Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks. It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited! In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich. We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!
Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Planning & Introduction
- Part 2 – Park Hyatt, Chicago
- Part 3 – One Day in Chicago
- Part 4 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Part 5 – Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London
- Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg
- Part 7 – Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg
- Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg
- Part 9 – Eating in Strasbourg
- Part 10 – Park Hyatt, Zurich
- Part 11 – 10 Hours in Zurich
- Part 12 – Hotel Eremo Gaudio in Varenna, Italy
- Part 13 – What to do in Varenna, Italy
- Part 14 – Eating in Varenna, Italy
- Part 15 – Park Hyatt, Milan
- Part 16 – What Did We Do in Milan
- Part 17 – Eating in Milan
- Part 18 – Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
- Part 19 – Around the Hilton Molino Stucky & Free Shuttle Boat Details
- Part 20 – What we did in Venice
- Part 21 – Eating in Venice
- Part 22 – Waldorf-Astoria, Rome Cavalieri
- Part 23 – Eating in Rome, Part 1
- Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!
- Part 25 – Rome Cavalieri Imperial Floor
- Part 26 – Activities in Rome
- Part 27 – Activities in Rome – Where to Go, What to See, How to Save Time
- Part 28 – Virgin Atlantic Flight from Europe to US
- Part 29 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Daraius booked a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flight to London from Chicago for 100,000 Hawaiian Air miles and ~$298 in taxes and fees. Upper Class is the snobbish name by which Virgin Atlantic refers to their business class seats. Well, we just opened a few credit cards and got to be “Upper Class!”
We earned the Hawaiian Air miles from the Hawaiian Air credit cards when they were issued by Bank of America. Unfortunately, this redemption now costs 125,000 Hawaiian Air miles for a round-trip from the US East Coast to London!
It was my first time on Virgin Atlantic so I was pretty excited!
The seats were comfortable but a little small.
The Upper Class Suites are kidney bean shaped and very close together.
Still, I was excited for the flight!
It was their older seats and not the new version, which we got to try out on the way back.
I liked the built in footstool that doubled as a chair where Daraius could sit & eat together with me.
We were given pajamas but no slippers, and the amenity kits were OK. They came with socks, an eye mask, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a mint, earplugs, and a (broken) pen.
We checked out the bar and took a few pictures. A bar in the plane sure sounds great when you read the ads in the magazines!
It was underwhelming though. No one hung out by the bar, so the staff used it as an extended prep area for the meals and beverages.
There was a small selection of alcohol…
…and a variety of sweet and salty snacks. We liked trying out the different Brit chips and chocolates.
We had dinner on the flight and it took a long time to serve. Here’s the menu.
We were able to sit together which was nice. I felt bad that Daraius had to sit on my footstool, though!
Daraius liked the airplane themed salt and pepper shakers. The cabin lighting switched to blue during the meal service, so excuse the blue-tinged pictures below!
For starters, I had asparagus soup.
Daraius had an heirloom tomato salad with garlic vinaigrette dressing and mozzarella.
For our main course, I had the spinach and ricotta-filled ravioli.
While Daraius had free-range chicken with baby turnips and roast potatoes.
I liked my soup and pasta a lot.
For dessert, we had a chocolate lava cake and vanilla bean cheesecake with strawberry sauce. I preferred the lava cake to the cheesecake.
We also had an assortment of cheeses that included smoked Cheddar, Danish blue, and Gouda.
Daraius and I liked the cheddar cheese the best. The food was better than the food on most US airline flights.
After dinner, I checked out the in-flight entertainment. The planes have old TVs with terrible picture quality, but the screens were about the size of an iPad.
The TVs swiveled out in front of you.
There was a handheld remote control stowed in the seat cabin.
The flight crew handed out tablets which have about a dozen movies loaded onto them.
There are no TV shows or games to play on the tablet, but the screen resolution was much, much better. I also liked that you could start and stop movies whenever you wanted to.
I decided to take a nap since it was getting late, and Daraius and I had a long travel day ahead of us. I made my bed and went to sleep. Daraius was asleep before my bed was made.
The bed was a lie flat bed, and I had 2 pillows and a comfortable duvet.
I slept for a couple of hours and then it was time to start our descent for the landing. I had an “express” breakfast that consisted of a bottle of mixed berry smoothie. There were also energy bars and fruit but I was still full from dinner!
Daraius preferred sleeping and skipped breakfast.
In addition to the to-go breakfast items, we could choose a selection of cereal or a bacon butty (a bacon roll with ketchup or brown sauce).
We got off the plane and quickly walked to customs. We got in the Fast Break line and were through the line in about 10 minutes!
Virgin Atlantic business class was a nice experience, but it didn’t live up to the hype. But it sure was nice to pay 100,000 Hawaiian Air miles instead of the ~$4,000 retail price for the ticket!