Virgin Atlantic Economy / A330-300 / London Heathrow-Newark

 
 

AIRLINE: Virgin Atlantic »

ROUTE: London Heathrow to Newark

FLIGHT TIME: 7h 30m

DATE: May 27, 2017

AIRCRAFT TYPE: Airbus A330-300 »

CLASS OF SERVICE: Economy»

SEAT: 54A (Economy Delight)

 
Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines are Joint Venture partners. They also code-share, meaning you might be booked on a Delta ticket, but fly on a Virgin Atlantic flight, as was the case for my flight. When you arrive at the airport, check-in with the airline you will be flying on, not necessarily the airline you booked with.  Virgin’s facility at Heathrow Terminal 3 was nice. The check-in process was smooth. Delta Sky Miles Medallion members and Virgin Silver and Gold tier members have access to priority check-in, regardless of the class of service. After checking in for my flight, I was ushered to a priority security screening, which was in a different location altogether from the normal screening area. There is a premium elevator just past security that takes you directly to the lounge level.

Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines are Joint Venture partners. They also code-share, meaning you might be booked on a Delta ticket, but fly on a Virgin Atlantic flight, as was the case for my flight. When you arrive at the airport, check-in with the airline you will be flying on, not necessarily the airline you booked with.

Virgin’s facility at Heathrow Terminal 3 was nice. The check-in process was smooth. Delta Sky Miles Medallion members and Virgin Silver and Gold tier members have access to priority check-in, regardless of the class of service. After checking in for my flight, I was ushered to a priority security screening, which was in a different location altogether from the normal screening area. There is a premium elevator just past security that takes you directly to the lounge level.

I had access to the No1 Lounge thanks to my Priority Pass membership through my American Express Platinum Card and because of my status on Delta. Silver and Gold Medallion members have access to this lounge when traveling on a transatlantic flight operated by Virgin Atlantic. Platinum and Diamond Medallion members get access to the Virgin Clubhouse.  The lounge was incredibly crowded, but was better than waiting in the main terminal.

I had access to the No1 Lounge thanks to my Priority Pass membership through my American Express Platinum Card and because of my status on Delta. Silver and Gold Medallion members have access to this lounge when traveling on a transatlantic flight operated by Virgin Atlantic. Platinum and Diamond Medallion members get access to the Virgin Clubhouse.

The lounge was incredibly crowded, but was better than waiting in the main terminal.

The lounge featured a self-service buffet and had additional menu items available for order. I was given two drink tickets when I entered, so I presume anything after that is not complimentary.

The lounge featured a self-service buffet and had additional menu items available for order. I was given two drink tickets when I entered, so I presume anything after that is not complimentary.

Gate location was not announced until 1 hour prior to the scheduled departure. Passengers were seated in and around the duty free section (which was a madhouse) waiting for gates to be announced. Be ready for the possibility of a long walk once your gate once it is announced - I had a 15 minute walk to get to my gate once it was announced. Side note: notice the delayed AA flights on the left side? This was the day of the infamous British Airways IT outage that forced the cancellation of their worldwide schedule for nearly an entire day.

Gate location was not announced until 1 hour prior to the scheduled departure. Passengers were seated in and around the duty free section (which was a madhouse) waiting for gates to be announced. Be ready for the possibility of a long walk once your gate once it is announced - I had a 15 minute walk to get to my gate once it was announced. Side note: notice the delayed AA flights on the left side? This was the day of the infamous British Airways IT outage that forced the cancellation of their worldwide schedule for nearly an entire day.

The gate was open when I arrived. There was a large holding pen where passengers began congregating while we waited to get called. Virgin Upper Class and elite frequent flyers were all called in the same boarding announcement - which initially surprised me. After I scanned my boarding pass it became obvious why - we were boarded onto a bus and driven for what seemed like 20 minutes to a remote stand on the other side of the airport.

The gate was open when I arrived. There was a large holding pen where passengers began congregating while we waited to get called. Virgin Upper Class and elite frequent flyers were all called in the same boarding announcement - which initially surprised me. After I scanned my boarding pass it became obvious why - we were boarded onto a bus and driven for what seemed like 20 minutes to a remote stand on the other side of the airport.

European airports are well known for their remote parking stands - which can be annoying to passengers. I don’t mind them, mainly because it gives excellent photo opportunities.

European airports are well known for their remote parking stands - which can be annoying to passengers. I don’t mind them, mainly because it gives excellent photo opportunities.

