British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are steadily improving their business class offerings by delivering lavish seats and fantastic cabin upgrades.
It was British Airways that first revolutionized the industry by introducing private doors into a reverse herringbone business cabin. Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic is known as the “fun” airline, creating a unique Upper Class cabin that combines the perks of business and first class cabins into one indulgent space.
If spending for a first class seat isn’t on the budget yet, going for a business class cabin is the best solution. Find out which of these would be the right fit for you in this British Airways Business Class vs. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class comparison.
- Quick Glance: British Airways Business Class vs. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- The Details: British Airways Business Class vs. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- British Airways Business Class
- Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
- Wrapping Up
Quick Glance: British Airways Business Class vs. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
|British Airways Business Class||Virgin Atlantic Business Class|
|Ground Experience||Guests receive priority check-in, boarding, and fast-track security when flying from Heathrow Airport (LHR). There’s also primary access to the British Airways Galleries Club lounges and other partner lounges across the globe. There’s also free checked baggage but it’s dependent on the weight.||You can access the stylish Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses as an Upper Class passenger. Like most business cabins, there’s a line for check-in and boarding. Guests get 2 free checked baggage with a weight limit of 70.5 pounds or 32 kg. per piece. Onboard, guests can bring 2 carry-on items and 1 personal bag.|
|Seat||The Club Suites are BA’s signature seats. It’s the first business class reverse herringbone cabin with sliding doors for increased privacy. Available on long-haul, international routes, the seats are 73-79 inches long and 20-22 inches wide. Club World seats on the 787 are also similar in size and length.||You’ll find the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class installed on four types of planes. The A33neo has a 1-2-1 configuration with a 22-inch width and 2 Retreat Suites. The A330–300 and 787, feature similar styles with a 1-1-1 herringbone layout but the seats only recline at one angle. These have a 22-inch width. The A350 has a 1-2-1 layout and 20-inch width. One thing to note, the 787 and the A330-300 both have a social space called The Bar, where guests can lounge and drink pre-mixed cocktails.|
|Amenities||Amenity kits on Club World are only given on long-haul flights. For these kits, BA has partnered with The White Company, providing essentials like a lip balm, moisturizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, an eye mask, hand lotion, and a pen in one beautiful faux-leather zip pouch. On the seat are a pillow and headphones.||The aptly named “goodie bag” handed to Upper-Class guests is pretty basic. It contains a dental kit, an eye mask, a Kraft paper pen, socks, and REN Clean skincare products. On overnight flights, guests also get cotton PJs. For sleeping, there’s a pillow and duvet available.|
|Food and Beverage||Pre-flight drinks include a choice of champagne, water, or orange juice. Paper menus are given but pre-order options can be done too. Food on Club World comes in trays over white linens and in quality China. Breakfast or the second meal is served 90 minutes before landing. In between, you can ask for drinks or “raid the larder” for sandwiches, beverages, or ice cream.||Food is great on board, with pre-flight champagne and an apéritif before the actual meal service. Passengers get a selection of starters, mains, then desserts with a cheese plate and wine as a finisher. Breakfast or the second meal has hot and cold dishes. You can order drinks or snacks from an Extra Bites menu between the meals.|
|Entertainment||Club World seats have a 12 to 17-inch touchscreen monitor with the older versions carrying small-sized screens. One downside is that these screens are fixed but they do come with a bevy of titles including Hollywood movies, popular music, concerts, as well as Live channels.||Vera is Virgin Atlantic’s IFE. It has hundreds of great movies, music, TV shows, and Live channels. As for screen size, the A350 has an 18.5-inch monitor while the 787 has an 11.1-inch screen – the smallest in the fleet. The A330neo has a 17.1-inch monitor which has Bluetooth capacity.|
|Lavatories||The 777 and A350 have 2 lavatories in the cabin. However, on the 787 there’s only a single lavatory for business guests. These are kept clean and include The White Company products inside.||At the back of the cabin, the 787 has 2 lavatories while the A350 and A330-200 have 2 located at the front. The A330-300 has a single lavatory.|
|Bed||All seats in Club World transform into a comfortable bed measuring 76 to 79 inches. These are complemented by a pillow and blanket provided by the staff.||The seats on the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lie flat with bed lengths differing between plane types. The A330-200 has a 71.3 pitch while both the A330-300 and 787 have 78 inches. However, the biggest beds are on the A350 with a massive 82-inch pitch, enough to accommodate someone who is 6 feet and 7 inches.|
|Service||Friendly and attentive, British Airways is known for good service. Attendants are willing to chat with guests but are also quite professional in their demeanor.||Virgin Atlantic staff are known for being cheerful and friendly. They’re trained to interact with passengers and communicate with ease.|
|Wi-Fi||Free Wi-Fi is available starting at £4.88 or $6 which provides a one-hour connection. It’s followed by £11.99 or $14.50 for four hours, and 14.99 or $18 for the duration of the flight.||Upper Class guests get free Wi-Fi for 20 minutes. There’s an option to purchase a plan starting at $7.20 or £5.99 for one hour or go for an entire flight connection for $22.89 or £18.99.|
The Details: British Airways Business Class vs. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
British Airways Business Class
Club Worl flyers are entitled to priority boarding and check-in for their flights. There’s a dedicated line for premium guests especially if you’re flying out of key airports like Heathrow Airport in London (LHR), you could also receive fast-track security for a seamless experience.
