Thursday, November 7, 2013

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy - Is it worth it?


My mum and I hadn't been on a holiday together for over 3 years, our last trip being to New York which you can read about here if you're interested. Over those 3 years when mum had discussed returning to NY I always suggested Las Vegas instead as despite her protests I knew she would love it just as much as our Manhattan shopping trips. My prayers were answered when a friend of mum's announced her plans to marry in Vegas so we were able to time our trip so we could attend.

As a sweetener I decided to upgrade our flights to Premium Economy to add a bit of luxury to our trip and thought I'd share my experience with you. Before I departed beyond the standard information on Virgin Atlantic's website stating how many inches extra leg room etc there was very little to be found about what you experienced for your upgrade and I was nervous that it would meet expectations and prove a worthy expense.

I checked in online in the normal way although had left it rather late to have any choice of seats. This actually worked out rather well as we had 3 seats at the back of Premium Economy and no one behind us to kick our chairs (row 19 for info).

Our arrival at Gatwick was where the real 'premium' experience began starting with our own designated bag drop. Whereas we would usually be joining the lengthy queue in economy this time we walked straight to a counter and dropped our bags. It was amazing to have the whole formal check in process completed in minutes.

We were then directed to our own security area which might never be a completely rapid experience but was still far quicker than usual and suddenly there we were in the land of duty free in the time it would have usually taken us to check in our luggage.

Premium flyers do not get access to any lounges with their tickets which I think is a little cheeky so we decide to follow our extravagant theme and book into Virgin's V Lounge. For £20 this was a great extra I'd recommend. The simplicity of walking up to a counter and helping yourself to a coffee, having your breakfast (full english fyi) popped on a plate and handed to you was such a timesaver and made for a far less stressful experience than dashing round duty free, queuing at Starbucks or waiting on table service. Away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal it was a perfect sanctuary to sit and read the papers or magazines available.

As we were in the V Lounge whilst waiting for our flight we missed the opportunity to board the flight early - not a bad thing when you're due to sit on a plane for 9 hours. On arriving at our seats we were handed a glass of champagne to enjoy whilst settling into the comfort of the significantly larger seats. We all took a moment to swing our legs back and forth marvelling at the room in front of us. As an indication of the leg space I was able to walk past my aunts seat when I needed to get out into the aisle without her moving - something that could only be achieved in economy with some clambering.

Obviously the main cost of your upgraded ticket is your leg space during the flight and one or two small extras like the champagne on arrival etc. Another is you will eat your meal off of china plates with 'real' cutlery - think Wimpy compared to McDonalds!

Again for our return flight I left it late checking in online so were limited with seat choices and as I was accessing everything on my iPhone I was unable to look at the seating map and locate where on the plane we would be sitting. As it happened my mum and I were lucky (poor auntie) and seated in the first row of the upper desk of the plane (row 20 for info).

If you have flown on the upper deck of Virgin planes before you will know that even in economy the window seats have a storage compartment which you can put your feet up on. Because of the extra leg space in premium I was able to pop my feet on this storage space and lay out full for the whole duration of the flight.

Also to note that when we headed to security at Las Vegas airport there was only economy and 1st class entrances. I asked a member of staff where premium flyers should go and he directed us to the 1st class queue so remember to ask at your departing airport.

So the big question is; was it worth it? The cost of our upgrade was approx £300 each and this is no small amount but I felt it was worth every penny and if I were flying long haul for this length of time again I would certainly hope I could book into Premium again as it made for a quicker and less stressful process. Of course I am speaking as a single person and appreciate if you are a couple you will be talking of an extra £600 and if a family of far much much more and it is something to consider on the cost of your holiday but you are quite literally buying time and space.

To further given you an indication of costs and how you could maybe make it work for you I have recently priced up a return trip next year for myself. The cost of staying at MGM Grand and flying premium works out the same price as the economy flight and accommodation at Caesars Palace. When you think you only sleep in your rooms and most of the known hotels in Vegas are of a high standard which is more important to spend your money on.

I hope you found that useful if you've ever thought about upgrading your flights but never quite sure whether it'd be worth the extra expense or could justify the costs. If you have any questions I haven't answered pop them in the comments below or feel free to tweet me @florenceandmary

I'd love to hear about your experiences flying premium economy with other airlines or shorter distances and whether they are comparable to Virgin.

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5 comments:

  1. Hi Victoria - I've never flown premium economy, but have been lucky enough to fly business class. Our most recent trip was on Emirates, and I have to say their business class service and experience is just amazing, we were so impressed. Much better than the British Airways equivalent. It's a long time since I've flown Virgin, but last time I did so was in economy, and I thought that they compared very well to the other airlines. x

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  2. The MGM was one of the biggest hotels in the world when we stopped. Interesting post, thanks for the info.

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  3. I've never flown anything apart from economy, but then again on transatlantic flights economy isn't usually so bad, and for anything in Europe it's not a huge deal for a couple of hours.

    This looks like it was totally worth it though, and why not splurge? You're on holiday afterall :)

    Hmm maybe...

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  4. This was such an informative post! It's a great way to treat yourself :)

    AddictedtoOPI

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  5. This is really interesting. I fly home every couple of years on Air Canada and can't complain about the legroom in economy. It would be nice to have more recline for the red eye all night flight back. But as you point out, it comes down to the cost factor. Long haul flights tend to be expensive. You've inspired me to try getting a cheeky upgrade on my next flight over though. :)

    Ali

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Thank you for visiting Florence and Mary I love reading everyone's comments and you'll always see a reply from me so don't forget to check back.

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