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International travelers may be familiar with the Virgin Atlantic brand. The airline flies to over 30 destinations around the world, plus even more with its partners Delta, Air France and KLM. Passengers are treated to a luxurious experience when flying first class, including the use of a private chauffeur to and from the airport and access to its exclusive airport lounges.
In our Virgin Atlantic first class overview, you'll learn what to expect while flying, how to book a ticket and a few ways to earn good value.
» Learn more: The basics on airline alliances and partnerships
What to expect flying first class with Virgin Atlantic
When flying Virgin Atlantic first class, also known as upper class, you'll experience luxury every step of the way. Your experience starts with a chauffeured ride to the airport, and then continues with exclusive airport lounges — and that's all before your eventual departure.
Bag allowance. First class passengers may check up to two pieces of baggage per person, and these bags may weigh up to 70 pounds each. Additionally, you may bring two pieces of hand baggage on board, with a combined weight of no more than 35 pounds.
Boarding. As with most airlines, Virgin Atlantic allows first class passengers to board and deplane ahead of other passengers.
Seats. First class seats offer 20 to 22 inches of width, which is the largest available on Virgin Atlantic. The seats lie flat when in bed mode, and offer more than 6 1/2 feet of space to stretch out in.
Onboard social areas. Virgin Atlantic's first class cabins offer exclusive areas for passengers to grab a drink or dine with friends. Older planes have a bar, while the new A350 planes have "the Loft," a relaxing social area.
Lounges. The Upper Class Wing is its exclusive first class lounge for Virgin Atlantic at London Heathrow. Plus, there are seven additional Clubhouse lounges and numerous partner lounges around the world offering drinks, food and wellness spas.
Food and drink service. You'll experience five-star dining at 30,000 feet with Virgin Atlantic, starting with a chilled glass of pre-departure Champagne. There is full-service dining in lounges and varying menus on-board based on your departure time.
Chauffer service to and from airport. Complimentary chauffeur service within 75 miles is available at select airports for first class passengers traveling on paid tickets. Travelers on award tickets may book chauffeur service for additional miles.
» Learn more: How to save money on international flights
How to book a first class ticket with Virgin Atlantic
Searching for first class flight options with Virgin Airlines is fairly straightforward, regardless if you're paying with cash or points.
Start by selecting your departure and arrival airport, dates of travel, number of passengers and if it is a one-way or round-trip flight.
Checking the Show Flexible Dates box makes it easier to find prices that match your budget.
Click on Advanced Search to select Upper Class and pick money, points or points plus money as the payment method.
The website will return search results showing various departure and arrival dates +/- 3 days from your chosen travel dates. The lowest price options will also be highlighted and have the word "lowest" in the box.
Once you select your preferred dates based on the pricing, you'll choose the specific flight for your departure (and return, if applicable). If the number of seats remaining for that flight are low, the site will mention how many seats are left.
Once you've selected your flights, you may choose your seats before completing the purchase.
The flight chosen is a 1-1-1 configuration, so you may select a seat by the window or in the middle. All seats have immediate aisle access.
Ways to get good value
When booking a Virgin Atlantic first class ticket, follow these tips to maximize your experience and receive exceptional value.
Book Virgin Atlantic upper class with points
Flying first class can be very expensive, so that's why booking Virgin Atlantic upper class with points offers such tremendous value. Be aware that fuel surcharges are levied on some flights with Virgin Atlantic, which can significantly reduce the value of this redemption.
Earn a companion ticket with your spending
When you spend at least $25,000 each year with the Bank of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®, you'll receive a companion ticket. This allows you to book a companion for a small fee in the same cabin or class as your cash ticket.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
Upgrade paid ticket to upper class
If you don't have enough points to book a first class flight, you can use points to upgrade a cash ticket to first class. The cost to upgrade depends on the type of ticket you initially purchased (economy or premium) and where you're flying to and from. For example, from Boston to London, it would cost 71,200 points to upgrade from economy to upper class.
When traveling during peak season, there is an additional cost of 10,000 to 15,000 points each way.
Book an upper class chauffeur
In addition to booking a first class flight, your points can also help you arrive in style when you book a chauffeur for your ride to or from the airport. Call the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club team to book a ride within 75 miles of London Heathrow, Manchester or select U.S. airports for just 17,500 miles each way.
Combine points and cash to book your flight
To save your cash, you can use a combination of points and cash when booking eligible Virgin Atlantic flights. For every 3,000 points you redeem, the price of your flight will be reduced. The value of this redemption can be less than a penny per point, so travelers should look elsewhere for higher values. These flights can only be booked online, so bookings using the mobile app or over the phone are not allowed.
If you fly Virgin America first class
Travelers looking for a luxurious experience should consider booking a first class flight on Virgin Atlantic. They'll enjoy premium service from the moment they step into the chauffeured airport ride until takeoff, then can relax in lie-flat seats and onboard social areas. The airline's credit card not only earns points toward free flights, but it also offers the ability to earn a Companion Ticket and tier points towards elite status.
Flights can be booked with cash or points, but take note of the potentially high fuel surcharges on award flights. One-way flights from the U.S. to London in first class can be found for under 50,000 points, so redemptions are relatively attainable after earning the card's welcome bonus: For a limited time: 60,000 bonus Virgin Points after spending $2,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Photo courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.