On Virgin Atlantic premium economy

    Welcome to Mikal's badly organised travel tips. On the trip to Dublin I flew Virgin Atlantic premium economy. That's kind of like anyone else's business class, given the classes on Virgin are economy, premium economy, and upper class. It's much cheaper than anyone else's business class fare to Heathrow though. I thought that premium economy was pretty good... The seats are old and both of the ones I sat in were subtly broken, but the seat spacing is excellent, the seat is wider than normal, and reclines just that little extra.

    The extra money was worth it given I got off the plane and walked straight into a meeting in Dublin, and on the return flight I got a heap of work done. Premium economy even offers power for laptops, although my corporate-issue iGo doesn't work with the new Lenovo x60, and Virgin didn't have a tip for the x60 in their collection. That's a pretty common compliant with the newer Intel Core2 laptops though -- they draw too much power for older universal power supplies. I got around the power problem with two "eight hour" batteries for the x60. The quotes are because I actually get more like four or five hours off these batteries rather than the claimed eight hours.

    (Oh, by the way, the x60 rocks. Small. Light. Insanely fast with it's dual processors. I sent some time running a script which did a lot of processing and IO though, and the machine got too hot to sit on my lap!)

    I've now flown premium economy on the upper and lower deck of the 747, and the upper deck is clearly better. On the top deck you get a deck shared only with premium and upper class (Virgin's first class), a reading station with newspapers and magazines, a slightly quieter ride, and you don't have people walking past to economy making snob comments. On the down side, you do end up with a much smaller overhead bin. Basically no one's bag fitted in it. There is a big coat locker though, so it's not like your bag is far away.

    If you have a window seat, then you also get a small vertical locker next to you, which is a nice place to put your laptop and ipod during takeoff and landing.

    On the lower deck you get all the economy people walking past, and in fact they seem to wander into the premium section of the plane during the flight. Often they would just stand there looking at me work, which was a bit rude. You also share a bathroom with the rest of the economy cabin, unlike upstairs. That leads to congestion. Worst of all, the premium section is on either side of the forward galley. That means constant staff movement next to you, light, and noise. Luckily for me I was flying while trying to stay awake, I would have found this really annoying otherwise.

    You do get a big overhead bin though.

    So, premium economy good, although the seats could do with some basic maintenance. I'd pick it over standard economy any day.

    Other random notes: Virgin staff are nice, there is video on demand in all seats (which means of the airlines I have flown Qantas, New Zealand and Virgin have this -- unlike United). In fact, Virgin was really good all round.

    Tags for this post: travel airlines virgin atlantic
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posted at: 12:14 | path: /travel/airlines | permanent link to this entry