I took an $8,000 business-class flight with Virgin Atlantic. It was worth my airline points, but I wouldn't pay cash for it.

On the left, a woman wearing headphones on a plane. On the right, a business-class seat on a plane with a white pillow, a can of water, and a welcome booklet.
I took a business-class flight from London to New York City.Kara Panzer
  • I spent 12 hours flying from London to New York in Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class.

  • When bad weather added an extra four hours to the journey, I was really grateful for my comfy seat.

  • I would definitely book a business-class trip with points again, but I probably wouldn't pay cash.

When my family decided to meet in the UK for a vacation, I used the opportunity to explore my options for redeeming my Chase Sapphire credit-card points.

I decided to splurge for a business-class ticket for the return flight so that I had something fun to look forward to at the end of my trip.

After scouring some mileage blogs for the best options, I settled on Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class, which is a transfer partner for Chase. Booking about four months ahead of my trip, I ultimately spent 47,500 points from my Chase account plus $781.50 in cash.

Since these tickets retail at $8,000 for a one-way seat, I felt as though I had gotten a good deal. Typically, an economy seat from London to New York can be found for under $500.

However, I had a great travel experience from start to finish, which justified the extra cost. Here's how my trip went:

The entire airport experience is better when flying business class.

A woman standing in front of the airport with rolling luggage.
I flew back to New York from London's Heathrow Airport.Kara Panzer

Heathrow offered an expedited security line for business-class travelers flying Delta and Virgin Atlantic. Luckily, the attendant offered to let my sister, who was on a different flight to Denver, come through with me as my guest.

There was almost no one in the expedited security lines, but we were briefly slowed down because this airport still requires travelers to separate toiletries into clear plastic bags and remove laptops for scanning.

After making it through security, we headed straight to the Virgin Atlantic lounge.

On the left, two women sitting in an airport lounge. On the right, a breakfast spread with toast, jelly, oatmeal, fruit, and orange juice.
Once in the lounge, my sister and I enjoyed the continental breakfast buffet.Kara Panzer

After getting through security, my sister and I rode an elevator with a plush leather bench up to the Virgin Atlantic lounge.

The staff was super accommodating and said that because my sister was traveling on a partner airline, it was OK for her to come into the lounge with me. This made the experience so much more fun.

Although an electrical problem prevented the lounge from serving hot food during our visit, we picked up goodies at the continental breakfast buffet and grabbed some magazines from the newsstand.

After downing an orange juice, I had to rush for my flight, but my sister got more time to stay and relax before her departure.

My ticket included access to an exclusive lounge on the plane.

A small, in-flight lounge with a leather sofa and minibar
My business-class ticket allowed me access to the in-flight lounge.Kara Panzer

The jet bridge opened into a small lounge area on the plane called a "social space," which is reserved exclusively for Upper Class passengers.

The lounge included a spacious bench, a minibar, and a TV that displayed the flight path.

During the trip, the flight attendants kept a basket full of snacks in the lounge. Although I saw a couple of people using the lounge during the flight, most passengers seemed to prefer their seats.

I booked a window seat, but all of the options looked plush and comfortable.

A business-class seat with a white pillow, a can of water, and a welcome booklet.
I booked a window seat.Kara Panzer

The seats were arranged in a one-two-one configuration, with the middle seats offering dividers that could be raised for privacy. All seats also had privacy screens against the aisle that could either be closed or left open.

Waiting for me at my seat was a food and drink menu as well as a can of spring water.


I even got a goodie bag filled with toiletries.

A black bag with various toiletries and skin-care products.
The airline provided a bag full of toiletries and skin-care products.Kara Panzer

One flight attendant came around with a tray of sparkling wine and orange juice while another followed behind with goodie bags of toiletries.

One of the best parts of flying business class was not needing to fight for limited bin space. I packed a carry-on suitcase and two totes (after doing a bit of shopping in London) and had plenty of room to store my things.

About 30 minutes after takeoff, the three-course food service began.

Bread, butter, a quinoa and arugula salad, a glass of water, and salt and pepper shakers shaped like airplanes on a tray table.
I really enjoyed the tangy quinoa and arugula salad.Kara Panzer

Although I pre-ordered a vegan meal ahead of time, the flight attendants confirmed they always keep that option on hand, even though it isn't on the menu.

My first course included bread with vegan butter and a tangy quinoa and arugula salad.

For the entree, they brought out a vegetable curry over rice. The salt and pepper shakers in the shape of little airplanes were a nice touch.

For dessert, I got the vegan staple of sliced fruit. I also had a glass of rosé, and after exploring the entertainment options, watched "Bodies Bodies Bodies" while enjoying a Three Spirit mocktail.

After the movie, I settled in for a nap.

An airplane bed with white sheets and a white pillow.
I was able to fully recline my seat to create a bed.Kara Panzer

By the end of the movie, I was ready for a nap. I fully reclined my seat and made my bed using a bed roll, a light blanket, and a pillow. I also put on the pair of socks the airline provided.

Because the passenger in front of me kept their window open, my seat was pretty bright. The man behind me also started to snore.

Luckily, I had an eye mask and earplugs in my goodie bag, so none of this was a problem. I closed the door to my pod and slept like a baby for four hours.

Two hours before the scheduled landing, a flight attendant came by to offer another meal service.

A wrap with a sweet potato, chips, a mini scone, and a chocolate pastry on two white plates.
For my second meal, I enjoyed a vegan wrap.Kara Panzer

For the second meal service, I received a vegan wrap with a sweet potato, chips, a mini scone, and a chocolate pastry. It was a chaotic combo, but all very tasty.

To get back on New York time, I opted to drink an Americano instead of a cocktail. The flight attendants brought around hot towels and a dish with candy, which I could never turn down.

Flying in business class can't shield you from all inconveniences.

A rainy view from an airplane window.
We made a rainy pit stop in Boston.Kara Panzer

Because of bad weather at JFK, we had to temporarily reroute to Boston, adding an extra four hours to the long journey. I used the extra time to watch "The Banshees of Inisherin," which made me even more eager to get back home to my dog.

The flight attendants brought around some water, but the full-service luxury component of our trip was over.

Thanks to a combination of deplaning first and Global Entry membership, I made it out of the terminal in record time.

A crowded airport.
I made it through the chaotic terminal in record time.Kara Panzer

The best part of my flight was arriving home fully rested and ready to take my dog for a long walk.

I'm grateful I got the chance to enjoy such a fancy experience, but my sister and I have already booked tickets for our next trip together in economy. I'll have to build up some more points before I can splurge on a business-class ticket again, as I don't think this was worth its cost in cash.

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