Award Travel to London - Virgin Vs BA

Old May 18, 03, 1:39 am
  #1  
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Award Travel to London - Virgin Vs BA

I am working on a trip for next year to London. There will be two people, wanting to fly first class, using HP award miles.

I have looked at Virgin's site, and it looks great! But I have also heard good things about BA.

Anyone have experience with either or both? What are your thoughts?

On Virgin, do you get the full first class package using award miles, or are some of the perks not included?

Finally, how far ahead will these need to be made?

Thanks for any ideas and help!

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Old May 18, 03, 2:43 am
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Virgin only has business class, BA has 3 or 4 cabins, including First Class with real sleeper seats. I don't believe the 777's to PHX have the new sleeper seats in business class yet. Flying First Class on BA will be more exclusive, although Virgin has more panache, with the in-flight bar, etc.

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Old May 18, 03, 4:00 am
  #3  
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Hi,

Virgin Atlantic Has : Upper Class, Premium Economy, and Economy( aka coach also)

British Airways: First, New Club World ( if installed),World Traveller plus, World Traveller ( aka coach)

BA has the advantage of flying nonstop PHX-LHR.
If travelling VS you would have to go to LAS ( for LGW) or LAX,SFO ( for LHR)- The LHR aircraft have the flatter beds, full on board ba and beauty therapist in Upper Class.
The LGW aircraft do not have the therapist and the Recaro seats that do not fully recline but still a very good product.

I have not travelled in BA's preimum cabins but VS has been very good to me.

Regards

TBS
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Old May 18, 03, 10:41 am
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Last year we flew Virgin to London as I could not obtain reward seats via BA. Both reward redemptions were 100K miles for the premium cabin.

Do not mistake Virgin's upper class for anything closely resembling BA's First Class product. In Virgin's sleeper seat, I felt as if I were sleeping on the floor and it does not have a full recline. BA's cabin service in First is much more elaborate than Virgin's Upper Class service.

Bottom line is if you're redeeming the same number of miles for the reward, BA's First is the better product.

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Old May 18, 03, 2:49 pm
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Thanks for the info so far.

To clarify, we would be flying to LHR from somewhere on the east coast, probably Washington DC (I don't remember which they fly out of, but we would figure that out).

I have looked on Virgin's website and see that if you are in Upper Class, you recieve a car pick-up to take you to the airport, then from the airport to you destination, and the same on the return. Also, there are massages and manicure/pedicures on the plane. There is a lounge at LHR to get ready and eat once you have arrived.

One big question, if I use HP miles for this award in Upper Class, will I get all these benefits? Has anyone used HP for Upper Class to LHR and gotten these benefits??

For those who love BA, what makes BA better than Virgin? Just the seats? Are there other features which you really like, and if so, what are they? With BA are you allowed to use their clubs during the trip without an extra charge or is that restricted to members?

Thanks for all your input!!
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Old May 18, 03, 3:14 pm
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With both Virgin and British Airways, passengers in premium cabins may use their lounges on the day of travel.
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Old May 18, 03, 3:21 pm
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I have never flown Virgin, so I can't offer you a direct comparison of the two. I have, however, flown BA First many times via the HP relationship. (I've tried to get trips scheduled on Virgin through HP just to check it out, but they've never been available. HP so many more BA flights to choose from, I've always ended up with BA schedules.)

I know that in Virgin's program, if you book award travel you must use additional points to get the added perks you are talking about. I suspect that with an HP award you would not be able to use the perks at all, as typically they don't have a mechanism for charging extra points for extras -- in their program they just don't do things like that. HP International Awards can certainly answer that question. The direct phone number to that department is (480) 693-6750.

As for BA, I've not heard anyone say that Virgin Upper Class has better seats than the BA First private cabins. If you've never tried them, you must. It is a remarkable flying experience. Sitting in your seat you feel as though you are the only person on the plane, especially if you are sitting in any one of the window seats, which account for more than 3/4 of the seats. And, in my opinion, since you're flying from somewhere in the East Coast and can be a bit flexible about routing, try to schedule your trip from a city that uses 747-400's, rather than 777's. In the 747, there is nothing in front of you when you are sitting in F. The galley is behind you, as are the stairs to the upper deck where the cockpit is located. The nose of the 747 feels like a private little plane. On the 777, the cockpit and F service galley is in front of you, which makes for a lot more commotion and distraction up front. It's still a wonderful service, don't get me wrong, but if you can choose, the 747 is a somewhat better experience for this reason.

To get a good feel for a direct comparison between the two, do a search in the BA forum and if you don't find what you want post a question about comparing Upper Class to BA F. The folks over there will not hesitate to give you their opinion. I'm not very familiar with the Virgin forum, but I suspect they'd give you a different perspective.

As for club access, an HP award ticket on BA entitles you to all the perks of whatever class of service you're ticketed in. If you're in F, you get to use the F departure lounge, the F lounge in London if you are connecting, or the the very nice arrivals lounges at both LHR & LGW. (At LHR when you're flying back to the US, you get to use the Concorde/F lounge, which is the nicest lounge I've ever seen -- anywhere.) You also get to check in via the F line, Fast Track through security, and whatever else goes along with a full-fare F ticket.

As I said, I've done this a bunch of times, so if you have any more specific questions don't hesitate to ask here or e-mail me.

Hope this helps. You'll have a great trip either way!

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Old May 18, 03, 3:21 pm
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Hi JenniferNAz,

From the east coast VS fly from BOS,EWR,JFK and IAD to LHR ( MIA& MCO to LGW -MIA Changes to LHR for two months in July)
EWR/JFK/IAD have dedicated VS Clubhouses for you to enjoy and have a meal prior to deaprture ( including award tickets in UC) LHR has the Revivals lounge to freshen up.
BOS uses the NW clubhouse.

I think on Award tickets a limo servive is not provided ( using VS miles a limo can be arranged for 10k miles o/w)
On deaprture you get separate check in and on departure from LHR, a separate security line.
The 747-400 has UC in the nose of the aircraft ( like BA first), between doors 1&2 where the bar is and ahead of the exit doors on the upper deck( I like the Upper deck as it tends to be quieter)

BA offers similar services ( apart from the on board bar/therapist and limo)

PS: I have just seen the award charts and it is the same for VS Upper class and BA First (100k) ( 80k for BA NCW).

While VS UC is a very good business class product ( marketed initially as Business/ First) which beats many airlines business and First class cabins, it will probably not beat the BA first experience ( much as it pains me to say it )
I would be tempted to try BA First ( on the 747-400 as AZ travels the world mentioned)

Regards
TBS




[This message has been edited by The _Banking_Scot (edited 05-18-2003).]
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Old May 21, 03, 8:32 am
  #9  
 
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BA is planning to eliminate some first class sections, including PHX, DEN, and SAN routes. Major airports in New York, LA, Chicago, and Boston will not be affected.

http://www.btnmag.com/businesstravel...ent_id=1891432

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Old May 21, 03, 11:04 am
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"BA is planning to eliminate some first class sections, including PHX, DEN, and SAN routes. Major airports in New York, LA, Chicago, and Boston will not be affected."

God, I hope not before October/November. I've got 2 reward tix booked in F (PHX-LHR) for my honeymoon!
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