I flew on a B767-400 aircraft from Heathrow Terminal 3, leaving at the very civilised time of 11:15 and arriving into JFK at 14:25.
One of the benefits of the Delta Air Lines/Virgin Atlantic Joint Venture is that, whichever airline you’re flying with, you can make use of all the Virgin facilities at Heathrow, including its Upper-Class Wing for VIP, super speedy check-in and its legendary Club House.
It was my first time at the Upper-Class Wing but thankfully my Blacklane driver knew it well. It’s a world away from the usual airport check-in chaos and more like the lobby of a luxury hotel, with relaxed seating and posh loos. I was checked in with a smile and directed to a private security lane, and within minutes I was gliding up the black marble staircase to the Club House.
It’s changed since I was last there – the hair salon and spa have been replaced with Peloton bikes (with fabulous runway views) – but the midcentury modern style hasn’t dated at all.
I joined colleagues at a table in the Brasserie, where we used the QR code to order breakfast. My Eggs Royale were perfecly cooked and then I helped myself to more smoked salmon (and a few choc chip cookies) from the self-serve buffet.
The delicious Mockingbird smoothies – Raw Defence or Raw Boost – were a highlight.
The lounge has plenty of seating, workstations and an outside deck with airfield views. It’s the only lounge at Heathrow to have one.
The flight was called at 10:15 and it was a short walk to the gate. Boarding was super easy and we pulled away on time, with just enough time to finish our welcome glass of Champagne. The friendly crew kindly hung my jacket in the wardrobe and then helped us take the obligatory photos, Champagne in hand!
The Delta One cabin has nine rows of leather padded ‘suites’ in a 1-2-1 configuration, cleverly staggered for additional privacy. I was in 2C, one of the central seats of two, which was perfect for chatting over dinner with a colleague, but when it was time to sleep there’s a pull-up privacy divider. With one button, my seat went from upright into fully-reclined, with plenty of room to stretch out. The duvet was so soft I wanted to keep it.
A side table was great for storage and a large tray table slides out, with plenty of room for a laptop.
My amenity kit had an eye mask, Humble Co. bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste, and Grown Alchemist lip balm and lotion. The bag and eye mask are made by Mexico-based eco-friendly brand, Someone Somewhere, which preserves artisan traditions and empowers the artisans.
Post take-off drinks – for me a perfectly-chilled glass of Gavi – were served with warm nuts. For lunch I enjoyed creamy corn soup and croutons followed by chicken tikka masala with basmati rice and paratha bread, all served to me by the efficient and charming crew.
I saved room for pudding and treated myself to the ice cream sundae from the dessert trolley, with all of the toppings – whipped cream, chocolate fudge sauce and biscotti.
Tummy full, I put my suite into the sleep position, snuggled into my oversized pillow and dozed for a few hours (and missed the mid-flight choc chip cookie snack).
By the time I woke up, there was time for one more documentary, with the effective noise cancellation headsets, before pre-arrival ‘tea’ was served. Still full of sugar, I managed to resist the afternoon tea of fruit scones, jam and clotted cream and opted for the ploughman’s – a plate of roast beef, beef bresola and an array of cheeses with fruit, fig relish and rye bread. It was all very fresh and tasty and washed down with a hot cup of tea.
As a pretty frequent traveller, it’s not very often that I wish a flight was longer, but on this occasion I actually felt disappointed when we landed in New York an hour ahead of schedule. With such a wide choice of TV, movies and documentaries to keep me entertained, a super comfy seat (when upright and when flat) and such well-executed meals and refreshments, I could have easily enjoyed a few more hours.
It was also a real treat to experience a dose of Virgin Atlantic glamour at the Club House and the dedicated check-in in the Upper Class Wing. Sadly I was brought right back down to earth with a bang when I had to join the ridiculously long, snaking immigration queue at JFK, during which I made a mental note to get Global Entry before my next US trip (it gets you through immigration quicker).
Delta One return flights start from £1,989, available for selected departures and are subject to change. Thanks to the Virgin/Delta JV, fares are jointly filed, which means they can be booked on either airline’s flights.