Flying Across the Pond from Sin City to Basel, Switzerland On Virgin Atlantic & KLM

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Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Review

My mom and I flew from Las Vegas to Basel this past summer, and although we flew Economy, the experience was perfectly fine. I’d have no problem doing it again to be honest. Let’s dive into this Virgin Atlantic 787 economy review.

Las Vegas to Basel, Switzerland Booking Details

I booked these flights in March of 2022 using Virgin Atlantic miles. I decided to go this route because there was a 30% transfer bonus going on when you transfer Membership Rewards points. We would have preferred to fly in business class but there was not any availability. Because of that I booked us on KLM flying from Las Vegas (LAS) to Basel (BSL) via Amsterdam (AMS). The total was 80,000 Flying Club miles, or 56,000 Membership Rewards points round trip for my mom and me. There were also about $300 in fuel surcharges per person, which was very steep, but still cheaper than a cash ticket. I booked this flight as a one-way ticket Basel, and then another one-way ticket from Amsterdam to Las Vegas, as we wanted to arrive and leave from two separate cities.

Cash prices, however, were higher than I’ve ever seen before. The cheapest flight I could find was $800 to Lisbon, Portugal from Las Vegas, but that was in basic economy, so I didn’t buy it. But, our flight was originally going for $1,700 as a multi-city ticket, and then closer to booking the price rose to almost $4,000 round trip. The price jump was likely due to the issues at Amsterdam Airport. This means that at the lowest point, we used our points at a little over 2 cents per point, and at the highest, we got a value of 4 cents per point. These are great values, and above what Miles to Memories values Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points.

Why Basel?

Basel might sound like a random city to fly into in Europe, and while this is sort of true, there was one reason I chose Basel: COVID restrictions. Basel Airport is the only airport in the world to be directly connected to two countries, which are France and Switzerland. I did this strategically so we could basically access whichever country has less strict restrictions. In our case, we chose Switzerland because there were no restrictions and because of this, our documents were not checked at all for the entirety of our journey. We did, however, get an antigen test just in case we would possibly need it on our trip.

Because Switzerland and France are part of the Schengen Zone, even though we would be staying in a hotel on the French side, we could “cross back” into France from Switzerland.

Before Departure

Initially, our flight was supposed to leave Sunday, June 12, but, on the morning of Saturday, June 11, we got an email that our flight had been canceled. We had been moved to a flight the following day which meant we had to move around our hotels because of this. For the first hotel we stayed at, which was the Ibis Styles Basel Mulhouse Airport hotel, the price went up by $100 when we rebooked, which was kind of annoying. For our second hotel, which was the Hilton Evian Les-Baines, I called Hilton, and they simply removed the first night we were there and kept the second and third nights after getting approved by the front desk to do so. I could not have been happier with this outcome, and I also think this shows why it is so important to book refundable hotels.

The flight cancellation ended up working out a bit in our favor though. Since we were booked on a European airline, this makes me eligible to file for a EU261 claim since they canceled our flight within 2 weeks of departure. This is currently ongoing, but when it is all (hopefully) finalized, my mom and I should receive 600 euros or 631.44 US Dollars. While it is unfortunate we had one less day in Europe, we should be getting almost $1,300, which makes it worth it!

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Review – Check-In

Since they changed our flight very last minute on us, there were only paid seats that were going for $100 each. I figured it was worth it for us to take the gamble and see what we get. We got 46 D and F, which were in the middle. They’re definitely not the best, but we could have had worse. I was just glad that we were sitting together.

The inbound flight from London was delayed, so this meant our flight was going to be delayed. We showed up about 2 and 1/2 hours before departure to Terminal 3 at Las Vegas Airport, which is where Virgin Atlantic serves.

Virgin Atlantic participates in TSA PreCheck, and thanks to the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card and Amex Platinum Card, we got PreCheck for free. The lines for general security were long, but the PreCheck line was not. It took us less than 5 minutes, and we were now in the airside area of E Gates at LAS. The airport was bustling, so we headed to The Club at LAS.

The Club at LAS

While the Club at LAS at D Gates is usually quite crowded, as is the Centurion Lounge. The Club at LAS in E Gates is usually much quieter for most of the day though. This is because it is at the end of the E Gates, where only international flights leave from. The lounge was very busy while we were there, but that was because it is used as a contract lounge for the following airlines:

  • KLM
  • Aeromexico
  • Edelweiss Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Condor
The food on offer was:
  • Chicken Salad Sandwiches
  • Chicken Enchilada Soup
  • Tomato Basil Bisque
  • Pretzels
  • Peanuts
  • M&M’s
  • Apples & Oranges
  • Brownies

For drinks, there was spa water with lemons, a coffee/hot chocolate machine, and a tea machine/kettle. You could also order alcoholic drinks from the bar, but that was it.

The Wi-Fi was the same network as the terminal.  The lounge was busy, so after about 20 minutes, we left and found an empty gate area. Terminal 3 is one of the nicer US airport terminals, so I preferred the gate area over the lounge.

After taking a walk over to D Gates, I went to our departure gate, D3, and they were starting boarding in a couple of minutes. I wanted to see if there were any better seats. They told me the flight was sold out. It looked like that on the seat map, but I figured I should check.

Virgin Atlantic Flight from Vegas to London

Flight details:
  • Flight number: VS156
  • Flight time: 9 hours, 25 minutes
  • Departure: 7:35 PM
  • Arrival: 1:35 PM
  • Tail number: G-VAHH
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Economy on Virgin Atlantic 787’s is arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration. I’d recommend avoiding the middle row, because if you are not in a middle seat, then you are going to be in an aisle seat, which means you are going to be woken up by passengers and flight attendants going down the aisle. I found the legroom to be about average, at 31 inches.

