I was quite excited to try out Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic. It had been a while since I had flown with Virgin. When I was living in Australia I used Virgin Australia frequently. Is it just me or do other people also get confused with the different Virgin airlines? I really do think there should just be one! Anyway, I digress.
I have flown Virgin Atlantic business class and economy before and really enjoyed both. So expectations were high for Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy! I tried to temper them as my last premium economy experience in British Airways had not really been all that premium!
So without further ado here is my Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review!
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review – Making the Booking
Virgin Atlantic always seems to be an amazing deal or really expensive! Luckily, in this case, it was the amazing deal option! I was looking for a return flight to New York from London for Thanksgiving. I always start my search for flights with Skyscanner and then move on to Expedia. This usually gives me a good idea of the best options.
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Then I like to head on to the airline’s own websites. They normally guarantee the best price. The other thing I like is it is normally easier to compare if there are savings or opportunities to be had by taking an earlier or later flight. Plus I can’t help but check how much extra it would be to upgrade to business class!
Virgin Atlantic also has three different options for economy bookings so it may be worth checking these out depending on your needs.
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy – Airport and Checking In
Virgin Atlantic flies out of Heathrow Terminal 3. Flying Premium Economy gets you your own check-in area! Separate even from business class! So that is a nice experience. I didn’t get priority boarding on the way to New York but I did on the way back so perhaps I should have asked!
I was hoping for lounge access. The website says that there can be lounge access depending on how busy it is. Or I was taking the frequent flyer points on my Singapore Airlines scheme. Apparently, if I was gold I would have had access but alas I am silver. Darn! Or there is a USD$60 charge to use the lounge which I chose not to take. Even I can’t drink that much champagne!
Anyway, there are a lot of options for food and shopping etc at Terminal 3 so the lounge is a nice to have. At the gate, Premium Economy gets priority boarding as well which is always nice.
Inside the A330
The Premium Economy Layout is 2 x 3 x 2. Each seat is 21 inches wide and has a 38-inch recline. There is also a pull-out footrest – or if you are in the front row the attendant brings a footrest all of your own! The seats feel properly premium! Padded and very comfortable! Interestingly the Upper-Class seats are only 1 inch wider! The real difference between premium economy and upper class, of course, comes on overnight flights where Upper-Class seats turn into beds. If you are travelling during the day and won’t be sleeping I do think it is quite difficult to justify needing Upper Class over Premium Economy.
On the ground, the attendant serves Prosecco or soft drinks.
What I do love about Virgin Atlantic is the relaxed and engaging customer service. We ended up stuck on the ground at Newark on the way out for quite some time. The team continued to serve drinks and turned the in-flight entertainment on to keep us occupied. I have never known of another airline to do this! Such a simple thing but such a nice human touch!
Premium economy does have its own bathroom – and they have Noble Isle toiletries which are quite nice!
The flight does have full Wifi but of course, this requires payment.
Each seat has a power point and USB port. It is tucked right down between the two seats so you’ll need to put the torch on your phone on to find it!
Food and Drinks
There was a nice choice of wine – a Spanish Sauvignon and a Spanish red plus the prosecco.
The starter was an orange and walnut salad followed by a choice of 3 mains – Linguine pasta with meatballs, Coq au Vin and Wild Mushroom Risotto. Dessert was a blueberry and cinnamon streusel and cheese and crackers.
I chose the Coq au Vin and it was pretty good!
On the way to Newark, we also had afternoon tea later in the flight. This was chicken sandwiches, some rather nice scones and some cakes. On the way back to London was quite a nice breakfast before landing.
The service is excellent. Drinks service was super fast – almost as fast as what I would expect in business class.
Alas, there is no access to the fantastic Upper-Class bar – sad face. But there is a fantastic what they call Wonder Wall area which has excellent premium snacks and drinks on offer throughout the entire flight!
Entertainment and Amenities
As you would expect the in-flight entertainment is excellent on Virgin Atlantic. There are 139 movies to choose from and some excellent recent TV programmes. Best of all they offer full seasons of tv shows vs just one or two episodes.
The headphones are ok but better if you bring your own if you have a good pair.
The amenities kit is simple but cute. I liked the red pouch – very re-usable! There are then nicely purple branded eye masks, socks, earplugs, toothbrush, pen etc.
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy – The Verdict
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy gets 5 stars from me! It felt genuinely premium at every point – from check in to the entire in-flight experience. The seats felt very spacious and comfortable and the footrest was a nice touch. The experience definitely justifies the price and I will be happily flying Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy again.
How does Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy compare with British Airways Premium Economy?
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy is much better than the British Airways alternative! The entire experience genuinely feels premium – from check-in to boarding to most importantly the in-flight experience. With British Airways I still felt like I was in economy just with more leg room! I would absolutely pay at least 20 or 30% more to fly premium economy with Virgin Atlantic rather than British Airways.
Have you flown with Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy? I would love to hear about your experience!
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Also published on Medium.
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