Trip Report Series:
Review: Air France Lounge, New York JFK Terminal 1
Three Days in Vilnius, Lithuania
Review: IDW Esperanza Resort Lounge, Vilnius Airport
Three Days in Riga, Latvia
Review: Primeclass Business Lounge, Riga International Airport (RIX)
Review: Air Baltic Economy Class, Riga to Tallinn
Three Days in Tallinn, Estonia: A Foodie’s Paradise!
Review: Tallink Megastar, Tallinn to Helsinki
Review: Aspire Lounge, Helsinki Vantaa Airport
Review: KLM Business Class, Helsinki to London Heathrow (via Amsterdam)
Review: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London Heathrow
Review: Delta One Business Class, London Heathrow to Atlanta
What happens when you visit a lounge for less than an hour and decide that it is one of the best lounges you’ve EVER been to?
Yeah, that’s kind of like my experience at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow.
I’ve been to the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan lounge at Doha airport, as well as the Turkish Airlines CIP lounge in Istanbul. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but something about this Virgin Atlantic lounge experience simply felt magical.
Perhaps it was the people who were staffed there. Or how laid back and non-pretentious it felt. Or maybe that I was just appreciative of the fact that I had a chance to check it out. Either way, it was a neat experience.
There was a stink recently because Delta elites beneath Diamond status who were not traveling in Business class were no longer allowed to use the Clubhouse. Virgin and Delta co-inhabit Heathrow Terminal 3 (terminal four was Delta’s old locale – along with other SkyTeam members) so it wasn’t well received. However, it appears that Delta has started permitting its Platinum members to use the Clubhouse as of June 1, 2017.
My connection at London Heathrow was under two hours, as I was in-bound from Amsterdam on KLM and had to transfer terminals. I took the shuttle from terminal four to terminal three. I sort of chuckled to myself as this was my third visit to Heathrow in under a year. It was almost like the airport was becoming my “home away from home” in many ways, and because I’ve driven, or been driven around, the airport so much in recent visits, the pavement and fences look familiar from behind the scenes 🙂
That said, when you arrive at Terminal 3 for your flight, you are expected to go through security checks and control again. I have noticed how this is a standard operating procedure for regular fliers out of Heathrow because the airport is so complex. Meaning, you’ll find people who are transferring from Doha on Qatar Airways at T4 to Vancouver on British Airways at Terminal 3, all on one ticket, like me.
I also noticed how the Flight Connections Centre at Heathrow is staffed with many British-residing expats or second generation people from the Subcontinent, which is so awesome. It has actually made the transit experience awesome for so many people who pass through Heathrow who come from places like India, Pakistan, etc. because these individuals are very helpful, courteous and pleasant.
My Delta flight to Atlanta required additional document checks and the very kind gentleman from Punjab was helping me with the formalities, and of course, since we are both Punjabi, we exchanged a few jokes and nice banter. This was delightful.
Once I paved way through all of this, the gentleman encouraged me to go visit the lounge, and so I away I went.
The Lounge Experience
You’ll be greeted by some of the finest lounge attendants that Virgin Atlantic has to offer. I can’t remember the last time I felt a heartfelt smile when interacting with a lounge attendant and shooting the stuff over nothing. Plus, the entrance to the lounge is STUNNING.
Once you’re actually inside, you’ll be marveled by the open air feeling. You’ll ask yourself, “I’m still in London Heathrow airport, right? Dodgy Terminal 3? What gives?”
Well. You absolutely are in an oasis at the Clubhouse.
There is a charcuterie bar!
Dining at the Clubhouse is purely on demand. You can see a lot of menu items and features that are crafted and cultivated strictly in-house. The drink menu is designed exclusively by Virgin Atlantic, and the cocktails feature the concoctions of bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, who is the owner of the bar Dandelyan in London.
The food menu is dine-on-demand. You simply order your choice of items, be it a brekkie dish or something that is more savory, such as the clubhouse tapas, and your servers will bring them to you.
While I was in the lounge, I mostly used the time just to charge up my devices, check e-mail and down a few cocktails. I sampled a total of three (I know) while I was in there because the lounge assistants insisted that I give several a try 🙂
Flight information is announced for those who want to be kept up-to-date on when boarding takes place. It is noteworthy that the trek from the lounge to the Delta gate was quite far, so it was good that I packed up when the Atlanta flight was called.
I was really happy that I had the chance to peep into this lounge. It beats the hell out of the British Airways Galleries lounges in Terminal 5, in almost every single way. The food selection is better, the drinks are more innovative, the agents are friendlier, the design is stellar, and the culture just resonates, “Virgin Atlantic.”
I’ve had so many positive experiences with Virgin Atlantic’s premium products. I was thrilled to get to try out Delta One next to see how it compared across the Ocean. Read my next installment to learn more…