Virgin Atlantic » User reviews
All-class rating 6.9
- Boarding 7.4
- Seat for sitting 6.7
- Seat for sleeping 4.9
- Service 7.0
- Entertainment 6.9
- Food & drink 6.4
- Punctuality 7.6
- Baggage 7.4
- Of course, your ratings vary widely for different classes. Choose one below for full details.
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I flew with Virgin Atlantic's Little Red service from LHR to EDI on Friday 23rd August 2013.
I had checked in online, received my boarding pass via my smartphone and stored it in the Passbook app. I didn't travel with any luggage other than carry-on, so when I arrived at LHR T1 at 05:30 for the 06:50 flight I proceeded straight to the departures area.
The security check was busy, for what was quite an early time on a Friday during school holiday time. The queues moved smoothly and it took about 10 minutes to pass through to the departures area.
While I'm a Silver card holder for Virgin, that didn't give me access into the lounge, so I passed a few minutes in the departures shopping area before the gate was confirmed (as 8). I do think that Virgin should consider offering lounge access to Silver card holders (as BA do), but then the Virgin (contracted) lounge in T1 is not a patch on the one in T3, so I wasn't too worried about how to occupy myself for the short wait.
I visited WH Smith to pick up a paper and copy of Airliner World. Note that if you buy the Telegraph you get a free bottle of Buxton or Evian water, a good deal even if you don't read the paper!
I then picked up a coffee and pastry from Cafe Nero, knowing that there would also be a snack offered on the flight.
At 06:05 the gate was confirmed as 8, so I proceeded through the secondary security check to get to the UK and Ireland departures area. It seems odd that an additional level of security is applied for internal flights when one would expect more stringent security for international passengers.
The secondary screening was busy and it took a good 5 minutes to pass through. There were a couple of international transit passengers (Korean/Japanese) who were worried about missing their flight to Dublin, so a few of us in the queue let them through first.
There was a short wait at the gate before boarding commenced at 06:20, with people with disabilities and parents with children boarding first, followed by people from the rear forwards. I was in seat 3A so got up to board in the final wave, but after being seated there followed plenty more people who had not been at the gate and looked like they had run for the final call, including a STAG party in fancy dress!
Since this was my first flight on Little Red, I noted the pleasant pink/purple lighting and comfortable purple leather seats.
Everyone was on board on schedule and we pushed back on time at 06:50. The plane was fairly full, probably 80 to 90%, hard to judge from sitting at the front but there was a spare seat between me and the other passenger in our row. I wondered whether this was because I/we had some status with Virgin or just good fortune.
The announcement from the flight crew (pilot/co-pilot) was very quiet and I couldn't easily hear what they said. The announcements from the cabin crew were perfectly audiable.
It was a long taxi from the stand to the runway 9R, which was being used in mixed mode as we waited our turn for take-off. While waiting we saw a BA A380 take off, such a graceful plane for its size and I'm looking forward to a flight to LAX in December on the beast.
We eventually took off at 07:20 and remained at quite a low elevation before turning over the top of Wembly Stadium and then asscending to the cruising altitude.
The cabin crew (4 off, 2 front, 2 rear) were very polite and unusually were all male on this flight. They started the inflight service about 10 minutes into the flight when near cruising altitude.
We were offered a bacon roll (with ketchup or brown sauce) and a drink of our choice (tea/coffee/soft/alcohol). I chose an orange juice as despite my travel being for a STAG do and there being alcohol on offer I needed to work when I arrived (from a suitable free wifi zone/coffee shop) and most of the other attendees wouldn't be arriving until later that afternoon.
Rather annoyingly the person in the seat in front of me had almost immediately reclined his seat fully and closed his window blind after take-off, but given I'n not the tallest person in the world there was still room for me to read my magazine (catching up on other airline news), to eat my snack and drink my OJ.
We landed into EDI at 08:15 and after a short taxi we arrived on stand at 08:20, 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
The cabin crew closing remarks were polite and concise and also made special mention of the Edinburgh festival and the STAG party at the back of the plane.
We disembarked into the departures area and it was a short walk to the exit where I caught a bus into the centre of Edinburgh. The busses leave every 10 minutes, are clearly signposted and cost £6 for an open return ticket. The journey to Waverly station takes about 30 minutes.
Overall a very smooth flight, on schedule, politely managed and efficently processed. The only negative was not being able to hear the pilot's announcements.
However, despite all the positives, I'm not really looking forward to my return flight as it is at 06:30 on Bank Holiday Monday after a weekend of debauchary. Nevertheless I'm sure Little Red will look after me and perhaps I'll have a Bloody Mary as a hair of the dog!
Both flights left early, very impressive, and landed early. Nice friendly crew and good service, my first flight on "Little Red" and it will not be my last....
No longer a Virgin virgin...
On-line check in…Not as easy as BA, but got there in the end… Chose 1E & F for this Little red EDI -LHR flight.
Friday afternoon and EDI ecurity was busy… However we were through within 15 minutes so not a real pain in the backside...not keen on the unmanned gates though, was quicker and more friendly the old fashioned human way :(
Lounge facilities…VS use the Servisair lounge around the corner from the old BD lounge…When I have used it in the past, it’s been crowded and the fare pretty bog standard. So decided to give it a miss, choosing to enjoy a fine pint of draught beer from the bar before the flight down instead.
Boarding…Fine pint of draught beer was being enjoyed at the wee bar near gate 6, so just kept an ear open for the boarding call. The flight was busy so they elected to board by seat number. Greeted on board with a cheery smile and seats taken after luggage stoed further up the aisle. I know that there has been some discussion about passenger loads so. For those interested 164 + 1 was the dispatchers final count for a flight to LHR and once the missing person in 2 seats issue was sorted out we where on our way. Slight digression, but I have to assume that CC all round the world can’t subtract! LOL Surely easier to count empty seats and subtract to get a accurate bums on seats number?
Soon after take-off the drinks service arrived. Myself, my mate and the lady in 1D all chose the wine. Interestingly, poured from a bottle rather than separate mini bottles… accompanied with a pack of posh crisps… which happened to be stale due to the bag being burst at the bottom… not an issue as I wasn’t in a potato mood!
After a convivial chat with the lass from Dunblane…who interestingly also knocked back the far more expensive rail journey for her Michael Buble girls weekend we where pretty much over London...or not as the case may be time to circle and time to chance our luck PING
Could we have a top up please, certainly, our cheery man slinked behind the curtain and returned with 3 topped up glasses of Vino Blanco. A perk of being in row 1 he laughed!
A bit more chat, a few more gulps and sips and hey presto T1 awaits us.
Disembarkation: The 3 of us caused a bit of a nuisance of ourselves due to our hand baggage being stowed in the bins above row 3. The bins above us all full of safety demonstration and first aid etc. However we were first off, passed the Upper Class transfer coach and on our way to the tube.
Summary...Seats were ok, in fact unlike the old BD row 1 where “seat e” became known as the toddler seat due to the crew having to bring a tray and then lock you in akin to a high chair, this seat had it’s own wee table. The service was excellent, very relaxed and friendly , espoused Virgin’s brand well.
So overall great value for money. One odd thing, whilst everything else was pretty much branded with VS logo’s, the safety card, although Redded up did make reference to it being an Aer Lingus aircraft. And would definitely fly with them again.
Finally back to the speculation about pax loads on these flights. This was a Friday afternoon flight and as well as my fellow Canuck singing his heart out at the O2, there was also Wimbledon and the Gay thingy going on too so maybe more point to point traffic than normal.
The return BA LGW -EDI to follow when I have a chance.
We flew Manchester to Orlando last October and paid £50 each for each leg of the journey for extra legroom exit seats we have had exit seats before but in a&c this time we were in the middle row of four, never again would I sit in these seats we had people pushing past us for most of the flight I lost count of how many times I had my toes trodden on and also had a lovely bruise on my shin from being kicked as someone decided to climb over when I was asleep.
The flight crew did ask at the beginning of the flight for passengers to refrain from crossing in front but most people just ignored this, they did announce it again and things did improve but we were so fed up we upgraded to Premium for the return journey. Food was pretty good we went and got more drinks ourselves the seats were uncomfortable and not very wide. The IFE is excellent plenty of choice to keep you entertained. This year we have paid for extra legroom but not exit seats
Yes the premium economy seat is comfortable but if like myself you are unfortunate enough to be seated on the 3 seater aisle next to the bathrooms don't bank on sleeping. Having been advised by our travel agent that she had requested and had confirmed the 2 seater aisle at the front of p.e. 6 months prior to travelling,
I was shocked that on both trips we had three seaters with one journey both times next to the toilet and twice being separated from my husband by a stranger travelling in the middle seat. Virgin staff seem confused as to whether pre-booking a seat can be done as check-in staff at Sydney and Heathrow told me you can't pre-book as did the crew on the return flight. However, the supervisor at Hong Kong airport said it was possible if it was requested but they had no request showing prior booking. On checking with our travel agent she was shocked to hear this as she had selected our seats from the map shown online and had received the message request confirmed.
In my opinion the 23rd row in which we were seated does not belong in premium economy in any way, shape or form, it is like travelling in a lavatory line, with constant use from not only p.e. passengers but economy passengers and staff using the facility as well, apparently p.e. passengers are not afforded the same exclusivity as first class passengers. Twice a member of staff exited the facility without closing the door which then had to be closed by my husband. I would dearly love Richard Branson to travel longhaul on this row and tell me it's premium.
I had friends travel on an A380 with other airlines for this journey and they were able to pre-select better seats than I was for almost half the cost. Why is this facility not available with Virgin P.E.? Online check-in for seats makes it a lottery, especially when I tried to do this for the return journey but received the message that my booking could not be found.
A minor matter for me was the food, on the return journey home we could not be given our selected meal as by the time the trolley reached the back of p.e. they had run out of it, which staff blamed on a catering problem in Hong Kong. I found the food on both journeys to be very average anyway. Entertainment on the return journey was also interrupted for 20 mins. for the whole flight because of a technical problem, there was also a problem with the air conditioning before takeoff on the return flight.
At the end of the journey staff presented us with a complimentary bottle of wine and an express pass through customs, which after all we had paid for and not received to me seemed insulting. After speaking with friends who travelled in 2 seater rows with ample legroom on A380's this will definitely be the last time Virgin Premium? Economy get my money.
VS3021 15JUN13 LHR-ABZ Dep 09:10 Arr 10:50
Saturday morning flight from Heathrow up to Aberdeen. (Finally found a use for VS Flying Club Miles!)
I had just picked up a new book and had nothing to use as a bookmark so decided that I should have a good old fashioned paper boarding pass for this purpose.
I got off the tube and went into T1 and had a wander around checkin, went through to the BA desks and then back towards the entrance which is when I eventually saw they VS check-in desks. They are at the back of the first block you come to when you walk in.
I went to the Premium desk (as VS silver and a couple of people waiting at the normal desks) and the very nice ground staff there was more than happy to print one out for me.
Security was a little crowded, one thing that would be great would be VS Silver members being able to use premium security.
Through to the departure area and I then headed straight through to the 8 gates. There were a fair amount of VS crew milling about, including some cabin crew who were charging phones and reading papers around the gate but all very nice (none Irish though as far as I can tell).
The flight was delayed by 10-15 minutes due to a tech issue in ABZ delaying the inbound aircraft but once it arrived they turned it round easily enough and off we went.
Seating - The load was light, I mean about 30 people light, and they ha blocked off the front and the back of the aircraft for weights and balances. I was in 8A and I must admit I was surprised how tight the seat pitch was, I think it is 31" but I must admit I am a BA regular and can book seats in advance so am always in their 34" rows and I was surprised at the difference 3" can make, I felt really cramped. The seats were very stylish in that purple leather and perfectly comfortable however.
IFE - drop down screens would have been good to see the route but instead we were entertained by the obligatory screaming baby seated in 9A, thank you very much. I had clocked this on boarding and had asked the cabin crew if I could move after take off but they were very good and as soon as we were all aboard, they moved the lady with the baby into row 3 or 4 and had a much happier plane!
Catering - I had a good cup of tea and a giant cookie. These cookies are a great idea but they are a bit dry and EXTREMEMLY crumbly which must be a nightmare for the cleaners and I would say that a more gooey one would save a lot of crumbs in the long run. The Cabin Crew didn't sound at all Irish and they were very smart in their VS uniforms. On the VS website it says that they offer a breakfast on flights before 09:00 so unfortunately on this ABZ flight, you just miss it.
Arrival into ABZ was fine, straight to gate, down steps and out of the door to jump on the bus. Ever half an hour at weekends (20mins during the week) and £3.50 for a day pass for any of the Stagecoach (not First) buses in ABZ and about half an hour into the centre of town.
The Verdict? - To be honest, if you are able to pre-book seat on BA I would stick with them as they are much more comfortable in their forward rows. If there is a price differential, then, for the length of the flight, VS Little Red is fine. Onboard the difference is minimal.
As an aside, when I was flying back in the evening, the last VS flight ABZ-LHR was cancelled and they had to reprotect people onto the 18:30 BA service. I am not sure why this happened but there does seem to be a fair few instances of tech delays and cancelled flights which will have to be sorted if people are going to be able to depend on this service.
This was the return half of my previous review of this new service. I checked in on line and decided to have the boarding pass sent to my mobile. Again my seat had changed from that selected, 3A to 9A.This was a text message with a link which then produced the boarding pass. This was fine but for some reason during the day my Blackberry decided to dump most of its charge.
Arrived early for check in, which was due to commence at 1655 and it was 1645. I waited nearby and at 1655 an agent appeared and after giving him time to get ready approached the desk. I asked if he would issue a paper boarding pass as the battery was on red, this was no problem. Having a lap top bag and a small trolley bag I was expecting to check in the case, to which the agent said it was no problem to take it on.
Proceeded through security which was literally straight through and made my was to the Escape lounge. This is the former Flybe lounge which before that was the other half of the BA lounge. It is quite new and I was warmly welcomed and was asked if I had been there before, when I said no she proceeded to explain the facilities which was quite helpful.
Flights are not called in the lounge and there is a lack of screens in certain areas which meant keep getting up to look. There were sandwiches, cheese and biscuits, tray cakes and fruit. Alcoholic drinks are availabe from the bar at an additional cost. Wifi available, but being at by the wall next to the BA longe I picked up the BA wifi!
At 1820 made my way to gate 18, after a short wait the flight was called, greeted with a "hiya" from the two female crew at the entrance. My seat was a little cramped and was thankful that I had no one next to me, infact there were only 21 passengers on board.
After airborne a service of drinks and either a biscuit if you had hot drinks and crisps if you had cold drinks, no choice. Once all cleared away Love Hearts were offered.
We arrived between 5 and 10 minutes early but had to wait whilst the airbridge was put in the right place and we eventually disembarked 10 minutes after arrival.
In some threads posters have commented about the "chavvy" way of Virgin cabin crew. On this flight I could understand the comment, the crew were pleasant though, but not as good as the outward flight.
A fairy reasonable flight, the seat was a disappointment. I probably would use this service again if the price was lower than BA, which was the driver for this round trip
Checked in on line and found that my original chosen seat of 2A was now 7A! Information is clear that you can only take one item of hand luggage so I checked in my bag. There was no queue and I was dealt with in a welcoming and friendly manner.
I visited the Servisair lounge in T1. There was little on offer, soup and roll, some cake, crisps and that was about it, a lot of people "dossing" in seats. This was at 1145, I left at 1215 and ambled down to gate 8, going through the security section which I was dealt with almost silence.
Boarding commenced at 1235 and on reaching the desk found that my seat had been changed to 12A, which was sold to me on the basis that it was an emergency row and I'd have more leg room. Going by the other seats it was a good change. I was greeted with a hello from two crew members and found my seat. The flight was less than a quarter full.
We were ready to go at 1300, but due to air traffic this was delayed by five minutes. Once airborne the crew served drinks and a snack which was a bag of what looked like crisps for those that soft drinks or a large biscuit for those who had hot drinks. Once everything was cleared away, A small packet of Love Hearts were offered.
Arrived five minutes early, baggage arrived 15 minutes later and was out of the airport by 1415.
All in a pleasant flight and interested to see how the return flight goes.
Back from Grenada, premium after uc out, check in chill out at hotel very smooth. Boarding at Grenada a bit chaotic, called for uc pe and priority which started a scramble by everybody, staff just let anyone through.
Plenty of legroom, but I found seat uncomfy. Evening meal good spinach ricotta ravioli, good service. Lots of people slept I dozed for a bit but found seat a bit uncomfy. Thought breakfast could have been served earlier as we were both getting very hungry (9ish) was looking forward to it, but when it arrived, what a disappointment, possibly worst airline food Ive ever had, dismal round meat rashers, insipid hash brown, tasteless scrambled egg and baked (but not as we know it) beans, I know its difficult to keep airline food but why not serve rolls, pastries, fruit, yogurt etc keep it simple.
Landed a bit late, baggage seemed to take ages.
On a plus side the two best landings Ive ever had, super smooth and bump free
Flew to Grenada with better 7/8, checked in twilight very smooth, straight through security and into uc lounge, wow! Absolutely superb, both food drink and service. Boarded smoothly, take off delayed dont know why.
Food drink and service very good, not sure about the herringbone pattern of seating, I didnt use Vera but my wife very impressed. Landed at Antigua and waited what seemed forever before heading to Grenada where we had to circle for a bit because of bad weather, and then down safely. Baggage was aboit 4th and 6th on the belt.
Oh couple of gripes no Grenada forms on flight, so had to do quickly at airport immigration, and heard someone saying they didnt have their choice of meal because they had run out, shouldnt really happen in uc.
Usually I start off my holiday the night before, stay at a hotel at the airport, and get the twilight check in option, Would seriously recommend this if flying with Virgin, almost no wait and you don't have the stress of doing it the morning of your flight.
The morning of my flight, I went through Virgin's premium security channel, which again was very quick and easy. I then went over to the Gatwick V-Room, which was a very nice way to start off my holiday.
The flight was great. comfortable seat, not so good for sleeping in though, I managed too, but it wasn't all that easy. The material was good, and smooth, not rough. I sat in row 52, extra legroom seats. They were worth while.
The service was good, the food was good, not the best food ever but it was still quite tasty. Flight was on time, landed a bit late, there was a little bit of circling because of traffic. Drinks were offered twice, they should have had more opportunities.
I was offered an upgrade from PE to Upper Class at check in and thought my luck was in until they told me it would cost £1600, decided to stick with PE. Boarding was well organised, with sparkling wine or orange juice offered soon after taking my seat. Amenity kit containing socks, earplugs, eye shades, pen & toothbrush/paste offered promptly too. Returning from Tokyo on A340-600 having flown out on a 300, so pleased to get decent in flight entertainment on this leg. Good selection of movies and since I could not sleep I watched 4 films on the flight. Food served on china with metal cutlery, choice of 3 main courses, all were available. Plenty of drinks offered throughout flight, with ice cream as a treat between meals. Hot breakfast served prior to landing also not bad for airplane food. Flight landed 30 mins early and luggage was on the carousel by the time I made it through border control.
This was our second UC flight from LHR and both experiences are the same. Car picked us up on a very wet Friday to drive us from our home in Kent for the drive around the M25 about 15 miles from LHR our driver had to take a diversion but still managed to get us to LHR straight through to DTCI and security then clubhouse where we both had the clubhouse burger.
As my wife has mobility problems I had arranged wheelchairs all the way through to Sydney via HK electric cart arrived to take us to boarding gate straight on to plane where we took our seats which were the same ones as our Chicago flight, plane pushed back on time and we were on our way to OZ FSM came and welcomed us by name and take meal requests (we're silver FC members) food was typical plane food as we both don't drink can't on wine.
