with R.C

But I was wondering, we are flying with virgin, has anyone ever upgraded at the airport? Would anyone recommend first class with virgin? Worth it, or save money for the casino on board lol

Thanks in advance

Sharon

 

Was the upgrade to Virgin worth on how much it costed? What about trying simply the bigger airlines like American Airlines (https://www.aa.com/homePage.do) or an A380 Etihad Airways (http://flights.etihad.com/en-ch/)?

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I keep an eye on the available reward seats on Virgin on the SFO and LAX routes. Since the referendum vote and corresponding slow death of the pound Sterling many more seats have opened up in Prem eco and Upper in the months of Jan and Feb. This is encouraging as we are looking at an Upper return for 2 in Feb 2018 but have always found a scarcity of seats.

 

Now if this weak pound would only last until I can book for Feb 2018...

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So we have enough miles to upgrade to Upper Class and was wondering whether it is better to wait until we have enough for a reward flight or not? What are people's thoughts?

 

Also we normally book cruise package holidays for the ATOL protection, so how do we make sure we can get an upgradeable flight when we book the holiday? Is it luck, or should we plan our holiday around upgradeable flights?

 

And finally :), what/where are people checking to get upgrades?

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