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Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Upper Class Review … With a Toddler [LAX to LHR]

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Airline: Virgin Atlantic (VS)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Flight #: VS142
Route: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
Date: May 6, 2023
Duration: 10 hours, 20 minutes
Cabin and Layout: Upper Class, 31 seats, 1-1-1 configuration
Seat: 1G
Cost: 135,000 Virgin Points (plus $2,000 in fees) or $6,500 cash

I had the opportunity to celebrate my daughter’s first birthday in London along with my husband, who was going there for a work trip. This was the first long-haul flight with our toddler, so we were feeling nervous about how the trip would go.

Luckily, we had the points to try Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class for the first time! Here is a quick recap of my experience flying with a toddler, along with whether or not I would recommend this product to people flying with kids.

Booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

First, I booked the Upper Class award flight with my Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Virgin Points, transferrable from all major rewards programs. This round-trip flight between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and London Heathrow Airport (LHR) cost $2,000 round-trip (mainly because of the high, carrier-imposed fuel surcharges, fees, and taxes) along with 135,000 Virgin Points.

Since my husband was traveling for business, his flight was booked separately, and I booked the flight for just my daughter and me. If I had paid for my round-trip fare in cash, the cost would have been $6,500, as I was flying the weekend of the coronation of King Charles III. This made booking with points an easy choice!

Subtracting taxes, I received a value of 3.33 cents per point. We currently value Virgin Points at 1.4 cents per point, so this wasn’t the best redemption, but since I was tagging along on my husband’s work trip, we had to take what we got.

I had to call Virgin Atlantic to manually book my daughter’s seat, as there was no way to add a lap child online. Virgin Atlantic charges lap infants 10% of an adult fare, meaning her flight would have been $650. Since I booked an award fare, Virgin offered me the option of using 10,000 points (a little less than 10% of my award fare) to book her seat, which I accepted. Her redemption worked out to 6.5 cents per point. There were no other surcharges or taxes associated with her ticket.

Hot Tip:

Planning a trip to Old Smoke? Read our guide to flying to London on points and miles.

Seat Selection

The aircraft for our flight to London was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a 1-1-1 herringbone configuration.

Virgin Upper Class B787 9 bassinet
The bassinet seat at 1G on Upper Class on Virgin’s 787-9. Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic

As the window rows are offset by 1 row from the center row, my husband and I selected seats in rows 2 and 3 hoping that we would be moved to rows 1 and 2 once we received the bassinet allocation.

Hot Tip:

Car seats are not permitted in Virgin Upper Class, as airbags are fitted in the seats. This is why I chose to bring my daughter as a lap infant.

Bassinets

One bassinet is available in Virgin Upper Class cabins on the Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A330-300, but there are none in Upper Class on the A330neo or A350-1000. Virgin has 4 bassinets in economy and 4 in premium on all its planes except the A330-300, which has 3 in each of those cabins.

At 12 months, my daughter still met the height and weight requirements for using a bassinet, which are 29.5 inches and 24.25 pounds in Upper Class on the Boeing 787-9 (actually half an inch shorter than in economy).

I requested a bassinet when I booked the tickets but was told the airline allocates bassinets a few days before departure, with priority given to the youngest infant.

Baby Flying in Bassinet Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
My daughter (temporarily) sleeping in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bassinet.

Los Angeles International Airport

Check-In

We were flying out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), so we made our way to the Tom Bradley International Terminal to check in for our flight. We used the priority lane because we were in Upper Class, so check-in was speedy!

Thankfully, we were allocated 1G, the bassinet seat, at check-in. My preferred method for traveling with my husband and daughter is 2 seats in the middle, but this wasn’t possible because of the 1-1-1 configuration.

Lap infants are allocated a 50-pound (23-kg) checked bag and a car seat. I didn’t use any of my child’s allocated checked-bag allowance, but it was nice to have the option!

In addition to my own carry-on luggage, we were allowed 1 additional cabin bag weighing up to 13 pounds (6 kg), since we were traveling with an infant. We took a diaper bag as her cabin piece and an UppaBaby Minu V2 folding stroller, which could fit in the overhead bin. Strollers aren’t counted against the carry-on luggage allowance, so we didn’t have to worry about bringing this aboard.

Lounge

There’s no Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX, but we had access to the Star Alliance Lounge. We appreciated the indoor-outdoor space and view of the runways for my airplane-obsessed toddler. It was busy, but we were still happy to have a drink and snacks before our flight.

Boarding

We boarded early because we were sitting in Upper Class, and didn’t get (or need) extra consideration because were traveling with a toddler.

Boarding was smooth. We left LAX at around 6:40 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

On Board Virgin Atlantic’s 787-9

We enjoyed a glass of Champagne before takeoff, and the cabin was decorated festively for the coronation of King Charles III that weekend!

Coronation Decorations Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Coronation decorations on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class in May 2023.