On arriving at HK was surprised that we had to take all bags to clear imagination but before we knew it was sitting in the HK clubhouse and again wheelchair was ready for wife, last leg to Sydney was taken up by me sleeping and wife watching films, once again at Sydney wheel chair waiting straight through customs (unlike on TV) and to our waiting car all in all a great flight and service from VA.
Good experience on outbound flight, economy class was nearly empty and passengers were stretched out over 3 seats and looked to be sleeping like babies. Not as good as the 747 experience to Barbados but ok for room, service was mixed again good bits and bad- not nearly as good as BA economy to the likes of New York.
This was the final leg of a 4 day trip to USA. I did not have pleasant thoughts about this flight. The combination of Virgin Atlantic, a Gatwick arrival, the bland MCO Delta lounge and a capital connect journey home, were enough to send shivers down my spine.
Getting through MCO is not too bad these days if you can find short cuts (which naturally I managed to find). The Delta lounge offered me a carrot and stick of celery and not much else. Very poor. The internet didnt work for me (although it did for others). I am not too sure how secure the lounge internet connection is.
I timed my arrival at the boarding gate perfectly, straight on, before the masses.
I have never liked the VS herringbone seating, it does not appear normal to be looking out of the opposite window and feeling you are flying sideways. Just to add to all the other irritations, when I parked myself in the seat, this little head appeared to rise from the seat infront………… A CHILD, not one but TWO arrgghhhhhhhhhhh, the recipe for a flight from hell…..
After all these shocks……. I started to get my bearings and noticed a couple of things, about the cabin. Firstly, it looked clean and fresh (unusual for VS) – it was not revamped Upper Class though. The second, the genuinely helpful cabin crew team and the third thing I noticed was the new IFE.
I like the idea of being able to immerse onself in the IFE system from pushback. There was a q’ing problem as the runway had just been switched, causing a 35 minute delay as we had to wait in turn. But having the benefits of the IFE, certainly made th etime pass quickly.
Once up, the service began and was at speed but excellent. I managed first choice in the food offerings, a delicious tomato and basil soup, followed by an equally “lekker” cannelloni (v). Washed down with a single malt (s).
Meanwhile the excitable children infront of me had settled slightly and were now only playing on the floor by my seat as oppose to running back to their father , who had managed to grab a seat on the back row.
A passenger a couple of rows back was having a problem with a continual water flow from the ceiling due to the aircon. He did get very wet and the CSD came to try and make amends. All I heard from him was those additional airmiles will be added the other 500,000!!! He was also taking pictures of the menu, which made me wonder whether another trip report about this flight will appear. (come on BT, where are those pins suggested some time ago so we secret Forum members can clock a fellow member!!)
After dinner, having watched a film, listened to some music, time for some shut eye, only problem now was it was school time in the seat in front, with Mum insisting one of the children does his homework…. with her help….
Surprisingly though, I heard the 3 times table about 3 times and the next thing I knew, was being poked and prodded by a very nice cabin crew member waking me for breakfast….
Landed on time, my 2 checked bags were the second and fourth of the belt – onto the very squashed capital connect train and home within 2 hours of landing.
One other interesting part, the captain had announced that this was his leg, he was flying. However, he appeared in the UC galley area for a “coffee break”, his words, as I was passing – looking like he had been dragged through the hedge backwards. No tie/jacket, shirt out of his trousers – its always nice to see the pilots doing a walk about, but at least on BA they look smart and the part…..
All in all, this flight did surprise me as it was excellent, despite the minor irritations.
annshaw flew Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy (22/04/2013 15:39)
VS85 and VS86 Manchester to Las Vegas and return. We travelled premium economy. Service excellent. Both flights shorter than expected. Non flexible premium economy gave us upgraded service for reasonable cost and we felt it was well worth the difference. The only negative was that our pre booked seats were not those we were allocated when we checked in and this being the case we wonder if it is worth the effort of selecting seats in advance of check in..
Boarding plane was good, with Premium Economy boarding after UC. Was served sparkling wine and due to delay was topped up twice. After an hours delay, pilot reported fault could not be fixed and we were told to de-board and switch planes.
Eventually took off on replacement plane 4 hours late. Service was friendly and attentive, food tasty but a bit mean. After dinner brandy was very generous, but limited drinks trolleys except water and juice, but could request drinks. IFE on new Vera system was top notch. Afternoon tea was served with two small finger sandwiches (tasty) and small cup cake. Very limited snacks available during flight, limited to pretzels. Overall great crew, seat and IFE, let down by mean food. Shame about the delay.
Punctuality wasn't that great because we had already been disrupted by the ash cloud (April 2010) and then our flight that was meant to leave at 1600 didn't leave until nearly 2330!
Sunday, 31st March marked the first ever Virgin Atlantic Little Red flight - from Manchester to Heathrow.
Edinburgh and Aberdeen will follow in the coming weeks but here's my trip report, based on the flight only.
Having bagged sequence one by getting up stupidly early, I had travelled up to Manchester the day before and stayed at the Hilton Manchester Airport, which is walking distance to the terminals. I have previously been disappointed by Hilton but this one was good enough.
So, after a stupidly late night, I was up stupidly early to be part of the inaugural Heathrow flight. It was dark outside! Having used Passbook on my iPhone for the first time I didn't have to go to check-in, (while not open it was bedecked with oddly phallic balloons while chocolates were ready to be handed out. to passengers. )
So, straight to the seventh ring of Hell. I mean Manchester Airport Terminal 3 Security.
An absolute disgrace. Lots of flights, lots of passengers and not enough staff. Various announcements were made asking people to identify themselves if they were on a specific flight and they were pulled out of the queue and prioritised. That involved pulling back the retractable ribbbon barriers, and asking people to stand to one side as the worried passengers were called forward, all to get to their flight in time. Other passengers then ducked under the ribbon barrier and little sub-queues formed. Not at all conducive to a good morning. This queue-jumping then irritated the security staff and other passengers. All in all I waited about 35 minutes in a queue and then had to remove my trainers for X-Ray. Actually in all my years of travelling I have never witnessed such a badly organised security system.
I finally got through, and headed for the Escape lounge. This took a bit longer than I expected as the signage wasn't great and I walked straight past! The Priority Pass app kept me right though.
The Escape Lounge at T3 is a former bmi lounge and uses the same furniture. It's also the lounge that Virgin use for the UC and Au members. I used my Priority Pass.
A nice range of drinks and surprisingly drinkable coffee (from a machine) were offered, as well as a bacon or a sausage sarnie.
The plane was at Gate 19, and Virgin had two staff walking around offering croissants, pastries, mini chocolates, teas, coffees and some 'fizz'. Of course I sampled the lot.
One of the Virgin staff here stood out and amazingly witty and engaging. She has worked for VS for 7 years and was clearly proud of working with them.
And there she was, proudly in Virgin Atlantic livery. Sadly you can't really see the lovely purple glow from the lighting onboard.
I stayed in the lounge as I was told that I would be called when the flight was ready. Little Gu eggs were given to boarding passengers. As usual, despite waiting to go through security to what I thought was the last, there was a queue on the airbridge. C'est La Vie.
But enough of that! Time to board, and fight the comfy seat 4A. It has a window and legroom was not a problem. The steward did ask if I wanted an extending seatbelt, which confirms that I will be starting a diet tomorrow. :)
There were a few announcements about this being the first ever Virgin Atlantic Little Red flight (which got a cheer), an official photographer wanted a pic of the passengers waving, the Captain welcomed us on board too and during the flight. Take off was, I think bang on time.
The ascent was steeper than I recall than on previous flights.
Service started a little later than would prove practical, I enjoyed my big bacon ciabatta with brown sauce (I won't post a pic. There's no way of making a bacon sarnie drenched in brown sauce look appetising!) served along with a coffee, although some other passengers opted for alcohol. In fact, the service was not able to be completed before descent started to Heathrow, for which the stewardess twice apologised. This will surely be tweaked, today's flight time was 35 minutes.
Time to sit back and enjoy the scenery.
We arrived at Heathrow to light applause from some of the other passengers; where the Terminal 3 buses were waiting. Passengers going on to other Virgin flights leave the plane but staff waited at the top of the airbridge to direct them, thus avoiding Flight Connections route.
It certainly felt like I was flying Virgin, with Aer Lingus references kept to a minimum. (A sticker by the side of the aircraft door indicated that this was an Aer Lingus aircraft.)
Heathrow Terminal 1 was similarly bedecked.
A nice touch from Wetherspoons.
This was our 3rd UC flight with VA having flown many years with them.
We find that standards have not gone down but stayed around the same.
Slight mix up with car as noticed it was down as 6 instead of 4!
Quick call and all sorted out arrived at DTCI straight through security couple of hours in clubhouse then flight was called
as my wife has mobility problems wheelchairs were booked all the way through to Sydney.
Transport duly arrived and took us to boarding gate. Priority boarding was working so straight to our seats, offered a buck's fizz and then settled into our seats.
FSM welcomed us by name which is always nice to hear. I don't watch the IFE but wife always watches a few films she recommended one to me which I watched and enjoyed and even watched the Sweeney.
Food was normal airplane food but at least there was something I would and did eat.
After a few hours asked for bed to be made up and got a few hours sleep before we arrived at HK and again (as all thru the flight) had wheelchair for wife waiting all in all a good flight which was the same to Sydney and return until we got to LHR but that's another story!
VS94 Cancun to London Gatwick, refurbished B747
I arrived at Cancun International Terminal 3 at 17.30 for my 20.05 flight back to London Gatwick. The airport is clean and modern with a long line of electronic kiosks for checking in. I did this and printed off my boarding pass, selecting the only seat it would allow me to, aisle seat 33C.
I joined the Virgin bag drop queue, located at the far right end of the terminal, which was well manned and didn’t take too long, before heading up the escalator to security. There were no other passengers here so I was through in no time.
Immediately after security is the large duty free area, where I picked up a few bits and then went to grab a bite.
There is a row of fast food options to the left, as well as the Margarita-Ville and Bubba Gump Shrimp sit down restaurants, which were empty.
The fast food outlets include a sandwich shop, Domino’s Pizza, a Chinese, a Mexican and a Jonny Rockets American burger joint. I was craving a burger so went to Jonny Rockets. There is also a Starbucks concession and a small selection of newsagents and souvenir shops.
Ours was the last flight of the day so the terminal was closing down for the day. Our boarding time was 1935 from gate C10, next to the Starbucks and Jonny Rockets, however we were delayed until 2020.
Boarding eventually started at 2010 for Upper and Premium Economy passengers and those in rows 60-80. I waited until most people had boarded as the queue looked fairly chaotic and was finally through by 2030. Unfortunately the paramedics had to board for an ill passenger so pull back was delayed until 2110 and we took off at 2130.
The aircraft was one of the newly refurbished B747 jumbo-jets stationed at Gatwick. Economy is configured 3-4-3 and I was on the edge of a three, in the aisle.
The Vera entertainment system is top notch, the touch screen is highly reactive, the picture quality high and the selection always appealing. However, I had watched some seriously good films on the way out so was struggling this time around, opting for the Disney film Wreck it Ralf and the new Spiderman, both were OK.
In these blocks of three the IFE box is located under the middle seat (B), making them a highly unattractive option.
The seatbelt sign was turned off at 2145 when menus and wellness kits were handed out. These contain a pen, socks, eye mask, ear plugs, tooth brush and toothpaste. The menu listed the dinner options of braised beef with vegetables, Creole/Cajun style chicken with rice and penne with spinach.
Dinner was served at 2230 without a round of drinks before. I had the Creole chicken which really was tasty, it had some spice to it and the sauce, mixed with the vegetables and rice made for a very nice meal. All meals were served with a basic salad (described in the menu as a chickpea salad. Not a chickpea in sight) and a bread roll. This was followed by a Panna Cotta (I’m guessing passion fruit or mango by the colour), which I left, and a tea/coffee/hot chocolate round.
Most passengers tried to sleep and after watching a couple of films I tried to get some myself. It was pretty chilly onboard though so I had to use the blanket and dozed as well as I could until breakfast boxes were served at around 0400.
Virgin really needs to take a look at these terrible breakfast boxes. The croissant is small and dull and the yoghurt cheap and sweet, if I wasn’t so hungry I wouldn’t touch any of it. Simply some butter and jam would go some way to improve this.
I had a cup of tea and tried to wake myself up by watching a bit of TV before we began our descent and the IFE was turned off at 0500 (11am local time).
We landed at 1150 (local time) and were the only flight passing through passport control. There was a fairly even split of people using the e-passport gates and the manned desks and I opted to go with a manned desk.
The bags started to come out at 1225 but they strangely decided to split them between two carousels, 6 and 7, making it impossible to know which one my bag would be coming out of. Luckily I was travelling in a pair so we took one carousel each, if I was alone this would have been highly frustrating and many passengers were seen describing their baggage to friends and family. I finally retrieved my bag at 1245 and was out of the terminal just before 1pm.
Verdict: The refurbished aircraft is excellent but with these night flights the service is extremely limited and it is naturally difficult to sleep in economy in general. The food and entertainment were great though.
VS19 London Gatwick to Cancun – refurbished B747
I arrived at Gatwick South Terminal at 10.30 for my 12.30 departure to Cancun. I had checked myself and my friend in online and there was no queue at the bag drop queue. Security took 20 minutes and the automated gates worked perfectly.
We did some last minute shopping and grabbed a coffee in Pret a Manger before making our way to gate 19 at 11.30. This wasn’t too bad a walk and there wasn’t too much of a queue to get in to the seating area.
There were copies of the Daily Mail on offer and a real mix of people waiting to board, from elderly couples to large groups of rowdy young people. Boarding commenced at 11.40.
I had pre-selected the aisle seats 76C-H for me and my friend. These are on the upper deck either side of the aisle and were perfect for two fairly tall guys who wanted to be able to chat during the flight. The aircraft was one of the newly refurbished B747 jumbo-jets stationed at Gatwick.
The upper deck has five rows of 2x2 Premium Economy at the front and then six rows of economy, configured 3x3, meaning service feels much more personal than on the lower deck. You also share fewer toilets up here, despite Premium no doubt getting annoyed that they have to share with economy passengers.
The Vera entertainment system is top notch, the touch screen is highly reactive, the picture quality high and the selection always appealing. I watched the excellent Silver Linings Playbook (Jennifer Lawrence picked up an Oscar for this) and Ben Affleck’s Argo, which is so-so but features some nice retro air travel scenes. The only downside to these aisle seats is that the IFE box is located under the seat in front, limiting leg room somewhat. Also note that the window seats on the upper deck all have a handy storage cupboard.
We were told there were 417 on board this popular flight and the doors shut at 12.10. We took off at 1pm on the button, half an hour later than scheduled as we had to go through de-icing. The seatbelt sign was turned off at 1.10 and we were given a lengthy, and patronising, warning against consuming too much alcohol.
Landing cards and customs forms were handed out with some handy notes on the immigration process at Cancun International, followed by headphones and menu cards. The lunch choice was between chicken in a creamy leek sauce, pasta with spinach in a white sauce and bangers and mash. All are served with a bread roll, simple salad and drinks. Drinks came round at 1.45 and I had a tomato juice, followed by lunch at 2.30. I had the chicken, which was tasty. A black forest Gu dessert followed with tea and coffee at 3.10.
We met a few pockets of turbulence but the flight passed without incident, I watched a couple of good films and read some magazines broken up by the odd ice lolly, or water and orange juice run from cabin crew.
We were offered a greasy sausage or cheese pastry at 8pm to tide us over before afternoon tea at 9pm. This consisted of two white cheese and onion finger sandwiches and a cupcake, which I left. I had a cup of tea and read until we began our descent at 10pm (4pm local).
We landed at 4.35 and had to show our landing cards to a single member of staff almost immediately after leaving the aircraft. We then passed through passport control and baggage reclaim, which took some time, and then a final baggage check before trying to pick out a taxi driver amongst the waiting mass.
All in all an excellent flight, the staff were good as always and securing upper deck seats in economy is a huge bonus. The newly refurbished aircrafts are a fantastic investment from Virgin and the Vera entertainment system is a definite highlight.
I fly virgin most times to the states because of their service is excellent but the only complaint this time is the new economy class seats on the revamped 747-400,not very comfortable for long haul flights, the headrest does not have much padding and the seating is a bit on the hard side nearing Ryanair standard, this is really the only gripe I have to say but I will still fly with Virgin just hopefully on the airbus next time.
Had successfully checked in on line the night before, check in prompt and directed to clubhouse lounge which is before security. Good lounge, very attentive staff who couldn't do enough.
Enjoyed the Virgin redhead cocktail, a crab cake with salad, then a glass of sauvignon. Helpful boarding call, for those who needed longer to shop. Security slow due to queue. Boarding ok, upstairs at front, offered champagne pre-take off. Push back 5 minutes early, medium taxi and take off within 15 minutes. Pre-dinner gin and toinc was only tonic, but got this added! Bell pepper soup enjoyable but informed they had run out of cannelini (vegy), offered other choices (chicken or beef which I don't eat), was then offered something vegy from economy, my non verbals must have been a picture as I was also offered something from Premium economy. Disappointingly there was no fish on the menu, so had the penne paster with tomatoes, which had too much breadrumbs/cous cous on top and lacked tomatoes. Wished I'd ordered the vegy, but vegy meals on American flights can be very poor.
Enjoyed the cheese, whilst watching Skyfall, RIP Dame Judy. Enjoyed the minervois white wine. To her credit the stewardess asked how the economy meal was. If you want an honest answer the pasta was fresh but it was mediocre and tasted like stuffing on top, apologies offered. Not a good sleeper on flights, but bed comfortable.
Excellent breakfast Rude Muesli, fruit salad apple juice and tea. Nice touch the stewardess gave me a bottle of the minervois by way of compensation for the economy meal, very thoughtful.
Arrived 30 minutes early even with being stacked and baggage arrived promptly.
Partner had checked us in the day before, so headed to LHR in good time. Check in prompt and directed to fast track security, after shopping to the clubhouse lounge. Enjoyed the vegetarian breakfast, very good service, got enrolled for flying club and off to board. Boarding straight forward and were seated in upper deck 10 seater area at the front, with a fairly empty looking economy behind us. Lanson black before taxing and take off 30 or so minutes later.
Very good service from American female and English male attendant, good attention to detail. Enjoyed carrot soup with zanibar spices to start followed by tortellini with pumpkin and bread and butter pudding to end with, excellent French white minervois and New Zealand sauvignon sampled.
Enjoyed the Hitchcock movie before a light afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and scone (declined the cakes as was full).
Punctual arrival and were lucky to get across immigration witin a short time compared with the poor souls behind in a long queue. Baggage arrived wthout delay and headed to BART to meet our friends.
We have recently flown Virgin Upper class from Heathrow to Miami, B747-400 version 4 of this aircraft. The aircraft model is old and the seats reflect this. We were at 3A and 3K upper deck.
Upper deck in this aircraft is formed of economy class at the rear and upper class at the front so basically if you are in rows 1 to 5 upper deck you have to pass through economy class in order to get to your seat. When leaving the plane this is a disaster and I cannot understand why Virgin do this. Economy passengers in upper deck leave first the aircraft and this is not how it should be. Also, this is also unfair on passengers flying in economy class for many reasons. Although upper class seats in upper deck have loads of privacy I suggest you book an upper class seat in the lower deck not close to the bar. We didn't have any priority at all at Heathrow boarding the plane and being at the clubhouse lounge nobody told us that boarding was in place.
acbugler flew Virgin Atlantic (11/03/2013 13:34)
I always travel Virgin and even in Economy I have been happy with the flight etc. That is until I returned on a flight from Barbados Oct last year.
