Last year, on our honeymoon, Matthew and I were lucky enough to travel from Gatwick to Las Vegas with Virgin Atlantic, flying in first class. We enjoyed it so much that when we started putting together our US and Canada trip this year we agreed that flying first class again, at least for a leg of the trip, was something we were keen to do. We'd heard great things about the service from Heathrow to JFK, and as we were starting in New York, we decided to book. With a little saved money and a big chunk of air miles we were able to secure some very nice seats!
Now, I know there are bloggers who fly first class a lot (and fair play to them all - get it, girls and boys!), but I'm not one of them. Here I write about the things I enjoy, and it's a real mix - I'm neither a luxury blogger nor a budget blogger, rather I'm straight down the middle. I love treats, I love bargains, but like the majority of people I encounter and embrace a range of both! I'm glad though, because I think mixing budget, mid-range and luxury elements means that the treats I do have (nice hotels, beautiful meals, great champagne) I think I enjoy even more.
That proviso in place, allons-y!
The whole experience with Virgin Atlantic is wonderful. If you're flying from Heathrow, they send a town car to your door to take you to the dedicated check-in for Virgin first class at Heathrow. Yep, no standing in lines or marching through the crowds - you are dropped off at the door, checked in, and breeze through your own security channel. Then it's off to the lounge for a few hours of relaxation ahead of your flight.
The lounge is beautiful and spacious, with meeting spaces, a quiet 'library' area, a spa and salon, and all sorts of leisure options, from pool tables to books to movies. There are staff throughout who are only too happy to assist and the refreshments available are wonderful - there's a fully stocked bar, an a la carte menu, a buffet, and snack stations throughout. Matthew and I did a little scouting around and then settled down for some drinks and a spot of lunch.
Matthew began with a cocktail - I opted for champagne, because when in Rome....
A quick note: throughout this post many of my pictures are iPhone ones - I always think in a setting like this it's nice to be discreet. This is also why I've refrained from long shots with lots of travellers in! It's one thing when I'm working, but when I'm a little off duty I like to keep it lowkey.
I started with the sweetest little bao - Matthew opted for a lightly spiced butternut squash soup.
Mains were the signature burger for me (really good, juicy burger) and the madras for Matthew - don't you just love the presentation of his meal?
Delightfully full, I left Matthew to the papers and a whisky, and I popped over to the spa for my appointments. Pro tip: if you do want to use the spa, book your appointments as soon as you arrive - the staff will try their best to fit you in, of course, but the services are all in high demand. There's a wide range of paid and complimentary services available and while I was there the place was a hive of activity, with people having manicures, massages and haircuts!
I had a complimentary hand treatment, which left my mitts smooth and nourished, and I paid for a wash and blow-dry. I figured as we were heading to New York, home of the power blow-dry, it was a worthwhile choice, and they did it so well - my style lasted for four days!
With hair tamed, it was time to have a last cocktail (the Virgin Redhead - highly recommended!) before we headed off to the plane. The lounge has boards everywhere so you can easily spot when your flight is called. Then you wander over to your gate, board straight away and are immediately offered a beverage. Man, I love first class.
We were the first on the plane... which meant I could get a few good shots of the cabin. There's so much room per person, with individual entertainment systems, tables and footstools. So comfortable for a long-haul flight.
Matthew is the best at finding great seats. For our Las Vegas flight we were across from each other in the nose of the plane; for this one we were next door neighbours, opposite the bulkhead wall, which made our little section feel really comfortable and cosy.
Love traveling with this guy.
We got all settled and before we knew it we were flying high above the fields of England's green and pleasant land.
Once we were airborne the staff began the beverage service and I had a lovely hour or so sipping cocktails, reading my magazine, and selecting my food choices for dinner (UK time)/lunch (US time).
The food service on board is so lovely - you get your own little table which is set up so prettily, and the menu is full of fresh, tasty options. I'm always amazed by the food magic they can work at thirty-thousand feet in the air!
How sweet is this little set-up?
For my starter I selected the chicken satay, which was fresh, tender and moreish. All of the wines served alongside come from Berry Bros, and I was delighted to see one of my favourite Marlborough whites on the list.
Chicken with mushrooms and creamy mash was my main. Don't you just love the little aeroplane cruet set? Such a sweet little detail.
For pudding I can rarely resist a cheeseboard, and loved tucking in to cheddar, brie and stilton with a nice glass of port.
Thus sated, it was time to recline our seats and relax with some entertainment. There's a great range of films, TV shows, music and games on board, which kept us very happily occupied. You each get a window too, which is lovely - I adore looking out over the little fluffy clouds. We also took the opportunity to have a seat at the bar and have a cocktail later in the flight.
Shortly before we began our descent into JFK, we had a quick snack break - Matthew had the sweet selection while I opted for a refreshing peppermint tea - I was still full!
Snacks are available throughout the flight in first class - as well as the cakes and scones there were fruit, crisps, nuts, as well as hot options such as sliders on request.
How sweet are the mugs? I really loved all the details on board.
Before we knew it, it was time to buckle up and get ready for our New York adventures. I loved flying with Virgin Atlantic on first class, and I really hope we can do so again in the future.