- Five Star Virgin: Introduction
- Five Star Virgin: Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
- Five Star Virgin: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse San Francisco
- Five Star Virgin: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR)
- Five Star Virgin: Virgin Atlantic Arrivals Lounge London Heathrow
- Five Star Virgin: Is First Class on the Heathrow Express worth it?
- Five Star Virgin: Hotel Indigo London Paddington
- Five Star Virgin: SkyTeam Lounge London Heathrow
- Five Star Virgin: Qatar Airways First Class from London (LHR) to Doha (DOH)
- Five Star Virgin: InterContinental Doha
- Five Star Virgin: Exploring Doha
- Five Star Virgin: Qatar Airways Premium Terminal Doha
- Five Star Virgin: Qatar Airways First Class from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR)
- Five Star Virgin: Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Airport
- Five Star Virgin: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow
- Five Star Virgin: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from London (LHR) to New York (JFK)
- Five Star Virgin: Andaz Wall Street New York
- Five Star Virgin: Conclusion
Given that my trip report had 17 previous installments, consider this a Spark Notes summary.
Usually I know what to expect when it comes to airlines, but this trip threw me for a loop. Virgin Atlantic blew me away. For whatever reason I had the perception they wouldn’t be especially good, given that they don’t exactly have the newest product anymore. Furthermore, I assumed the airline was much more style over substance. I was wrong. The airline has just as much substance as it does style. I would argue their ground services are unrivaled for a business class product, especially if you can depart from a city in the US that features a Clubhouse. The Clubhouse in London was spectacular, and the Revivals lounge in London was great too.
Qatar Airways in first class was very good. However, somehow they lacked the “x factor” that makes a flying experience truly special. I don’t know what it is, but I didn’t get the same feeling I get when I fly Singapore, Lufthansa, or even Virgin Atlantic, just to name a few. They’re all around very solid, but not especially exceptional in any area. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again. They’re a top notch airline, though I don’t think they’re “the world’s 5-star airline,” as they advertise.
I’m happy to have seen Doha, though definitely don’t need to return anytime soon. I’ll be curious to see how the World Cup plays out in Doha in 2022. Maybe by then the city will be exciting, who knows.
All the hotels along the way were good too. The Hotel Indigo Paddington was an exceptional value and a great alternative to the normal Heathrow transit hotels. The InterContinental Doha was nice, though could probably use a makeover sometime soon. The Crowne Plaza London Heathrow was a great value and nice hotel, so if I had a short transit near Heathrow, I would most definitely return. Lastly, the Andaz Wall Street remains one of the best values in New York, and I’d say they keep improving.
Thanks for reading, folks, and for all the interaction, it’s what makes this fun.
I’ll be starting my trip report about my trip to Mendoza, Argentina for the 2011 Masters of Food & Wine next week, and by the time that’s done I have another huge trip (bigger than any trip I’ve ever taken before) planned for May.
Great trip report, thank you so much for sharing!!!
@Mike - I agree. :)
I was reading the Sunday NYT (Travel Section) in the IAH PC just now and noticed you mentioned in this article. Good stuff.
Great trip report! Your passion is contagious!
@ caelus -- Whoops, fixed. Thanks.
FYI, Qatar will host the World Cup in year 2022, not 2020.
Sounds like your experience on Qatar sums up a lot of what I have heard...a really good airline, but not as great as THEY like to think they are...
As for Doha, well, it is getting better each year, but it'll be a while before it can compare to Dubai in terms of social and cultural activities...
Another great report Ben, I look forward to hearing your impressions of AA
Fantastic job with the trip report, Ben -- I've thoroughly enjoyed reading every instalment!
@ Bryce -- Whoops, duh! My mistake.
Just as a heads up , Doha/Qatar is hosting the World Cup, not the Olympics
Another fantastic report. Thanks for taking us all along, so to speak
@ Michael -- If redeeming for Virgin Atlantic I suggest accruing All Nippon Airways miles instead. They're partners with SPG and Membership Rewards, and convert at a 1:1 ratio. Not only are their redemption levels lower, but they don't impose fuel surcharges, which saves you hundreds of dollars. You can search space through virginatlantic.com. While it's not easy, it's not impossible either.
Spectacular trip reports. Thanks so much.
Question: how hard is it to redeem
/get VA miles so u can fly USA to london?