Just before flying home I changed our seats on the website to the same seats we had had on the way out. These were the 2 seats together at the rear of the aircraft. So far so good.
On meeting the Virgin rep at our hotel I showed her the boarding card showing my seats etc. She immediately ripped it up saying I could not sit there. When I queried she stated these were extra leg room seats and would have been allocated to someone who had paid for them. I challenged that saying that I had had those seats on the way out but she refused to speak to me allocating me other seats. She also said that the aircraft had been changed. ???
On boarding I found the layout to be exactly the same as the outward flight until I sat down. Squashed is not the word for it. It was like flying Ryanair. I could hardly moved and my knees were stuck on the seat in front. The lady in front reclined her seat nearly knocking my front teeth out.
She then complained to the air stewardess about me. For what reason I did not know. The stewardess began shouting at me but I declined to listen and kept reading my book. She then shouted 'ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?' Good God I am old enough to be her mother and do not expect to be spoken to that way so I just replied 'NO'.
After that the appalling food was chucked at us by this same stewardess. She refused to serve us tea or coffee nor would she collect the refuse which we ended up leaving on the floor. (Sorry Virgin).
We were not offered breakfast nor again any tea or coffee. I was almost in tears with her disgusting behaviour and lack of any customer skills at all. Bad enough to be squashed into a seat for 7 hours but to have abuse hurled at us was the final straw.
I complained to Virgin and they did write a nice letter back to me addressing all my concerns and the fact that this stewardess would be dealt with.
I have never ever had anything other than praise for Virgin staff. This one may have been having a bad day but to speak to customers like she did is out of order. I do hope she was dealt with.
However I will still fly with Virgin. I am off to Mexico this year and have paid to fly Virgin economy. Lets hope this is a good experience.
The total flight experience out of 5 stars, a solid three.
Mine was a long haul flight Hong Kong to Sydney. Flying "upper class". On boarding no one came to assist me settling in, no room the isles are too narrow, no tray offered with enticing drinks isle too narrow for this too. No news-papers were offered at the door or when I sat down. No where to put the drink when I found one, tray behind my head and blocked by a lamp fixture. No local news- papers available when I found them just a rumpled used British tabloid from the flight in. No rugs available at all only cumbersome bedding for use after take off after bed is made flat. No visibility out of window. Music loud and irritating went on for ages as we were delayed, would prefer soothing ambient before take off myself not a mixed bag of loud noisy vocals. Air hostesses far too familiar, and short on smiles and sincere assistance.
The food on the flight to Sydney was very bad and same back to Hong Kong. Cold as was the coffee. The food had little flavour and was unappetising to look at. I had the roast duck and noodles coming back. I received two solid chunks of dry cold duck on a flat bed of stringy noodles stuck together by a dried up hoisin sauce plus three small pieces of soggy desiccated blackened green and some over cooked carrot. I didn't eat it, the hoisin didn't even taste like hoisin but rather like cheap soya no plum flavour at all. The desert was again very unappetising I had the bread and butter pudding which had no texture and an overly sweet processed custard. Coffee was cold. No latte or cappuccino available. No after dinner chocolates. The cheese selection was good but missed a strong blue, there were no digestives only low fat, low salt, low flavour paper thin tiny rice crisps and the fruit selection was three grapes.
After take off I discovered my pillow underside was encrusted with dried vomit. I called for a replacement and was asked if i had pushed it into my nut bowl (grainy vomit) and was told there were no more pillows but she would look. Clean pillow arrived no smile.
The seat was comfortable when flat, but narrow and with only one arm rest and no where besides behind my head to put drinks. The dinning tray doesn't function when the bed is flat nor does the seat, its up or flat no in between. So if you feel like sitting up in your bedding in the middle of your sleep you cannot. The toilet was mostly clean but was wet on the floor and around the sink every time. Breakfast was terrible, cold watery omelette, on an Asian flight I expect at the very least a selection of fresh dim sum. All in all it was a motel experience as opposed to a hotel one of any rating. Virgin "upper class" comes in quite near something like Cathay Pacific (which I use a lot in the region) economy in all but the flat bed.
All in all disappointing and no improvement on the flight I took six months ago to Sydney, both times Virgin was a second choice due to availability restrictions on other airways during busy holiday periods and both times I found them not up to the standard one becomes accustomed to on Asian airways.
Very good service but food can be improved allso they should not allow economy class passengers to use wcs in pre econmy
Brilliant flight to New York, going out was the best with seats 18H and K - feet up on bolsters and fabulous service throughout the flight.
Coming back we were in 20E and G and although still a great flight and great service I envied the people in 18H and K especially after 5 days pounding the New York Streets!!! I spoke to a fellow traveller who flew business class and they said they would have prefered premium economy to their seats any day!!!
I don't know why everyone is so horrible to Virgin on here with these low scores. I had never flown Virgin before and found Upper Class to be a good, solid product that is comparable to BA CW, better than the US airlines' business offering and probably a fair bit behind the bling of some of the Middle East and Asian carriers.
The Clubhouse at LHR is outstanding, the crew was good fun and attentive and the food was reasonably good.
My only disappointment was that the seat does not recline very far in the sitting position, which made it a bit uncomfortable for me, but in the sleeping position it's excellent.
NilShaw flew Virgin Atlantic (18/12/2012 13:13)
We flew Virgin Atlantic from LHR to Miami and back again in Economy. Due to 'upgrades' to their planes we were unable to select seats for months, and then when we checked again on the off chance most of the seats had already been taken - no notice from Virgin that the service was active again.
We chose two seats that we liked that were left for the outward flight but were unable to select any for the incoming flight. When we got to the airport to check in our seats had been moved, no idea why.
The weight restrictions on Virgin are much worse than other airlines so we had problems at the check in desk with hand luggage weight so had to go away and repack. If you have a laptop the limit is 9kg, if you don't it's 6kg. Why it can't be 9kg for everyone including laptop weight I don't know.
Boarding didn't start at Heathrow until the time we were supposed to take off as usual, but boarding at Miami was prompt allowing us to depart on time.
Once on the plane we found our seats extremely uncomfortable - rock hard seats and no leg room. We upgraded to the extra leg room seats once onboard for the flight out, and at the airport for the flight home. These obviously had more leg room, but were very busy seats as they were located right next to the toilets and people used the area to stretch their legs. Both planes were dirty and dated (the bathroom floor on the flight home was filthy) and we could see no evidence of any upgrades having been applied.
The outgoing flight announced as we took off that they were short staffed which had a huge effect on the service. Our meal was rushed out and the food was terrible. The salad was frozen solid in a block - it made a banging noise when you shook the tub. The meal was the worst I have had on a flight in years, it felt like we had gone back in time to the 80s. We were left with the used trays for over an hour, and then had a further wait for the dessert - a Gu pudding, which was decent but tiny.
There was no drinks service at all so you either had to make your own way to the service area for a drink or go thirsty (no water or orange were brought round as usual on a long haul flight). Halfway through the flight they announced that they were closing the bar as they were running out of alcohol and had to do the return flight. I've never been on a flight where they have run out of drinks. We suspect that the crew wanted a break and that was why they closed it.
The staff were rude and condescending, with no customer service skills whatsoever. This was definitely the worst flight ever (even Continental were marginally better, if only for comfort).
When we checked in on the way home we found that we had not been allocated seats together, the first time that has ever happened (hence why we upgraded again).
The flight home was better than the outgoing flight as the staff were at least friendlier, although I wasn't particularly happy at having to argue with one stewardess about not having a meal; having had the meal on the flight out I refused one on the way home which seemed to personally offend the girl trying to serve it to me.
One of the suitcases on the way home was damaged by the baggage handlers which we didn't realise until we got home, and I saw another girl whose suitcase looked as though it had been completely trashed - the wheels were all wonky and hanging off.
All in all never again.
This was a recent experience on the VS400 from London to Dubai in premium economy.
After an uneventful but friendly check-in experience, I proceeded to the No.1 Traveller lounge at terminal 3 which, while busy, remains a firm favourite.
Unfortunately, the catering experience in this lounge does leave a little something to be desired, unless you are willing to pay for the a la carte meal service, a lot of the reasons I often go there are related to the savings from avoiding a trip to an expensive restaurant or Cafe. Regardless, the service remains excellent, the facilities modern and the condition clean.
Boarding commenced about 75 minutes before the flight and wanting to take my seat early, I was one of the first through. I was informed by the helpful ground staff that due to the risk of delay from adverse weather conditions, they were hoping to have the flight depart early. As a result, not a mere five minutes after taking my seat at the battered boarding gate (Heathrow T3 gates need a refresh!), priority boarding was announced, followed very quickly by general boarding.
Aside from how much the gates need a refurb, one other thing I noted about the boarding, is that Virgin Atlantic boarding at T3 is nowhere near as orderly as at T5. When I think about it, this is probably due to T5 being far better designed and the gates actually having a reasonable number of seats. Still, I think something needs to be done, with T3 being around until 2019 at the earliest.
On board, the experience was quite different. The staff were very welcoming, though clearly busy, but took time to welcome all the passengers before showing us to the seats. A few minutes later, welcome drinks of sparkling wine or orange juice were served.
The seat in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy on board these aircraft is quite a step-up from economy, much more so than BA. The seat is actually the same width as Upper Class, and clad in purple leather, so provides a very comfortable experience, but is still firm enough to provide back support.
I was assigned a seat in row 18, the very front of Premium Economy, meaning significantly more legroom but IFE that swings out the arm (which annoys me a bit when eating). Other than that, there is a headrest which most people find useful, but I always seem to find irritating.
Unfortunately, on this particular evening, the fog was thick and heavy. Therefore, we did not push until about 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time, after which there was a queue for departure that delayed us a further 20 minutes. It always amazes me that within 10 seconds of take-off you are through the fog, giving a delightful view of London tucked under a blanket with just a few muffled lights under a star-lit sky.
After we had reached cruising altitude, the cabin crew came round with hot towels. Seated in row 18, I could see into the galley, and watched them heating the towels, which was fun! I say this because the process involves pouring hot water, from a kettle, onto a tray of towels and then compressing the towels and draining the tray of excess water. Do try this at home, ha! Hot towels for your family at breakfast?! The new amenity kits were also supplied to everyone and these are a real gem, with many useful bits, and the case feels like it deserves reuse!
The main meal service was prompt and again, friendly, featuring a choice of chicken or pasta main meals with the chicken dish featuring vegetables on the side but the pasta intriguingly not. There was a choice of warm(ish) breads which were the normal kind you get on planes (why doesn't anyone use PROPER bread???, just a tip for Gate Gourmet: don't use rubber!!!). This was served with a beverage of your choice, somewhat after you had began the meal, as well as a starter and dessert.
Please note, this service is on proper chinaware and uses real metal cutlery, in addition to the much loved salt and pepper shakers (which I have never stolen, ha!).
While the style to this service is undeniable and way more comfortable than BA, the meal, despite being 3 courses, is still substantially smaller in size to the portions BA serve. Virgin Atlantic needs to improve this, there is too much space on the dinner tray, and it is very obvious. However, the new Premium Economy catering is way better than before, though the chocolate cake is still very sickly! Tea and coffee was also served, but preferring to sleep, I declined.
Trays were then promptly cleared away, leaving passengers to sleep or otherwise. Hot chocolate for movie watchers was also offered, though few accepted (shame, cause it is way better than any Cafe!)
The seat is built with a very decent recline, which makes sleeping very much easier than in economy.
However, here's a warning, it's not the airline's fault but...LAPTOP USERS BEWARE...the recline can be hard and fast, I have heard of laptop screens breaking and this almost happened to the businesswoman behind me when I reclined my seat. There is nothing that can be done but perhaps laptop users can keep the laptop slightly forward on the tray and stay alert.
I am a light sleeper on all flights, a malediction for a frequent traveller, but I still managed to get about 2 hours. The cabin crew at no point awoke me and as soon as dinner finished spoke in hushed tones, dimmed the lights and were very considerate in their sales of duty-free, non-intrusive. No calls of the announcement system were made until descent.
I woke a little while before breakfast started about 2 hours before landing. I decided to watch a movie, the latest Batman, definitely a first-run movie, which was very enjoyable (though I didn't finish it).
The IFE provided was very good, they recently replaced the systems which a uniform 'Vera' system with many useful features including save something for later, Virgin recommends and a simple categories system. It also remembers where you have got to on anything you start watching and wish to finish later on.
The breakfast service was again friendly but left something to be desired in terms of substance. It consisted of cooked eggs, tomato and something resembling hash browns. This was very tasty but lacked meat, was quite small and does not compare to the full English in large size you get on BA.
I could take the small portions at dinner but the breakfast service really needed to be improved. Still, I wasn't really hungry, so it didn't really matter. Hot drinks and soft drinks were also served at this point.
After everything was cleared we began our descent and IFE was turned off (just at the film's climax...great way to guarantee return business!) and we landed in Dubai just 15ish minutes late, after we made up time in-flight.
I have to say the crew were fantastic all the time and very accommodating with passenger requests. We then parked by a jetty, disembarked about 10 minutes later and entered the glorified shopping mall that is Dubai Airport.
In conclusion, the difference between BA and Virgin is quite noticeable, both offer a good service, but Virgin Atlantic offers by far the better seat, and BA by far the better catering. Considering the entertainment and style on Virgin, things really are better on VS. Just sort the catering out please!
PayamTaaghol flew Virgin Atlantic (02/12/2012 21:21)
I had the new upper class seats in my outbound flight and older seats on the inbound. They are both functionally the same. One is much more tired than the other. The new seats, need manual intervention to go to a flat bed by cabin crew whilst the old seats have electronic control! Yes you heard it right. But the sleeping position is completely flat on both and good sized.
The bar on the Upper class is funky and nice. There was little overhead luggage room on both flights and I had to push hard to get my carry-on in. Note that luggage bins for the middle row of seats is non-existent and you have to rely on the side overheads.
The service was brilliant. Attentive cabin crew, full of smiles and genuine care made up for everything else. The funky look is unashamedly 80s and the background music before take-off completes the experience.
Oh and for the business traveller, the power supply on the new configuration did not work on most seats (regular UK plug) and on the old configuration you needed a special adaptor that I did not have and the airline could not supply. So go fully charged with your laptop.
Using VA drive thru check in was quickly through check in and security where my wife had her usual handbag search, as seems with most airports these days a walk through the duty free to reach the Virgin clubhouse where wife was informed there were no treatment time available, full English for both of us, using the Wi-Fi in the clubhouse is very hit and miss and this time was a miss, so time to catch up on reading.
The flight was called and we made our way to check in which was a bit of a shambles, the check in staff were selling upgrades which was causing a Q even though there was priority booking,as we were unable to do OLCI thought one of us might have been chosen for a search but one seats had been moved, when I queried why was told one of the beds was not working but seat was used by someone else!
Was offered champagne (declined) tho wife said yes, delayed a hour on the stand due to a passenger changing there mind so luggage taken of, I'm not a good flyer but know its a means to the end. I read on a flight wife watches films, although I'm not keen on Poland food meals were nice, wine was served pre dinner, drinks were not offered more then once but could always walk to the bar all in all a ok flight.
RichardBrookes flew Virgin Atlantic (28/11/2012 09:45)
I have flown Premium Economy with Virgin quite a lot over the last couple of years and the ONLY real advantage is the seat. The so-called additions over ecomony are nothing more than a token effort by Virgin.
Priority boarding is OK, very rarely do you receive a newspaper without asking, they have stopped giving you a little amenities kit (only a small thing but cut backs all the same!), the food is no better (albeit served on china plates!!), very tight with the wine (they didn't conduct a drinks service on the last flight!), and the service is poor.
Message to Virgin - get your staff to go the extra mile and it makes all the difference. There was once a time when Virgin were better than most because the people working for them cared - this can turn a poor flight into a great flight - sadly the people working in Premium didn't seem to care they were working in a Premium cabin. DO I HAVE TO GIVE BA ANOTHER TRY ???? The choice is yours Virgin.
My husband and I both love flying with Virgin Atlantic. This 747 we were on although seated upstairs which is much nicer, was a very old plane inside and the seating quite uncomfortable.
With premium economy you get a lot of very good benefits like priory check-in desk, boarding before economy passengers, glass of champagne (which always go down very well) Luggage coming off plane first.
Food and wine always very nice with good selection. Virgin Atlantic staff very attentive.
They will always be my first choice airline.
Aircraft Type: A340-600
Class: Upper Class (Premium Business Class)
Route: LHR – LAX
Date: 02nd November 2012
Best for: Someone at home on the red-carpet… or an extra from ‘Made in Chelsea’.
Most likely to sit next to: Fashion designers, Graphic Designers, Fergie and anyone with a second home in the Hollywood hills.
Business or pleasure: It’s all about pleasure. This is a little treat of a flight. Although, there were a few reading scripts at the bar, obviously for the next Hollywood blockbuster.
Routes: Even without Moscow, these are still super cool. Picking somewhere to fly with them is actually down to a roll of the dice. You’d never lose.
Frequent Flyer Programme: Flying Club. Stupidly rewarding, very cool, easy to earn heaps of miles, even without flying.
Best bits: Entertainment and groovy champagne glasses that are more Austin Powers, than Austin, Texas.
Worst bits: ”Is it on the trolley?” – What is with the retro-trolley food service?!
Lots of photos available here: http://wp.me/p2mH8F-eZ
Well, firstly, this is my second Virgin Atlantic trip report, and I have to say, the overall experience on the way out on this trip was a lot better compared to my previous Virgin Atlantic Trip.
However, I haven’t taken any photos of the Upper Class Wing experience, as it was a fairly traumtic experience, as when driving up to the wing in our own car (something you can now organise 12 hours before your flight) one of the security bollards hit our car as it raised from the road, scraping the back bumper and causing a nasty scuff and denting the bumper (fender). The staff at the wing didn’t seem very apologetic, and we had to just get insurance details and make our way through the wing.
Still, undeterred, my partner and I headed straight to the Upper Class Lounge. The whole wing is really a wonderful and efficient way of arriving at Heathrow Terminal 3. I highly recommend it, even with our little scuffle with the security bollards. The flight itself to LAX is a regular flight I do, and actually love the length and departure times, as it means that I arrive in West Coast America just in time for a quick dinner and bed, whilst enjoying a good 11 hours of AVOD entertainment. The A340-600 is still a beautiful aircraft to fly, and sad to see them phased out around the world.
The lounge, even after all these years, is a wonderful product. Virgin are constantly trying to better the lounge, upgrading elements whenever they can, so it doesn’t date. Sadly, after sorting out insurance details etc for our car, we only had roughly 30 mins in the clubhouse, so didn’t have a chance to use the spa or hairdressing salon, instead, heading to the dining area to tuck into some amazing food.
Trying out the Clubhouse burger, and dim sum potstickers (with the option of steamed or fried) along with some excellent wine and bloody mary’s, we were stocked up and ready to board. But not before taking some pictures of the lounge, including it’s new mixing desk, perfect for budding DJ’s. Although, it appears it’s definitely a gimmick, the whole desk doesn’t look like it’s been used yet.
The lounge wasn’t too busy, as there aren’t that many flights at that time, so the service was great, and there were plenty of spaces to relax, a few guests were sleeping on sofas under the mezzanine floor. Obviously resting between connections. About 1 hour before the flight, our flight was called, with a final boarding call only 5 minutes afterwards. As the cabin was full, we didn’t change our seats (from 11K and 12K) as we would normally take 3K and 4K. The concierge desk are usually quite good at organising things like that. The Grey Goose bar on the mezzanine actually looked great, but sadly it’s quiet up there, and looks like it could be quite difficult to get service up there.
