British Airways Business Class vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class -- New York JFK to London Heathrow
In 2018, British Airways took in a record $1 Billion flying passengers between London and New York. In doing so, it became the first billion-dollar airline route.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, New York and London are two of the most popular cities in the world. They’re also two huge business and financial hubs. Meaning it’s not only a popular route for tourists, but Business Owners and Executives alike.
Each month it’s one of our most requested routes at Elite Flight Concierge. And although there are dozens of daily flights, demand is always high.
This is because everyone is after the same seats. It isn't just a popular route, but the New York to London Business Class Tickets are among the most in-demand. Especially the ones that offer a direct, non-stop flight across the Atlantic.
Because of this, two of the most popular options are:
- British Airways Business Class and,
- Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Both BA and Virgin offer direct flights between these two sought-after hubs. This is why they’re often the ‘only’ option for travellers who not only want luxury, but value their time.
So, before you book your next NYC to London Business Class Trip, it’s important you know the difference between these two airlines. They always sell-out quickly. And depending on your Pre-Flight, In-Flight and Post-Flight needs, one may be a better fit than the other...
British Airways Business Class vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
First up, British Airways Business Class and Virgin Atlantic Upper Class offer the same tier of service. They both offer dozens of routes across the globe, and depending on where you’re flying to (and out of) determines the specific service you get.
This article focuses on the New York to London Business Class Route between JFK and London Heathrow (for a review of the London to New York Route, click here). Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have a huge presence in each of these airports.
That means the level of service you get is high!
But which offer is best for you... British Airways Business Class or Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?
Let’s find out...
Quick note before we dive in...
Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have innovated luxury travel. But in recent years many airlines have caught up. It’s lead many luxury travelers to ask: when are we due an upgrade?
That time is soon. Toward the backend of 2019, both BA and Virgin are reinventing their Business Class offers. We’ve seen the early features, and they look spectacular. We cannot wait to review them and offer these new services to you.
But right now, this article focuses on the existing Business Class offers.
If you would like us to keep you updated with the new British Airways Business Class Experience, and Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class’ new look, subscribe to our VIP List.
Those on this list get the most up to date news and reviews, as well as exclusive offers.
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The Pre-Flight Experience with British Airways Business Class
The first thing to note is that British Airways do not offer a chauffeur service as part of Business Class. This is disappointing, but unfortunately more and more common with airlines today. Still, New York City isn’t without options. And we often help our clients start their trip in style.
Once you arrive at JFK, you can expect a smooth experience with little stress or worry. As British Airways Business Class provides you with:
- A Dedicated British Airways Club World Check-in Desk.
- Fast Track Security
- Priority Boarding
This means no waiting in line or wasting time, which is good news for you because of what awaits on the other side of the check-in desk.
Open between 5am and 10pm, the British Airways Club Lounge offers you a variety of facilities. Including:
- Pre-Flight Dining
- Free Wifi
- Access to the Business Centre
- Plenty of reading material
- and a wide selection of snacks, coffee and beverages.
You also get access to the JFK Elemis Travel Spa, complete with a complimentary 15-minute treatment.
With 15+ treatments available, you get to unwind and enjoy a little luxury before you head for your flight. Whether your trip is for business or personal reasons, there’s always time for a head-and-neck massage.
It’s an incredible service we recommend you take advantage of.
(and one of the true perks of flying Business Class)
This overviews the core features of what to expect during your pre-flight experience. But there’s a lot more JFK offers, as one of the world’s finest airports.
We’ve dedicated a separate article that reviews the JFK Airport Experience as a whole. This includes further details of The British Airways Club Lounge, spa areas and the many other options on offer.
Once you’ve taken advantage of the lounge facilities and pre-flight experience, all that’s left to do is board the plane. But before you do, let’s see how all this compares to what Virgin Atlantic Upper Class offers.
The Pre-Flight Experience with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Virgin Atlantic impresses from the offset, offering a complimentary chauffeur service that picks you up from your home in New York, and drops you off at your check-in door. Fewer airlines offer this service these days, and many reserve it only for First Class travellers.
The fact Virgin Atlantic offer it as part of their Upper Class experience is a real win.
