On my most recent trip to London, I flew Air France with a stop over in Paris on the outbound. On the return, I decided to go with Delta Airline’s Delta One offering which also allowed me to explore the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Terminal and lounge. This unrivaled premium pre-departure experience was the highlight of the trip as the flight itself felt mediocre albeit with excellent service. Here’s my review!
Virgin Atlantic offers a one of a kind pre-departure experience through its Upper Class terminal. Here in this private terminal reserved for only Virgin Atlantic Upper Class or Delta One passengers, there is a private check in and security area allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of London Heathrow. Typical bag check process could take upwards of 2 hours on a busy day as the airport struggles to meet the summer travel surge.
Clearing security in this private section was a breeze and within 10 minutes, I went from drop off to resting in the famous Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Lounge which included a small outdoor garden/patio area for plane spotting. The lounge also had plenty of seating, a full a la carte menu, and a full service bar. You could order dishes from the a la carte menu with a QR code or you could speak with one of the staff members. In addition, there was also a food bar serviced by several staff members.
At the lounge, I opted for a salmon poke bowl, a berry smoothie, and a latte. The food was relatively solid and the smoothie was delicious. The staff was extremely friendly and before I knew it, I was on my way to the gate.
I usually don’t have much to say regarding boarding, but this is where the airport(not airline) needs to significantly improve. Passengers are passport checked at the gate and herded into a crowd room with poor ventilation and no restroom access. I waited in this packed room with almost everyone boarding the flight for about 30 minutes before we were finally allowed to board. This was definitely one of the most disappointing boarding process I’ve ever experienced and it was something the airline could not control.
Today, I was flying Delta One aboard the Airbus A330-200 in a 1-2-1 configuration. Window seats were angled towards the window, while middle pairs of seats were angle towards each other, creating an extra sense of privacy. Once boarded, the purser came around and guided us through meal options. Rather than a physical menu, Delta utilizes QR codes. I liked this option as it reduces waste, but it would have been nice to display the menu on the IFE.
Pre-departure beverages were also handed out. It’s wonderful to see the pre-departure experience return to pre-pandemic ways. I opted for an orange juice and in short time we were up and flying.
Food was dropped off in all in one tray. I had the braised beef with sliced potato option and the sauce was extremely salty. The beef was tender and flavorful, but the extreme amount of salt in this dish led me to constantly drink water the whole flight. Ice cream was served with a stroop waffle about 10 minutes after the main course.
Another meal was also served before landing. For the second meal, I opted for the burger which was solid in terms of airplane burgers but was otherwise dry and tough. The burger also didn’t have a real top bun.
Service was sound. While U.S. based carrier are near the bottom of the pack in terms of meal offerings, Delta’s service is another story(in a good way). Delta employees are always wonderful, warm, and welcoming. Throughout the flight, the staff was friendly and made several trips to check up on me, even offering snacks as I didn’t sleep for the entire flight.
Overall, my Delta One from London back home was a mixed bag. The pre-departure experience was excellent as I checked out the famous Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing, whirled through a private security section, and relaxed in the Virgin Lounge. The Virgin Upper Class experience was truly wonderful and while I hope to revisit that experience with Jen in the future, my chances of scoring Virgin Atlantic Upper Class or Delta One seats seem relatively low.
While the pre-departure experience was amazing, the flight itself was a mixed bag with excellent service, a dated seat, and questionable food. I think the food offerings isn’t a direct fault of the flight, but represents the state of U.S. based carriers as a whole. All in all, this was still a solid way to return home after 2 fun fill weeks in England.