Our A340-600 beckoned, on one of the farthest gates away in T3. Once onboard, the cabin was already 75% full, however, our coats were taken and Lanson Black Label champagne offered in their ridiculously shaped champagne glasses. Whilst a bit of kitsch and fun, you actually struggle to place them on the cocktail table, as the reading lamp positioned above it competes for the space. The flight seemed only half full, as when requesting a second pillow, no less than 6 economy pillows were brought for us to use to bolster our sleeping comfort.
We taxied and took off on time. Here is a video of the super smooth take off. http://youtu.be/je8rBeEONKQ
The entertainment was great, and actually seems to have been updated recently. There is a new navigation system on the entertainment, which is actually quicker, however a little more clumsy to use. The biggest problem Virgin suffered with their entertainment system, especially on the A340-600 was that it was slow to start up and respond. It’s good to see it’s been updated.
Even the always confusing Seat Back magazine has been improved, with easier to read entertainment listings, and a cleaner look and feel to it. The iPad cover bag of goodies was available for the flight, however, there was no pen in my one. In our opinion, the goody bags aren’t as good as they used to be. A few years back, the chief cabin crew used to come around with amenities such as lip balm, moisturiser, polos etc. The cost cutting exercise of the company is evident here.
Shortly after take off, there was a drinks service, offered with potato chips. Then came the food offering, being a lunch time departure, the first meal was the main one. This didn’t have an amuse bouche, like my previous flight did, and comparing the salmon starter, (identical to the one I had a month before) was smaller, and slightly less well presented, but equally as elegant on the palette. The taste was amazing.
Following the starter, was the chicken dish, that was fantastic to eat, with an amazing white wine and truffle cream sauce. The presentation still isn’t as good as the Asian carriers, and I can’t actually see much difference between the previous incarnation of their food service and the apparently ‘new fine dining menu’ that they are advertising as offering onboard. The desert, whilst looking somewhat unappealing, was the best bit, a salted caramel and chocolate pudding.
The weirdest thing, was the new trolley service that ensued. Two cabin crew manned this mobile cheese station, that was more hassle than benefit. It was like a Victoria Wood sketch, and as my partner mentioned, actually making the intimate experience of Virgin more of a group exercise, drawing your attention into the cabin, and involving the rest of the passengers, thus reducing your privacy. I would be happy to see this trolley left in the kitchen, with your food brought to your seat, as it’s this service, that you come to expect from Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.
After the dinner service, things settled down, and everyone relaxed into the flight, some already going to sleep, trying to combat the forthcoming jetleg. Roughly around this time, we were passing Greenland, an amazing sight, and needed to take a few shots. You can see them below. A really breathtaking experience. Very humbling.
After a few hours of watching movies, TV shows and looking through the offerings of magazines onboard (still no inflight magazine), it was time for afternoon tea. Something I was looking forward to, as it was advertised on the website, yet hadn’t truly experienced it yet.
Sadly, however, this meant the trolley was coming out again. Little tea stands were offered (and assembled in front of you) containing an array of sandwiches, cakes, and scones. Asking for one of everything, seemed to turn into a rigmarole. The crew took so long to try and assemble the cake stand, lay the modern black paper doily and arrange the cakes as per the obvious catering standard template they were following, the magic of the whole event had sadly deflated somewhat. Joking with the cabin crew about the whole scenario, they too agreed, it was too much of a farce. The sandwiches were slightly stale, yet tasty, and the cakes were delicious. I asked for one of their hot chocolates. I still standby the fact it is one of the best hot chocolates I have ever tasted.
Soon enough, it was time to land. The usual tidying of the cabin, collection of headsets etc followed, and cabin lights dimmed for landing. Sadly, sat across the aisle was someone who wanted to continue to read. Their reading light shining quite sufficiently into my face meaning I had to turn my head away. I was unable to ask him to turn it down without shouting across the aisle, and couldn’t call any of the crew in the final stages of landing, so had to grin and bear it. Still, this meant I could turn my head to the window, and watch the Los Angeles skyline as we came into land.
Virgin Atlantic are trying to improve their product, even on the currently mainstream and successful A340-600 routes, that didn’t ever need much tinkering. The improved entertainment offering, and magazine were great. The food was tasty and almost decent in presentation, however there is still much room for improvement here. The cabin crew were attentive and professional.
The only major drawback is the trolley. It is cheap in appearance, cumbersome and unnecessary and cheapens the whole in flight experience. With the recent announcement that Virgin Atlantic are looking at replacements for their A340 fleet, I will be sad to see them go. They are beautiful, elegant aircraft that I hoped would grace the skies for many years to come. Sadly, it seems the cost of fuel has seen the demise of these, longest commercial aircraft in the sky.
Booking your seat on Virgin Atlantic is nothing more than first come first served we always travel premium economy, to book your seat opens 24 hours before the flight after filling in a very lengthy form the computer chooses your seat only to find when you book your wife in she is sitting two rows back and know way of changing your seat until you check in at the airport I thought this kind of Check-in was for budget carries!! Last time I book long haul with Virgin
Flight delayed no explanation given that I was aware of. In fact on entering the V-room I'm certain I was told the flight was on time. It was in fact delayed for 45 minutes and we were soon in the PE queue to board.
We sat A15 & C15 this was a refurbished plane and very comfortable they were. The entertainment system was absolutely great, around 50 films on a touch screen that could be paused, many albums, TV progs, games and a where are we now, how far to destination, how fast, how high etc. If you didn't have your headphones on the sound from the cockpit and other announcements were incomprehensible.
The food was OK and the pre take off fizzy wine was awful we had the orange. The crew couldn't have been better and the guy who was looking after us was really good, pleasant, a sense of humour and nothing too much trouble. Everything taken into account it was a good experience and we are holidaying in Tobago next year and will be upgrading to PE.
We flew from New York to Heathrow a few days after Hurricane Sandy. I have to praise Virgin for the speed with which they returned to normality. All on time and service good on board.
The main problem was the seat. It seemed far too cramped, I'm 5'11" and 82kgs so not big but I could not get comfortable in the 6hrs 15mins flight. It was the overnight 2315 and I needed sleep but could not get a wink, trying in vain to get my legs into a position where they didn't ache or cramp. I would hate to travel any further in that seat. It may be wise to pay for premium economy if you do.
We travelled to New York on a 747-400 and managed to get onto the upper deck in economy. It was much quieter than normal and the leg room seemed good in comparison with other carriers. The service was really good, ample and tasty meals. The IFE was really good. The plane was clean and the flights were on time. Recommended, but get the upper deck if possible.
Virgin were unable to provide an allocated seat until 24 hours before the flight, this should have been made clear before our booking was taken. Their explanation was poor to say the least, due to aircraft being refurbished they didn't know which aircraft would be used on the day !!! - the configuration was the old layout with PE upstairs on the 747.
Boarding was prompt using the priority lane to enter the holding area. The staff were polite and reasonably friendly. The food was OK, but nothing special, the wine choice was limited but good quality. The in flight entertainment was good, although I can never understand why on an 8 hour flight they cannot plan the film starts to get 3 x 2 hour films in before descent for landing - we missed the last 10 minutes of a film, but to add insult to injury we then circled for about 20 minutes waiting to land in Orlando.
The flight was on time and our baggage was off early, unfortunately the line for immigration was so long that our cases were jammed on the carousel. Not Virgin's fault.
Overall I was less satisfied with this PE experience that previous Virgin flights. I will see how they perform on the return flight, but sadly I may need to look at competitors.
Flew DC to London overnight. Having flown Air NZ premium economy on several occassions I was bitterly disapointed. Seated on the port side of the aircraft bang in the middle, was disgusted to find that they had run our of the Beef dish. still half the cabin to go! I do not expect to pay premium fare to not receive a popular dish such as beef.
Leg room not as good as Air NZ, Alcohol offering was very poor, and I laughed out loud at the after dinner liqueur which was a choice of two cheapo liqueur and a whole 1/4" in the bottom of the glass. No seconds! Crew in a great hurry to clean up the cabin and turn out the lights. On the plus side seat is wide and comfortable.
Booked premium economy as wanted extra leg room (6' 2" tall) and all I can say is I dread to think what it was like in economy! Bad enough when seat upright but when person in front reclined seat even worse. Having flown long haul in premium economy with Qantas earlier in the year was severely disappointed by space in Virgin cabin.
My first Virgin flight for over 2 years, this was a single Upper class ticket on VS 8 (LAX-LHR), fortunately not paid for by me. I had originally asked for the BA flight, but was told this was nearly twice the cost.
Arrived in plenty of time at check in, only hand luggage, but wanted to see if I could change to a seat on the upper deck. A firm “no”, the flight was full.
Lines at security were not long, but the system appeared blocked with people moving very slowly. Part of the problem appeared to be the time it takes for passengers to put back on what they took off or out of their bags. I put my 2 pieces of hand luggage through, which contained 2 full size aerosols and aftershave. On the basis that I know how thorough the TSA can be, I can only assume that there has been a big relaxation of what can be taken through.
Virgin share the Air New Zealand lounge and it was very pleasant. A large & busy lounge, but still found space. Nice food selection including health bars.
Flight called slightly late. I boarded on the first call, so I could stow both my bags. I was seated in row 17 in the nose. Originally I had been allocated a seat by the bar, which I was not too pleased about.
First the bad points, I still dislike the herringbone seating and I still dislike the flip over seats, no real change there.
However, to be fair, what I did like was a spacious and airy front section. The cabin looked clean and felt fresh and the lighting was good. With the window blinds all up, the sun was shining through the cabin – hmmmm, perhaps this was going to be a better flight than I had thought.
The added bonus was all passengers in the front section appeared to be single travellers, certainly no young ones. The cabin crew were swanning around doing cabin crew stuff and it all felt very very comfortable.
Drinks were served, food orders taken (choice of chicken, beef or pasta) and I elected for the chicken dish (without the chicken) which the crew were able to top up with other vegetarian foods. Food wasn’t brilliant, but it was certainly adequate.
I did find the IFE a little fiddly, but the choice of films was first class. TV options were ok, the moving map was impossible to use.
The cabin crew, apart from one squeaky girl who had to make sure the whole cabin heard all her conversations, was absolutely excellent – what amazed me even more was that I got over 5 hours of sleep. I was woken for breakfast which just appeared as ordered and thankfully the blinds were all put up for landing. One note about the toilets, they need replacing, looked old and quite frankly very dated.
Overall, a far better flight than I had expected. The forward cabin, with no bar area, was a great space to be in. I realise that if the herringbone arrangement was replaced, it would probably mean some of the centre space, currently not being used, being taken up with seats.
We landed 20 minutes early and thanks to the Virgin chauffeur, I was home within the hour. A perfect ending to a very interesting trip.
EdwardRead flew Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy (30/09/2012 13:40)
Flew Virgin PE 10/09/12 LGW to Orlando, dedicated check in and security a god send, no long waiting times. Got the new cabins going out, comfortable seats, good leg room, good entertainment system most importantly, no crying,babies/kids infact no kids period!
Coming back got the old style cabin, no way is that worth the extra money but Virgin say the whole fleet will be upgraded by the end of October.
Points to note, Virgins online check-in system is pants, we could not select seats either way (apparently due to the cabin upgrades) I also get the feeling that if you have only booked a flight with virgin it is pot luck if you get the upper cabin as those who have booked their complete holiday with them are given these first.
Fabulous flight from start to end. On row 37 centre 4 seats with partition behind us where cabin crew sort meals drinks etc.. No one behind us so no pulling on our chairs or slamming of tray backs. Up to date films, kids were entertained throughout the 9 hours so it was a nice calm flight for my husband and I. Plenty of legroom for us all my hubby is a large chap and he was more than happy with economy seating and he has travelled all round the world with various airlines. No hassle at checkin at lgw very organised service.
JackieWilliams flew Virgin Atlantic (10/09/2012 14:22)
Our elderly parents who have been travelling from Barbados to london on Virgin every year for the last 15 years were not amused at being asked to pay £30 on a half empty flight back to Barbados last Sunday to lay in a spare row of seats as my mum was not feeling her best being a very nervous flyer. Eventually she fainted 2 hours before Barbados- My family or any of my associates will not be travelling with Virgin again.
I quess no one told us VA was now a BUDGET AIRLINE.
Every thing was perfect from punctuality to the cabin crew,arrived in JFK very happy A Good start to our 7 day stay in the Big Apple.
Recently flew back Upper from Miami. Outstanding service from all the staff who could not have been more helpful and attentive. Nothing was too much trouble.
Flew out to Orlando on 19th July. Firstly we used the v-room at Manchester airport would recommend to any one flying with Virgin, first class service great start to holiday. Big thank you to the service desk in there for upgrading us to more leg room seats free of charge, on time and easy boarding very smooth flight out food good drinks ok but only offered once before food and with food.
Entertainment system first class, return flight bit late boarding we sat near the back of plane not the best if you want to sleep, very noisy and seats are not good for sleeping in, very bumpy flight again food good only offered drinks once, the hot drink of chocolate ok but only half a cup, made good time up on flight landed early, both flights cabin crew friendly and helpful.
Prob use Virgin again but for they messed our booking up with hotel we had booked, Virgin booked wrong one, very poor hotel was a building site and very small rooms, we did get moved after a lot of phoning next day but at a cost of which they said would be £400 in total for both families when we got home our bank statement showed £707 had been taken still waiting on Virgin to find out what has gone wrong.
We have not flown with VA yet, flying on 27 December, 3 of us, paid extra for Premium Economy. After paying discovered that we cannot reserve/choose seats (in ANY class) because of changes being made. Lots of calls, emails, no help whatsoever as to when this option might be available. My complaint? If we had known about this before paying we would not have chosen VA. Does anyone know when this facility will be available again.
We’ll never fly Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy again. When the seat in front of you reclines, you lose all leg room & become excruciatingly uncomfortable.
My 5’ 3” partner exited with a tortured body & my 5’ 10” body took days to recover. (The moral is, don’t believe Virgin’s seat pitch figure, which misleads because of their bad seat design.)
Further, both our seats were faulty both trips – hers wouldn’t recline, my lumbar support was broken & my TV didn’t work. Further, the wings on each side of the head rest fall down, so your head doesn’t get supported, so you can’t sleep comfortably – more bad seat design. Further, the personal TV in each seat back is at a height & angle that an adult male has difficulty seeing the picture clearly – more bad design.
Further, the food was usually tasteless, calorie-laden stuff that you’d send back if served it in a restaurant. Further, the toilets for Premium Economy were frequently not available for use on all 4 sectors because Economy passengers streamed through the curtains to use the Premium toilets, never being discouraged by staff. In short, fly with someone else.
The flight on the way out was ok. On the way back, we had an older aircraft, which had not been refurbished. I paid £349 per person to upgrade and receive all the little extras, but....;
1. we didn't get drinks on boarding
2. We didn't get pre-dinner drinks
3. Our entertainment didn't work for the whole flight
4. There was not enough choices of all the main courses in the premium cabin
5. We didn't get offered bread rolls
6. The only choice of starter was smoked salmon, which was ok for me, but not for everyone
7. We didn't get any cheese and biscuits, which you always used to get with them
8. We didn't get any after dinner liquers
9. You could inhale the breakfast it was so small
10. It took 20 mins from serving the breakfast to get the tea or coffee
11. There was no duty free on board
12. Despite paying for priority disembarking, half of economy was let off first.
Save your money for your holidays. Premium economy is no longer worth the extra.
Check-in was open nice & early for our arrival, we were boarded quickly and then we were delayed due to some cargo but the stewards just brought more drinks around. The food came around about 10pm and then I watched some tv there choice was brilliant all the latest movies and the latest music. The food kept coming around until 4am, the food was nice for plane food.
On the way back we had a contact who got me a visit to the cockpit of the 747 which was brilliant. The return was also good however there was a lot of heavy turbulence which we were uninformed of and we encountered some more at about 1am. Offloading was good at Heathrow however the passport queue was over an hour long which is annoying when landing at 5-6 in the morning.
Booked a premium economy ticket and tried to select bulkhead seats but system didn't allow.
When we arrived the check in lady was very friendly, when I asked about our seats she said she would put a request in the system and check at the gate. After that we were soon going through security.
Quick look around duty free and just on the off chance asked about clubhouse access. They let us pay to come in and what a place to be! Staff lovely and friendly, food delicious and cocktails amazing! An hour before the flight was to depart the announcement was made and we made our way to gate 22.
Priority lanes were well signed. At the gate the machine beeped and we were given a bulkhead seat! Legroom!!! Boarded quickly and after a few minutes of sitting down were offered pre-departure drinks.
Left the gate on time but had to taxi for about 30 mins before we were away. When we got in the air, the IFE had to be rebooted once or twice but the rest of the service was good. Food mediocre but edible. Landed more or less on time and a short queue at immigration. Well done Virgin for a wonderful flight!
Manchester to Orlando, an excellent service, on time, food was very good the staff were excellent - five star.
The return journey however while also excellent I have never been so hot on a plane it made both myself and my hustband feel quite ill. It was an overnight flight I did mention to cabin crew but they said where they sat was cool! I am sure there was something wrong with the circulation of the air, I did ask some of the other passengers and they said they too had been very hot. On a plus side the rest of the flight both service etc was excellent.
Flew with Virgin Atlantic to Orlando MCO on a 2 week vacation on this 747-400, from the moment you check in for this flight you know that there are 400+ people onboard because the check in area is chaos even though Virgin allow you to drop off baggage the night before boarding.
The seats that I originally chose for my family party of 5 were changed 24 hrs before departure and we were plonked next to the toilets which is where I didn`t want to be, credit to Virgin for changing them back after I ranted at them, but I should have needed to do this.
Seats in economy are 31" pitch upholstered fabric seats which believe me you will be looking forward to seeing the back of on a 8hr flight because anyone over 6ft will struggle bigtime! You do feel when you glance around the airplane that Virgin could have taken out 2 rows of seats and increased legroom to at least 33" because on the lower deck their are 390+ people crammed in like sardines.
I refuse to pay almost double the price of a ticket for Virgin Premium Economy with this airline because it simply is daylight robbery for a 38" seat pitch.
My flight home was delayed for 4hrs because a technical fault but Virgin still insisted that you check in at Orlando at the normal time and then wait around in a the Airport Terminal for 5 hrs like a nomad!?! they should have e-mailed or rang passengers and informed them of the delay before they got to airport and allowed them to check in later.
The inflight service was average, I think they served drinks twice and if you wanted another you had to pester the cabin crew who generally looked put out by the request. Wouldn`t use again unless
flyingqueen flew Virgin Atlantic (07/05/2012 20:45)
I flew economy from LHR to LAX. And bought an upgrade to Upper Class with a sale and combination miles and money.
It was the overnight back to London. The Upper Class section was not very full. The staff ignored the few people there and were fawning over one particular man. The stewardesses sat nearby and hung on his every word, like geishas.
When I went to change into my complimentary PJ's the bored stewardess looked up from her magazine as I passed and actually asked me if 'I belonged here'. What a let down finally flying Upper Class on Virgin. I still would fly economy though.
Our trip : Paris (CDG) to Manchester : Air France flight Operated by Flybe the connection to Orlando (MCO) with Virgin Atlantics
In this short summary I will only cover my flight from Manchester to Orlando.
Coming from Paris CDG and landing at Terminal3 I used the transfer shuttle from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1. Shuttle is running every 10mn until 1:30PM and then On-Demand. Shuttle took me from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 where I had to go through security Check.
I was welcomed by a Virgin Atlantic assistant who checked my passport / e-tickets / and registered manually (!!) my luggages to have them properly loaded on VS73 flight.
