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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class: San Francisco to London
Cheerio! Off to London!!!
I was looking for a way to get to London for a wedding on points, without incurring fees, and sometime the week before May 2nd. Delta was a great option as was United. Having a nice nestegg of both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership rewards I had some good options. Now AA and BA also offer great products, but I was looking to avoid as much cost as possible, and those BA fees are just ridiculous. I’ve always wanted to experience Virgin Upper Class and both Virgin and Delta are transfer partners of Amex; however, Virgin will assess high fees and taxes and Delta won’t – even on booking the same flight. I had some Delta points expiring so I thought I could kill two birds… Delta is 1:1 transfer partner of Amex MR and I had also recently applied for a business Amex Gold with 75k bonus points, so I had the points to make a transfer.
So how do we find availability?
- Doing a search on Delta will show results for flights on both Virgin and Delta and price them out.
When I searched the Delta Site this is what I found: Virgin Upper Class for $5.60 and 62,500 points
and then the cost if paid in cash.
A great option at $5.60 and 62,500 points! It’s also nice that Delta allows one way awards this year! That’s just shy of 11 cents a point. BANANAS!!!! It’s an easy and instant transfer from Amex. So I logged on and transferred the points. I already had roughly 17k points, so I transferred over 46k points. Over $5000 in value from the sign up and I still had over 30000 points left from that one sign up. With one log out of the my Delta account the points had already shown up. Instantaneous!
Delta has a great way of laying out the seating arrangements. There was also availability on the later flight but I’ve never actually been on a 747 and had to experience it! I was tempted to take the upper deck, but seeing as though you have to file alongside coach to enter and exit the cabin, I decided against it and selected seat 14A. I wanted 12A with the hope to catch a glimpse of the curved fuselage, but unfortunately that seat was taken. I’ve read where 12A and 12K are great for couples and both are taken so I’m assuming that’s the case. I always like to double check my seating choices with what’s on Seat Guru
There was a slight issue with the Upper Class boarding door and it was slightly congested getting down the gateway to the door. But…we were easy on and right up front!
The stowage area in the very front of the cabin is a bit tenuous. Both the 12 and 14 rows have in-seat storage which is fine, but the overhead is nil. I managed to use the lady’s overhead behind me as she didn’t bring a carry on, which proved to be key. The flight attendants were on top of it and were quick to take my jacket and also my hanging bag. I was right in assuming that the 12 row would be a couple, as it was, and very nice indeed!
Clearly this is the old Virgin Upper Class. It’s tired, but still very comfortable and the superb in flight crew makes you feel like a rock star.
Prior to take off the crew comes around with a menu which also includes a breakfast menu. It feels like a hotel with the way they serve the breakfast menu, it also has a wake up option. Quite nice as the flight ended up only being 9 hours and 30 mins.
The seat is quite comfortable when in general movie watching mode and eating mode. There is definite wear and tear on the product itself and a couple of people in the small forward upper class cabin complained that their IFE wasn’t working properly. I didn’t notice any issues whatsoever and the ones that did have trouble seemed to be pacified with a system reboot. As you can see the tv itself pulls out from the side.
I would say the storage is OK. My laptop as well as my Ipad fit into the storage cavity. But, compare to United Global First Storage, it’s not even in the same conversation.
Now for the food.
It really was a great option having the TV pull in and out. The Herringbone design of the cabin and the shell aspect gave for good privacy. Altho anyone across the aisle from you could quite easily peer in on what you were doing.
Quite a few people traveling together took the opportunity to “eat together” or rather get served on one fold out tray. The tray itself was very large compared to others I have eaten on and allowed for a fairly simple service this way.
The crab salad was fantastic – something I would order at a restaurant. The chicken….eh, typical forward cabin airline food. The lemon pudding was also very tasty. The food in general was good, but the main was just ok – Edible for sure, but compared to what they were able to deliver in the Clubhouse – the tilapia killed the chicken.
After dinner came the bar!
Tried some of the Glen Deveron 16: definitely helped get to sleep!
After the bar came the cheese and port!!! It was delicious. Although, maybe anything would have helped after the stiff pour from the bar 😉
This Monkey was exhausted and changed into his pajamas. They were very light and airy, quite perfect for the temp at which the plane had cooled to at this point. The amenity kit came out to aid in the relaxation and bed prep. Very basic.
And….. The bed had transformed. The crew will come and change the bed over. The back of the seat actually folds forward and connects to the foot rest/ottoman. It makes for a much more uniform laying experience than when the whole seat leans all the way back flat. They then put a thin mattress pad on top of the now folded over seated and a comforter on top. It was actually very comfortable.
After sleeping for about 5 hours, the air hostess politely woke me up for breakfast.
If I had it to do over again I would have declined the breakfast. It was ok at best and honestly I could have slept the extra hour cause I was in deep REM when she tapped my foot. This MONKEY was OUT!!!!!
We did have a cool shot of Twickenham on the descent!
It’s also nice to get a fast track card for immigration!
Overall I was very pleased with the Virgin Upper Class experience. Avoiding the carrier fees and taxes other airlines inflict upon you for flying to London was what lured me here, and I wasn’t disappointed. The crew was super attentive, the cabin was very dark and the seat was comfortable enough to sleep. It feels very Cool. The soft product is way better than what the American airlines are going to give you in a comparable business class, and the hard product ( even the old one ) is still very nice. I’m excited now to see how Virgin expands their new upper class into the 747s as it looks insanely sexy, a better bed, and the IFE looks handsomely updated.
Seat 4/5 ( very comfy, just a little tired)
Service 5/5 ( the staff were all over it, and couldn’t have been nicer to this Monkey!)
Food 3.5/5 ( the chicken was ok and the breakfast was mediocre)
IFE 4/5 ( had an extensive selection but was old and compared with the asian carriers…small)
Value 5/5 ( 62,500 points and 5.60 is unbeatable)
I would definitely fly Virgin again in a heartbeat.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
80k offer in branch currently – I think this should be online soon
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
Super solid welcome offer.
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
There is currently an 80k offer after $4k spend in 3 months available in branch, and up to 90k after $6k spend in 6 months. I suspect some version of this will be online soon if you don’t want the hassle of going into a branch.
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 60k is a very, very good offer. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back. .
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.