Those in business class get free checked baggage dependent on a combined weight limit of 51 pounds or 23 kilos. Aboard the aircraft, guests can bring two carry-ons with a maximum of 23 kilos and a single personal bag.
Using Heathrow Airport gives you access to the British Airways Galleries Club lounges, some of their lounges are considered among the best in Europe. At LHR, the lounges are in the North and South areas of Terminal 5, where most of British Airways’ international routes depart from. Depending on the time and day, certain lounges could get crowded.
You can access any of the 3 lounges at LHR. There’s a shuttle train that goes from the main A gate towards the B gate but you can also walk from one lounge to another. Just make sure to get to your terminal and gate before boarding.
Galleries Club lounges are always stocked with amenities. Dedicated sections display hot and cold food in an extensive buffet. In one corner there’s a self-serve bar showing off sodas, coffee, tea, liquor, and more. You’ll also find shower rooms and business centers in certain lounges.
British Airways runs several Galleries Club lounges in key cities like Washington D.C., Johannesburg, Glasgow, Manchester, and New York. If these lounges aren’t available, guests can also use Oneworld partner lounges found in most airports worldwide.
Thanks to British Airways, business class is transformed forever. The airline was the first to add lie-flat beds to this cabin and since then they were also among the first to introduce a sliding door on their Club World seats.
Club World seats come in a 1-2-1 configuration in a reverse herringbone style. There’s direct aisle access for each passenger with center aisle seats offering privacy dividers. Similar to what you’d find on American Airlines, the seats in this cabin are Collins Aerospace Super Diamond but with several customizations like beautiful charcoal gray upholstery with fancy stitched detailing.
The seats include storage like a cabinet, a deep armrest (if you sit by the window), or spacious cubbies if you opt for center seats. Right in front of the seat are touchscreen monitors, a reading light, adjustable seat positions, a pullout tray, and convenient amenity kits.
During takeoff and landing, the doors on the Club Suites are locked into position and they’re only unlocked once you’re up in the air.
Partnering with The White Company, British Airways gives out a sleek amenity kit for every Club World guest on a long-haul flight. Each kit contains an eyeshade, earplugs, a hand cream, a dental kit, and a hand cream. They also include a pulse point oil in there.
Apart from the amenity kit, the airline also provides blankets and pillows for sleeping. Headphones for use with the IFE are on the seat as well. Meanwhile, guests en route to Asian countries might also get slippers to use during the flight.
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Food and Beverage
Pre-flight drinks come in the form of champagne, water, or orange juice. Passengers receive paper menus including a drinks list before the meal service starts.
Speaking of meal service, it begins 90 minutes or so after departure. Appetizers with a salad and bread basket go first. Followed by the main course and dessert. You can choose from 3 mains and a couple of desserts including a fruit and cheese plate.
For breakfast, guests have the option of a full English breakfast or a continental meal. It’s also possible to ask for just pastry and coffee if you don’t feel like eating a lot.
If you’re hungry mid-flight, let the attendants know and they can get you a sandwich, various drinks, or pastries. Union Coffee and Twinnings tea are also available.
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Older seats have a 12-inch monitor installed while the newer seats come with an 18-inch touchscreen monitor. However, both of these have a host of movies, TV shows, music, children’s shows, and even foreign films to choose from.
