It is very hard to compare apples to oranges and that’s what I felt like recently when I took BA business to Europe and Virgin Upper Class on return. But I thought it would be helpful to summarize my experiences for you.
Virgin have a swift dedicated Upper Class check in and security.
BA has a separate premium channel but not very impressive.
The staff at BA are not very flexible in making any changes to accommodate your flight, while Virgin seemed to try their hardest to help.
BA lounges in London Heathrow Airport have buffet style food that consists of warm and cold dishes that frankly taste like they are out a can.
Virgin’s Upper Class Clubhouse has flowing champagne, al a Carte dining plus a deli and fabulous wait staff. It’s a beautiful space and feels more like a first-class lounge for the business class. Their deli is quite lovely with 3 kinds of smoked salmon to offer, carved turkey to ham, fresh Salads and pickles.
The Virgin crew have always had a friendlier more fun approach, whereas BA can be very matter of fact, stiff but polished.
The seats are very comparable. All lay flat and feel the same when sleeping. The inflight entertainment is about on par as well.
Virgin has 1-2-1 configuration where as BA has 2-2-2 but they run back to front so you don’t feel like you are sitting next to someone. However, depending on the seat, you may have to climb over someone else to get to the toilet.
The menus sound more modern on Virgin but my main course of fish was quite disappointing compared to the lounge.
The fun part on Virgin is there is a sit-down bar with about 4 seats at the back of the Upper Class cabin. This is a fun place to get more snacks and a drink but it does attract the boozers that drink their way across the Atlantic.
Virgin offers pajamas, BA does not. However, on Virgin you need to request PJs on a day flight. If I had to say, maybe the turn down service is a little nicer on Virgin.
Virgin has always been at the forefront of luxury travel. They were the first Airline to offer an on-board bar (aside from the original Pan Am concepts) and back in the day a massage service. They had the biggest business class seat pitch in the industry when they launched and were one of the first carriers to offer a premium economy along with Eva Airways almost 30 years ago.
Virgin were innovators but they do need some catching up to be first again. Virgin does not really offer a first product so their business class products are their signature product. I do think it will be interesting to see what they can come up with next as they are due for an upgrade throughout.
All in all, Virgin feels a little more special whereas BA is business as usual.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.