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Points, Miles, Martinis contributor, Nicky, shares his thoughts from a recent Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy flight from London Heathrow to New York (JFK). You can also view the outbound review from New York (JFK)- London.
Flight Review: Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy LHR-JFK
Virgin Atlantic at London-Heathrow uses Terminal 3 and shares check-in desks with their partner, Delta. Check-in kiosks and signs are branded Virgin and Delta and give passengers the option to check-in with either airline. Like the first flight, I was flying Premium Economy.
Passengers of Premium Economy get their own check-in desks. However, it was quite busy today (I flew the same week when Delta had severe weather delays in Atlanta affecting the whole network. There was a bit of a wait to drop off bags but not as long as the economy lines. Unfortunately Premium Economy passengers do not get priority security (only priority check-in and boarding). The line for security at Heathrow was a 20 minute wait and they are very strict on liquids in bags.
The gate area was clogged up with passengers but luckily premium cabin customers get their own line. Gate agents will scan your boarding pass and ask you to take a seat in the area until boarding is announced. There isn’t much at the gate other than vending machines and complimentary newspapers and magazines. After a while, boarding was announced for premium cabin customers. While walking to the aircraft, you will be given a bottle of water, regardless of cabin.
I was greeted by a smiling flight attendant who guided me to the correct aisle. Today’s flight was operated with an Airbus A330-300. This was a big improvement from the overnight flight (an Airbus A340-600), which there was a regular power port, USB charging port, and newish IFE (with touch screen remote). The seat has the same color and design as the previous flight. However, there was no Wi-Fi on this flight. At the seat, was the same amenities (headphones, blanket, and pillow) but there was no amenity kit. I asked if there was one however the flight attendant informed me that they only provide amenity kits on overnight flights. Flight attendants offered welcome drinks, either prosecco or orange juice. Boarding was completed quickly and we were off to New York.
Once airborne, flight attendants distributed landing cards and menus followed by a full bar service and pretzels. Today’s lunch had three options, two meat and one vegetarian. I would usually order a meat option but felt like having a Thai veggie curry with rice today. The dish was served with a salad, bread, crackers, and a cake. The dish was quite good and spicy. After meal service, flight attendants came around offering tea and coffee.
After meal service, I watched a few movies. The selection of entertainment was extensive and the screen resolution was much better than the Airbus A340 aircraft. However, the remote and screen are very sensitive and the system had some issues (flight attendants had to reset the system a few times). There’s a seat to seat chat feature, which many airlines don’t have. Flight attendants passed around an ice popsicle and water for passengers. There was a snack bar set up in the galley just in case you were hungry.
Two hours prior to landing, flight attendants came around for afternoon tea service. The afternoon tea consisted of two cakes, three sandwiches (either meat or vegetarian), and a warmed scone with traditional jam and clotted cream. Of course tea and coffee were offered with the meal. The afternoon tea service was excellent and topped off my English vacation on a great note. We landed early however the pilot had to abort the landing due to high wind conditions. We circled around JFK and finally landed.
Overall, Virgin Atlantic is a fantastic airline, quite possibly the best option to fly between New York and London. Service was professional yet quirky. I used the Upper Class lavatory and I thought I would get shooed away by the flight attendant however he offered me a drink at the Upper Class bar. As stated before, Premium Economy offers a great product for those who want more than economy with a mix of business class amenities and services.
Have you flown Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy before? Feel free to share your thoughts below!
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