Once you arrive at JFK, you get access to a dedicated Upper Class Desk and get fast tracked through security. It’s a real time saver, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t arrive as early as possible
This is because you get complete access to the Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse. And it’s not to be missed.
As a brand, Virgin’s renowned for its style. Their clubhouse is no different, where they style each one on its host city. In other words, The JFK Clubhouse is very “New York”, offering a feel fresh from Manhattan.
What awaits you is an area flush with facilities and services:
- Pre-Flight Dining
- The Entertainment Zone (with pool tables and other games)
- Free Wifi
- Luggage storage
- Shower and changing facilities
- and a selection of drinks and beverages from the bar area
As with British Airways Business Class, all Virgin Atlantic Upper Class travellers get access to a 15-minute spa treatment. The selection on offer isn’t as wide as BA, and it’s on a first-come, first-served basis. They tend to fill up quickly, so keep this in mind when you plan your pre-flight activities.
Once again, we review The Virgin JFK Clubhouse in more detail inside our JFK Airport Guide. For a complete list of spa treatments and all the other features you get access to, be sure to check it out.
You’re now ready to board the plane and get your trip underway. This is when the real luxury begins, and both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aim to please....
The In-Flight Experience with British Airways Business Class
As part of your British Airways Business Class Experience, you can expect to board the plane before everyone else. This gives you ample time to settle into your seat and enjoy the finer comforts on offer.
But not all Business Class seats are the same.
Most New York to London Business Class routes utilise a Boeing 747-400, meaning there’s an upper deck. The upper deck seat configuration is 2-2, whereas the lower deck is 2-4-2.
In other words, the upper deck feels more like a private jet.
(so always try and book your seat upstairs whenever possible)
Upper deck or lower deck, your seat itself is the same:
- Large seating area that reclines into a fully flat bed.
- Luxurious White Company bedding, blankets and pillows.
- Ample storage space (for your bag and other amenities).
- 12” Flat Screen TV and noise cancelling headphones.
- Access to the on-demand entertainment centre.
Whether you plan to sleep the whole journey, kickback and enjoy some entertainment, or open your laptop for work… British Airways Business Class offers you an element of luxury and practicality.
(whereas achieving anything in economy (work or sleep) is near impossible)
British Airways are also renowned for their service. And they truly do go the extra mile to ensure their Business Class travellers travel in style.
From extra amenities -- like their White Company Travel bag, including items such as noise cancelling headphones, toiletries and travel socks -- to the fine-dining options, the British Airways service is top-class.
Inspired by some of the world’s best chefs, the food in particular is a stand-out performer.
When you combine this with a wide selection of whiskies and spirits, a flight in BA Business Class feels like a mini-trip in itself.
Your in-flight experience is what upgrading to Business Class is all about. British Airways continue to offer some of the best facilities around, and their service remains world class. They are a stand-out performer against most other airlines, and it will only get better with their soon-to-be upgraded facilities.
(want to get access to the NEW British Airways Business Class experience when it launches? Sign up to our VIP List for priority updates)
It remains one of the best ways to travel between New York and London, whether your trip is for business or pleasure. But how does it compare to the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience?
The In-Flight Experience with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
With priority boarding, you can expect to arrive at your seat before everyone else.
The seat itself is large -- coming in at 22 inches (compared to just 17 inches in economy). It also converts into a fully flat-bed, and because it doesn’t do this through reclining (a member of the cabin crew can “flip” it for you) it removes any bumps or lumps.
This can be an issue with many airlines and their Business Class Flat Beds. Not for Virgin.
Other additional featured around your seat include:
- Partially reclining seat that converts into a flat-bed
- A bedding bag, complete with pillows and blankets.
- Ample storage space (for your bag and other amenities).
- Flat Screen TV and noise cancelling headphones.
- Access to the on-demand entertainment centre.
- Access to the in-flight wifi service.
When it comes to entertainment and the “style” factor, Virgin Atlantic take it up a notch. This is echoed in their Upper Class Bar Area, which again is often only offered in First Class lounges.
It gives a feel that you’re inside your own private jet, and certainly makes it easier to stretch your legs and connect with fellow passengers -- an often overlooked benefit of travelling Business Class.
