Stock pictures of Virgin Atlantic 787-9 aircraft

A review of Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy

Hopefully by now you will have read my review of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class. If not, let me summarise by saying: it was amazing and horrible and tiring and relaxing all at the same time.

We had booked Premium Economy when we booked the trip initially, it was only about £100 more than Economy and we were really looking forward to it. I had no idea what was about to come.

The problem with Premium Economy is that you essentially just pay for a slightly better experience on the plane, but still have to deal with all the things that come with being at an airport.

We left our hotel about 4 hours before our flight, because I have a complex about being late to airports for some reason (despite this never having happened in my life – smug face). ITS A BLOODY GOOD JOB WE DID. We decided to get a taxi because we had heavy luggage and fuck da train m8 and we left about 5pm so got caught up in all the rush hour traffic going through Brooklyn. Our taxi driver was also slightly crazy, and had either bought a new car or was going to buy a new car or wanted to buy a new car but it was too expensive. I spent most of the journey awkwardly making conversation with Lauren so I wouldn’t have to interact with him because I am a fully functioning member of society and that’s the kind of thing I do.

We got to JFK and one good thing about Premium Economy is you get your own check in desks, so we only had to wait for one other person. We dropped our bags off (after trying our luck and asking about an upgrade to Upper Class but turns out the flight was fully booked so no) and then wandered over to security.

JFK security is the worst place I’ve ever been in my life. I wrote that for effect but thinking about it, it may actually be true. The queue is TERRIBLE and has about 4 points of entry which means people get pissed off about people queue jumping (well at least I did, because I am British and WE QUEUE PROPERLY), everyone is grumpy, it just snakes across the width of the airport so there’s no obvious end in sight…urgh….we were in the queue for about an hour before we finally got through security, by which point I was in a terrible mood. It also meant that we didn’t think we had enough time to pay to go in the public Wing Tips lounge which we had planned to do – worst decision ever.

FORTUNATELY on the first day in NYC we had won a free chicken burger and chips from McDonalds (ballers) so we redeemed these from the airport McDonalds, plus oh I didn’t mention, they do all day breakfast in American McDonalds now (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) so I got a sausage and egg McMuffin <33333 which cheered me up slightly.

I needn’t have cheered up, because when we headed to the gate about half an hour before the scheduled boarding time and all the seats around the gate were packed. I don’t know if it was because the flight was fully booked or because JFK is shit but there was nowhere to sit at all. Everybody also looked grumpy. I cried inside because I missed my beautiful Heathrow T3 Clubhouse.  We figured there wasn’t that long until we got to board, and also Premium Economy get a separate queue, so we set up camp at the beginning of said queue.

I say set up camp.

We sat on the floor.

The boarding was delayed by like an hour, then another half hour. I was so obviously distressed that Lauren had go to and buy me chocolate milk to calm me down (fully functioning member of society, remember?). By the time the man came over to open the queue I practically leapt into his arms with joy. As we got on the plane, I died a little inside as we turned right rather than left and got to our seats. They did offer us free alcohol but it was sparkling wine. Now, I don’t actually remember what we got when we embarked on the plane to Newark, but I feel like it was probably better.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Cabin
This is a stock photo, soz.

The seats themselves were fine except your tray table comes out of your armrest???? I also got a lovely air stewardess to give me some noise cancelling Upper Class headphones rather than the crap premium economy ones (thanks hun xoxo). I can’t sleep on planes (Upper Class excluded) so got approximately 10 seconds rest throughout the entire flight, but I did manage to finally watch Inside Out (having had to abort it on the way out because I couldn’t keep up with the plot) and I cried my little heart out. I had to take 5 minutes to compose myself and stare into the darkness of the sky. Oh Pixar, you scamps.

I feel like if you hadn’t travelled Upper Class before, then Premium Economy would have been a nice little upgrade from economy. The seats are larger and more comfortable and the cabin is a lot smaller which is nice, but considering the experience I had 6 days previously, it was a massive step down from UC. It probably also didn’t help that I had tiredness anxiety and wanted to sleep, as well as the fact that the queue for security took approximately 4 years.

It was at that point that I begun my quest for Virgin Atlantic miles so I never have to experience that again…

Also I was so distressed/tired that I didn’t take any pictures. Soz. Just imagine Economy, but sort of roomier…

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