A Virgin Atlantic 787-9 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Photo: Colin Cook
On a recent trip to Europe, my girlfriend and I had the opportunity to fly in two different premium cabins to compare different products. The first story covered the British Airways First Class experience on a 747-400 from Seattle to London. This second part reviews the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (business class) product on a 787-9 from London back to Seattle.
The flight in BA First Class set an extremely high bar for any future flight to exceed. Simply put, it was the best flight I’ve ever experienced, both from a hard and soft product perspective. I was interested in comparing the premium cabin experiences on aircraft that are generations apart in technology. While the 747 will always be the Queen of the Skies and helped to open many international travel routes, the 787 is very much the future of air travel.
On the night prior to our flight, we discovered that Virgin Atlantic offers Upper Class passengers a premium car service from central London to Heathrow. Unfortunately, we were evidently not eligible for this perk, as we were traveling on an award ticket. We also discovered that when you are arriving by a car service (we took an Uber), there is a special airport entrance, the Upper Class Wing, for which you can register. Once I requested the Uber on the morning of our flight, I had our hotel call Virgin Atlantic to register the car’s license plate, which allowed us access to the private check-in area for Upper Class passengers. Now that’s classy.
Our ride, looking sleek in red and blue – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
SAS Scandinavian Airlines has a lot of history under its belt — over 70 years’ worth, in fact. It was first to offer a regularly scheduled transpolar flight way back in 1954. More recently, it was a founding member of the Star Alliance. It continues to make big moves, expanding its US route network into Miami and Los Angeles to solidify its status as the airline with the most flights between the US and Scandinavia.
But as of a few years ago, SAS’ business class on its long-haul A340 and A330 fleet was stuck in the past, with a 2-2-2-across layout and only angle-flat seats. The airline ordered a few A350s but deliveries aren’t expected until late next year. In the meantime SAS needed to do something to keep its existing fleet from aging out of relevance. So starting last year it launched a massive effort to reinvent its flagship premium cabins.
We got a chance to experience SAS’ reimagined business class for ourselves and we found a lot to like — all documented in this trip report. And as suckers for aviation nostalgia, we’re glad that travelers will have the chance to fly the classic A340-300 for a while longer, and won’t have to sacrifice on style or comfort to do it.
Read on and join us on a Scandinavian adventure for the ages!
A Lufthansa 747-8 departing Frankfurt for LAX – Photo: Brandon Farris
I recently flew aboard two Lufthansa Boeing 747-8s. In doing so I was able to cross off a longstanding item on my AvGeek to-do list. Like most (all?) AvGeeks, I have long had a passion for the 747. Sure, there are plenty of great planes flying today, but there’s something about the Queen of the Skies that is inexplicably special. Despite having admired the 747 for the greater part of my life, this was the first time I flew aboard one. Did I mention it was upstairs in business class, both ways? This is the stuff AvGeek dreams are made of. I had extremely high expectations from years of envy and admiration. Let’s discuss how the queen held out, shall we?
CX254 LHR to HGK – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter
My working holiday in Hong Kong at the end of April started with a delightful journey on Cathay Pacific (CX). I upgraded from Premium Economy to Business for the nearly 12-hour overnight flight on a 777-300ER out of Heathrow’s (LHR) Terminal 3. Now a long day’s work always deserves a beer. And I was also on a mission to sample a Betsy.
CX Lounge in T3 – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter
My business ticket granted me access to CX’s lounge in LHR T3. I therefore scurried over to discover it and to crack open a CX-inspired cold one. Reopened in November 2016, the revamped Cathay lounge is slick and elegant, finished in brown wooden panels and marble.