TRIED & TESTED

Business Traveller - - NEWS -

Vir­gin At­lantic B787-9 econ­omy and pre­mium econ­omy; Rwandair A330-300 busi­ness class; the Whitby, New York; In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Bar­clay New York

BACK­GROUND Vir­gin At­lantic flies up to five times a day be­tween Heathrow and New York JFK, us­ing the B787-9 Dream­liner on se­lected flights.

CHECK-IN I ar­rived at Lon­don Heathrow T3 at 0645 for my 0905 de­par­ture on flight VS3, pro­ceed­ing to Zone A. There were 12 econ­omy bag-drop desks open along with nu­mer­ous self-ser­vice check-in kiosks.

BOARD­ING I went to Gate 22 at about 0815 and joined the econ­omy queue, which took a while to clear. At the air­bridge I was given a bot­tle of wa­ter.

THE SEAT The 198 econ­omy class seats are split across two cabins con­fig­ured 3-3-3 (A-B-C, D-F-G, H-J-K). The front cabin (rows 45 to 52) sits be­hind pre­mium econ­omy, sep­a­rated by a bulk­head and cur­tains, with the se­cond, larger cabin (53 to 68) di­vided from the front one by wash­rooms.

I had pre-se­lected seat 55C (you can choose for free within 24 hours of de­par­ture; Fly­ing Club mem­bers have longer de­pend­ing on tier). The Dream­liner’s larger win­dows, higher ceil­ing and deeper over­head bins helped to cre­ate an airy feel, al­though the aisles seemed fairly nar­row.

The fab­ric-up­hol­stered Re­caro seat is 18.9 inches wide with a six-inch re­cline and 31 inches of pitch (fine for me, at five-foot-three, al­though it looked tight for tall pas­sen­gers). It was com­fort­able and had an ad­justable head­rest, a nine-inch touch­screen, a ta­ble that folded in half, and a magazine pouch, which I couldn’t fit much into. There was a coat hook, a USB port and in-seat power. The IFE sys­tem, called Vera, had a great se­lec­tion of about 80 movies along with plen­ti­ful TV, mu­sic, games and a seat-chat func­tion. Wifi cost £4.99 for 40MB of data or £14.99 for 150MB. A blan­ket, pil­low and headphones (not noise-can­celling) were pro­vided.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The front rows in each cabin (bulk­head row 45 and exit row 53) have the most legroom; 45 is bet­ter as 53 is by the wash­rooms so you may be dis­turbed by peo­ple queu­ing. How­ever, you can­not pre-se­lect row 45 or seats 53D-F-G as th­ese are al­lo­cated to those with chil­dren or mo­bil­ity is­sues. You can pre-se­lect 53A-B-C and 53H-J-K for £50 each way (free for Fly­ing Club gold mem­bers), while 47A-B-C and H-J-K of­fer three more inches of pitch (£40 each way).

THE FLIGHT We pushed back late, at 0945, as a pas­sen­ger was ill and had to leave the air­craft, and took off at 1005. Drinks and pret­zels were served af­ter about half an hour. There were three lunch op­tions – chicken and sun-dried tomato penne, pulled pork and beans, and pa­neer curry. They had run out of pork by the time they got to me, so I had the pasta, which was moist and flavour­some; my com­pan­ion said the curry was one of the best dishes he’d had in econ­omy class. It came with a salad, crack­ers and Boursin cheese, a Gu chocolate ganache, and a choice of drink, in­clud­ing mini bot­tles of Fachada Mal­bec and Charles Méras Chardon­nay/ Viog­nier. That was fol­lowed by tea or cof­fee and, later on, mini Fab ice lol­lies. Shortly be­fore land­ing, af­ter­noon tea was served (a cheese and tomato chut­ney sand­wich, Tyrrells crisps and a bis­cuit).

AR­RIVAL We landed late at 1210. Im­mi­gra­tion and cus­toms took an hour and 20 min­utes. Michelle Harbi

The fab­ricuphol­stered Re­caro seat has 31 inches of pitch and was com­fort­able with an ad­justable head­rest

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