Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow

The miserable 10+-hour flight on a Virgin Atlantic A340-900 from Johnanesburg, South Africa (JNB) arrived at London Heathrow (LHR) on time at about 08:30.  It was a 10-minute walk to get to security for international connections at Terminal 3 and another 10 minutes to get through security although the line was not very long.  This was my first trip through LHR.  My previous flights to England went through Gatwick.  LHR, terminal 3 anyway, was pretty disappointing.   Just plain ugly.  And the security people were unfriendly.

Location, Access and Hours

It was a relief to get to the lounge.  I only had about two hours for this layover and wanted to enjoy  the lounge as much as I could.  The lounge is located above the American Airlines Admiral’s Club.  If I had more time it would have been nice to also take a look since I had access by virtue of the AA Executive Worldelite MasterCard.

Status as a Delta Diamond medallion SkyTeam Elite Plus got me into the lounge even though I was travelling in Economy class.

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is accessed via a winding back-lit staircase that looks beautiful and inviting.  On the other hand, it seems impractical for anyone carrying the stuff the average traveler lugs around an airport.  There is an elevator hidden behind the stairs.  Representatives are located on the second level outside the lounge to check for proper entry credentials.  I was entitled to enter by virtue of my Diamond Medallion status and the terms of the joint venture between VS and DL on trans Atlantic traffic.

Layout

Upon entering the Clubhouse you are greeted with a view of the bar and main seating area.

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Clubhouse bar

The lounge is quite large and there are many features so the map they provide near the entrance comes in handy.

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Convenient Clubhouse diagram

Showers

My first stop was for a shower to get refreshed.  The showers are next to the Spa at the right  rear area of the Clubhouse.  I found the showers to be similar to what I’ve seen in other business-class lounges.

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Hanging Out In The Clubhouse

I could have gotten a massage in the spa but opted to head for some food.  Virgin Clubhouses have real food and its all complimentary.  I ordered eggs benedict and a bloody Mary from the waitress who takes orders in the general seating area.

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The clubhouse has a wall-sized TV and comfy seating in the area they call the Theatre.

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The Theatre

I think the Wimbledon tournament was showing.  All too soon it was time to head to the gate for the flight to JFK.

Virgin Atlantic 787-9 LHR-JFK

I’d been dying to fly on a 787 and this was my first chance.  Virgin Atlantic flies a 787-9, which is the newest and largest of the 787 line to date.  I was surprised to see that VS individualizes it planes with nose art.

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Birthday Girl – All planes should have names and nose art!

Economy Cabin and Seat

My seat on this flight was a bulkhead aisle seat in the first row of the economy section immediately behind premium economy.

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Seat 31C

Even though the row of three seats was full and a large man had the middle seat, I did not feel cramped as I had the aisle on my right and I could extend my legs fully into the premium economy section past the bulkhead.  The aisle was wide enough here so that my feet did not get run into by the carts the FAs moved up and down the aisle.

My seat was also comfortable because of the excellent U-shaped, built-in headrests on the economy seats.  These were the most comfortable headrests I have had on a plane.

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VS 787-9 economy seats

The flight to JFK was only seven hours, which went by quickly and comfortably.  In the picture above you can see that the windows are larger than on other aircraft.  I should have gotten a picture of them when dimmed.  They get progressively bluer and darker with the turn of a button until it looks like night outside except you can see everything but just in a very dark blue tone.

We had one meal and a light snack on this flight.  The food was decent and satisfying.

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Economy menu LHR-JFK

Another nice feature on this aircraft was the heads-up display for flight following.  You can track altitude, heading, airspeed and attitude on a piliot’s-eye view display.  It was like being in the cockpit.

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