Have a spot of 'high tea' in Virgin Atlantic business class

By John Walton, March 23 2012
Have a spot of 'high tea' in Virgin Atlantic business class

Never mind the faux choice of 'chicken or beef?" -- how about a spot of tea with finger sandwiches, a scone, jam and cream?

Virgin Atlantic says it's bringing a touch of the Pam Am glamour era back to flying with it's new and terribly British High Tea service for passengers in the airline's Upper Class business class cabin.

And being served while you cruise at some 30,000 feet, it's also the highest high tea in the world.

So what's it like?

We can attest that High Tea a la Virgin is a welcome bit of glam in an otherwise long and fairly boring afternoon/evening leg of the flight to Hong Kong and on to London.

Glitzy PR photos aside, it's also a clever way to fix the problem of humdrum second meals on flights that don't arrive at breakfast-time.

With Virgin Atlantic's Sydney-Hong Kong VS201 flight leaving at lunchtime and arriving in the evening after nearly ten hours in the air, high tea is a nice touch of British charm towards the end of the flight.

The centrepiece of High Tea is the three-tiered tea trolley that rolls up and down the aisles for you to pick sandwiches, cupcakes, scones and other assorted cakery.

That's then presented to you on a little double-tiered red-and-white plate set of your very own.

There are finger sandwiches on the bottom -- we've snacked on chicken, roast vegetable and salmon in-flight -- and cakes on top.

“By making this addition to its already fantastic Upper Class service, Virgin Atlantic is returning to the good old days when flying was a pleasure not a chore,” said Michelle Milton, founder of the Australian-based High Tea Society and Virgin's Official Expert on such things.

And we reckon that high tea aficionados would approve of Virgin Atlantic's efforts.

Everything is served fresh and moist, being freshly unwrapped to avoid it drying out in the cabin. No more curling, stale sandwiches or cakes that explode in a cloud of dried-out crumbs.

The only problem is figuring out which way to spread the cream.

(As ever, we're here for you with insider travel tips: if you put the cream on first with jam on top, that's the Devon way; jam first with cream on top is Cornish.)

If you plump for a 'champagne tea', you'll be served Lanson Black Label in retro-elegant shallow schooner coupes rather than the more traditional flutes.

It's no Bollinger, but it's a decent enough business class drop (it's the same as Virgin Australia serves between the East Coast and Perth), and the glasses themselves are just lovely.

More smashing additions to the service are the brilliant mugs with aviation-themed pencil line drawings.

Farewell and good riddance to dinky thimble-sized airline teacups, we say!

If you really want your high tea to include a proper British teacup Virgin will give you one, but for us it's mugs all the way.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 529

So do you actually mean "Pan Am" glamour or do you really mean the glamour of Pam Ann the camp comedian? :-)

Re: pic two, that looks like the same guy who did the DJ ads ... 

I dont know about others, but i always spread the jam first then a dollop of cream on top.

Im not a fan of spreading the cream first and then the jam, its too messy.

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