Posted on 2007/04/08 23:33:31 (April 2007).
[Wednesday 4th April]
So today I was flying from San Francisco back to London. The flight wasn't until around 4 in the afternoon so I went into the office in the morning, tied up a few loose ends, attended a couple of meetings, and even managed to fit in lunch before heading off to the airport.
Having suffered economy class on the way to the US this time, for the return flight I was really determined to get myself upgraded. Furthermore I didn't want to just settle for Premium Economy, I wanted to get all the way into Upper Class. Apparently I had enough air miles for a one way mileage upgrade from economy to upper, although as a slight frustration I would need to pay out a bit of cash to change the "booking class" of my ticket to one which was eligible for a mileage upgrade.
I got to the airport in good time which was just as well as it took me over an hour at check-in to sort my ticket out and get upgraded, but once that chore was out the way I hurried along, clutching my fine looking Upper Class boarding pass, to the Virgin upper class lounge (or clubhouse or whatever they called it). This was very sophisticated - the only other business class lounges I've been to are Northwest, and it seems Virgin are much, much nicer.
After a couple of complimentary beers and a chat with Chie via Skype in the lounge, I headed to the plane itself. When I got on board I certainly wasn't disappointed - the upper class seat on Virgin Atlantic is the roomiest of any airline (see here for details). I don't think I've ever previously felt comfortable and actually relaxed on a plane before, and whilst I would still prefer not to have to fly at all given the choice, the usual feelings of being tense, stressed and claustrophobic were all pretty much gone. In relative terms it was actually quite fantastic.
Of course I had to take advantage of all the other perks of Upper class - the bar, the free flowing drinks, the superior food and I even opted to have a massage (well, when in Rome).
I did actually convert my seat into the fully flat bed configuration but as always wasn't able to actually sleep - even with earplugs in it seems the plane is still too noisy for me, and I can still never feel 100% relaxed whilst airborn. Still, I think I am just resigned to the fact that I am basically incapable of sleeping on planes, and so if I do have to endure the whole thing whilst awake, it makes it so much better be in the notably more luxurious surrounds of Upper Class.
Unfortunately, having basically wiped out all my air miles for this upgrade, it's probably going to have to be back to economy for a while now (unless my company finally gets that long awaited new travel policy rolled out).
I had the pleasure of flying First Class with Lufthansa twice in my life, and even if the bed is 100% flat I had a lot of troubles sleeping as well. On the other side the free caviar and drinks and other amenities where more than enough to get me busy for the 12 hours that the flight took! :D
Posted by Lox at 2007/04/09 06:42:10.
If your paying that much money/using hard earned air miles, I would have thought you would have wanted to stayed awake and drink a couple of hundred quids worth of Single Malt at the bar!!!
Posted by Kev at 2007/04/09 09:05:06.
Kev is right, although when I was in First Class with Lufthansa apart from the caviar (of which I ate at least 4 kilograms) there wasn't any other expensive treat worth oversampling! :D
Posted by Lox at 2007/04/09 10:12:08.
Actually the onboard bar didn't have such a huge selection - I think there were basically just two fairly uninteresting single malts. The lounge at the airport did seem to have a pretty extensive bar though, although I was feeling pretty unadventurous and just stuck to beer.
Posted by John at 2007/04/10 23:35:21.
Seeing as you were in Upper class, I would have thought they would have done everything to aid your sleep, including making the cabin quieter by turning off those noisy engines.
Posted by Rob Lang at 2007/04/11 09:11:54.