Wait. Fast Track security? I knew I'd be crashing the lounge, but I didn't know anything about Fast Track security! Up a dedicated elevator and down a short, empty hallway, I met a security agent sitting all alone, patiently waiting to check boarding passes. Just on the other side of the wall I could hear the pandemonium of normal Heathrow security. The guard smiled (!!) at my pass, then told me to walk just a few feet to the very own security screening area for Clubhouse guests and elite Virgin Atlantic flyers.
Sure enough, I walked right to the conveyor belt where a lonely, albeit cheerful, security agent was waiting. Total time from checkin to airside? About 3 minutes.
Through the doors and into the Clubhouse, I was determined to make the most of my time. First order of business: the cheeseburger and fries (chips) which turned out to be quite excellent. And what goes better with a cheeseburger than booze? I was both intimidated and titillated by the long cocktail list, but the "Virgin Redhead" seemed the way to go. It's a drink consisting of bubbly, berry liqueurs, Bombay Sapphire, and fresh raspberries. It also happens to be the signature cocktail, a perfect starter for a lounge newbie like me, trying to get his bearings.
After lunch I walked over to "The Deli" and its various meats hanging from the ceiling, fresh baked bread tucked away in cubbies. All of this deliciousness was up for grabs, so I had a little sampling of everything within arms reach. Naturally it was then time for dessert. I opted for the ice cream but the waiter noted that I was having trouble deciding on a flavor. What arrived was a surprise variety of each, plus the lemon panna cotta. It was a good as any fine restaurant, but I'd rate it higher for the fact that this is airside at one of the busiest airports in the world.
Time to walk it off. I took a stroll through the rest of the Clubhouse. playing it cool like I'd been here a million times before. This basically meant struggling to keep my jaw off the floor. Free haircuts at the Bumble & bumble Salon, massages and other wellness treatments at Cowshed Spa, toilet stalls that could double as NYC apartments, a cinema, a playground for kids, a gallery with retro chairs hanging from the ceiling, a cocktail bar fully stocked and staffed, a pool table, vintage Pac-Man consoles, a Sky Vodka Lounge, a library with actual books that people want to read, a mini recording studio (yes, really), and a brasserie where I spied Dita Von Teese keeping to herself with a magazine and drink.
Oh, and there's also free Wifi, but I dare you to have enough time to actually use it.
Just like moviegoers said about "Avatar" after seeing it for the first time, Heathrow's Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is so beautiful that it's hard to go back to the real world once you've experienced it. I'm already planning my next visit, splurging for Upper Class.
The only way I could possibly summarize the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow is to say that it's the real life version of Willy Wonka's factory.
Let's play Pac-Man!
Disclosure: Andy Miles bought his own Premium Economy flights on Virgin Atlantic, but VS green-lighted him for lounge access. All excitement, opinions and photos are completely Andy's own.
[Photos: Andy Miles/Jaunted]