I had a 2h30 stop in Manchester before boarding on Virgin Atlantics flight. This is enough time to commute form T3 to T1 and have lunch or visit the large duty free shops available.
Boarding was yet started when I arrived at gate 212 at 12h40 (boarding was due to start at 12h45). So we got onboard within 5mn.
Plane took off on time.
Plane is old fashion 747-400. Probably former Alitalia airplane because all information were Italian/English.
Entertainment on board was really poor compared to up to date airplanes : no VOD / no game and small screens.
Up to date movies but without any foreign languages subtitles (only English fluent speakers are flying Virgin Atlantic?).
Steward(ess) were helpfull and ready to answer every traveller requests. Flight was half full (in Economy) so we had the chance to use empty rows to find room to sleep or quieter room to sleep.
We have been served some cocktail / beer / wine as "aperitif".
Then a meal came (menu was offering a choice of 3 main courses all available) with some more wine or beer. Separate Dessert (Mousse au Chocolat with salted butter fudge at the bottom = delicious!) was served just before cofee or tea.
A small ice cream stick has been served as a Movie Snack (too cold so tasteless). Then Coffee/tea were served later in the afternoon
2 hours before landing a small snack was served with Tea/Cofee
Plane landed 20mn before schedule.
The good and the bad :
The Good :
- Online check-in is really easy
- No extra charge to travel with your favourite sports idems (windsurf / Waterski / etc.) in addition to your 23Kg piece of luggage
- Food onboard was ok
- blanket and socks were given so you could take off your shoes during the flight
- Service onboard delivered by flight assistants
The Bad :
- Onboard entertainment
- Just one piece of handbag with less than 6Kg is really far from the 10Kg + laptop bag given on regular International Airlines.
RosieMarsh flew Virgin Atlantic (12/04/2012 15:02)
Flew London - New York, great flight.
I was disappointed in Virgin Atlantic premium economy.
I've flown both BA and Qantas premium economy and my recent flight with VA from Sydney to London was the worst by a long way. The check in hostess was apologetic that we were sitting in the back row of premium economy and by the end of the flight we understood why.
The seats felt cramped, particularly when the seat infront reclined. I was right next to the toilet which was being freely used by not just the PE cabin but a very full economy cabin as well. Constantly bustled by people waiting and unpleasant smells as they changed occupants.
The food was really ordinary. If this was premium dining, I hate to think what was being served in economy. The low point was waking after some sleep on the HK London leg and hungry because we'd not wanted dinner after leaving HK at the equivalent of 02:00 am Sydney time. We asked for a snack not expecting much but maybe a sandwich and received one rather dry cookie each. Overall really poor value for the significant extra cost.
I flew from Miami international to London Heathrow on August 15th 2011.
After having a wonderful holiday in Orlando for a week then moving down to Fort Lauderdale for another week, I arrived with my family at Miami international I was quiet disapointed. It was a very small area to check in and then there was on little duty free shop.
When we boarded the plane (after waiting for premium economy and first class to board) they only just turned on the air conditioning and smoke was coming out of the vents my daughter got quiet worried but it was fine, as i am a plane lover and love to fly i was looking forward for the new ife system with larger screens than normal.
But we had a disappointing announcement by the pilot. He said that the new ife system wasnt working and we could have had a 24hr delay or just flew for an 8 1/2 hr flight with nothing - at this point i was very annoyed.
But after an hour or two in to the flight they played a dvd but we could not change channels all there was is about 6 films played one after another. As we were at the very back seat (the 4 in middle) there was no window apart from on the exit door which was hard to see out of.
The cabin crew were friendly but i am not sure what they was doing as they came round once for our evening meal, once for drinks and then once for our breakfast and then again for tea and coffee. My wife was very thirsty about half way through our the flight and she had to go to premium economy to ask the cabin crew if she could have a drink and they told here that there are some in the kitchen so she had to get one herself.
Overall I was not happy with the Virgin Atlantic experience it is too exspensive for what you get. I would fly with them again as long as some issues are resolved.
This was a truly awful experience. I had never flown Virgin before - and were it not for the excellent experience on the return VS002 in premium economy, I never would again.
The original aircraft scheduled for the flight had a technical issue so a replacement had to be found. However the delay in getting it onto the stand meant that all the passengers had to first of all queue outside and then be crushed together inside a fairly small departure lounge for what seemed like an age.
Announcements were made - 'only another 5-10 minutes', etc, and when boarding was finally announced it was a stampede and a complete shambles.
Once on board it soon became clear that the seat was both cramped and uncomfortable. I am only average height - but once the passenger in front reclined his seat I was literally wearing the seat back and the tv screen. I've never felt so claustrophobic in an aircraft.
The in-flight entertainment programming was poor - especially so considering that Virgin are/were known in the entertainment and music industry.
We were offered an aperitif and then wine with the main meal - but there was no suggestion whatsoever of any second drink and the meals themselves featured some of the worst airline food I have ever been offered.
However by far the worst aspect of the whole unfortunate experience was the crew - they really didn't give a damn. They were all rude and uninterested - It was so obvious that as passengers we were a complete inconvenience to them and they really had better things to do. They chewed gum, they carried on talking between themselves when passengers wanted to ask questions or request something, they literally threw the food and drink items at us and they seemed very pleased to finish serving us and even more so when we landed and they could then 'clock-off'.
Having been late taking-off we arrived more or less on time thanks to the favourable conditions en-route. However when I picked up my suitcase one of the wheels was hanging off and there was a hole in the surrounding area where the case had obviously been dropped.
All in all a flight to forget - although as previously mentioned I am more than happy to give due credit for the totally opposite and positive experience on the return in premium economy.
However it would also be entirely fair to say that I've had vastly superior service on flights with so-called budget airlines - and I will certainly never again fly Virgin in economy class. I'd also think twice about flying on an A340 with any carrier if the seating problems I experienced are typical of what to expect. It is not hard to see why Virgin have been downgraded to a three-star airline.
Personally I'd only rate them one-star - and that's for bothering to turn up and for actually getting me to my destination.
The_Fury flew Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy (21/03/2012 16:31)
Fantastic seat pitch. Service was amazing and I never want to fly any other operator again!!!
The food was so tasty and the added touch of a Baileys or Brandy afterwards was brilliant :)
Huge choice of films and TV more than enough for a 11 + flight - great work Virgin!
I place this review today after checking my youngest daughter in this afternoon with your airline staff.
Wow, what exceptional customer service we received. The check in representative Marianna was just so very helpful and pleasant, we were then asked to move onto the Service Desk for further assistance where we were greeted by Karina & Sue.
Fantastic customer service again with a professional but personal touch to the high level of service I received with a great outcome for both myself and my daughter.
I cannot thank them enough and hope that the service is just as good on her return trip. She was upgraded with out fuss, it appeared to be the pleasure of the Check in Staff as I asked nicely.
Quick attentive service with snacks and drinks going round at intervals, cabin crew friendly!
markscerra flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (19/02/2012 19:30)
Dreading the Saturday night flight as being the start of a very long week, I was quite pleasantly surprised when I checked in and was bumped up from Premium Economy to Upper Class. At least now, I had the opportunity to catch a few hours rest; what a difference!! Thanks!
This is a review of the return leg following a fantastic initial flight from London Gatwick to Barbados which I posted previously.
I arrived at Grantley Adams airport with my travelling partner at 1530 via a taxi transfer from my hotel. I was again unable to check in online again so joined the check-in queue at the Virgin Atlantic desk which runs parallel to the quick bag drop queue. The Virgin Atlantic area is located in the main open forecourt of the airport, round the corner to the left hand side.
Neither queue was too long but they all led to the same desks so we were held at the front while at least three groups were allowed to go ahead and drop bags. I had attempted to reserve seats before leaving England but these again were not confirmed so I was asked my preference and secured the two aisle and middle seats in the central bank of four that we preferred.
The woman at the desk was extremely friendly, smiley and helpful throughout the process and I was away in no time. I turned around and went straight through to security by 1545 and handed in my immigration slip (maintained from the inbound flight) before going through the x-ray machine (laptop out, shoes off) and was airside by 1600.
There are plenty of shops airside, mostly duty free booze, souvenirs, some clothing and one shop selling magazines, books and papers. In terms of food and drink the selection is meager with an oriental takeaway and a Caribbean takeaway serving tasty looking chicken wraps, salads and other simple fare. There is also a cafe once you pass through to the gates and a small bar for that last Banks beer before leaving the island, if you can get a seat.
There is plenty of seating airside but most areas are always busy. I picked up some souvenirs and settled in and read my book for an hour until boarding was called at 1700. Reading was not as easy as you would expect though as there was a near constant stream of loud speaker announcements, accompanied by an irritating jingle. The gate was not up on the board half an hour before the flight but I could see the Virgin Atlantic jumbo through the windows sat at gate 15 so sat nearby in anticipation.
A 15 minute delay to boarding was announced before priority boarding commenced. From then on people were called forward by row numbers but it seemed that 90% of people ignored this and went up anyway, leading to a horrendous queue which many people then tried to jump as they felt they were in the right rows to proceed. The whole process was frankly a shambles and a bum fight with many people getting extremely irritated. Staff did nothing to try and organise the chaos and may as well have called everyone forward in the first place.
Once we reached the front of the queue our boarding passes were taken and we were told that we had been upgraded to premium, only to then be told that he had made a mistake and that we had been moved forward to row 35 which on this configuration was still located in an economy cabin, the first of the disappointments to come.
Nevertheless we were seated in 35B and C by 1750 for our scheduled 1755 takeoff. These were an aisle and middle seat next to a chatty Spanish woman and I was disappointed to realise on boarding that this was an older plane than that used for our outbound journey. This meant the seats felt more cramped and reclined clumsily. The IFE screens were tiny (around 6” square) and was played on a loop, not on demand as on the way out. The movie selection was poor and out of date (Red Dog anyone?). Some members of staff were good enough but one older stewardess was extremely surly, complaining to her colleagues throughout. The other crew performed their duties but were keen to get them done and get us to sleep, as per usual on a night flight.
We took off at 1830. Menus were not brought round as they had an error printed on them so dinner choices were said over the loudspeaker and consisted of a beef stew with mash, vegetable pasta and green beans or Caribbean chicken with rice, which my travelling partner really enjoyed.
I opted for the beef which arrived at 1930 and was an oily stew with shredded beef which was really very tasty with smooth mash and a few beans. This came with a side salad which was far better than the bland one offered on the way out including red onion, peppers, beans, lettuce, tomato and (shock horror) some dressing. Pudding was not served separate and was a bizarre (not in a good way) and dry apple crumble. There was no drinks service before dinner which seemed cheeky but drinks were served with dinner. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate then came round at 2030 and most people began settling in to sleep. Passengers were irritatingly not asked to put their seats into the upright position for the dinner service.
I dozed for two hours after watching some programmes on my laptop and woke at 0500 for breakfast. This consisted of peach yoghurt, blueberry muffin and some melon served with tea, coffee and juice. We began our descent at 0545 before a smooth landing at 0615. I disembarked via an air bridge and was through a very quiet immigration by 0640, the e-passport lanes were shut, and I had my bag off the carousel by 0700.
VERDICT A very disappointing flight following the great experience I had going out to Barbados. The airline and crew appear to not be so concerned with finishing your holiday as well as they like to start it with the aircraft, seating, entertainment and food all a lower standard, roll on the refit of these dated aircraft.
Flight VS029 from Gatwick to Barbados, Tuesday December 27, economy class.
CHECK-IN I arrived at Gatwick South Terminal’s new exchange area, lit up in blue, with my party of 9 at 0800. We had booked through Hayes and Jarvis and all attempts to check-in online up to and including Boxing Day were met by error messages (we later heard that a similar thing was happening to another family we met who had also booked through an external company).
This meant that we had to queue to check in and drop our bags however there was not much of a queue so this did not seem too bad. The queue was slow and when we eventually reached the front of the desk we were told that the seats we had pre booked two weeks earlier had not been ‘confirmed’ and that they would do all they could to make sure that we were able to sit together as a family making me ask why allow someone to pre-book seats if they are not secure?
After much waiting we were eventually sat together and our boarding passes were printed. All of our bags went off OK apart from my sisters (over by a solid 7kg as per usual) so she had to go to the ticket desk at the far side of the room to pay a £30 fine and receive her boarding pass. We were all finally checked in at 0900, an hour later, and made our way upstairs to the new security area with half an hour until our designated boarding time.
All of the overhead screens in the security area designated a 1 or 2 minute wait and there were no queues for the automated barriers. The new system is simply a case of placing the barcode of your boarding pass on a screen (much like the Eurostar at St Pancras or the E-Passport system) and the doors should automatically open. However some people did have trouble getting through and there was only one very distracted person on hand to help anyone struggling.
From here you can join the shortest queue for the x-ray machines and from here the process was smooth and friendly. You can put all your items (laptop, jacket, belt, keys etc) in the same large tray and the track system is automated. We were airside by 0910 and made our way upstairs to grab some breakfast at Pret a Manger and a few mags from Smiths. At 0930 we made a move for gate 19 which was at the far end of a long hallway, a ten minute walk. Boarding had not begun when we reached the gate and special assistance/priority boarding commenced at 1000.
Boarding was complete by 1020 and we took off at 1035, only five minutes late. The seatbelt signs were off by 1045 and headphones and amenity kits (socks, eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, pen) handed round soon after. The Virgin crew were all smiles throughout the flight, as per usual.
FLIGHT I was sat in seat 43K, a window seat located four rows back from the Premium economy section on this version of the B747-400 jumbo jet in a 3-4-3 layout. The legroom felt good and spacious although it was very warm on board. I had 4 toilets located just in front and to my left, however two were reserved for the premium economy cabin. The plane looked completely full on a quick glance.
The entertainment system was the V:port on demand system which had over 50 different TV shows and 49 films in total including recent releases Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Friends with Benefits. I opted for The Help. The system felt clunky and slow at times and was not touch screen, with the fast forward and rewind facilities proving almost impossible to use. However the selection was good and kept me entertained with a clear picture and good sized screen.
As part of the revamped dining service in economy menu cards were brought round at 11 along with immigration landing cards to be filled out before landing. The menu consisted of a welcome cocktail of mixed fruit juices with or without vodka as well as a full drinks service starting at 1115. The main meal was a choice of Sausage and mash with gravy and green beans, chicken in a creamy leek and mustard sauce with broccoli and potatoes or penne pasta in a creamy sauce with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and hard Italian cheese. There was then a break allowed before pudding of an Uglies chocolate caramel cup was brought round with tea, coffee and hot chocolate.
I opted for the chicken which was served at 1215 tasty although a little small, the crispy roast potatoes were particularly good though. This was accompanied by a bread roll and a very bland mixed salad that was crying out for a bit of dressing. This was served on the newly designed small trays which gave me more space to manoeuvre but which was determined to slip down onto my lap. Trays weren’t collected until 30 minutes later. The chocolate mousse was a combination of milk and white chocolate mousse with a caramel sauce and was deliciously moreish. A full drinks service with wine was served with lunch.
The flight settled down after this as people got comfortable and ice creams were brought round at 1530 and juice and water at 1630. The seatbelt sign only came on once throughout the flight and even then there was no turbulence. Afternoon tea of a minced pie, a Lindt chocolate bunny and a white cheese and onion finger sandwich was brought round at 1715.
My grandfather asked one member of cabin crew for 2 beers during the flight but was told he could only have one. He asked if he came back for another one after he had finished it if that would be OK and was told yes which caused him a great degree of frustration. Considering drinks should be free throughout the flight crew are very unwilling to hand any out following the single drinks service at the beginning of the flight. This feels like a recent change to me as I have flown Virgin Atlantic almost annually for 10 years and had no problems acquiring extra drinks before.
Sweets were then brought round before we started our descent at 1830 and we landed at 1910, right on schedule before boarding buses to the terminal building. The terminal building was well air conditioned and the queue for security took 15 minutes and we were out of the building in half an hour, impressive considering we had 10 cases. The only thing you must remember at Barbados is to have your immigration form filled out correctly and to maintain the slip for customs after the baggage carousels.
VERDICT Virgin is updating its entire Gatwick and Manchester based long-haul fleets but following this experience you wouldn’t think they needed to. The little touches and smiling cabin crew really make the effort to get your holiday off to a good start, thoroughly recommended.
just back from los angeles on a direct flight vs23.
have to say that going out i was very impressed with the food and the service. i booked premium economy because i had never flown long haul and didnt want to be squeezed in for the 10 hour journey. i had heard various comments about this class and was to say the least sceptical!! i am inclined to agree with other reviews which is that this class does not warrant at all the extorionate extra money that you pay.
firstly the seats are a dark leather purple with wrap around head rests. yes you do get an extra 8 inches wide on the seat and yes there is slightly more leg room, but at at the end of the day you still cannot recline comfortably to sleep, the chair only goes back about 4 inches and you have a leg rest. the only difference with this class is that you get complimentary champagne (a very small glass)! and some extras like an eye mask, ear plugs (which we needed as we seemed to have the brats from hell on the way out and back)! the food is identical other than the fact that instead of a plastic tray you get miniature china dishes. cannot fault the staff at all, they were fantastic, polite, attractive (a must for Virgin!) and could not do enough to help so full marks Virgin for this. the other problem with premium is that yes you get priority boarding.
however you still get the whole of economy trawling past you in the cabin to board and if you dont get up quickly to get off you get caught in the stampede of economy getting off as well!!. all in all i would not fly economy as i always get the screaming brats next to me but then but you will still get the problems of unsavory children and their parents in this class plus you cannot sleep comfortably at all unless you are near to a window so that you can prop your head onto a window.
def not worth the extra £500, i would say vfm only an extra £100.
Background: This was a leisure flight booked via Sandals.co.uk originally as an economy ticket, but upgraded to Premium Economy several weeks before we travelled.
Check-In: I checked-in online using the Virgin Atlantic website on my iPad at the hotel. The website worked well on the iPad, despite my previous review about the clunky appearance and method of checking-in.
As on the outbound flight I had managed to pre-select our seats ahead of check-in when they had been released by the airline a month before, and had already selected 78H & 78K upstairs.
When I finally got through the check-in procedure I found that no other seats were available, so opted to stay with my pre-selected seats; I was unable to print out my boarding passes, so we had to collect them from the airport the following day. The process was swift with the security checks being done before you got to the desk to check in the bags.
Lounge: I had opted for the Club Mobay Lounge which is located between gates 9 & 13 at Montego Bay airport. Consisting of three separate rooms, the service was swift and friendly and snacks were available at various locations throughout the lounge, with a hot meal service also being provided at additional charge.
Boarding: The lounge did announce the flights boarding so we were surprised to be called for boarding a good hour before take-off, with the final call coming 45 minutes beforehand. By the time we got to the gate boarding had more or less completed, but we went straight to the Upper Class and Premium Economy queue and the lady who had checked us in greeted us and ushered us through to the aircraft.
Seat: The Premium Economy class on this configuration is of the older fabric type seats with the footrests which flip out from your own seat, rather than from the seat in front.
As with the new purple leather seats, the pitch was 38” and the width was more than sufficient. Premium Economy is split across the two decks, with a small cabin of 16 seats in two rows, configured 2-4-2 on the lower deck between Economy and Upper Class, with 24 seats configured 2-2 on the upper deck.
Although I had found the seat very comfortable on the outbound daytime flight, it was a different story on the night-time flight; even though I slept for the majority of the flight I just could not get comfortable – perhaps the fact that my footrest would not extend to its fullest due to the age of the seat, was the problem.
IFE: As previously on the majority of the Gatwick/Manchester aircraft the Nova system was installed, but as this was a night-time flight, I only watched one film whilst I ate, before going to sleep.
