Yesterday you may have heard something strange in the distance or felt a disturbance in the force field. Perhaps your dog or cat pricked their ears and curiously put their head to one side. I must apologise for that. That was me, howling ‘Noooooooo!!’ at the news that after ten years, Virgin Atlantic will soon stop flying between Sydney and Hong Kong.
Some of my favourite times in the skies have been on that airline between those two cities in a wonderful place called Upper Class, and I didn’t take the thought that it will all end in a few months particularly well.
Of course, there will be other routes where you’ll still be able to take a seat – or should that be bed – behind that Upper Class curtain. But as of the 4th of May, 2014, it will be all over between my home city and Hong Kong, also known (well, to me) as the Virgin Atlantic gateway to London and Europe.
As I come to terms with the fact that this is now becoming the last chance to fly like that again, I find myself remembering the good times.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
1. Your flat beds are divine
Confession: I am usually down the other end of the plane, where a seat reclining a few inches can be a cause for celebration, so being able to lie flat at all is a bit of a thrill.
But one thing I do know is your flat beds are a cut above some other airlines. While some business and first classes have a seat that simply flattens out to lie on, your seat flips over to reveal a soft, breathable fabric that you want to snuggle into.
So when you’re in sitting up mode you can relax into soft leather, and put your feet up on your ottoman (if you don’t have a guest sitting there for a chat that is).
Then when you want to sleep, a member of the crew is there to offer a turndown service, and your seat is transformed into a soft bed with fresh white linen, a fluffy duvet and a plump pillow. Heaven.
2. You have a bar on board
I don’t want to come across as a lush by making this number two, but it’s more than just a place to drink champagne at 40,000 feet.
I love the bar because it’s a space where you can go for a little chat in the middle of the night without disturbing the person trying to sleep in the flat bed next to you.
I’ve had great chats with your super friendly and lovely staff in that bar, and met likeminded travellers.
In quiet times I’ve also sat there in my pyjamas, writing in my diary about my travels, where I’ve just been, where I’m going. It’s a great place to share my dreams on paper with my future self. She’s looking forward to reading back over them in the years to come.
3. Your sleep suits are worth keeping
Speaking of sitting in the bar in pyjamas, your sleep suits are very handy. And not just to wear on future flights when I’m back in coach. Which I also do.
They’re soft and comfy and as they’re black and kinda look like a tracksuit I am quite comfortable keeping them on as I move about the cabin. I’m not sure I would have sat at the bar chatting to strangers in my Peter Alexander PJs, though that may also be fun.
I know I’m not the only one who thought “that’s ridiculous!” when two first class passengers refused to let a Los Angeles to Melbourne flight with another airline take off when they discovered they didn’t have pyjamas in their size. Eventually they got off the plane and their luggage was offloaded.
It’s safe to say I’ll never go that cuckoo for in-flight PJs, but I also know I do love that slumber party feel that happens in the pointy end of the plane.
And I have a feeling I’m not the only one who likes to kick back in her bed, sipping champagne and watching movies in her pyjamas as she flies across the skies.
4. You offer Sky High Tea
I love high tea. I love flying. I love that you put the two together.
I hate that it was only on the Sydney to Hong Kong leg when I flew to London and hope that it’s revived on another sector when that route is closed down. (Did I already say “Nooooooo!!”?)
5. Your food and wine selection makes me smile
Delicious meals? Check. Cheese and wine for afterwards? Check. Wine I’m actually excited to see, including a yummy Malbec? Check. Adorable plane shaped salt and pepper shakers that I wish I could keep as a souvenir? Yep, you’ve got them all. Well played.
6. You’ve decorated with Swarovski crystals
And the magpie / drag queen / Dolly Parton in me loves it.
7. Your movie selectors have a sense of humour
I remember seeing the movie Flight and as Denzel Washington’s alcoholic and drug addicted pilot guided a crashing plane into the ground thinking “there’s no way they could show this on a plane!” But you did.
You also showed Pedro Almodovar’s “I’m So Excited”. I watched it for the first time on your flight and laughed when I realised it was also about a plane that was about to crash.
As I’d been wanting to see Almodovar’s latest I just hit play and didn’t even read the description until later. Then when I checked afterwards I noticed your “Warning: Contains aircraft crash scenes unsuitable for nervous flyers.”
I also love that the same movies and entertainment selections are available throughout the plane regardless of your class. I shudder when I think that there are still planes in the sky today where economy passengers have to watch a shared screen at the front of the plane. What century is it again?
Okay. I could keep counting but I fear it will only make me sadder.
I have to start to accept that soon I shall no longer be able to fly with you between Sydney and Hong Kong. I know there are many others like me who will miss you terribly on that route, and may now be rushing to book their last Virgin Atlantic Upper Class between these two cities.
Thank you for the good times, and I look forward to flying you again, somewhere, someday.
Amanda Woods travelled with the assistance of Virgin Atlantic , but as usual all opinions are her own.
Speaking of great things coming to an end, you may also want to get your skates on and travel on one of the last of Queensland’s Sunlander train journeys.