Your network is your net-worth, after all…
As you would expect through the Virgin brand, the entire customer service is very strong. The cabin crew are fun and energetic, and there are plenty of extra touches that help make your flight memorable.
Take the Wilbur and Orville salt and pepper shakers that arrive with your meal. After years of travellers “pinching” them, Virgin now practically encourage this with their playful message on the bottom of each set: pinched from Virgin Atlantic.
Speaking of the meal service, Virgin Atlantic offer their Upper Class travellers a variety of options throughout the flight. And because you have access to the Upper Class Bar Area, you have free rein to get drinks and snacks as and when you desire.
All in all, the entire Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Flight Experience is fun, stylish and relaxing. Whether you plan to remain in your seat and enjoy a little “me” time, or network with your fellow passengers, Virgin provide a great platform for both.
As with BA, this experience is set to get an upgrade soon -- which we are personally excited about.
(want to get access to the NEW Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience when it launches? Sign up to our VIP List for priority updates)
Before long your flight comes to an end, and you’re ready to embark into the London scene. But before you hit the city, both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have a few post-flight luxuries in store for you.
These final Business Class Rewards are sometimes what make the whole experience worthwhile...
The Post-Flight Experience with British Airways Business Class
As a British Airways Business Class traveller, you leave the plane before everyone else and get fast-tracked through security. This is a huge, too often overlooked benefit of travelling business class.
Because after a long flight, the last thing you want to do is stand in line...
(especially if you have an important meeting to get to)
But beyond saving time, you also get access to the British Airways Arrival Lounge in Heathrow.
If you have the time, it’s certainly worth taking advantage of their facilities:
- Private shower rooms (complete with toiletries).
- A hot buffer of meals, snacks and drinks.
- Free wifi.
- Plenty of workspaces and seating.
You also get access to the Elemis Spa, and have a complimentary 15-minute treatment awaiting you. After a six-hour flight, there’s nothing better than a head-and-shoulder massage to keep jetlag at bay.
It caps the end of a luxurious experience that began the moment you arrived at JFK. From start to finish, British Airways Business Class offers its high-end travellers a relaxing and unwinding trip.
Whether you’re in London for work or play, you now have ample energy to get on with your day.
The Post-Flight Experience with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Although only open between 5:00am and 1:30pm, the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge in Heathrow is certainly worth a visit.
As an Upper Class traveller, you depart the plane first and get fast-tracked through security. Soon, you arrive at the Revivals Lounge, where you get to enjoy it’s variety of features:
- Complimentary breakfast (including a local, Full English Breakfast).
- Free wifi and access to a variety of seating and workspaces.
- Private shower rooms (complete with power-showers and toiletries).
- Housekeeping services (get those wrinkles out of your shirt with a fresh-press).
You once again get access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Spa, and can claim a complementary treatment (a shoulder and head massage is a personal favourite of ours).
As with BA, Virgin Atlantic offer a luxurious experience from start to finish. And as an added bonus, Virgin Atlantic also offer a chauffeur service for you on arrival.
In our opinion here at Elite Flight Concierge, this is a standout feature. Less airlines are doing this these days, and it’s great to see Virgin Atlantic take a little time to make sure you get to your hotel in style.
British Airways Business Class vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class -- Which is Right For You?
Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer a great service for those flying between New York City and London Business Class. We’ve helped dozens of clients fly with both, and feedback is exceptional.
You’re sure to be happy with either, but after reading this article I hope you know which suits you best.
As you would expect from world-class service like this, the price you pay is well above the industry standard. Flights between NYC and London Business Class retail at $8,700 for a round-trip.
(and upto $6,600 for a one way ticket -- that’s when you book 3-4 weeks in advance)
This is standard with both British Airways Business Class and Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. For what you get, even at this price it’s well worth the investment. But we work with seasoned travellers who fly often, so we always aim to save you upto 50% off these prices.
Whether you’re planning in advance or need to make a last-minute booking, we can help -- and if you favor British Airways Business Class or Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, we’re here for you.
If you’re interested in flying between New York City and London Business Class, head over to this page and see how we can help you.
(and if you’re not ready to book now, be sure to bookmark it for future)
After all, you never know when your next last-minute trip may pop up...