Flight: As soon as we were seated we were offered sparkling wine or orange juice. Menus were handed out along with complimentary headsets prior to departure from the gate. The menu offered one starter and a choice of three main courses – chicken, beef and pasta.
We pushed back from the gate about 30 minutes early and were finally airborne within 5 minutes. However, this did not delay our arrival as the captain announced that instead of 9hrs, our flight time would be 7hrs 40 mins and that we would be arriving at least an hour earlier at Gatwick.
The food and drink service on this flight was not as good as the outbound flight, but this was to be expected considering this was a night-time flight. The first drinks service was served within 45 minutes of taking off, with the hot meal service following within 20 minutes. All meal choices were available and served on crockery dishes with metal cutlery. After-dinner liqueurs of Brandy or Baileys were offered once the meal service had finished.
Breakfast was served about 1 ½ hours before we landed, consisting of hot omelette, bacon, sausage and mushroom, along with tea or coffee. I did not partake but I was reliably informed that it wasn’t the best meal of the flight.
We arrived at Gatwick at 08:35, rather than 09:35, 1hr early as promised by the flight crew.
Arrival: Premium Economy passengers upstairs do tend to get stuck due to the fact that the crew allow the front mini Economy cabin, the lower deck Premium Economy cabin and the Upper Class cabin off first, before allowing the upstairs cabin to disembark. There was therefore a small delay exiting the aircraft but immigration at Gatwick was swift due to the time of day.
Bags arrived within 10 minutes of us getting to the carousel and we were through customs and out of the airport within 30 minutes of landing.
Verdict: Despite the old style Premium Economy seating and the antiquated IFE, the product is still one of the best on the market and the crew worked exceptionally hard. With the 747 Gatwick/Manchester fleet being upgraded in 2012, it will be even better value for money to upgrade on the leisure routes in the future.
Background: This was a leisure flight booked via Sandals.co.uk originally as an economy ticket, but upgraded to Premium Economy several weeks before we travelled.
Check-In: I checked-in online using the Virgin Atlantic website. Their system seemed a little more convoluted than some other airline websites I have used in the past (such as Lufthansa, BA & Continental) as I had to pass through several screens before I got to confirm that I even wanted to check-in. The screens were also slightly confusing and the information was not laid out especially clearly. The system also did not recognise that the booking number had my husband on it as well, so I had to manually add him to be checked in.
I had managed to pre-select our seats ahead of check-in when they had been released by the airline a month before, and had already selected 78H & 78K upstairs. When I finally got through the check-in procedure I found that no other seats were available, so opted to stay with my pre-selected seats and printed our boarding passes out for the following day.
Lounge: Whilst customers going with Virgin Holidays have the option to use the V-room at Gatwick South, I had opted for the No1 Traveller’s Lounge. Although smaller than the other lounges on offer, this lounge has a far nicer feel about it and the view is exceptional overlooking the runway and aprons.
You are allowed one hot meal from their set menu and we opted for the Eggs Benedict, which was served within 5-10 minutes of ordering, by waitress service. Drinks are ordered at the bar and other breakfast snacks were available on a large white table at the other end of the lounge.
Boarding: The lounge did not announce flights boarding so it was a case of watching the boards. The flight was due to leave at 12:00 and boarding started at approximately 11:05. The gate was about 10 minutes from the lounge.
By the time we got to the gate Economy class boarding was well under way, but we went straight to the Upper Class and Premium Economy queue which consisted of a couple of passengers and were on the aircraft within 5 minutes and ushered upstairs to our seats.
Seat: The Premium Economy class on this configuration is of the older fabric type seats with the footrests which flip out from your own seat, rather than from the seat in front.
As with the new purple leather seats, the pitch was 38” and the width was more than sufficient. Premium Economy is split across the two decks, with a small cabin of 16 seats in two rows, configured 2-4-2 on the lower deck between Economy and Upper Class, with 24 seats configured 2-2 on the upper deck.
The seat was in fact very comfortable. The overhead lockers were slightly smaller than on the lower deck due to the curvature of the upper deck, but extra storage, albeit too small for any hand luggage larger than a handbag, was available in the side lockers. In our seats (78H & 78K) we had 2 ½ windows to see out of.
IFE: If I mention Nova, then I’m sure most people will know that it is old, plagued with faults and is highly unreliable. It took my husband three attempts at watching Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy until he actually managed to watch it uninterrupted from start to finish – the previous two times had been thwarted by the system in his chair swapping to another channel of its own accord!
Flight: As soon as we were seated we were offered sparkling wine or orange juice. Menus were handed out along with complimentary headsets prior to departure from the gate. The menu offered one starter and a choice of three main courses – chicken, beef and pasta.
We pushed back from the gate about 15 minutes late and were finally airborne by 12:35. However, this did not delay our arrival as the captain announced that instead of 10hrs 20 mins, our flight time would be 9hrs 40 mins.
The food and drink service on this flight was exceptional and I have never seen a cabin crew work so consistently throughout such a long flight. The first drinks service was served within 45 minutes of taking off, with the hot meal service following within 20 minutes. All meal choices were available and served on crockery dishes with metal cutlery. After-dinner liqueurs of Brandy or Baileys were offered once the meal service had finished.
Throughout the flight, in between every meal and snack service the crew were constantly walking the cabin with juice or water for passengers. They were also happy to oblige if you asked for further alcoholic drinks.
A couple of hours after the main meal service we were served with a hot snack – a hot savoury sausage roll, and another drinks service.
A couple of hours after the hot snack we were served with ice cream and another drinks service. The final meal service being served about 1 ½ hours before we landed, consisting of afternoon tea with sandwiches, scone, cream and jam.
We arrived at Montego Bay at 16:50, rather than 17:20, 30 minutes early as promised by the flight crew.
Arrival: Premium Economy passengers upstairs do tend to get stuck due to the fact that the crew allow the front mini Economy cabin, the lower deck Premium Economy cabin and the Upper Class cabin off first, before allowing the upstairs cabin to disembark.
There was therefore a small delay exiting the aircraft but immigration at Montego Bay was well organised with landing cards getting an initial check by staff before they directed you to the immigration desks. Immigration was swift and friendly.
Bags arrived within 10 minutes of us getting to the carousel and we were through customs and into the Sandals lounge within 40 minutes of landing.
Verdict: Despite the old style Premium Economy seating and the antiquated IFE, the product is still one of the best on the market and the crew worked exceptionally hard.
With the 747 Gatwick/Manchester fleet being upgraded in 2012, it will be even better value for money to upgrade on the leisure routes in the future.
After failing to receive a confirmed upgrade on South African Airways, I decided to pay in the difference to try Virgin Atlantic on a return business-class flight from Cape Town to London. I was interested to see the SAA flight depart with plenty of space in business class - so their loss of the revenue and a business customer!
Virgin doesn't operate its own lounge in Cape Town, but one is invited to use the SAA lounge before departure. Having now experienced the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow, I can confidently say that I've never seen anything elsewhere in the league of T3 departures! It was certainly the highlight of my flying experience ever.
Having been very excited to try Virgin, I have to admit at being a little disappointed at the Upper Class Cabin. Its herringbone layout certainly makes very good utilization of space, but one really doesn't get the same feeling of exclusivity as offered in other business class cabins, like SAA's Airbus A340-600.
Service was welcoming and pleasant, but seemed to lack authenticity. The crew were just doing their jobs.
The seats were comfortable and I liked the way in which the backrest converted into the base of one's "bed". The cabin crew were always available to assist with this process and it didn't take two minutes to complete.
The IFE system was switched on just after take-off on both legs, and offered a very good selection of movies, TV programs and air-maps. I found the music offering difficult to navigate - and not much of any interest.
We were offered the usual champagne after take-off and other drinks and a bowl of Dorito's as a snack. Whilst I appreciated the notice that alcohol service would be restricted - I did feel that the service on both legs was a little "tight".
My biggest disappointment of Virgin Upper Class was the food. The menu appeared to lack imagination and not all options presented on the menu were available. It was interesting that my desert choice on both legs was unavailable! The fullhouse English breakfast was worse than anything I've had on SAA's economy class flights over the past 10 years. The egg tasted like powder and I'm afraid that I left most of it.
The interesting question will be whether I fly Virgin again, or revert to SAA or BA on this leg. The real drawcard is the Virgin Departure Clubhouse at Heathrow - but I'm not convinced it is worth an inferior 12-hour flight.
I booked our flight 11 months in advance and took advantage of the free facility to reserve seats.
A week before departure I checked my booking and found that the seat allocation had been scrubbed. I sent two emails which went unanswered and finally a phone call left us with the assurance that similar seats would be provided, though no actual seats numbers. In the event that was true but it put a very sour taste in my mouth before I even started.
On-line check-in was a nightmare. Virgin required personal details (e.g. visa number) that even the US immigration do not ask you to provide. After 15 minutes filling in this data the system appeared to have no facility to print boarding passes. Having arrived at the airport we spent another 15 minutes filling in our details at a self-service kiosk to still not be issued boarding passes!
Mercifully the dedicated PE bag drop was quiet and efficient (as is LGW's new south terminal security).
We boarded late so I can't comment on crowd control.
Upstairs on the 747 for PE has seats in 2 * 2 which is probably the best thing about the whole service (and the reason for all the angst above). I never saw it but I would not have liked to have been in the 2 * 4 * 2 downstairs.
The seats are spacious but very old and they have a curious "lumbar support" that most people agreed were in the wrong place. We received a small but adequate amenity kit and a glass of Champagne on boarding.
The food was adequate but not startling; ditto the wines.
The IFE has a good choice; the screens in PE are tiny by today's standards but they worked well.
The crew on the outbound flight were generally good and helpful.
On the way back we were treated to an address by the Cabin Service Supervisor on alcohol consumption which put me in mind of a boot-camp rather than part of a hospitality group. The boarding Champagne became a very orangey Bucks Fizz because they had run out (this is before take-off).
After take-off (scheduled 16:35) the crew went straight into a meal service with no pre-dinner drinks offered, stating that this was standard procedure. The food was poor. Breakfast was a foil of eggs and potatoes - full stop. We got one round of tea/coffee and even orange juice was on request.
In summary almost the only thing going for this product is the privacy of the seat layout upstairs. The rest of it is very ordinary.
I flew Virgin Atlantic from LHR to JFK Fri 4th and returned the following Monday in Economy.
I've never flown with Virgin Atlantic before and have to admit I was very impressed.
Im not short coming up at just over 6ft 3 so leg room is always a big issue and Virgin were absolutely fine, it was a comfortable trip over the atlantic with ample leg room. Though no economy airlines will have fully stretch out leg room, this was by the far best ive seen, far superioir to the airline I use most, BA.
Not just the legroom that was better, the food and IFE were far superior. The attendants were attentive too, drinks and snacks were available almost instantly during the flight.
I will definately fly Virgin again, with possibly the only fault i could find is that the departure lounge was quite small and crowded and the aircraft looked like it could have done with a bit of maintenence with regards to the seats, the one in front of mine's upholstry looked tatty and there was litter in the tray on the seat infront.
I'm a rather excitable flyer so sleeping did not occur during the flight, but again as with most economy flights for someone my height, it probably wouldnt have been the easiest or most pleasant experience
Overall a great flight.
Flew back from Narita to Heathrow after a week in Tokyo.
The limo pickup was perfect, had to wait a little while in the queue for check in and managed to get to lounge in good time. The lounge was busy, compact but had spaces for everyone with good service and good selection for breakfast.
The cabin was in good order and the food was good although I sometime feel that the flights attendants are not always on the ball. For example, the bedding was put on the wrong way round. Maybe they were just desperate to get home like I was!
My biggest complaint is the bed itself. Once flat, about 2.5 inches of the foam just beneath where you would put your pillow has sank. The bed is no longer level as it dips from your shoulders to your head. It was most uncomfortable and not conducive to a good nights sleep. I have not experienced this before and I wonder whether this is an age thing and just specific to the plane Virgin use to fly to Narita.
The flight from Montego Bay was extremely good, and the service provided was outstanding, with nothing too much trouble for the crew. A little let down with the food, when it came to our pre-ordered 'Gluten-free' meal!
This was an extremely good,albeit long, flight. The service was excellent - as was everything else about it.
After connecting from Ithaca, found the virgin check in area 3 hours + before the flight was due to depart. Polite member of staff confirmed baggage was through checked and reissued boarding passes, along with direction to the lounge.
The lounge is situated before security near to duty free shopping. Lounge understandably smaller than at LHR, with no views, but polite staff. Drinks were offered and there was food buffet from 6.45, had some salmon with rice, along with champagne.
Staff very attentive and seemed to spot an empty glass offering a refill. WIFI initially wasn't working, but there was TV and plenty of newspapers. Called about 45 minutes before flight was due and went through security to board promptly. Offered drink and duty free requests were taken.
Post take off drinks were offered, most of the cabin had decided to sleep, so help was offered to let them get settled first. My friend opted to have a hot chocolate and then had the bed made up. I had the tomato and veg quiche with some salad which was light and more than enough, after a glass of wine I changed into the pyjama suit and bedded down.
Though comfortable I'm a poor sleeper on planes and more dozed and felt a bit warm. Chose the muesli and tea for breakfast, though we were told there was poor visibilty at LHR, after circling we were nearly 30 minutes early. Excellent service, very good staff.
VS11 LHR to Boston (BOS), wouldn't let me check us both in on line, but arrived at LHR to a short queue. Both desks check in staff were on the phone and there was a lady who didn't speak english with a very big case. However the supervisor escorted us to the floor above and we were checked in promptly and got our requested seats.
Through fast track and after some duty free shopping found the Gatehouse lounge. This was excellent with plenty of staff who served us some lovely food and a glass of champagne, I also enjoyed a bramble (blackberry cocktail). We were called about 45 minutes before departure and on arrival at the gate most other passngers seemed to have boarded.
Boarded promply and were offered a drink. We were updated about our departure being delayed slightly by the captain and pushed back about 15 minutes late. I was sceptical about the herring bone formation having read mixed reviews but liked it and could talk to my friend in the row behind still.
After take off aperitifs were offered and food orders taken. I chose pea and basil risotto with prawns and Salmon on a seafood pillow in vermouth, I wasn't disappointed. The dessert and cheese were equally as good.
Service was attentive throughout. Afternoon tea was served a hour or so before landing. We didn't make up the lost time, but this wasn't a big deal. Bagage arrived promptly. An excellent service throughout.
Sydney to London via Hongkong forward on 15/8/11, return on 15/9/11.
VA delivered on seat comfort, legroom, cabin service, baggage reclaimand a high ratio of toilets to passengers in PE.
Priority embarkation only worked at Sydney. At Hong Kong two separate gates funnel everyone into the same hallway, so Economy and PE passengers lined up in a long queue at the aircraft door.
Meals are apparently identical with Economy, but PE get first pick, so selected choice was always available. The stainless steel cutlery was sometimes provided with the meal listed on the menu, other meals were identical with what is served in Economy.
The last meal was tiny and horrible. It looked and tasted like reheated leftovers. The fruit bowl appeared on two out of 4 flights, shortly before landing, much too late to be useful, also on the last occasion the choice was pears or pears.
Someone has commented about the fruit bowl being leftovers from Upper Class. My experience causes me to suspect this may be true.
The finishing touch was a handout of small packets of Love Hearts lollies, endorsed "For Ever", "Don't Cry" etc. just prior to landing. Initial amusement quickly changed to a feeling of insult.
As for the IFE, it was over 2 hours before it was persuaded to work, when it became apparent that the screen was way past its use-by date, and so badly burned that text was difficult to read.
Buy PE to get extra leg room, because that is about the only advantage ov er economy. Overall it represents extremely poor value for money.
I've known quite a few friends and family that have flown with Virgin in the past and to tell you the truth, they have found the experience very average... Like you get what you pay for. However, this flight from Gatwick to Las Vegas McCarran was a very pleasurable journey. 31 Inch seat pitch though... Smaller than my Thomas cook flight.
Gatwick airport's South Terminal was busy, but similarly to my trip to Florida earlier in the year, I booked myself into the No1 travelers lounge, which again offered great views of the runway and was accompanied by attentive staff and complimentary drinks and a selection of foods. We boarded very near the same gate that we used on our Florida trip so getting lost wasn't a problem.
The cabin crew I must say are absolutely brilliant and work really hard. They are always smiling and never seem to sit down at all. By the end of the flight I am sure they must be truly exhausted and yet they are still smiling and look immaculate in their red uniforms.
I would rate the food much better than that of Thomas Cook, but you can also see the big difference in flight prices between the 2 businesses. Entertainment on this flight was using the old, and quite frankly dated system using channels on a loop. There was a decent selection but having to wait for it to come on was really annoying but very similar to my outbound Thomas Cook flight. The return flight with virgin was very much the same, crappy entertainment and a pretty old-looking 747. They really need to update their Gatwick & Manchester fleets...
Overall, I thought the experience was good, disregarding the entertainment. I would recommend this airline to friends.
We flew out on the 10th July from Manchester on the new A340-300. Absolutely impressed with the service from start to finish.Priority boarding was quick and well organised and it is a nice touch to get a little glass of fizzy pre-flight. The new seats are comfortable ,wide and recline further than economy.The new entertainment system is superb esp the fact that everything is on demand and the quality and variety of music was phenomenal. The meal was fine,a good selection ( though one meat course ran out before it got to us) and the after dinner brandy was cute. The staff were fabulous though.I will challenge anyone that says different.They have a hard enough job for 9 hrs serving 50-odd people in our cabin and to be so attentive ,pleasant and helpful all the time made our journey all that more special.We have been flying Virgin Atlantic for over 10 yrs now and have no plans to change this. So all in all,the new Premium Economy experience is impressive but oh so about time .
Manchester to Orlando on new A330 airbus, eagerly anticipated travel on newest plane, for 3 week holiday in Orlando.
Decent flight price booked 10 days before, just missed out on booking discounted premium economy fare, first big mistake.
Online check in and bag drop easy as always, decided to check out upgrade price at airport £250pp (3 of us) too much me thinks for what you get. So I settle for £50pp exit row upgrade = £150, second big mistake, under no circumstances would I ever do this again, or recommend it to anyone. To be honest VA should be paying you to sit in these seats, the amount of traffic crossing over the cabin during the flight was immensely frustrating.
In hindsight it would have been better to pay £35 pp to sit in the additional legroom seats AC HK rows 51 to 57 I think, which is what I will do on return if I can, if Premium economy is still extortionate price.
Flight itself, took off and landed early, apart from the inconvenience of being stepped over most of the flight the seats were incredibly uncomfortable, the material seemed very harsh almost like sitting on a hessian mat. Food choices were not good at least did not appeal to my taste, only two rounds of refreshments served in a 9 hour flight, no mention of going to collect your own as happens on other flights.
Flight crew pleasant enough. IFE excellent according to my travelling companions who had their own personal headphones, I had difficulty hearing anything through the supplied headphones due to excessive noise at exit row.
Plane was new and clean which was a bonus after travelling previously on VA 747.
On our return I will hopefully get a decent price for PE upgrade, if not will try to upgrade to AC HK extra legroom seats, all our party are over 5' 11 tall even me (mum).
All in all lesson learned in future to book PE when discounted price available, definitely do not sit near exit or on exit row (centre 4 across). Have travelled many times with VA economy and got to point where this was the last attempt and hoped for a better experience than the 747, lets see what the return brings.
If only BA flew from Manchester direct to Orlando or Vegas.
We recently flew with Virgin to New York. We'd flown Premium Economy in the past, and had always been impressed by the service.
Boarding was quick, and Premium Economy passengers were given priority ahead of Economy passengers - unlike British Airways.
