My Virgin Atlantic Flight from Manchester to Orlando

By Adele Sharman

24 April 2023

I recently flew on the new A350 Leisure flight with The Booth from Manchester to Orlando and I wanted to share my thoughts on the experience.


Check-in for the upper class at Manchester wasn’t as fancy as the Upper-Class wing at London Heathrow, but it still provided fast track through security and access to a lounge. We were allowed two suitcases each, and as a Virgin Gold Flying Club member, I could take three suitcases each weighing up to 32kg. I managed to travel light this time and took only three suitcases and one piece of hand luggage.

At the Terminal 

Manchester Terminal 2 has had a refurbishment, and it’s now a lovely space with some nice bars and eateries if you don’t have a lounge. Unfortunately, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have its own lounge, which can be an issue since you have to queue with other passengers to enter The 1903 lounge. The 1903 lounge itself is a beautiful space with floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views of the runway. They serve a range of complimentary drinks, including champagne, spirits, and local beers, and the food is of high quality, ranging from pastries to a full breakfast, sandwiches, curries, salads, pasta dishes, and jars with crisps and sweets. The staff are very friendly and attentive, and they quickly clear plates away once you finish eating. There is also a communal toilet within the lounge, which is a great convenience.

Inside the aircraft 

Boarding the flight was smooth and efficient, with upper-class passengers called first. I found it amusing that everyone rushes to board the flight, despite having assigned seats. The first thing I noticed when boarding the flight was that you have to walk through premium to get to the upper class, which means that you’re no longer the first to get off the flight. I found this less personal, as before, you would be greeted at the bar, but now you have to wait for others in premium to sort out their stuff before entering your cabin. Additionally, the cabin felt smaller, with only 16 seats, or should I say “suites,” in upper-class on this aircraft. There is also a smaller communal space for the upper-class flyers.

No Bar Anymore?

The second thing I noticed was the absence of the bar area, which was a focal point on the Virgin flight and a great space to chat with other passengers and crew. Instead, there is a new area called “The Booth,” a small seating area with a table that can accommodate two people, making it impractical for those in the seat opposite. Virgin now refers to as such, had a sliding privacy door, but it did not provide much privacy at all. In my opinion, it was not enough to consider it a suite. If you’re trying to get some shut-eye, this area can be bothersome, as people must move when staff or other passengers walk past. I preferred the old bar area at the back of the upper-class seats. The overall feel of the cabin was less friendly, and I missed the opportunity to chat with fellow passengers at the bar or even while waiting for the toilet.

Some other “disappointments”

I didn’t like the seat belt; it was like a traditional seat belt and bothered my chin. Later in the flight, I realized that I could unclip that part. The seat still turns into a bed, and the recline is great, making it easy to read a book or watch a movie. The amenity kit wasn’t impressive, but I understand that they are making these from recyclable Kraft paper. I didn’t bother taking the kit off the plane, only the pen. The TV screen doesn’t tilt, and I wasn’t happy that I had to sit and look at myself in the reflection on the screen when it wasn’t switched on. 

One other issue I experienced was not knowing which aircraft I would be flying on until after booking. Changes can happen, and it’s not always easy to plan accordingly. For my return flight to the UK, I may have to book premium so I can compare and provide a review.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this new setup is worth the price tag. Virgin has removed some of the features that I paid for and enjoyed. Sitting with my husband to chat or eat food or simply stretching our legs was more difficult with the limited space. In the future, I may opt to pay for premium seats instead. Have you travelled in this direction lately? Share your experience in the comments and keep following me to discover new places together! 

2 Responses

  1. As always a great down to earth and honest opinion of your experience, with helpful insights and comparisons

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