Virgin Atlantic: Family flying airline review

Our Globetrotters are reviewing 30 of the world’s leading international airlines for their family-friendliness.  Our reviews cover the airline’s policies and service offerings that the average family will deal with when flying standard economy class. For more details on the Globetrotters reviews and ratings referenced, please see the lead article.

Family Flying Airline Review Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic (not to be confused with Virgin Australia)operates predominantly transatlantic routes from the UK, but they also have African and Asian long-haul destinations. A fun and vibrant airline in keeping with the “Virgin” brand, let’s see how the airline stacks up for your average family travellers.

Code: VS

Base: United Kingdom

Alliances: With individual airlines

Skytrax Rating 2018: 29

JACDEC Safety Rating 2019: 8

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Pregnant flyers on Virgin Atlantic

For uncomplicated pregnancies, you can fly without issue up to the 28th week.  Between 28 weeks and 36 weeks for a single pregnancy, you will need to travel with a letter from your doctor. Beyond 36 weeks you can only fly under mitigating circumstances.

For a multiples pregnancy, a doctors certificate is required from the 28th week to the 32nd week and no flying is permitted after the 32nd-week.


Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Flying Pregnant


Newborns on Virgin Atlantic

The only restriction is that the baby must be healthy and at least 48 hours old. 

There are many reasons though that you should delay flying after a birth, however, we talk more about flying with newborns here

Flying on Virgin Atlantic with Infants (under 2 years)

Infants can be booked on an infants ticket, sitting on a parents lap until 2 years of age.  An adult can travel with a maximum of two infants – though one must be in an approved car seat with their own child’s ticket.

You are allowed a pushchair and a car seat in addition to your usual baggage allowance (infants and children)

If you need to bring bottles on with you, here is the UK guidance for onboard liquids. Staff are permitted to help warm baby bottles.


Related Reading: Guide to lightweight strollers (that can come on the plane with you!) 


Infant cots on board Virgin Atlantic

Dimensions vary by route as follows:

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Economy / Premium Economy Boeing 747-400 Aircraft

  • 35cm x 21cm x 74cm. Max weight 9kg, max length 74cm

Economy / Premium Economy Boeing 797-9 & Airbus A330 Aircraft

  • 28.6cm x 72.7cm.  Max weight 11kg, max length 76cm

Upper-Class Cot 787-9 and Airbus A330 Aircraft

  • 35cm x 24cm x76cm. Max weight 11kg, max length 75cm

Note there are no in-flight cots in the Upper-Class cabin on B747-400 aircraft operating to or from Gatwick or Manchester.


Related reading: Our complete guide to aeroplane baby bassinets


Children on Virgin Atlantic (2-11 years)

Kids Meals on Virgin Atlantic

Children’s meals are NOT automatically booked, you will need to reserve these at least 24 hours in advance.  They can only be ordered for children who have their own seat, not lap infants. 

They also offer pureed and bottled food for infants.  There’s no in-between option so you may want to bring your own food for your older lap infants or share an adult plate (NB top tip is to order a kids meal to your adult seat – these are always served first.  When the normal meal service comes around just ask for an extra adult tray for you.)

Use of sleep devices and infant seats on Virgin Atlantic

Only a designated list of safety harnesses and infant seat belts (such as the CARES harness) may be used as an additional aide on Virgin Atlantic planes. 

You cannot use the likes of a Bed Box or Plane Pal as they are not on their expressed list of devices. 


Learn more about which airlines do and don’t allow sleep device products on board here.


Onboard entertainment for kids

Wifi is available at a charge from most of their fleet. Electronics can also be used on board in safe flight mode and all aircraft now have USB sockets in economy class. 

What extras do you get in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy?

Considering an upgrade? Virgin Atlantics Premium Economy allows you extra baggage and more leg room with a comfier seat.  You also get a nicer amenities kit and proper table cloth service. 

Worth it with kids?  The extra room to move is always appreciated and little extra service touches, well worth considering on those longer flights if price permits. 

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Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic 

Upper Class is Virgin’s terminology for business class.  If you are flying from Heathrow, you get your own private entrance to the airport and direct lounge access followed by direct lounge boarding.  In other airports, the service may not be as luxurious but certainly, any extras are a huge plus when flying with kids.


Related Reading: How to fly business class with kids


Unaccompanied Minors on Virgin Atlantic

Children between 5 and 11 years are classified as unaccompanied minors if travelling alone and must pay the price of an adult ticket.  No under 5’s allowed. 

Children 12 to 18 may choose whether to use this service. 

You cannot book the unaccompanied minor services online, this must be done with their reservations team and the journey must not involve connecting flights with anyone other than Virgin Atlantic. 

If you are travelling in Upper Class and children in a different cabin, you can visit them, but they cannot visit you during the flight. They are considered unaccompanied if under 12 and in a different cabin. 

Note under 18’s travelling to the UAE unaccompanied will need parental consent. 


Baggage Allowances on Virgin Atlantic

Baggage allowances vary according to whether you are Economy, Premium Economy or Upper Class.

Economy and Premium Economy allow all seat holders one piece of hand luggage up to 10kg on all flights.  Upper Class can have up to 2 pieces not exceeding 16kgs combines.  

Additionally, infants on laps can have a baby bag not exceeding 6kg on board, and a checked item of 23kgs (plus pushchair and car seat). 

For checked luggage allowance on Virgin Atlantic:

  • Economy Classic and Economy Delight tickets include one checked bag of 23 kgs.
  • Economy Premium includes 2 checked items up to 23kgs.
  • Upper Class is allowed up to 3 pieces each weighing 32kgs.

Economy Light bookings don’t include any checked baggage but this can be additionally purchased.


Virgin Atlantic Frequent Flyer Programs

The Virgin Atlantic rewards program is called Flying Club.  Points can be earned and spent with partners airlines (more below), partner hotels & transport, attached to credit cards, Tesco Clubcard, Virgin Trains as well as earned on Virgin Atlantic flights. 

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Children can be separately registered and airline miles can be transferred to family members, but at cost.  Only top-tier Virgin Gold members can pool points in a household account.

Whilst not a member of one of the large alliance programs, they do have codeshare partnerships with Air China, Air New Zealand, Delta, Flybe, Jet Airways, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia and AeroMexico.   Booking with these partner airlines though cannot be done online. 


Globetrotters View of Virgin Atlantic 

Our personal experience of Virgin Atlantic was pre-kids and with one lap infant LGW to ORL. We never had an issue with the service we received, nor anything that predominantly stuck out.  Flight crews are friendly and hospitable. 

It would be good to see better points pooling for families – our main criticism of most frequent flyer programs!

So let’s hear it, what has been your experience flying with Virgin Atlantic?  Did they go that extra step out of the way for you? Is there any travelling or booking advice you could give to other families?

See how to submit your own airline review here or click over and see our full series

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Virgin Atlantic Family Flying Airline Review


Disclaimer: The information provided on this page should be used as a guide only.  It has been gathered from public sources and correct at the time of going to print (February 2019). Please consult the airline’s own website before booking any family travel with this airline. This review is not an endorsement of Virgin Atlantics services and I am in no way affiliated with the airline. For further information on airline ratings used and airline alliances, please consult my introductory article here.

© Our Globetrotters

 

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