The cabin was clean and the wide purple seats stood out as soon as we entered the aircraft. The seats themselves were very comfy, with adequate incline. We were given menus and 3 choices of meals - unlike BA.
Drinks were served in glass tumblers and the meal - which was nice - was served in china dish-ware with metal cutlery. This was a class above BA. The IFE screens were big, however the IFE wasn't fully functioning on the aircraft. The system had to be rebooted several times.
Overall, a pleasant experience onboard the A340.
Flew out and back to new York JFK in March, on the A340. The outward journey was fine, uneventful and unspectacular. We were allocated an extra legroom seat because of a mix-up with the booking. One bag had both wheels ripped of it into new York.
On the return journey, however, it was slightly different. The flight departed at 6-15pm. there was no pre dinner drink at all. The dinner took about an hour to begin service, and we received our drink after we had finished eating dinner. When we did receive the drink, the white wine was at room temperature. When this was brought to the crew members attention, they shrugged and carried on with the service.
The breakfast consisted of a hard and stale top of a muffin. No juice or anything else was offered. My partner had a coffee which was served after she had eaten her food and I wanted a tea which was eventually brought around 15 minutes after the food.
The seats were very comfortable when upright. However, being six feet four inches tall (193cm) I need a bit of space. When you recline the seat, Virgin have some new gizzmo to try to gain more recline - the base of the seat lifts up and slides forward at the same time as the back reclines. However, this takes your knees straight into the seat in from, and makes it extremely uncomfortable to sleep. Normally I can get four or five hours on these flights, but I only managed about 15 minutes on this one. Not at all comfortable.
IFE was excellent - so much better on Virgin's ex-Heathrow flights than on the ex-Gatwick aircraft.
Funnily enough, I always enjoy my outward daytime flights on Virgin to the US, but rarely do I find them enjoyable on night-time return flights. Maybe its me, or maybe its the crew rushing to get home!
Does Virgin Atlantic Really Care about Customers?
The Virgin Atlantic brand has been built on the perception that it cares for its customer. It has fought the good fight against the big airlines and played on its role as the underdog. We can all remember the issue with BA using Virgin’s customer data to gain a competitive advantage. Virgin Atlantic cried foul and rightly so according to the courts.
And yet, when the tables are turned, when Virgin Atlantic are pitted against the individual passenger, their corporate value structure is immediately forgotten. In these circumstances, caring seems to be the last thing on their mind, far behind the opportunity to make profit.
Last year, I booked a trans-Atlantic flight with Virgin. Unfortunately my father died the week before we were due to fly. Each of the providers of the services, hotels, car hire, airport parking and theatre tickets all refunded monies in the light of tragic circumstances, ignoring their standard terms and conditions. And yet, Virgin Atlantic referred to the small print and kept their money. To rub salt into the wounds, they also refused to credit any air miles on the basis that we never actually flew – unbelievable I know!! One would think this is one part of the organisation not knowing what the other part were doing, but when pressed and highlighted the situation, their inappropriately named ‘Customer Care’ team stood firm.
I strongly advise anyone to think very seriously about dealing with such a callous, double standard organisation in the future.
Virgin's service has been disgraceful to the point that I will never use them again, never recommend them to anyone and in fact go so far as to warn people against them here and on travel forums, my marketing workplace, my friends and family and the various blogging and forum sites I work with.
The signs are there with the insufficient legroom on a crowded plane, yet the "purple" seats with extra legroom are empty! You have to pay extra to sit there, even if they're empty after take off.
I could have noticed the company was poorly guided there but the revelation came when my father passed away - a sad and strange time when the world moves faster whilst you stand still. I checked my terms and conditions and noticed a waver in the case of bereavement, so I relaxed a little. Regular changes cost $275 plus ticket price difference and on "no show" you must pay $375 plus ticket price difference to fly. Under each of these conditions is a reminder of this very sensible waiver. I thought "good on Virgin, that's very decent of them to have thought of this". I couldn't bring myself to do anything as the grief set in but eventually thought I should get in touch with Virgin and explain what's gone on.
I was bounced around from one person to the next, each time forced to recall events, each person not knowing what was previously said and not helping. I asked for a supervisor and she was aggressive and counter-productive. I bought the flight with Expedia and she wanted me to call them. She wouldn't listen to the fact that I had already spoken to them and they had been very detailed and helpful in telling me that once a journey had begun the tickets are the responsibility of the carrier.
She discounted the fee to $275 and said she couldn't see any reason why she should do as much as she did. She also said that the rest of the fee was due to Expedia and advised me to call them. Expedia had been so helpful the first time so I wasn't afraid of calling them, but again they advised me very clearly and calmly that the fee was Virgin's. They called Virgin for me and explained the situation for me. They then put me through and I was hopeful, but as soon as the Virgin Atlantic supervisor got on the phone she went off on one about how ridiculous it was that Expedia pass their problems on to her, and that I have to simply pay up.
I never minded paying, I simply wanted the correct info and for the terms of the flight to be upheld in a sensible and humane way. I was met by misinformation, aggression, no sympathy and very little help that in hindsight I'd rather have avoided for the trouble and extra grief it caused.
Whether I had to pay $275 or not, I hope Virgin enjoys it as it's the last penny they will get from me.
We're both pensioners and fly to the Caribbean with Virgin at least once a year. We decided to upgrade to a Premium Economy about 8 years ago because economy seats are just so uncomfortably 'squidged' - particularly for one (me) with a rapidly spreading lower half.
Initially, we were made to feel special and felt that the extra charge, not insignificant to us, was worth it. However, these days - particularly the homecoming flight - aside from the fact that sitting in 'the bubble' is undoubtedly a more pleasant atmosphere, it no longer feels very special.
The much vaunted glass of 'champagne' before take-off used to be quite palatable - and sometimes refilled. Now, it's half a glass of some sharp fizzy wine which the staff can't be bothered to even chill. Ours was so bad on the last flight that we couldn't bring ourselves to drink it (believe me, that is BAD-bad!!). Even the stewardess acknowledged it wasn't very good, but was pretty much indifferent to our disappointment.
The food, which I believe is the same as in economy, is usually exceptionally bad - though occasionally it is edible enough to give us hope for the next time. On the return flight, an overnight flight, the staff can't wait to serve you, whisking away the tray almost before you finish. It is so, so rushed - annoyingly so - and we have concluded this must be because then the staff can have a bit of a break while passengers sleep.
Generally the staff are quite pleasant, but sometimes that is not the case. We pay approximately an extra £250 each, each way, for Premium seats, and have to ask ourselves if it's really worth it.
We're going away in April and, because it's a very special occasion, have splashed out (for the first time ever) to travel Upper Class. Sadly, it is likely to be the last time - just too expensive - but we are very much hoping that it'll be significantly better than our last few journeys with Virgin - who seem to be getting just a little complacent.
we save really hard to buy premium economy seat for a couple of reasons:- My husband is 6'3 and the frame to go with so he does not fit into economy, and I am not a good flyer the bubble seats on the 747 are great for me. We have been to Florida every year since 2002 with Virgin and apart from one set of crew I could not fault the service. The last flight in December 2010 the crew and service were first class. Thumbs up Virgin!!!!
After being on a recent journey in January to Las Vegas with Virgin in a B747-400 having no complaints in the Premium Economy configuration, that cannot be said for the Airbus long haul.
Departed with one of my favourite airlines to Cape Town 9 Feb 2011 [Virgin Atlantic] in Premium Economy on a A340-600. Designated seats were at the rear of cabin - 23D and 23F - disgusting. No leg room in comparison with Economy row 31 A / C / H & K who pay far less. There is no value in paying Premium Economy for such poor seats on the A340-600.
After being disturbed throughout my flight as the seats were adjacent to the toilets used by both cabins, an email to Virgin prior to my return flight on Friday 18 Feb has still had no response.
Come on Virgin - you can do better than this - get your seat configurations sorted.
I flew with Virgin Atlantic on the "kangaroo" run from Sydney to Hong Kong in 2009.
My agent had recommended the premium economy seat before I booked, and going with his advice, I grabbed it.
What a great idea! The service upon entering was distinguishable compared to what I had been used to in the economy area of the plane. I was offered beverages the moment I sat down.
The food was also a class above than that in economy, with three options on the menu, compared to that on the regular economy pla.
Cannot also help mentioning the seat pitch and leg room, with the reinforcement in the middle, which makes for a long flight, more comfort.
Definitely would recommend Virgin Atlantic to everyone for the Sydney to Hong Kong leg. Not bad value for around $2000.00 AUD return.
Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is a waste of money, judging from my experience.
Seats were no better than those in economy with the exception of a wider armrest that could accommodate two elbows. Food was dried-out and mundane; legroom poor with typical, standard footrests located on seats in front of you; breakfast not served; entertainment system malfunctioned; seats pictured on their website (the red ones, not even the purple leather ones they're so proud of) are NOT what we got.
No premium economy baggage reclaim as they state; baggage reclaim was like everyone else's; in fact, people in Economy were getting theirs first.
Do yourself a favour, and pay 50 pounds extra for exit row seats in Economy; you'll be more comfortable and you won't be spending exorbitant upgrade fees that can vary from $200 as listed by people on other sites to the $375 per seat I stupidly paid expecting more comfort and service.
went on a business trip using economy class. Online checkin was available only 24 hours before flight time. When trying to choose seat, most of the seats were unavailable - these were being held for those willing to pay more for "extra leg room". Airport baggage drop went smoothly, as did the borading. However, we were not offered a seat upgrade option either during check in or at the aiport (possibly the flight was full). Seat space was awful - we were in row 45 in the 4 middle seats and it was impossible to move within the row. The bag compartment of the seat in front of me was permanently lodged between my legs during the entire 10 hour flight. When the passenger in front lowered his seat the IFE screen was barely an inch from my face. Service was acceptable, but the food quality was atrocious and we were not given suffcient food on the outgoing flight. On the flight back we were offered at least 2 more meals/snacks - why, when its exactly the same distance? I would strongly recommend avoiding Virgin economy (cattle) class long haul flight unless you can upgrade your seat to economy plus.
Having flown Air New Zealand regularly some months, Virgin has that feel of a Budget Airline trying to measure up with the best. Gimmicky, with big admirable ideas but nothing quite works. Virgin's biggest problem is their inconsistency. The cabin crew appear more like "gifted amateurs" than professionals. If you're lucky enough to get an A List crew, they are divine, if not, sit back and suffer British service at its dismissive "best". I'm sure the crew on my recent flight from JFK-LHR would have been great if they hadn't been so pre-occupied in their own conversations. Economy crew levels seemed light. They seemed rushed, and the moment the job was done they were back to nattering amongst themselves. Whenever you asked for anything, there was a sense that you were interrrupting a private moment. Unforgivably, on leaving the aircraft, the crew stood talking to one another instead of farewelling passengers. I have to say i would have enjoyed a "farewell" in preference to the conversation i heard: "I was so embarassed. I opened my handbag and my spare tampon fell out on the counter". Yes. Tasteful - Not. Professional - Not. Maybe if their uniforms were of better quality, were more practical and actually fitted those who wear it morale would improve and service would improve. My jury's out on Virgin. I have ahd occasions where they left everyone for dead, but when they're not on form, they are worse than the worst. On this flight, the food was OK, the seat was OK, we were on time, and the service was just slightly below average. I do however think that 4 cabin crew to serve the entire economy cabin on a 747 is too few.
We arrived at Heathrow after flying BMI from Manchester. We went strait to the Upper class lounge and it was amazing. It's better than any lounge in the world, this is because, other lounges are too business-like, it's great if you're travelling for business reasons, but if you're not, it's too formal.
The Virgin lounge is informal, with great business facilities and a brilliant bar (which I liked using). Boarding was unbelievably quick, however I'd prefer it if upper class boarded last, so you're not waiting on the tarmac as long and people don't look at you like you're the devil. Food was amazing and the seat was a fantastic length.
For sitting the seat was very comfortable, however it doesn't recline that much, so that's a bit annoying. The onboard bar was great for meeting other passenger's, however, on BA you sit side by side with a screen splitting the two seats. This is great for people travelling in pair's or groups and to meet other passenger's, plus, you can still be anti-social if you want. The cabin Crew were perfect (as always) and they were very willing to help.
Fly Virgin Premium Economy from London Heathrow to San Francisco return. Originally had only booked the return leg Premium, but they upgraded my outward trip at online check-in for free, which was a nice touch.
Virgin Premium Economy feels to me like the old style business class, pre the days of fully flat beds. Seats are very wide, and very comfy. The arm rests don't intrude on you like in economy. There is ample leg room. I am 6ft 2 and could stretch my legs under the seat in front without my knees hitting the back of the seat. There is a foot rest that is provided with two settings, which provides nice comfort when watching the TV.
Meals are excellent, you are provided with a in-flight menu, and all food is served on proper plates and metal cutlery is used. During the flight you are offered drinks in glass tumblers, and the service is excellent. This really is the same as the old business class.
You are in your own cabin, cordoned off from Economy, and there is even private toilets marked "Premium Economy Only", just a pity people don't pay attention to this. Priority boarding is also an added bonus, so you are not involved in the economy "Queue".
In my opinion the service is excellent, and for any frequent flyer who's company will no longer pay for Upper Class, this is an excellent substitution.
The only complaint is the limited 6KG weight restriction for hand luggage! This stops you from taking your small carry on suitcase, and briefcase, which BA always allow.
Travelled from LHR to LAX with my family on VS07. Check in was busy on arrival to T3 - so we were quickly taken upstairs to the drive through chauffeur check in and processed quickly. Arrived at the Clubhouse lounge shortly after to have some breakfast. Tried to book a treatment at the spa for me and my wife - but all appointments were gone which was frustrating as the online / phone booking service has also been stopped - so it pot luck on the day if you can get in or not. Flight was boarded on time and we departed from London 10mins behind schedule. We had prebooked our seats 4A, 4D, 5A and 5D. This is a nice part of the plane as its up the front and away from the noise of the engines. The seats are slightly offset between A and D with A sitting slightly rearwards of the D seats. For us - this was perfect as it allowed my wife and I to keep an eye on the children without having to break our necks. Seats were very comfortable for both sitting and sleeping - though talking to the person next to you can be hard due to the divider unless your seat is upright. The cabin service from the crew and the food was excellent and the eat when you like concept is great when travelling with children. Arrival into LA was on time and by the time the customs clearance had taken place the Upper Class bags were on the carousel. All in all - the best flight we have ever done as a family
The vs150 was a rescue flight from Orlando to Gatwick. The TVs were new and clear, also you could choose what you watch and when.
There wasn't the variety of drinks available and no duty free which is understandable, but the meals where awful - the cottage pie was very watery and there was no meat in it at all.
The seats were just as bad as the outbound flight on VS28, and I still have back ache four days after returning.
The exit seats are even more uncomfortable and would not want to give the airline my money - I have never been more uncomfortable in my life.
This was the the sort of thing that I expect from Ryanair and Monarch. The in-flight entertainment system was difficult to work and the TVs were old and flickered, and some didn't work and the crew ignored this fact.
The seats are not leather and are very uncomfortable, and the exit seats are even worse. Also some of the seat reclines didn't work.
Where most airlines have different sections of the aircraft so everyone gets served quickly, Virgin didn't so food and drink took a long time to get around.
I won't fly with Virgin and if I return to Orlando I would use another airline.
A tip for Virgin Lovers (like me). Book Premium Economy out of Las Vegas to Gatwick. It's the only 747 in thier fleet with Premium UPSTAIRS in the bubble. It's 2 and 2 seating (it's thier old "Upper Class" seats) and it's very civilised. I recommend ANY window seat upstairs.......Row 70 is the bulkhead. It's the best!!!! Enjoy all.
Virgin Atlantic's A340s - window seats in coach. With the 2-4-2 configuration and several extra inches between the window seat and the wall, this is one of the most comfortable economy seats available (esp when compared to 747s and 777s).
I finally got a Virgin flight with the V:Port IFE, and what a system. It is the best IFE system of any airline I've ever been on! The service and cabin crew were impeccable (as always) and the food was pretty good. However the legroom is a little small and the chair doesn't recline that far back. Boarding was quick, however, the gate closes 30 mins before departure, you only have to wait 20 on BA and less on United. Overall though, an excellent flight.
A first class experience!
From the lounge to the staff onboard, flying as a UC Pax with Virgin is an experience to behold. Spacious seat with plenty of room and comfort for sleeping whilst hurtling toward your destination, all in the the A346 is also a much quieter aircraft than the lumbering 744 - hopefully they'll keep it on the SFO-LHR route for a while.
I had the honour and privilege of flying Virgin to Boston on the 3rd December. I chose to pay double the economy price and fly premium economy. I expected something a bit better than economy but I was under no illusion it would be anywhere near Upper Class. I was very wrong in expecting anything to be different.
On reflection I should have kept the extra money I spent on the PE fare and flown economy which would have given me more money to spend in Boston. The flight out was ok, a nice glass of champagne of bucks fizz when you board which was most welcoming. I can honestly say that having chose two seats at the back the only difference to being in economy was the fact that our food came with proper knives and forkes and we had glasses to drink out of.
The food on the flight out was ok, nothing to shout about. The service was ok too, again nothing to shout about.
The flight back was the worst I have ever experienced - worse than any economy flight I have ever taken. As I said I thought flying PE would be much better than economy but it wasn't. There were no packs on the seat when we boarded so I had to ask for one so I could take off my boots, the food on offer (bearing in mind it was an overnight flight was BBQ chicken or a curry - who wants a curry just before they go to sleep? There was supposed to be cheese and biscuits on the tray I had both, my sister had the biscuits but no cheese. People around us also had a carton of water but we didn't. When we asked the steward he said he would get some for us - obviously he didn't. Then my sister asked for decaf coffee and it was like she had asked for Cristal Champagne - he said he would get it but it was with reluctance.
Breakfast was a joke, orange juice and a sponge cake - oh I almost forgot the steward came round with some fresh fruit (probably leftovers from upper class).
The tv screen was too small to watch and flickered and flashed the whole way through every film.
My lasting memory was about four hours into the flight, everyone asleep, I got out to allow my sister to go to the toilet and stood by my seat - a stewardess barged passed me - although I was attempting to move behind my seat to let her pass - not a thank you or excuse me - nothing. Little did I know that she did exactly the same to my sister who was returning to the toilet - no way do I think stewards/stewardesses should be treated as royalty - why do we have to step aside and let them pass - my sister was met with the same blank look and no comment for being allowed to pass. They were awful.
I know Sir Richard Branson is proud of his airline, well he wouldn't have been on this particular flight! I was given a questionnaire to fill in which I did openly and honestly - I doubt that reached Sir Richard, they probably put it straight in the bin.
The Virgin webside advertises Premium Economy as having fine dining - wrong, served on china dinner ware - wrong - the food was just the same as economy, heated up in plastic trays with the foil on top.
Terrible service, uncomfortable seat, poor food ... Virgin seems to me is all marketing and not much substance.
