Virgin opens upper class wing at Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic is introducing the world’s fastest airport check-in with the launch of its new Upper Class Wing at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3. The new Wing, which opens on 2 November, will enable Virgin Atlantic’s business passengers to speed through the terminal quicker than ever before, moving from limo to lounge in under 10 minutes.

For the first time, passengers will benefit from a dedicated security channel, for use exclusively by Virgin Atlantic customers. After passing through this unique fast-track, they will emerge in the heart of the terminal building and only a short walk from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

Upper Class passengers and Flying Club Gold members making their own way to the airport can check-in at the Upper Class Check-In, in Zone A of the main terminal, before taking a priority lift straight to the dedicated security channel.

The Upper Class Wing is part of BAA’s £1 billion investment plan for Terminal 3 over the next ten years.  Later this year will see the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s brand new Check-In area for Premium Economy and Economy passengers, in Zone A. It will be wider, brighter and more spacious, enabling passengers to check-in at kiosks in a fast, efficient and stress-free way. Virgin Atlantic expects 80% of its passengers at Heathrow to be using Online or Kiosk Check-In by the end of 2008.  Other improvements at Terminal 3 being undertaken by BAA include the multi-million pound forecourt redevelopment that will open by the end of the year.

The new development, which is opening well in advance of the giant T5, has been designed by architects Foster + Partners in conjunction with Virgin Atlantic’s in-house design team.

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The Upper Class Wing is like no other business or first-class check-in. Upper Class passengers, who will already have supplied check-in details to their driver, will be taken in their limos up a curved ramp onto a 22-metre wide arrival area.

After being welcomed by a Virgin Atlantic host, check-in formalities will be completed before passengers walk through a new hotel-style lobby area and into the dedicated security channel.

From there, they are moments away from the haven of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, recently voted the world’s best business class lounge. Virgin Atlantic was awarded Best Business Class product at the Business Traveller Awards 2006 and 2007.

Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, commented:

“Our new Upper Class Wing will enable our business passengers to fly through check-in, whizz through security and lounge in the Clubhouse. At last, they can speed through Terminal 3 within minutes. It will be a fast, efficient and stress-free experience, which will save precious time at the airport.  It will be very quick and refreshing for our travellers, compared with other airlines.”

Mark Bullock, BAA’s Heathrow Managing Director, said:

“BAA has exciting plans for Terminal 3 and Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class Wing is a fantastic addition to Heathrow.”

Antoinette Nassopoulos, Partner, Foster + Partners commented:

“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work closely with
Virgin Atlantic to create the new Upper Class Wing at Heathrow.
With a dedicated entrance set above the principal forecourt of T3, the design marries efficiency and innovation with a sense of warmth and calm. The Virgin Upper Class Wing will allow business passengers to rediscover the lost glamour and thrill of air travel as well as setting a new standard for the industry. “

Virgin Atlantic currently operates 160 flights a week from Heathrow to a range of long-haul destinations worldwide.
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