Upper Class Cabin

On the Dreamliner, our Upper Class seats were 78 inches long and had 79.5 inches of pitch.

There are not many great things to say about the seating configuration. The seats were lie-flat and spacious, but they were in an outdated herringbone configuration (not reverse-herringbone), and privacy was minimal.

When you were sitting in your seat, you could see every single person in this cabin, which meant that noise traveled easily. We chose the middle row for the bassinet, which meant we were looking directly across the aisle at other travelers.

Our daughter loves to people-watch, which also added stimulation for the entire flight. She was actually pretty happy for the duration of the flight but completely uninterested in sleeping for long. She also giggled whenever we hit turbulence, so she really enjoyed the bumpy ride!

Toddler Flying in Virgin Upper Class
Image Credit: Christy Rodriguez

The lack of privacy also meant added noise. Between the noise frequently waking up my toddler and us having to remove her from the bassinet for safety reasons when we hit turbulence, we all had a rough flight.

While the configuration wasn’t our preference, we were grateful for the extra space to accommodate our wiggly toddler.

Food and Beverage

When reserving our flights, I’d asked for baby food service, and I was told to request this from the flight attendants as needed for my toddler. Infant food can vary wildly, so I’d also brought plenty of my own snacks for her.

On this flight to London, we asked for and were given 4 Gerber glass jars (2 apples and 1 each of carrots and peas). The flight attendants provided these all at once, along with a small metal spoon, which wasn’t ideal for keeping mess to a minimum. However, on returning to Los Angeles, we received 4 Ella’s Kitchen pouches with flavors such as baked potato and pumpkin-apple-blueberry for our 10-hour flight. These pouches were milk- and meat-free, as well as organic, and were much better for us!

Whole milk was also available upon request. My daughter drinks cold milk, but the flight attendants said they could warm the milk up.

Hot Tip:

If your child drinks a different type of milk (such as soy or oat), be sure to bring your own, as these are not guaranteed to be on hand during the flight. Infant formula is also not provided on flights to the U.K., so bring enough for the duration of your flight, including any flight delays.

The odd seat design of this aircraft came in handy for dinner service, as I could sit on the ottoman of my husband’s seat to share a table for dinner service while our daughter slept in my seat.

Virgin Atlantic Dinner Offerings LAX LHR
My husband and I ate dinner together on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class while my daughter slept in my seat.

Amenities

At-Seat Amenities

We were given long-sleeved pajama shirts and jogger pants for our overnight flight, which were comfortable.

The crew also gave us a miniature bottle of Lanson Black Label Champagne to celebrate the coronation as we disembarked in London, which was a festive ending to our flight.

Inflight Entertainment

Since we were mainly focused on getting our daughter to sleep (and getting some sleep ourselves!), my husband and I didn’t take advantage of the inflight entertainment. We did enjoy the food and wine, though!

Lavatories

The bathrooms in Upper Class had changing tables in both bathrooms. As would be expected on a nearly 11-hour flight, we changed many diapers. I was happy to see that the bathrooms and changing tables were kept very clean the whole flight.

The changing table had a strap to buckle in our child and ensure she was safely secured during our turbulent flight.

Service

Everyone was so accommodating and friendly. The crew were some of the best we’d ever encountered. They offered assistance with luggage, checked in regularly with us about meals and water, offered different meal service options to accommodate our toddler, and more. This was the highlight of the flight!

Arrival

We landed at about 1 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time and disembarked with the rest of the Upper Class cabin — no special consideration for traveling with an infant, and none needed. We went through passport control and retrieved our bags uneventfully.

Final Thoughts

Though we had a few rough patches getting my daughter to sleep (and stay asleep!), the crew made up for it. We would absolutely fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class again, but we’d make sure to seek out a different aircraft (like the A350) for added privacy.

Our flight home from London on the same aircraft went more smoothly. I’d recommend Upper Class on the Dreamliner for people who are more interested in socializing and less interested in privacy and keeping babies asleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class have bassinets?

There is a single bassinet in Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic’s 787-9 Dreamliner and A330-300 but not on its other aircraft.

Are there bassinets in economy and premium on Virgin Atlantic planes?

Yes, there are at least 3 and more often 4 bassinets in the economy cabin and an equal number in the premium cabin on Virgin Atlantic planes.

What are the height and requirements for Virgin Atlantic bassinets?

Babies using the bassinets in economy and premium cabins cannot exceed 30 inches in height and 24.25 pounds. A baby using the Upper Class cabin must weigh 24.25 pounds or less and cannot be longer than 29.5 inches.

Is Upper Class a Virgin Atlantic 787-9 Dreamliner quiet enough for a baby?

We had a rough go of it, thanks to the seat layout and lack of privacy. The seats were lie-flat, however, and our 1-year-old fell asleep in my seat rather than in her bassinet.

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About Christy Rodriguez

After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a certified CPA.

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