Sipping champagne in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin I soak up what closely resembles ultra violet cabin lighting. The pinky-lilac infusion – teamed with the bubbly – produces the clearly desired relaxing, pampering effect. Hmm… I’d rate as Uber Cool Mama if I could reproduce this combination in my condo. For now, I’ll just bask in it here.
“Have you been introduced to your ’suite’, yet?” an elegantly coiffured flight attendant enquires, indicating my cocoon-like semi-conical surroundings. Her French manicured nails, fitted signature red suit, matching ‘Dorothy’ heels, and “Upper Class Red” lipstick by bareMinerls accented only by understated jewellery are reminiscent of a more elegant airline era.
Seated companionably on what will double as my in-flight footrest, she quickly gives me the lowdown on accessing the adjustable recessed touch screen entertainment system housing 50 movies, the collapsible sliding tray table, and the chair that, after a five-course dinner, will slide forward to convert into a bed for me.
Cabin-centre to my left lurks an inviting mood-lit bar worthy of any cosy upmarket bistro. I picture it appealing to trendy business travelers west-bound on 10-hour daylight flights to Vancouver.
And they say flying has lost its lustre. Wrong! I’m feeling Richard Branson-ishly out of this world. Definitely out of my world.
My comfy navy ‘sleep suit’ is delivered after dinner, quilts cover my now converted seat – and it’s sweet dreams at 32,000 feet over the Atlantic, Virgin Airlines-style.
Recalling the DC-6 hold outfitted with a mattress I once slept in thundering over the Sahara, I think, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
[A mock-up of the Upper Class seats at YVR, left]
Having requested a ‘wake-up call’ for breakfast an hour out of Heathrow, I’m ready for scrambled eggs, fruit and yogurt. Unlike my usual long-haul flights, I feel refreshed and minus that grungy, numb I-slept-like-a-pretzel feeling.
Ten minutes ahead of schedule, Virgin Atlantic’s brand new A330-300 inaugural flight from Vancouver greased onto the London tarmac with barely a bump. I kid you not. I couldn’t believe it. If could I sketch ( I love cartoons), this would have been an aircraft with batting eyelashes calling in to the tower: “ Hi, Honey! I’m home.”
Watch for ticket sales and competitive pricing if London is on your Bucket List this year. No matter which of Virgin’s three classes of service you chose, these folks have definitely upscaled the neighb‘air’hood. I just couldn’t resist that!
Virgin Atlantic, services Vancouver–London (Heathrow) Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday until Oct. 27. Costs from $778 plus taxes, book at virginatlantic.com.
– Ursula Maxwell-Lewis was a guest of Virgin Atlantic. As a former Air Hostess, she remembers when cabin pressure had a different meaning.