Some of the Hollywood titles in the system include Thor, Jurassic Park, and James Bond, among many others. One thing to note is that, unlike most business seats, the IFE monitors aren’t adjustable here but you can use a remote control nearby if you need it.
British Airways also provides noise-canceling headphones to go with the IFE. These aren’t spectacular but they have good sound quality.
First class guests on BA will get free Wi-Fi during the flight. However, business passengers have to pay for a Wi-Fi connection. The plan starts at $6 or £4.99 for an hour. If you want something more, you can connect for 4 hours for only $14.50 or £11.99. For a full-flight Wi-Fi, the plan starts at $18 or £14.99.
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The number of lavatories will vary on the type of plane you have. For instance, the 787 has one lavatory while the 777 has 2 lavatories at the front and back portion of the plane. Meanwhile, the A380 has 2 lavatories for business guests at the front of the plane. While small, the lavatories are well-maintained with The White Company toiletries.
In bed form, the seat measures 79 inches flat which can accommodate someone up to 6 feet and 6 inches. Each seat has bedding from The White Company. This includes a pillow and a thick blanket to keep you cozy during sleep.
Staff and Guest Services
Guests on British Airways have always praised the service on board. The attendants are cheerful and friendly while at the same time professional. BA also ensures there’s an attendant that can speak the native language of the destination to make things easier for non-English speaking guests.
Who Is It For?
Club World is a great business class cabin ideal for anyone who wants a comfortable flight on the long haul. The product presents great comfort with a good meal and a cushy chair to ensure your flight will make you happy.
British Airways Business Class Gallery
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
The Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin gives you amazing access to its exclusive Virgin Clubhouse. At Heathrow, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is in Area H. It’s a giant space, occupying 26,000 square feet and filled to the brim with amenities.
Guests can park themselves in various seating areas. There’s à la carte dining, deli-style buffet and drinks, and sofas doubling as workstations with power sockets. Satisfy your thirst with premium liquor, order coffee, go for breakfast, and other delicious meals anytime you want.
Virgin Clubhouses are known for being fun little havens while you wait for your flight. You can squeeze in a workout, maybe take a nap, or stay on the outdoor patio to check out the views.
There are Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses in cities like New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Johannesburg.
Once you’re ready to board, there’s a complete wing dedicated to boarding, check-in, and even security. Upper class guests can bring two hand-carry bags up to 15 kg combined weight or 35 pounds. They can also bring 2 free checked luggage up to 32 kilos or 70.5 pounds each onboard the plane.
Your experience on the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class can differ depending on the type of aircraft you’re on. However, arguably the best seats in the Upper Class are aboard the A350 and the A330neo. So if you want to have the best possible experience, try and see if you can secure seats on these planes.
Arranged in a 1-2-1 layout with a 22-inch width, the seats are perfect for relaxing and lounging. For socials, there’s a space called The Loft with two couches and a fridge stacked with negronis. For those who want extra large seats, Row 1 has two special “Retreat Suites” with adjustable dividers to accommodate up to four passengers.
On the A350 you’ll find forward-facing Upper Class Suites in a 1-2-1 layout. The seats all feature a divider and carry a pitch of 82 inches and a width of 20 inches.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class still carries the older versions of the Upper Class on the 787. These seats only have two adjustable modes – upright and bed mode. When you’re ready to transform the bed, you would require the help of an attendant to do it.
All of the seats on the 787 are in a 1-1-1 layout. Be warned these seats come with hardly any privacy and face away from the windows. They are bigger though, with a 33-inch width and a 78-inch pitch. If you want to socialize, there’s also an area called The Bar where you can sit down with friends, have snacks and socialize in the air.
You’ll also find The Bar aboard the A330-200 aircraft, except it’s located behind the Upper Class cabin. The seats all recline to a bed and come with a touchscreen monitor as well as storage.
Virgin Atlantic is one of several airlines taking a strong commitment to a greener flying experience. This includes creating an amenity kit that’s sustainable with various useful contents inside. In the case of Virgin Atlantic, their “goodie bag” has REN Clean products, a dental kit, an eyemask, earplugs, and a paper pen.
For overnight flights, guests can receive cotton pajamas, aside from the standard pillows, duvet, and headphones.
Food and Beverage
The drinks service onboard the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class starts with pre-flight champagne served with delicious rosemary-flavored chips.
