Your guide to the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing at Heathrow Terminal 3
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The nearest that any London airport has to Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt (review here) is Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Wing.
It’s not really a fair comparison, of course. Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal is a totally separate building, allowing you to check in, eat, drink, clear security and be driven (yes, driven) to the steps of your aircraft without having to dirty your feet in the main terminal building.
The Upper Class Wing isn’t like that, but it is still quite cool. There is a page dedicated to it on the Virgin Atlantic website which you can find here.
Whilst I’ve used it a few times for Virgin Atlantic press events, last weekend was the first time that I had ever gone through it on a personal flight. I thought it was worth a quick primer on how it works.
Getting to Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Wing
The key thing you need to know, if flying Upper Class or Delta One from Heathrow Terminal 3, is that the entrance is totally separate from the main Terminal 3 drop-off area.
(Important: you CANNOT use the Upper Class Wing if you have Virgin Flying Club Gold status or equivalent and are flying in Premium or Economy. You must have an Upper Class or Delta One ticket.)
It opens at 5am and closes at 9.30pm. If you are arriving outside these hours, you need to use the main terminal entrance.
If you are arriving by Uber, the app has ‘Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing’ as a known drop-off point. If you are taking a black cab, make sure the driver knows exactly where to drop you.
Note that it is not possible to use the Upper Class Wing check-in if arriving on public transport. The only way in is by car. You can use the Upper Class Wing security line by taking a lift in Zone A of the main terminal.
As you head towards Terminal 3 in your taxi or Uber, you are looking out for this sign:
As you turn towards the Upper Class Wing, you are met by a barrier and an intercom.
This is farcical, frankly. The only person who can speak into it is the driver, because of how it is positioned, but whoever answers it insists on speaking to the flyer. The flyer will never be the driver. I tried shouting from the passenger seat (at least I wasn’t in the back) but I couldn’t be heard. I tried to get the taxi driver to speak on my behalf but the person couldn’t understand anything.
‘He’s flying to Boston’. ‘Atlanta? I can’t see a Burgess flying to Atlanta’. ‘No, Boston’. ‘Is he sure he’s flying Virgin Atlantic to Atlanta?’
In the end the person on the intercom gave up and lifted the barrier anyway.
You then head down this dodgy looking bit of road:
…. until you finally appear in something suitably classy:
There are two things to note here. You cannot park your car anywhere – it is strictly a drop-off area. Because of the turning circle, it cannot accept stretched cars or oversized vehicles.
You enter here. Someone should be waiting at the door to relieve you of your luggage:
Inside it is a fairly sparse space. To your right you have some toilets and some seating, in case the two check-in desks are occupied:
…. and next to that, a model aircraft and a fridge containing soft drinks – you can see it in the top photograph above, which is a PR image. I didn’t photograph the check-in desks to the left as they were being used.
Once you’ve dropped your bags, if you have any, you walk down this corridor:
…. and turn left at the end. You are immediately at a security belt. Here is a PR shot from the Virgin Atlantic website:
At this point, you realise that the Upper Class Wing is, in some ways, a big trick. The security lane is part of the main bank of security lanes inside Terminal 3, albeit dedicated to Upper Class Wing users. You have been inside the main terminal building all the time.
Once you have cleared security – and it was exceptionally fast on Saturday, with only one person ahead of us – you exit in the same place as everyone else coming into Terminal 3, trapped in the World Duty Free maze. It is a long walk to the Clubhouse lounge (review) but no worse than it is for people checking in via the main terminal.
How does the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing in Terminal 3 compare to the British Airways First Wing in Terminal 5?
Whilst these two ‘exclusive’ areas seem similar, in reality they operate in different ways.
Who can use it?
- Virgin UCW – only ticketed Upper Class or Delta One passengers, there is no access via frequent flyer status
- BA FW – Executive Club Gold members or equivalents or First Class passengers
Do you have a dedicated drop-off area and someone to carry your luggage?
- Virgin UCW – yes
- BA FW – no
Do you avoid the main terminal?
- Virgin UCW – yes, until you exit security, then you join the throng on your way to the Clubhouse lounge
- BA FW – you need to enter Terminal 5 to access the First Wing but once in it, you have a private channel all the way to the Galleries First lounge
Can you use it if arriving by public transport?
- Virgin UCW – no, only car drop off is allowed, but you can use the private security channel by taking the lift in Zone A of Terminal 3 to the Upper Class Wing
- BA FW – yes
You can find out more about the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing on its website here.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (June 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard
A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth 60,000 Virgin Points) – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points.
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)