I Was Still a Virgin
Till I Took Upper Class
On Virgin Atlantic Airways
By Tim and Nina Boxer
been said that it’s one of life’s contradictions that travel
broadens you, but so does sitting at home on the sofa.
that in mind, we took off for London.
don’t know what luxury in the sky is till you’ve flown with
one of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgins. I’m talking Upper Class
(the airlines’ business section) on a 747-400 superjet from New
York to London. It was such a thrill that after a week of
delightful touring, Nina and I did it again, back to New York.
flying economy all our lives, we finally made it into Upper Class.
We’re not virgins anymore, thanks to Virgin Atlantic.
first class experience (at business class fare) started in the
unique Clubhouse lounge at JFK. I went crazy scooping up every
British newspaper and magazine to peruse while waiting for my
flight. There were so many interesting publications that I carried
them all onboard to continue my reading.
minute we sat down at a table in the lounge, an amiable waitress
wanted to take my order for a snack. I chose carefully from the
menu and then buried my nose in the London papers.
travelers were more ambitious. They were pecking away at computers
in workstations equipped with such office paraphernalia as
complimentary stationery, envelopes, pens. This area is equipped
with free telephones, fax and photocopier.
the more leisure minded, there is a music room, video room, ski
simulator and a bar to chill. I made myself comfortable in an
antique leather armchair with my mass of reading material.
arrival at Heathrow, you’ll find that the Clubhouse has
facilities to freshen up before you go off to your first business
meeting of the day. There are 18 shower rooms with all the
requisite bath and beauty necessities.
departure from Heathrow, you may avail yourself of the grooming
salon for complimentary beauty treatments for men and women. I
opted to keep my nose between the pages of those British
newspapers, deciding to wait for a stress-busting treatment during
the flight home.
the beginning of our journey from New York, Nina and I sat a
couple of rows in front of the round bar. Yes, there’s a bar for
us Upper Class crust with seven soft leather fixed stools. There
was always people raising a drink or two, enjoying the
refreshments, and socializing with the bartender.
I’m not much of a drinker, on our return flight Nina and I got
seats on the upper deck with its fewer rows and more spacious
strapped ourselves in those roomy sleeper-seats. What a joy!
I’ve always sat in economy where the seats are so narrow that
turning the other cheek isn’t a virtue, it’s a necessity.
very attractive flight attendant immediately materialized and
proffered pre-takeoff champagne. Ice cream came with the movies.
attendant gave us a menu with a large variety of choices. There
was no time limit – we could order at any time through the
duration of the flight. We started our culinary experience in the
sky with ice cream. Later I chose several delicious items
throughout the trip, just to keep awake and keep reading.
was so different on the economy flights I was used to. Once I was
asked, “Would you like dinner?” and I said, “What are the
choices?” and she said, “Yes or no.”
perky Virgin attendant reappeared with offers of a blanket and
sleep suit. I didn’t feel like getting into pajamas before an
audience of a dozen fellow high fliers, so I just tucked it away
for later -- at home.
we were soaring over the Atlantic, Virgin beauty consultant Emma
Hughes offered a choice of treatments, ranging from face and scalp
massage to back and shoulders massage to manicure.
didn’t stir from her snooze zone. She was quite comfortable as
she snuggled under a fleece blanket and full-size pillow in the
reclining sleeper space.
all, she has me to give her massages.
followed the inflight beauty therapist down the stairs, past the
standup bar, into a dedicated area closed off by a curtain. She
was all apologies as she explained that security regulations
forbids nail clippers on board the aircraft, so she can only file
massages have become a popular attraction for harried business
travelers. There are more than 200 inflight beauty therapists plus
18 beauty therapists and 9 hairdressers based at Virgin
Hughes said she’s been with the airline for five years. Last
year she worked at the Virgin Touch Spa at La Residencia, Richard
Branson’s privately owned hotel in Majorca.
“I had Catherine Zeta-Jones as a client,” Ms Hughes
said. “Michael Douglas has a home on the island.”