We arrived at the airplane about 25 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. I was in the first wave of buses, and when I saw the plane was still being refueled, I thought there was absolutely no way we would depart on time.

We arrived at the airplane about 25 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. I was in the first wave of buses, and when I saw the plane was still being refueled, I thought there was absolutely no way we would depart on time.

I boarded through door 2 Left, which meant I passed right by the Upper Class bar. It was a nice reminder than someone else was going to have an exquisitely luxurious flight.

I boarded through door 2 Left, which meant I passed right by the Upper Class bar. It was a nice reminder than someone else was going to have an exquisitely luxurious flight.

Next, I passed through the Premium Economy cabin, which is comparable to domestic First Class in the U.S. Here was another group of people that were about to have a wonderful flight, though not as nice as the folks in Upper Class.

Next, I passed through the Premium Economy cabin, which is comparable to domestic First Class in the U.S. Here was another group of people that were about to have a wonderful flight, though not as nice as the folks in Upper Class.

The Airbus A330-300 Economy cabin is configured in a 2-4-2 arrangement, with two lavatories in the center of the cabin, and two in the back.

The Airbus A330-300 Economy cabin is configured in a 2-4-2 arrangement, with two lavatories in the center of the cabin, and two in the back.

Elite frequent flyers get access to Economy Delight seats free of charge. These seats give an extra few inches of leg room. I found it was comparable to domestic First Class legroom. Economy Delight seats are in Rows 50-55 (only on the outside seats, not the 4 seats in the center). Non elite frequent flyers can select these seats for a fee. I highly suggest doing so - the legroom on a long flight is definitely worth the extra cost.

Elite frequent flyers get access to Economy Delight seats free of charge. These seats give an extra few inches of leg room. I found it was comparable to domestic First Class legroom. Economy Delight seats are in Rows 50-55 (only on the outside seats, not the 4 seats in the center). Non elite frequent flyers can select these seats for a fee. I highly suggest doing so - the legroom on a long flight is definitely worth the extra cost.

The boarding process went rather quickly and we only departed about 10 minutes behind schedule.

The boarding process went rather quickly and we only departed about 10 minutes behind schedule.

Virgin Atlantic is known for their wonderful service. Menus were handed out shortly after takeoff, about the same time the mood lights came on.

Virgin Atlantic is known for their wonderful service. Menus were handed out shortly after takeoff, about the same time the mood lights came on.

I opted for the malvani chicken, which was rather tasty for an Economy meal. The pasta remained surprisingly moist - a rare occurence with airplane food. Wine, beer and spirits were complimentary. I went with a red wine. The only choice was a Malbec, which isn’t my favorite, but it was good (not great).

I opted for the malvani chicken, which was rather tasty for an Economy meal. The pasta remained surprisingly moist - a rare occurence with airplane food. Wine, beer and spirits were complimentary. I went with a red wine. The only choice was a Malbec, which isn’t my favorite, but it was good (not great).

The mood lights stayed on throughout the flight. I was also really lucky to have an empty seat right next to me, so I had extra room to stretch out.

The mood lights stayed on throughout the flight. I was also really lucky to have an empty seat right next to me, so I had extra room to stretch out.

Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

The seat-back screens were a good size. I had some work to do on the flight, so I didn’t really do much with the IFE (in flight entertainment), but it looked like there was a sizeable selection. There was also a USB charger just under the screen.

The seat-back screens were a good size. I had some work to do on the flight, so I didn’t really do much with the IFE (in flight entertainment), but it looked like there was a sizeable selection. There was also a USB charger just under the screen.

Descending into the New York area.

Descending into the New York area.

The arrival into Newark passes just over the Meadowlands and MetLife Stadium and offers excellent views of Manhattan.

The arrival into Newark passes just over the Meadowlands and MetLife Stadium and offers excellent views of Manhattan.

The flight was blocked at 8 hours. We actually arrived 20 minutes early, despite the slightly delayed departure.

The flight was blocked at 8 hours. We actually arrived 20 minutes early, despite the slightly delayed departure.

 

IMPRESSION: I honestly thought this was the best Economy transatlantic product I’ve ever experienced. The Virgin staff was incredibly friendly throughout the entire experience. The flight attendants were very attentive and passed through the cabin several times during the flight, asking if I needed anything, almost on the same level as domestic First Class.

Virgin Atlantic continues to be at the top of my list when looking for transatlantic flights and I can’t wait to fly on them again.

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