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British Airways vs Virgin Atlantic Business Class

British Airways vs Virgin Atlantic Business Class

Apr 10th, 2011, 04:23 PM
  #1  
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British Airways vs Virgin Atlantic Business Class

We are going to London in July for my 50th birthday and I'm ready to book our flights. We decided to splurge and fly business class going over since it's a red-eye, and fly economy coming back since it's in the daytime. We've narrowed it to BA or Virgin Atlantic. Which has the better business class for our trip over?
marysmommy is offline  
Apr 10th, 2011, 07:05 PM
  #2  
 
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As someone who works business class for a major US airline,I would chose to fly business class coming back during the daytime so you can actually enjoy the wine,food,comfort,movies,etc.( Besides,the flight is longer to enjoy your comfort!)
dutyfree is offline  
Apr 10th, 2011, 09:17 PM
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Virgin offers the bigger seat, but these seats are very private, so you and your companion would not be able to interact much. Also, Virgin's seats are a bit of an all-or-nothing seat vs bed, and some say that finding a lounging position can be tough. On the downside for BA, the cabins feel very packed, with the exception of the 747 upper deck, and they have rear-facing seats, which some do not like. Food is probably a bit better on BA.

Depending upon where you are flying from, I'd say that the best overall product might be Delta or Continental, with the exception of lounge facilities.
travelgourmet is online now  
Apr 10th, 2011, 09:42 PM
  #4  
 
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If you're flying from the E. Coast, BA offer the Sleeper Service on certain flights where you can hae dinner in their lounge prior to the flight. That way, you can get more sleep on the red-eye, important since the flights from E. Coast to London is so short.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 11th, 2011, 12:25 AM
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I prefer VA and have flown both. BA is okay if you get 2 aisle seats. If you are in window or the middle seats you have to crawl over the person next to you to get out of your seat. It's okay as long as they are not reclining but if they are you'd better be a contortionist!
avalon is offline  
Apr 11th, 2011, 04:25 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for that great input! We will be flying out of Washington Dulles. I had originally thought to take the business class leg on the way back, to have something to look forward to, but my husband suggested we might do better with the time change if we were able to sleep on the way over. Will think about that some more. I did check on Delta, which was much more expensive unless we connect instead of taking a nonstop. I'll check on that again. The prices are still really high for summer and I read an article on Fodor's a couple of weeks ago that said they'd start coming down, despite the fuel increases, in the next few weeks. Orbitz says it will refund up to $250 per ticket if the price drops after you book. Has anyone else had experience with this, just in case we're pulling the trigger too early?
marysmommy is offline  
Apr 11th, 2011, 04:36 AM
  #7  
 
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I would think about it this way. Do you absolutely have to get going with lots of important, exciting and interesting activities right away after arriving in Europe? Can you afford to NOT do anything that day?

The thing is that compared to coach, you are likely spending at least $500 per person more each way. Probably $1,000. With that $1,000 to $2,000 difference, you could go a lot better to upgrade on your hotel instead, rather than spend it on a 6-hour flight just to get some sleep.

I feel that business class for E. Coast to Western Europe is really for those who are on "business" that needs to get going right away, or for those who are not spending their own money, or for those who don't care about money.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 11th, 2011, 05:44 AM
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Personally, I prefer biz for the overnight legs. The reality is that neither the food nor the drink served in biz on either carrier will be earth-shattering, so I don't see the point in 'savoring' the experience. To me, biz is about the comfort, and the difference in comfort is, IMO, much greater when trying to sleep than when sitting and watching tv.

If the goal is to sleep, then I'd go with Virgin. Their IAD lounge is supposed to be very good and their seats are probably more comfortable as a bed. The primary meal will be served in the lounge with both carriers, not on board. With Virgin, you could join your partner at the in-flight bar for a night cap, while the FAs turn down the bed.

One other option, though, is to save the money and take the UA morning flight to London, which leaves around 9:30 in the morning and puts you into Heathrow around 10 pm. You'll be at your hotel around midnight, I'd guess, and can get to sleep and hit the ground running the next day. UA isn't the greatest carrier, but if you bring some entertainment and food, and can get into Economy Plus, it isn't terrible.
travelgourmet is online now  
Apr 11th, 2011, 09:13 AM
  #9  
 
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Actually, if you want to minimize jetlag, I'd opt for a third choice. United (also code-shared by Continental) has a nonstop from Dulles to Heathrow that leaves IAD in the morning and arrives at Heathrow at night. Like a lot of people, we swear by these daytime flights over the Atlantic. You have to get up early to get to the airport in time for the (9:20 AM or so) departure, and by the time you've gone through immigration and collected your bags at Heathrow, then made it to an (airport-area) hotel, it's close to midnight British time. Get a late snack or room service, or a beer in the hotel bar, and you can hit the sheets around 1-2 AM, or 8-9 PM according to your internal clock. The next morning we (and reportedly many others) feel good to go. The alternative is wandering around London in the (local) early morning feeling like it's 3 AM to you, which it is. We always Priceline a room at LHR and have never paid more than US$100 for a 4-star place, usually the Sheraton Skyline, Marriott or Crowne Plaza, all very nice hotels.

So if it was me, I'd go daytime over, daytime back, and use business class on either, although the westbound flight is longer due to prevailing headwinds over the pond. Only United has morning service from DC; BA and AA have it from JFK; Virgin Atlantic (VS) have it from Newark.
Gardyloo is online now  
Apr 11th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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Oops, travelgourmet beat me to it re the morning flight.
Gardyloo is online now  
Apr 11th, 2011, 09:28 AM
  #11  
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Just booked Virgin Atlantic and went ahead and did business class roundtrip (now watch the price go down). But you only turn 50 once, right? And you guys made a great case for both legs of the flight. Thank you so much for your help and good advice. We'll toast you in London.
marysmommy is offline  
Apr 11th, 2011, 09:45 AM
  #12  
 
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Enjoy. Make sure to give yourself a fair amount of time prior to your flight from LHR to enjoy the Virgin Clubhouse. Details here:

http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/en/us...rclubhouse.jsp
travelgourmet is online now  
Apr 11th, 2011, 12:21 PM
  #13  
 
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Concur on spending time at the Heathrow Virgin Clubhouse. It's fantastic. I'd actually go to the airport early to hang out there. You might also want to look into booking a spa service.

Also, you'll have access to the Arrivals lounge at Heathrow on arrival. So, after your flight, you can pop in for a shower and maybe a snack before heading into the city.

Also, check and see if your ticket entitles you to the limo transfer service.
lifelist is offline  
Apr 11th, 2011, 01:10 PM
  #14  
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Wow, this is FANCY! Why can't our airlines do that?? Who knew? Turns out, we got "discounted" upper class fares (when they say that with a British accent it doesn't sound so expensive), so we don't get the complimentary transfers. But we do get all the other stuff, so we are excited! At least I am until the Amex bill comes in. Thanks again for all the great advice!
marysmommy is offline  

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