Rebecca Blair Roth is a student in ICE’s Hospitality Management Program. Her class is learning about the business of the travel and tourism industry. During their studies, the students take part in a variety of field trips to explore different aspects of the hospitality industry. Last week, they were able to see inside the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK and take a peek at the world of luxury travel.

With all the recent advertisements for the new TV show Pan Am, I keep remembering a different era of flying. An era when it actually meant something to go on a plane and have chic stewardesses and handsome pilots take you around the world. Also, very Catch Me if You Can. However, for most of the average population flying nowadays seems a lot less glamorous and more like being a sardine stuck in a can for the next several hours.

Last Wednesday, our class had the pleasure of living the good life for an afternoon on a field trip to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK Airport; and got to experience a little bit of luxury first hand. This field trip was possible thanks to Marco Hejazi, our food and beverage instructor, who has years of experience running food and beverage departments in hotels. Currently, Hejazi is the Regional Manager for Virgin and oversees the Clubhouse. His job consists of making sure that the Clubhouse runs as smoothly as possible. From overseeing purchasing orders for the kitchen to greeting VIP clientele curbside; Marco assures us that there is never a dull moment at JFK. Like working in a hotel, he deals with day-to-day operations but, with a bit more ambience from the all the planes and travelers passing through.

As you enter the Clubhouse you are greeted by ladies in signature Virgin red suits, red lipstick, slicked back hair and even red patent pumps. Then, they check your boarding pass and whisk you away into the Clubhouse so you can be at your most comfortable before your flight.

Once in the Clubhouse, Virgin’s first class and business passengers have lots of little luxuries available to them — from taking a shower to having a manicure scheduled for you, or eating and drinking as much as you want before you board your flight. At the Clubhouse that day, we felt like we were part of an elite clientele — where else would I have I had the pleasure of sitting a few feet away from Miss Trinidad & Tobago (who wore her sash over her coat, in case you were wondering).

An afternoon at the Virgin Clubhouse made for quite an appealing field trip. I ate, drank and pretended I was a VIP while sitting in a sleek lounge and watched planes take-off as well as learned about operations and dealing with different types of clientele. The only sad part was that I didn’t get to board a flight anywhere. Well, maybe next time.

 

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