The Travelling Prince: Upper Class Virgin (Part 1)
Mimi ON Jan 12, 2009 AT 6:30 pm
Virgin Atlantic is renowned for its in flight entertainment and passenger comfort on all levels. Recently the Prince flew his PA, Matilda Thompson-Ford and her friend to St. Lucia for a well earned break in the sun. This modest yet delightful gift was immediately reciprocated with a bottle of Admiral Rodney Rum and a full report from the appreciative and extremely tanned Ms Thompson-Ford on her return.
Whilst booking the tickets, I read up on Virgin Atlantic and found out that the Premium Economy class was now delivering a new wider leather seat which is undisputedly the largest in its class. A welcome 3” wider than any other airlines’ Premium Economy offer; the leather seat features enhanced ergonomics for improved comfort.
Matilda and friend, I am told especially enjoyed the complimentary pre-departure drink and post dinner liqueur on the plane which they no doubt accepted with grace. Certainly the Premium Economy offer was enough to cater for the needs of two travellers in their early 20’s seeking a fun lifestyle experience and being the perceptive PA that Matilda is, we were given her full report in detail. The Premium Economy service also includes a dedicated check in, a separate cabin, priority boarding, priority duty free and quicker baggage reclaim. Premium Economy also has a dedicated cabin crew, a redesigned meal service and dedicated amenity kit.
Certainly the trip was successful and Virgin Atlantic delivered everything its marketing material suggested.
The Prince however generally travels Upper Class and when travelling to New York, Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is a must. The airline epitomises the very essence of what New York is about, there’s a vibe, a positive energy, fast moving service, and a confident smile; sincere or not, who cares when you are on the receiving end.
Virgin Atlantic instantly dissipates all tension and irrational behaviour often associated with airports with the Upper Class wing at Heathrow. This allows passengers to pass through security and arrive at the clubhouse in under 10 minutes.
Opened in March 2006 the £11m flagship Clubhouse is over 2,500 square metres in total and has been designed to feel like a private members’ club, setting new standards for the industry with the first spa pool, steam room and sauna in an airline lounge.
The lounge was extremely inviting from the moment the Prince entered, with hand luggage and coats checked in, the Prince was approached with an infectious smile from ‘Jack’; the shoe valet, who I’ll come back to. A 5 star concierge service has been placed just inside the entrance area of the lounge and therefore any questions one had could be directed to this team if necessary.
Firstly, the Prince had a stroll around the lounge if only to see what there was to offer, tempted and rather entertained by so much, it was hard to decide where to go first. From the hair salon and spa area, to the library with laptop zone, from swinging pod chairs and a American pool table, to leather chill out beds and numerous luxury soft furnishings there were so many individual areas to choose from.
The Prince was informed by one of the hosts the a la Carte menu was available in the restaurant or if one preferred, in any other part of the lounge and at any time.
Whilst in the Clubhouse the Prince decided to do a little shopping, well after all this was a shopping trip and net-a-porter.com offers every label you could imagine. With net-a-porter branded Sony Vaio laptops located around the Clubhouse this was an easy and most enjoyable experience. Servicing over 170 countries, net-a-porter.com arranged for his purchases to be delivered to the apartment he was staying at ahead of arrival and all free of charge. Tip top sevice, I’d say!
Now back to Jack, this guy has to be a living legend in the Clubhouse at the age of 80 yrs old and looking as bright and fit as you could possibly imagine. He is the Clubhouse shoe valet and he offers you the choice of either exchanging your shoes for some complimentary slippers and collecting them later or stay and have them polished straight away.
Thirty minutes later I was explaining to the Prince the 9 ball pool rules of the Billiard Congress of America and that these rules were quite different from that of English snooker. The Prince I am glad to say quickly grasped the rules and we enjoyed a couple of games before ordering another G&T at the bar.