Virgin Atlantic plane

One of the few great things about having a husband who travels extensively for business, is that such a husband can rack up a million billion frequent flier miles. Unfortunately the airlines are all busy moving the goalposts, so what used to get you an international upgrade, now won’t even get you a commuter hop from San Francisco to John Wayne Airport. Fortunately, a million billion frequent flier miles still buys something these days. Which is how I found myself flying Virgin “Upper Class” to England after years of hearing my friends in business rave about it. Having not been a person, when she was in business, who ever flew for business — and now being a person who buys drain rock and hay bales for business, this is the first time I’ve ever experienced it.

I suppose you might feel differently about it if you had to pay for it out of your own pocket. But when you glom on for free, well, it’s the only way to travel. Turns out, the fun begins before you even leave the departing airport.

Virgin Red Carpet Lounge San Francisco

You get ushered into a great futuristically decorated lounge. I felt like Judy Jetson!

Martini in Virgin Sky Lounge

Suddenly people are tripping over themselves to give you complimentary cocktails while you surf on your new iPad. (That would be Andy surfing on HIS new iPad.)

crab cakes at Virgin Atlantic lounge

Did I mention the crab cakes and the cheese plates?

Just then a very worried manager came over and asked to speak to me. Oops. Unmasked as an imposter! But no, he was wringing his hands because apparently the button on my seat that makes it automatically recline into a bed was broken. I would require the help of a flight attendant to get it organized. Apparently, in the otherwise well-run world of Upper Class travel, this can push passengers into full-blown air rage.

virgin vouchers

When I explained that having flight attendent assistance would be no imposition. They showered me with vouchers. Which I guess I can redeem for more booze.

What can I say about the actual flight? I guess I’ll have to say it because I sensed that usual Upper Class passengers don’t take pictures of all the neat stuff Virgin brings you, like pajamas, down pillows, duvets, toiletry kits. When I started getting strange looks for photographing the little salt and pepper shakers shaped like The Little Prince’s airplane, I retreated into my pod to watch four or five movies back to back on my personal VCR.

Virgin Airlines pod

Don't even get me started on the Pods! (Meet George Jetson...)

I wish I could say that now I am a seasoned, blasé Upper Class traveler. But unfortunately, that sort of coolness eludes me. Especially since I couldn’t resist slipping the little airplane salt and pepper shakers into my backpack.

The main thing I still need to master is the ability to travel with only one bag. It’s not that I travel with trunkloads of clothes. For this trip, I was an absolute minimalist — mainly because, on principle, I didn’t want to buy a bunch of clothes for England’s now frigid weather that I would never wear again (having no intention of going any place that cold again.) So I packed two knit dresses, one long sweater vest and a variety of leggings and stretch Ts that I could wear under everything in layers. And Ugg boots. And one pair of good shoes. In fact, the walking shoes and power walking clothes took up more room than anything (I’m determined to do the six mile figure eight loop around Hyde Park.)

my luggage

I still ended up with three pieces of luggage that explode upon opening.

Maybe that’s because I’m loaded down with electronics: Kindle, laptop, iPhone, camera, accessories. Probably without those, I might have flown with just a cloth Whole Foods bag.

Still, even with all my luggage, it was a great trip out. Although I missed my opportunity to tell Virgin, the one thing they could do to improve Upper Class. What about pods for Frequent Flying Terriers? Not that the doggies will probably miss not being able to come to England. They’re staying in Sonoma with John the Baptist who plans to stalk the grounds and finally bring down that elusive and destructive band of wild turkeys.

I would miss those little doggies more.

terrier decor at Knightsbridge Hotel

Except we just happened to book into London's only terrier themed hotel.

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