LONDON - Yes, showers and outside viewing decks are now de rigueur but Delta-partner Virgin Atlantic wanted to create something different at its home base.
The space has been designed to create lots of different zones catering to different types of travelers from business to leisure and old to young. A play area for children, a stylish bar and a full spa are all part of the $18.6 million Clubhouse designed to be akin to a private members’ club. Thanks to Delta’s partial co-location from Heathrow Terminal 4 to Terminal 3, its premium customers can now enjoy full use of the Clubhouse, which is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., or until the last departure. What’s more, Delta One customers can now go from car to lounge in less than 10 minutes via the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing, leaving more time to enjoy the facilities.
We stepped inside to see exactly what’s on offer.
7 a.m.: Another day dawns. The coffee machines are switched on and the breakfast platters are laid out as the first customers make their way inside. The Library is always busy at this time as business passengers go through their emails and make last-minute calls before their flights. Small pods of seats create secluded areas where travelers can work and enjoy breakfast in privacy, and then it’s a last-minute dash to the gate for many as conference calls are cut short.
10 a.m.: Leisure travelers begin checking in keen to get their holidays off to relaxing starts. The Spa is particularly appealing as customers pop in for a manicure, massage or facial. Each customer is invited for one 15-minute complimentary treatment per Clubhouse visit: back massages and gentleman’s haircuts are the most popular. This is still a new experience for many Delta customers traveling to Atlanta, LA, New York, Boston or Seattle who previously had access to the SkyTeam lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 and they’re making full use of the extra perks as the team pampers 150 people per day. Flights to Minneapolis and Detroit continue to operate from Terminal 4.
1 p.m.: It’s lunchtime at the Clubhouse, and therefore the second peak for the chefs. While The Brasserie offers a la carte dining, other customers prefer the lighter options and sit at The Deli’s 23-foot long table. But whichever option they choose, there’s always room for Grab and Go – the old-fashioned candy station. While younger passengers will take their sweets to the Playground and devour them while watching a cartoon or playing a game, big kids head for the multiscreen area in the Den where they can battle over a game of pool. Every day, the Clubhouse serves up to 1,000 customers flying to destinations across the world, from L.A. to Hong Kong.
5 p.m.: With the workday coming to an end, business fliers check in for their return journeys to the U.S. The Cocktail Bar is busy fulfilling orders as customers relax over drinks and catch up on any missed emails. A key part of Delta’s partnership with Virgin Atlantic is the alignment of schedules, particularly on the Heathrow to New York-JFK route. Through this, the airlines can provide a competitive offering on this key business route with a total of eight daily nonstop flights. From Heathrow, there are departures throughout the day. From JFK, there are departures every 30 minutes during the early evening peak and then hourly until 10:30 p.m. to Heathrow. These services are then complemented by two daily nonstop flights between Heathrow and Newark, making trans-Atlantic travel quicker and more convenient.
7 p.m.: It might be the evening, a time when many of us might be unwinding for the day, but not here in the Clubhouse – it’s still buzzing with customers heading to Dubai or Johannesburg. With night drawing in, the Observation Deck is the perfect place to watch the runway operations, from where there are almost 1,300 daily flights across the two runways.
10 p.m.: As the day’s last flight prepares to depart, it’s time for the Clubhouse to close for the day. The bars are re-stocked and sauna and steam room switched off. The staff waves the last of the customers off for their flight to Hong Kong and head home before returning to do it all again tomorrow.