FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - LONDON - VS Upper Class / CO BusinessFirst; Claridge’s Hotel (Lots of Pics)
Old Mar 7, 10, 1:28 pm
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ray1022
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: New York, NY
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LONDON - VS Upper Class / CO BusinessFirst; Claridge’s Hotel (Lots of Pics)

I enjoy reading everyone else’s trip reports and have finally decided to post my own. Although a basic route and airlines, I thought this may come in handy to some and it was a fun experience documenting each part of the journey. Enjoy and feel free to PM me with any questions.


JFK to London-Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic

Upper Class
Seat 10A

Plane: A340-600
Plane Name: Miss Behavin
Depart JFK: 10:25pm / Arrive London Heathrow: 10:25am



Check-in:

Usually flying Continental’s basic BusinessFirst, I was very excited to try Virgin’s Upper Class on the outbound segment of this trip. Lately, I have been getting extremely disappointed with Continental’s service and lack of friendliness, especially on the ground. Given this Virgin flight left closer to bedtime, I jumped on the chance to try it.

I arrived with plenty of time before the flight, mainly to enjoy the Virgin Clubhouse Lounge in JFK. Check-in was seamless, although nothing memorable, waiting only about 1 minute for one of three Upper Class agents. It is interesting that no priority label is put on the luggage tag, just a separate Upper Class label on your bag’s handle. Nonetheless, my bag was one of the first to arrive on the baggage claim in London.

Check-in:



Clubhouse Lounge – JFK:

I made my way to the Clubhouse Lounge, which is just opposite the check-in area and before security. The lounge was not very crowded and I surveyed my many various seating options. I decided to sit at one of the 2-top dining tables to have dinner and was immediately approached by a waitress with a menu and a drink order. In fact, over the next few minutes while I was perusing the menu, at least 2 people came over to see if I needed anything. I ordered an appetizer, entrée, and dessert (see photos below). Overall, the food was decent and above average, with the service being very attentive. There is also a well stocked snack area with various drinks, chips, cookies, etc. I then relaxed a bit in one of the lounger chairs and decided to take a shower before my flight. The bathrooms/showers are basic, yet modern, however lacked any stocked amenities (toothbrushes, razors, etc). I headed out towards the gate before boarding was called in the lounge and used the Premium security line and was through in a matter of minutes. Once at the gate, I waited until they started boarding Upper Class (after a bit of a delay compared to the anticipated board time of 9:35pm. Many fellow Upper Class travelers followed, as this premium cabin has quite a few seats.

Clubhouse Entrance:


Clubhouse Interior:




Dinner Menu and Food in Clubhouse:











Flight:

After boarding, everyone was busy settling into their seat and the flight was fairly full. At first impression, I did not think I’d like the slanted aisle facing seats, but they proved to be comfortable and provided the requisite sleep. Once seated, it is fairly private and you cannot really notice your neighbors in front of and behind you. I purposely booked row 10, as the seats in the middle row in this section face the other side of the plane, so I didn’t have anyone facing me (be sure to take a look at the seat map, as the middle section switches the way it faces about halfway down). Everyone was rushing to use one of the three bathrooms in Upper Class in order to get ready for bed, so they were quite crowded. Sleep suits were distributed to each passenger and attendants came around to introduce themselves. My attendant, JJ, was extremely friendly and saw I was a “virgin” to Upper Class, so took the liberty to introduce me to the seat and its features. I must say all the flight attendants seemed genuinely friendly and caring – and they seemed to be having fun and enjoying their jobs. I had a glass of champagne and some water before take-off and we were soon on our way to London. Having already eaten in the Clubhouse, I declined any dinner service, but did have a nightcap and then had JJ prepare my seat into the bed. The seats fold forward to make a bed with the ottoman and a thin mattress pad is put on the bottom and a duvet and pillow are placed on the bed. The bed, although slightly hard, was comfortable enough, although I must say the area where your feet are near the ottoman is a bit cramped. I filled out my order for breakfast and started to watch a movie on the individual TVs, but my screen froze twice. At this point, I was getting pretty drowsy so decided to call it a night and not bother with the movie. After waking up and reading for a bit, breakfast was brought out. I have to say the food was not their strong point, but I ate anyway. After landing, I made my way through customs (Upper Class passengers are given vouchers for Fast Track) and claimed my baggage, which was one of the first on the carousel. Now on to the Revivals Lounge for a shower…

Upper Class Cabin, Seat, and Bathroom:










Upper Class Onboard Menu:







Revivals Lounge – Heathrow

As this trip was for pleasure (my wife was arriving the next day in London from northern England where she had been for work), I basically had one day to relax on my own and was in no rush to get into London or to the hotel, so I figured I would try the Virgin Revivals Lounge. As previously mentioned on some posts, the Revivals Lounge is after baggage claim and customs and past the Virgin limo desk (if you already prearranged car transportation), basically near the exit area/meeting area and one level up via elevators or stairs near the parking deck. The receptionist cross-referenced my name against a passenger list for the flight and quickly gave me an assigned shower/bathroom. The individual bathrooms/showers are spacious enough to move around with your luggage and there are quite a few shower rooms on both sides of the hallway. There were hardly any customers in the lounge from my flight, but perhaps the lounge is more crowded on the flights that arrive earlier in the morning. Digital individual music control panels and an emergency button are located within each bathroom, along with plenty of body and face towels. Once again, no toiletries here (toothpaste, razors, etc), but having my luggage with me, I preferred to use my own anyway. After a nice hot shower, I got dressed and headed to the dining area where I was given a menu for breakfast/brunch, making a quick pit stop at the shoe shine machine. I was a bit hungry as it was approximately 12:30pm and had some fruit, pastries, and tea. Note the lounge closes at 1:30pm, so I wrapped up and made my way back downstairs. This Revivals lounge is not as modern as some might be used to with the Clubhouses, but it still serves the purpose and is efficient. I did notice one of the other passengers waiting to get a massage, but I did not check out the Cowshead Spa area. One nit – I was never offered any pressing of my clothes, although I do know it is available. Unfortunately, I must have been a bit out of sorts after the flight, as I forgot to take any pictures of the lounge or showers. Sorry!


Heathrow Express Train into London:

Given no rush to get into town and knowing we were already taking a car service on the return trip to Heathrow, I was curious to try the Heathrow Express train and also did not mind saving a few Pounds (especially given the exchange rate to the Dollar!). Taking the elevator back down from the Arrivals lounge to the exit/meeting area, it is a bit of a long walk to get to the ticket area and platform for the Heathrow Express, so beware. I bought my ticket in a matter of seconds and a train was scheduled to arrive within a few minutes (the train runs 4 times during the hour, I believe, so is quite convenient). I opted to spend the 10 extra Pounds and purchase a First Class train ticket for 26 Pounds, but honestly it is unnecessary as the journey into London is only about 15 minutes. Our First Class train car was empty, except for 2 other gentlemen and myself. The train is fairly new and comfortable, with TVs, ample luggage storage, and the train exit doors are on the same level as the station platforms, making it easy to roll your luggage off the train. Within 15 minutes, we arrived nonstop into Paddington Station in London and from there I took a taxi to Claridge’s Hotel for approximately 9 Pounds (read on for my hotel review). All in, it was approximately 35 Pounds and 40 minutes from Heathrow door to door and definitely a worthwhile option in lieu of a car service.

Heathrow Express Train:







Claridge’s Hotel
48 Brook Street (corner of Davies Street)
In Mayfair section of London

Please see my hotel trip report posted on Flyertalk in the “Luxury Hotels” section (link below).

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...-w-photos.html


(Report continued below...keep reading)
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