Jaysdave flew Virgin Atlantic Economy (14/10/2009 05:56)
Below is a letter I wrote to Virgin after one of the worst flights I have ever been on......their rather unsatisfactory response is copied below the letter:
Dear Sir/Madam, It is with considerable sadness that I have to write this letter of complaint to you about our recent flight with you, (JFK - LHR , 15th August 2009, VS046, seat numbers 58A & 58B). I will itemise the points below as to why we are so unhappy, but I say it is with sadness that I write as we feel that Virgin Atlantic rightly sets its' own high standards, thereby compounding the disappointment that they were not only not met, but fell far short of those set by other airlines. In the last 12 months, we have flown by Jet Airways, Lufthansa, British Airways & Air New Zealand, and not had a comparable experience with any of those operators. In-Flight Entertainment This didn't work in our seats, or I believe in 10 other seats for the entire flight. tThe flight attendants were aware of this, and to their credit did 'say' they were making efforts to fix the problem.....however it was not until at least 2 hours into the flight did a senior stewardess come to our seats, and when she did, it was to tell us that the problem should be fixed within 10 minutes. I and my girlfriend fell asleep within 30 minutes of her telling us this, (in which time, we were told nothing and needless to say, the system was still not working). At the end of the flight, we were given a voucher for 4,000 miles or £20 off a virgin holiday along with an apology. Were that the only incident, we could accept that occassionally these things happen, although I am unsure why checks aren't made on the systems while the plane is being prepared. As a result though of the overall level of service we received through the flight, I have to question the veracity of the crews efforts to fix the problem, and the sincerity of what we were told. In-Flight Service This aspect of our flight was the most disappointing. At no time in the run up to dinner being served were we offered a drink or a bag of nuts, and when dinner was served, we were not offered a drink until dinner was completed. When we were offered a drink, I asked for a bloody mary which was given to me as a vodka & tomato juice with a dash of worcester sauce. I asked for some tabasco, which I was told they didn't have. I asked for some salt and pepper, to which I was told that I had been given some with my cutlery and that there was no more available. How foolish of me not to have pre-empted this situation and saved some for my drink, rather than use it on my chicken & pasta dinner. (On which point, I would add that it was, apart from my LHR - JFK flight, the worst bit of airline food I or my girlfriend have eaten. It actually takes more talent to make a piece of chicken taste that bad than it does to make it taste delicious). Back though to the salt & pepper. As I say, this seemed a request too far for the stewardess making my drink, (incidentally, I believe her name was Caroline). In the disappointment of no tabasco sauce, or salt and pepper, I forgot to ask for a slice of lemon....but at the same time, she didn't ask whether I would like one which even the most amateur of staff would have done in a fourth rate hotel. As I said earlier it was while our trays were being collected that a senior crew member informed us that our entertainment systems would be working within ten minutes. This is important to bear in mind as I had been waiting for the Duty Free trolley to be brought around which we had been told at the beginning of the flight would happen after the dinner service. I was therefore very much awake for a full half hour after our trays had been collected hoping to a) watch a film, or listen to some music and b) buy some cigarettes. In the boredom, I did eventually fall asleep. When we were awoken with the breakfast offer of a muffin, I asked the stewardess whether I could buy some Duty Free goods. I was told that the time to buy Duty Free had come and gone, and (once again, Caroline) said that she had come round after dinner herself, offered Duty Free products and now all the products had been sealed in their containers and it was impossible for me to buy anything. I do not doubt that she did come around, but her assertion that she did so immediately after dinner was patently untrue as I had most definitely been awake for 30 minutes with cash in hand. My girlfriend, by this time extremely angry about our whole experience asked for a complaint form, at which point a stewardess, (not Caroline, although she was the one closer to the galley area) went to speak to a colleague who came back to us and said that rather amazingly Duty Free was still available though they may have sold out of some products. As it was, I managed to get some cigarettes, (but no complaint form). I earlier said that I question the sincerity of your crew simply because I was told that Duty Free was offered immediately after dinner, (not true) and that after the Duty Free service had finished, all products were stored in their container, and the container was sealed immediately thereafter. Having threatened to complain, I managed to get some Duty Free at least two hours after the service had apparently happened, and therefore at least 90 minutes after the containers had been sealed. It is, I hope you see, irrefutable that there is at least one mutually exclusive fact here, which unfortunately casts a shadow over all other assertions made. I hope you can understand our anger over the service you offered us. I have only flown Virgin once before many years ago to LAX and I was extremely impressed at the time, though my girlfriend has flown with you more often and she was the one who very much wanted to fly with you specifically because of your famous in-flight entertainment. Sadly, it seems time has taken its' toll on your standards. I completely understand that the current economic climate, increased airport taxes, fuel surcharges etc., have made the airline companies work extremely hard to maintain reasonable prices, and cut backs have had to be made. However, as I said earlier, we travel very often, mainly to India, Sri Lanka & Hong Kong and have in the past year used 4 or 5 different airlines, and none of those companies have left me feeling even the slightest bit angry. It is with eager anticipation that I wait to hear your reply. Their reply:
Thank you for taking the time to email us about your flight from New York.
I'm sorry to hear that your personal TVs weren't working on this flight. I can imagine how frustrating this must have been for both of you, especially as you were looking forward to enjoying it.
We know what an important part of the flying experience our in-flight entertainment can be. So, our engineers do a pre-flight maintenance check and complete any repairs required before departure. Unfortunately, sometimes there's very little time between the plane arriving from one flight and leaving on another. It's not always possible for problems to be located and repaired within the limited time available.
Also, if we have a problem like this, we do everything we can to fix it on the spot. But because our in-flight entertainment system is so state-of-the-art, we do sometimes have to call out a specialist engineer - which is fine whilst the aircraft is on the ground. However, once airborne our crew have to do their best with the resources they have.
I quite recognise your annoyance with the on-board drinks service. As you know, we offer everyone a drink at the beginning of our flights. Sadly, we can't always come around again after that because there's not always time. But passengers are welcome to go to the galley any time during the flight and ask for refreshments. Also, if you ask our crew for anything during the flight, they'll be happy to give it to you. I apologise if this wasn't your experience.
We realise the importance of having good food when flying, so we've hired the best caterers in business. It's therefore concerning to read your comments. It appears that something went wrong here. Obviously, this was distressing for you, and I apologise.
I do acknowledge your disappointment when you were informed that you couldn't buy anything from our duty free. While I'm glad that you were eventually able to buy the cigarettes you wanted from our duty free, I appreciate your annoyance with the information and lack of assistance you got from our crew. Their attitude must not have made you feel any better.
We train our staff to be warm, friendly, professional and give correct and clear information at all times. We're sticklers for making sure that we listen to all your needs as sensitively as we can. So, it does worry us to read your comments. It looks like our standards slipped, and we clearly fell short of both your expectations and ours on this occasion.
This certainly isn't the experience we want you to have. I've therefore let our in-flight services manager know what happened. Also, I've passed on your feedback to our catering team. They'll discuss this in their review, and do everything possible to ensure that we get things right next time.
From your email, I understand that our crew offered you vouchers as a gesture for the faulty entertainment system. Please fill in your details in these vouchers, and send it to us at the address mentioned on it. We'll action them accordingly as soon as possible.
Having experienced our services in the past, I quite appreciate your annoyance on this occasion - I promise you it's not something we make a habit of. I do hope you won't judge us on the basis of these incidents, and will give us a chance to win back your confidence. We look forward to welcoming both of you on one of our flights again soon.
Nancy Paul [Miss] Customer Relations Executive
My experience with Virgin was fantastic. I am a nervous flyer and they were very understanding of this and continued to ask after my wellbeing the whole trip.
Our flight was eight hours and the on board drinks and food were very good indeed.
Nothing is to much trouble for the staff.
We also had entertainment on the seat in front and had so many things to watch and games to play that we were busy for the whole flight.
I would receomment Virgin to all ages as there service is second to none.
From LGW-MCO (Orlando) Easter 2009. Excellent service throughout, very good food. Kids loved the in-flight entertainment, current box office films on offer. 8.5hr flight seemed like 3hrs. Great service Well done Virgin.
the only time we fly virgin we get the odyssey IFE and the old style seats, still could be worse. The meal was pretty good for economy and even though we got the odyssey IFE it was still leaps and bounds better than United's economy IFE. However the legroom came as a bit of a shock as we'd just flown united's eco. plus. Overall though, a decent flight.
Generally excellent, even after all this time, though after flying some other business/first classes which are more recent you notice things like the small IFE screen and the fact you need an adaptor for the in-seat power.
The film choice is good, but not quite as top of the range as it used to be. The staff are still remarkable, it must be hard to make us all feel like we are pop or film stars when we're just overwieght business travellers. but they manage it on most trips.
During a day flight I'd pick cabin 2 close to the bar, on night flights cabin 1 or upstairs. Avoid 24 and 25 unless you enjoy listening to people explain to the barman how cool they are.
Arrival at the airport, there are special desks for Premium Economy which speeds the process. Once you arrive for departure, you're allowed to board early along with Upper Class passengers, but after "families with chldren". I hate to think what that means on a flight to Florida - probably that you're last on. As it was, we got on fairly early and stowed our baggage.
Seats are wide, leather (or maybe fake leather) and initially feel pretty roomy. That's until the passenger in front reclines their seat a millisecond after the seatbelt sign goes out. It then feels rather cramped, but the width still makes a difference.
I slept a little, using the adjustable headrest to lean against, but I can't say they were fantastic and nowhere near Business Class standard. Neither are the prices of course.
Service was friendly although they forgot to bring me my pack containing earplugs, socks and eye covers. In flight entertainment was wide, varied, on-demand and should have something for everyone. My screen was rather fuzzy, but it was big and still watchable.
Food for dinner (beef borgingon or chicken creole) was not too bad, but breakfast - an orange juice and a sponge cake -was poor. I wasn't drinking after the complimentary pre-flight champagne or juice, always a nice touch, but it seemed to me that drinks were rather slow on coming for other passengers.
Flying from JFK to London was fast with the aid of the jet stream, but we were an hour late taking off. This translated to half an hour late at London Heathrow Terminal Three, which is somehere near Birmingham. It took us half an hour to walk to baggage reclaim.
I've got to be honest here, I'm not sure I'd pay much extra for Premium Economy for a six hour flight as this was. It's okay, but I'd almost rather save the extra to try and get into Upper Class, especially if was a twelve hour slog.
We were upgraded into this on the outward flight, and I thought that maybe with Premium Economy this was a perk - a better chance of shuffling up the 'plane. But as I stowed my bag in Premium, a lucky young lady from Economy was being upgraded to Upper Class. "Awesome!", she said as she passed, and she was right.
Boarding: We turned up at the Virgin departure area at Heathrow for our afternoon flight to New York to find it pretty crowded. There was only one door available to board through on the A340-600, whereas when I've used Lufthansa from Munich there has been a separate skybridge for first and business class. There was priority boarding for Upper and Premium Economy, but this was also with "parents with children" and it seemed a bit of a free for all, to be honest, because as soon as we reached the check-in the standard boarding was also called.
Seat for Sitting: Okay, I guess I should admit this now, but we were upgraded from Premium Economy! Ya beauty! I was given seat 16 and my wife in 17 - she was right next to the washroom and bar - but neither of us were complaining.
The seats are laid out in a herring bone pattern meaning they are very private and excellent if you’ve fallen out with the wife and don’t want to speak to her for seven hours. Otherwise you have to stand up to chat, or sit perched on the edge of the footstool, which feels slightly awkward. In standard position, the seat feels slightly laid back and is facing away from the window, causing me to strain my neck ‘round at take-off, when I like to look out as we soar into the blue. But you’re not directly facing anyone and privacy is ensured. This means you can fiddle with the buttons to find the optimum seating position for yourself. It was very comfortable.
Seat for Sleeping I asked the stewardess to flip the seat into the bed position, and she kindly obliged, making it up with sheets too. She didn’t offer to “lie with me”, as a friend of mine swears happened to him on a flight to Japan with an Asian airline, but I was more than happy to sprawl out on it. It’s roomy, doesn’t feel claustrophobic at all, and does feel more like a mattress than a seat. I was asleep in minutes, despite feeling it was a bit of a shame not to stay awake and enjoy yet another glass of chilled white wine.
Service: I found service very friendly and not at all as formal as I sometimes feel on BA or Lufthansa. I took the champers before take-off and my first glass of wine arrived pretty quickly. The second was longer in coming, so I nipped to the bar area for that. Subsequently, the wine seemed to arrive every five minutes – or had they sussed me out? – until I felt I was verging on bad form, or an amateur flier, instead of the card carrying BMI Gold Card member that I am. (I wondered if my Gold Card had got me the upgrade, but I never asked. There is some sort of affiliation between Virgin and Star Alliance on rewards.) But I really enjoyed the relaxed and attentive service from start to finish.
In-flight Entertainment: It looked pretty comprehensive, but I couldn’t be bothered watching one of the many films on offer. I opted for a Horizon documentary, and spent it wondering who had selected this episode as it bored me rigid. Hence the need for bed. Screen was big, easy to see but I was disappointed that they didn’t have the nose camera that I’ve enjoyed watching on Emirates. The “interactive map” promised to be fun, but turned out to be not much more than the standard stuff you see everywhere else.
Food and Drink: Yes, really nice it was, whatever it was. I can’t remember now. Served on a white tablecloth, presentation was immaculate, and I ate everything on offer. The table itself, which folds out from the back of the neighbouring pod, was big and quite heavy to put in place. Best letting the staff do it for you.
Punctuality: Heathrow and JFK? It might have been punctual if there hadn’t been fifteen ‘planes in front of us for take-off (on the return, JFK managed to double this queue on the tarmac.) I don’t blame Virgin for this.
Baggage: No problems. The only good thing about American immigration is that by the time you’re through it, your bags have long arrived.
Summary: Overall, I thought it was superb. I’ve flown BA and Lufthansa Business long-haul a couple of times to compare against, and Virgin just edges it with the privacy and friendly service. I also have done First Class on South African to Cape Town in 2008, and Virgin was better than this service.
I was looking forward to using the wee bar at the rear of the Upper Class section, but it seemed to be used by the staff for stacking empty glasses and bottles most of the time, in ugly big orange crates. In the last two hours of the flight, they brought three passengers from cattle class to sit at the bar who, I think, had been feeling unwell. They were still there as the undercarriage dropped for landing and had to be prised out the seats. But I don’t blame them. Once you’re in Upper Class, you really do not want to leave. In fact, it was so good, I’d even be prepared to pay for it out of my own money, and that is saying something!
So thanks for the Upgrade Virgin, you’ve won a future customer.
I arrived at HK International Airport in plenty of time and since the Upper Class queue was empty I headed straight there with a colleague.
Check-in was a little convoluted due to some ticketing issues but they were resolved by a friendly enough check-in employee and we headed off to the lounge.
Although small, the lounge is one of the best in HKIA, with waitress service and some genuinely tasty snacks. There was no announcement but we headed off in good time and boarding was smooth.
Once on board, we were greeted (although not by name) and offered a welcome drink. I was in seat 16G, which is a middle seat at the very back of the UC cabin. The ottoman seat allowed me to have dinner with my colleague and plan our schedule for arrival.
Not feeling too tired, I spent half an hour at the bar chatting to fellow passengers and once we entered some turbulence and the bar service was halted I headed back to my seat. The flat bed worked a treat and I even slept through breakfast service, arriving in Australia refreshed and able to handle a series of meetings without the normal mid-day drop in energy levels.
The only caveat about the seat is that it is close to the bar and while flight attendants keep good order, I'm sure there must be occasions when it gets a little noisy.
Was in 18C which had the advantage of extra legroom. IFE was not great and some channels did not work, food was average and service was not the best. I had to request a newspaper which you are supposed to get in PE and was the only person to get one. I sat with an empty glass at my seat from the first drinks service until just before we landed (about 9 hrs!). On a positive note the seat is better than BA's and the decent arm rest means that you do not nudge your next door neighbour. Row 18 does not have a built in foor rest and soft 'wedges' are available in the overhead locker to rest you feet on instead.
The seat is great for sleeping, although it is annoying that there is a vent at the back of the seat that one is not allowed to cover, so there is less room than first appears.
It is not good for sitting in, as it does not recline very far - very poor.
Cabin crew quality is mixed; the food and wine generally poor and champagne generally runs out!
The bar is ok but is often used for serving the cabins and is not always relaxing.
The car service to and from the airport is excellent and the Clubhouses are pretty good.
Boarding is far from premium, especially at LHR T3.
The UD [Upper Deck] is probably good. I found the forward cabin on the main deck quite relaxing and the extra space is good.
I travelled with Virgin Atlantic to New York and was very impressed. The check in was quick and efficient, especially as I'd already checked in online. We boarded quite quickly and the cabin crew were very helpful throughout the flight. Virgin's onboard entertainment has always been the best, and on the basis of this flight, it still is. I could choose which films or TV programmes I watched and when I wanted. Given that I was in Economy, the seat was comfortable enough, I just wished that I'd paid to sit in an exit row seat as they have so much more space.
Comfortable, spacious, good IFE to while away the time, PE on Virgin Atlantic is IMO a very good offering. Recent service improvements have added to this. Areas for improvement still include the breakfast service though, and on the 343 planes it doesn't seem as good as on the 346s or 747s. Overall, beats most of the competition in this class hands down.
Of all the business class long haul airlines I have tried, Virgin Atlantic still stands above the rest. Of course, it's not flawless, but the UCS and bed and all aisle layout is fantastic, the interiors especially of the 346 are great for working and relaxing - and the ability to relax at the bar a perfect antitode to a long flight and work.
Virgin Atlantic // London - New York (June 2008) return. Virgin Atlantic promotes itself as an airline with award winning service. Unfortunately this is far from the truth.
Even seated at Economy you should expect not to have to "fight" your way onto the plane. I fully understand that Upper Class and Premium Economy are prioritized before economy, but when Virgin do not manage to get their Upper and Premium passengers in their own line it is bound to cause trouble. It all ends in chaos.
Finally onboard Virgin staff served good food and offered great entertainment on their video on demand system.
Landing in New York two hours delayed the airline managed to lose our luggage. Things like these sometimes happens, but at least you expect to be met with some sort of decent service. No help, no toiletries, no instant compensation. Just a number to Virgin Atlantic Baggage Service. A help desk you might as well not call. No help whatsoever. They never called back, and never did anything to help us. We started our holiday with no luggage at all. Today (September) Virgin Atlantic has still not called us back, or showed any sign to help us. We have called them about fifteen times.
On the way back the flight was over four hours delayed and they managed to lose our (newly bought) luggage once more. Virgin Atlantic did not manage to book us on a connecting flight, which in the end was done by very helpful British Airways staff.
So Virgin Atlantic did not impress much...
I found seats in row 41 were awful, but further forward in rows 28 much better... basically the further back you are, the more bumpy the ride and the less chance you have of getting the meal you want as they run out.You also have the loos and the smell to deal with. In 28, you have a galley next to you, so no one on one side. I was in row 21 once with the bulkhead seats and that was great for legroom, but with only a curtain between you and PE, it was torture watching them eat and drink proper food and be treated a lot better...we also had to walk back miles for the loo. We are going PE next time.
Rumpole flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (29/09/2008 18:46)
I've been flying Upper Class with Virgin intermittedly since they started out in business including the new Upper Class suite - 6 sectors in the last 8 months - and I have to say that the current configuration is my least favourite to date. As a former swimmer and rower I have reasonably (but not excessively) broad shoulders and sitting in the seat they touch both sides of the "suite". Those plastic walls are solid with no give. I stand 5' 10" and sitting down the suite walls come just above my eye line. With only a (sideways) direct line of sight out of the suite, being pinned in on both sides made me feel the most claustrophobic I've ever been on a plane. As a bed, the seat was more comfortable (I guess the seats are wider further out from the cabin wall) but if I have to take Virgin again I'll be "downgrading" myself to the very comfortable Premium Economy seats until the next Upper Class revamp. That will be a shame as the Clubhouse (in LHR) is great and the onboard service and IFE both very good. The on-ground Upper Class facilities in both Delhi and Mumbai are both way below what one expects from Virgin. Cramped, hot and with poor catering. The Mumbai lounge even had a collection of mosquitoes droning around untroubled by any attempt to spray them.