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Pelotons and planespotting: Inside the reopening of Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow Terminal 3 and refreshed Clubhouse

July 15, 2021
6 min read
Pelotons and planespotting: Inside the reopening of Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow Terminal 3 and refreshed Clubhouse
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After 450 long days of closure, London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 threw its doors open to the public once again on Thursday morning. On its first day back in its original home after a stint in Terminal 2, Virgin Atlantic had 11 passenger flights and eight cargo flights depart on Thursday from Terminal 3.

Not only was the terminal open again and passengers finally started to fill the departure halls, but there was also the return of what was already one of the best business-class lounges in the world: the Virgin Clubhouse.

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The Clubhouse provides access to Upper Class passengers and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members, amongst others, and is back with some further exciting improvements. TPG’s Liam Spencer and I were invited along on Thursday to visit Virgin’s revamped flagship lounge.

Related: A review of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Suite on the A350 from London to New York

We arrived via the Virgin Upper Class Wing, which includes a private check-in area with its own dropoff and entrance. After ogling at the giant plane models, we were whisked through security and into the main departure hall of Terminal 3.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

Duty-free and other shops were all open again, but with few flights departing today, the usual bustle of this terminal wasn’t quite back.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

It’s a short walk through the terminal to the area that houses a plethora of lounges, including TPG staff favorites the Qantas and Cathay Pacific lounges. The Virgin Clubhouse does hold a special allure, however.

We were warmly welcomed by the staff and right away, it was exciting to see real passengers enjoying the Clubhouse. Adding to the buzz, there was a crew present shooting for the popular ITV show “Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport.” Keep an eye on future episodes to perhaps catch a glimpse of one of our team!

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Liam with the “Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport” crew (Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

The Clubhouse has returned with a full food and beverage offering, and the deli bar is back. However, all ordering is via mobile by scanning a QR code placed on each table. In the usual cheeky Virgin Atlantic style, the QR codes tempt passengers with the instruction “Scan for Champagne.”

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

Other improvements to the Clubhouse include some swanky new furniture like the plush pink bar stools, an area for selfies that will rotate in theme and style and some fantastic digital imagery from Richard Branson’s space flight on the walls of the mezzanine by the pool table. My personal favorite spot in the lounge — the roof terrace with its fantastic views — is also back open.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

There are still some further improvements to come. The Spa is not back quite yet and Virgin says it is finalizing a pop-up zone with a snooze area and other treats.

The real showstopper though is the addition of three Peloton bikes, all positioned with a perfect view over the tarmac. Clubhouse guests can now get their sweat on, watching Virgin Atlantic planes arrive and depart at the Terminal 3 gates, as well as watch over the runway and the Heathrow control tower.

The staff said that five passengers had used the Peloton bikes Thursday morning and later boarded the first flight out to JFK. Virgin said it is looking into providing clothing for those who fancy a last-minute workout and confirmed that the showers are already open.

The addition of the Peloton bikes is a fantastic step forward for the lounge, especially for passengers that might be transiting through Heathrow with a long layover. Having this sort of facility has put Virgin Atlantic ahead of the game in London and will hopefully encourage other airlines to further improve their airport offerings.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

Virgin is hopeful that the opening up of transatlantic travel will secure its future. The Clubhouse would certainly see an influx of passengers if a travel corridor was to open up between the U.S. and the U.K.

Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Customer and Operating Officer Corneel Koster told TPG that the industry was frustrated by the flip-flopping of the U.K. government’s travel policies. He said with aviation making up 4.5% of GDP, it’s essential to rebuilding the economy.

Virgin is asking the government to add further countries to the green list, imploring the United States to allow Brits in and urging the government to fully open up travel for vaccinated customers traveling on low-risk routes to low-risk countries.

Overall, however, it’s a great step back to normality for Virgin Atlantic to return to its home in Heathrow Terminal 3. The airline utilized the downtime during the pandemic to refresh its already-great Clubhouse, which will offer travelers a top-notch flying experience.

Featured image by The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) (Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023