Trip Report: Spending The night With A Virgin
(If you’ve stumbled upon this travel blog for the first time, I’m quoting the fabulous purser’s announcement verbatim from my outbound flight to London – you haven’t landed on a weird 18+ site.)
As longtime readers will know I’m not far away from my university applications, and while I’m still deciding between universities, I’m pretty much dead set on the UK. So this year I decided to make the trip to London to explore a few of these universities, and my dad decided to join me. (For non-longtime readers, my dad loves to fly direct, and both of us had meetings we had to attend on both sides that required us to fly direct, so…).
One of the universities I’m looking at is UCL, which I visited on this trip
Originally I was going to go for another premium economy ticket between Hong Kong and London (I was thinking British Airways), though once seeing that the price difference between two premium economy tickets and a mixed business and economy ticket wasn’t much, I decided to get creative.
The product I wanted to try most was probably British Airways’ Club World, and I could also try their economy/premium economy product on the return and move forward on my quest for the best premium economy product between Hong Kong and London. However, this was going to be my dad’s only ultra-longhaul segment this year, and I wasn’t about to have him spend it in Club World
(I tried, but…). I do have plans to try British Airways in all three cabins (bar first class) next year, so stay tuned for that.
I’ve flown Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy (or “Premium”, as they like to call it now) many times, though had been long intrigued by their Upper Class product, which many have christened as halfway between a business class and first class product.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Upper Class
At the end of the day I wanted to review another product, so went for economy on the return. Technically I could’ve gone for Upper Class on the return (and economy on the outbound), so I’d get to visit the Upper Class Wing, as well as had access to the Clubhouse at Heathrow. However, I’d reviewed the Clubhouse last year, and had a meeting upon arrival in London that I needed to be well-rested for, and flying Upper Class on the outbound and economy on the inbound was marginally cheaper than having it the other way round.
Additionally, the Revivals Lounge (their Upper Class and top-tier frequent flyer arrivals lounge) didn’t allow guest access, whereas the Clubhouse does (my dad purchased an Upper Class roundtrip outright), so I could get another lounge review off my list, get a shower and free breakfast after arrival too, and still be able to have a meal at the Clubhouse before departure courtesy of my father’s ticket’s guesting policies. That’s a win-win in my book!
Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow
The ticket went for HK$20,000, which isn’t cheap by any means, considering I was flying economy in one direction (Virgin Atlantic always charges somewhat of a market premium for their Upper Class product, and the Hong Kong to London route is one of the most premium routes in the market). Go figure that the ticket price went down by another HK$2,000 within a week after I bought my ticket, since Virgin Atlantic introduced their Economy Classic and Economy Delight fares, which they charged less for compared to their old economy fares, but there wasn’t much I could do with my non-refundable ticket at that point.
Also, during my first year flying Virgin Atlantic I decided to credit my miles to KrisFlyer, as I was already earning miles with them at the time. While I probably would’ve joined the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club had I known I’d be flying the airline this much, I didn’t at the time. So this time I also credited my miles to KrisFlyer for a total of 10,475 miles.
My final itinerary was:
22/6 Virgin Atlantic 207 Hong Kong to London Heathrow dep. 23:55 arr. 05:30
27/6 Virgin Atlantic 206 London Heathrow to Hong Kong dep. 21:55 arr. 16:55
Booking The Hotels
For our stay in London my dad and I decided to look across a few brands, such as Westin, W, Hilton, etc., that we could stay at for our four nights in London. Surprisingly the cheapest out of the hotels from this caliber was the Conrad London St. James. Is £276 (~HK$2,840) per night cheap for a hotel stay? Hell no. However, we were staying in London, one of the world’s most expensive cities, during what essentially is peak season, and we’d save a lot of time by being near the city center as well. So for the purposes of our stay we thought the price was worth it (especially considering the other options we had were charging substantially more, and I’d get Hilton Honors points out of this stay as well).
At the end we decided to splurge an extra £13 (HK$133) per night for a Grand Deluxe room, bring the total to £289 (~HK$2,970) per night.
Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Twin Room
While this trip was eye-opening on the university front, it blows my mind how lucky I am to be making this tour in comfort. I’m very fortunate to be able to review premium cabins in the process of visiting my own universities. I also got to visit old friends and relive experiences that I’d lived in the few years prior, which constitutes the beauty of travel as it is.
I remember stepping foot in Europe (also in Heathrow Terminal 3) for the first time just three years ago, and I’ve been flying back and forth ever since. I can’t wait to be able to fly under my own funding and repay my parents back for all these experiences that they’ve given me, so once again, this report is dedicated to them (even if Mom won’t be flying Upper Class anytime soon – she doesn’t like herringbone seats).
On the short run, however, I hope you enjoy these reports and find them useful when you make your next travel decisions. Safe travels and stay tuned.