Attendants also hand out the menu at this time so you can choose from a host of starters, mains, and desserts. To match the meals, Virgin Atlantic has partnered up with top wine merchant Jeroboams to curate the wine served onboard.
Soon after orders are taken, the proper meal service kicks off with your tray table draped in white cloth and set with signature salt and pepper shakers and other items.
The second meal service or breakfast starts 90 minutes before landing, giving you a choice between indulging in a full English breakfast or some pastry and coffee. You can also grab something to eat if you get hungry in between meals.
Virgin Atlantic’s IFE, Vera, is packed with modern Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows to give you endless hours of entertainment. Vera also has music, podcasts, children’s channels as well as Live channels.
The IFE monitors can vary depending on the aircraft. Fitted onboard the A350 is an 18.5-inch touchscreen. It also has 2 USB ports with a single power outlet to be used with your device. A smaller 17.1-inch screen is onboard the A330neo. This one has Bluetooth capacity which lets you use your headphone.
The smallest screens are on the 787 which has an 11.1-inch IFE. It also has a USB port and outlet. All in-flight entertainment systems have a remote control and headphones are provided too.
Virgin Atlantic is generous enough to offer free Wi-Fi for 20 minutes to Upper Class guests. But if you need to connect for longer than that, you can purchase an hour’s connection for £5.99 or $7.88.
If you want a connection for the duration of the flight, you can sign up for the £18.99 or $22 plan. It has no data caps so you can browse or surf for as long as you like.
There are 2 lavatories on the 787 at the back portion of the Upper Class cabin. There are also 2 of these on the front portion of the A350 and only a single lavatory on the A330-200.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class has premium lie-flat seats for when you’re ready to tuck in. There’s a thick pillow and duvet too. As for the seat length, it can differ depending on the plane.
For instance, the seat pitch on the A330-300 and 787 is 78 inches, enough to sleep a 6-foot and 6-inch person. On the other hand, the A330-200 has a smaller pitch offering 71.3 inches. The longest seat though is found on the A350, offering a whopping 82-inch pitch.
Staff and Guest Services
Fly on Virgin Atlantic and you’ll notice the staff and crew are always upbeat and friendly. The airline is known for producing a fun and relaxed environment and a huge part of that is the crew. In Upper Class, you can expect attentive service. They will ensure you’re relaxed and all your needs are cared for.
Who Is It For?
Flying on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is for anyone who wants to experience extravagance in the air. Sure, to truly enjoy it, it’s best to ride the newer aircraft. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic cabin that carefully captures the best qualities of business class and first class for a more affordable price tag.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Gallery
Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
|Winner||What Makes It Great|
|Best for Food||Virgin Atlantic Upper Class||Food is impeccable at Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, you get a multi-course meal with fine wine and bubbly. Plus, you can even indulge in pre-flight drinks and delicious desserts.|
|Best for Seats||British Airways Club World||The Club Suites was a revolutionary concept when it first came out, and it’s still one of the best seats in the air today.|
|Best for Ground Experience||Virgin Atlantic Upper Class||The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses are among the best lounges around. They have everything from great food to excellent seating, and fantastic amenities.|
|Best For Comfort||British Airways Club World||Club Worl is more comfortable and private thanks to their built-in sliding doors.|
|Best for Families||Tie||Both airlines are great for flying with families or groups. Virgin Atlantic has social areas where guests can also chat and hang out away from their seats.|
|Best for Couples||Tie||BA and Virgin Atlantic both showcase center seat configurations that allow couples to sit next to each other.|
|Best for Service||Virgin Atlantic Upper Class||Virgin Atlantic is well-known for its great service so they win this one.|
|Most Exclusive||Virgin Atlantic Upper Class||Although the privacy of the Club Suites is great, the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is a more premium product.|
Two of the best European carriers, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic know how to build a solid product.
British Airways not only delivers one of the best business class seats in the air, but it’s also revolutionary when it comes to improving its business product. Their Club Suites was a game changer when it debuted and today, it’s still a great product worth exploring.
On the other hand, Virgin Atlantic has always made flying entertaining for its guests. Not only do they have friendly and bubbly staff, but they also deliver a superb meal service, a wonderful lounge, and now, a premium cabin in the form of Upper Class.
Take your pick on which one suits you, these two truly make flying in business class a real delight.