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Review – Amenities, IFE, and Food

The IFE on Virgin Atlantic is great, and definitely one of the better ones out there. I’ve learned that it’s not a great idea to rely on airlines for entertainment, as the IFE system may be broken, or the content might be extremely limited.

We took off about an hour and a half late, and after a very quick approach, we were in the air.

About 30 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants started inflight service. I got the fajitas, and they were very delicious, and definitely one of the better inflight meals I have had.

For the next 6 hours, the flight attendants just stayed in the galley. But, I was getting very thirsty, and when I asked for some orange juice, they happily got me some.

There was also Wi-Fi for $5.99 for an hour, or $22 for the whole flight.

Breakfast was served about an hour before landing, and I declined it, though my mom got it. She said it was pretty average, as expected.

Overall, I think the flight went great. Although it was a bit delayed, we didn’t have a tight connection in London, so I was happier to spend it at home rather than at the airport. Plus, the IFE and meals were some of the better ones I have had and the legroom was fine for me even while being taller.

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Review – Transit in London

Our transfer at London Heathrow went surprisingly well. We were here in mid-June, which meant that not everyone was out of school. Because of this, the lines for security were short and we were in the terminal within minutes of leaving the aircraft. After that, we were off to the Amex Centurion Lounge. Had we not had lounge access, we would have had to wait in the central terminal area shown in the second photo. This is because gates are not available until about 45 minutes to an hour on the departures board.

Flight to Amsterdam

Our flight to Amsterdam was relatively uneventful, as expected. We left right on time for our one-hour flight. The legroom was also above average for a short flight like this, at 31 inches. The seating for both business and economy is arranged in a 2-2 configuration. The only difference is that Business class passengers get a meal, while economy passengers get a small snack. For this flight, we each got a bag of potato chips, and we chose water. But, you can also order other drinks like Coffee, Diet Coke, Tea, etc. This was a 45-minute flight, so before we knew it we landed in Schiphol.

Amsterdam Schiphol Transfer

We also landed about 20 minutes early, which was great for (our relatively tight) 55-minute connection. Thanks to the early arrival, we ended up having an hour and 15 minutes instead. We have done a tight connection before in Amsterdam, so I wasn’t too worried. We also didn’t have to go through security, since all flights arriving from the US, EU, and the UK don’t have to clear security. We still had to clear immigration though since we were entering the Schengen Zone. This went fast, and the line took 5 minutes to get through. We stopped at a bookstore to get a drink and some chips, but skipped the lounge and went straight to our gate.

Flight to Basel

Just like our flight to Amsterdam, it left right on time and was also quite uneventful. It was only about an hour flight, so it went by fast. Even though the flight was short we were given a cheese sandwich along with a beverage of our choice. US Airlines, can you please give something better than Biscoff cookies? The flight attendants also couldn’t have been friendlier. The plane was arranged in a 2-2 configuration.

Arrival in Basel

We had a very picturesque approach, and soon enough, we landed in Basel. This was a KLM Cityhopper aircraft, which is an Embraer 190. Because of this, we used airstairs to deplane. The weather was beautiful, and although it was 9 o’clock at night, the sun was still setting. After a 3-minute walk, we walked through to baggage claim.

As I mentioned earlier, we landed at Basel Airport, and we could “choose” between France and Switzerland. We deplaned into France, though we could have taken an elevator to enter Switzerland. Pretty cool! Our airport hotel (the Ibis Styles Bâle-Mulhouse Aéroport) was in France, so we stayed on the French side.

Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Review – Final Thoughts

Overall, our journey went great. Some of our flights arrived early, and the flight attendants were friendly. The food was better than expected for economy, and this was an incredible use of miles. The icing on the cake was the EU261, which will cover a huge chunk of our trip’s expenses.

What are your thoughts on Virgin Atlantic and KLM? Would you fly them in Economy? Let me know in the comments below!

John Ryanhttp://www.milestomemories.com/author/johnryan
John is fifteen years old and is addicted to the world of points and miles. He has been to forty-nine states, fourteen countries, and has flown 70,000 miles in 2021, which is the equivalent of flying from Vegas to Europe 14 times. He is also a Las Vegas fanatic and he has lived there his entire life. He loves figuring out ways for him and his parents to travel cheaper, even while he is in school. His goal is to go to all fifty states by age 16 and to hopefully be the youngest male to visit every country.

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4 COMMENTS

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4 COMMENTS

  1. VS upper class is great for the 1990s but is terrible for anything remotely uptodate
    We flew IAD-LHR and back on VS and the only good thing about it was the arrivals lounge – which itself was so-so in LHR terminal

    • Yeah, the Premium Economy and Economy products are quite solid, but the herringbone seats make them lag behind their competitors for sure. Hopefully, some of their newer aircraft will get retrofitted in the coming years. Thanks for reading!

  2. Nice reivew, but too bad about the cancellation. I dread getting emails these days about my upcoming flights. I’ve blown Virgin in Upper Class (NYC-LON-NYC) and can’t complain. The meals aren’t the best, but the seat is nice. I also really like KLM for economy. I’ve had really great food and was happy with amount of episodes they provided for some show.

    • Me too! But, sometimes it does work out with the schedule changes, as you can buy the cheapest flight that is undesirable and change into a more expensive one.

      Yeah KLM is great as well, and they are definitely my two favorite Transatlantic economy products. Thanks for reading!

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