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#952590 by AlphaEcho
06 Oct 2019, 17:42
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
After my short break in Barbados it was time to head back home again. I wasn’t sure if the weather I had experienced was typical or not. I don’t think I had been anywhere before where the temperature stayed the same during the night as it was during the day – it just didn’t change, 30C seemed the norm all the time. My taxi driver told me that it indeed had been an unusual couple of weeks, and we chatted away as we made our way to the airport.

On arrival he dropped me off about as close to the Virgin check in desks you could get without actually driving up to them.

Check in was almost deserted and I was met by a vey friendly check in agent and check in was over very quickly and I was given directions to the lounge as I hadn’t been there before.

Passport control and security were very quiet, and I was through in just a couple of minutes. Time for a little bit of retail therapy before heading up to the lounge. You might have thought this was going to be something special as there were two lots of ticket checks I had to go through before actually getting into the lounge.

I know this isn’t a “real” Virgin lounge and that they just have a small corner of the main lounge but was it really worth the effort to do so. Personally, I think not, it doesn’t do much for the Virgin brand, a small area with a few armchairs a couple of TV screens and a small self-service area for crisps, nuts and the like and some free drinks. And to be honest I found it all rather smelly in there. Maybe I was just having an off day because I was going home.

Once our flight was called, I made my way down to the gate and out across the tarmac to board our A330-200 back to Gatwick. I settled into 5A and got the mandatory glass of champagne. Once everyone was onboard, we were told that they just had to go through the plane and spray a harmless insecticide throughout before departure, but we may wish to close our eyes and mouths whilst they did. I decided that in addition to this the champagne needed protecting from this “harmless” substance too and quickly put my hand over the glass.

Today we had quite a light flight and everyone had boarded very quickly, in fact a little too quickly because if we left now, we would get into Gatwick too early. In the meantime the Captain gave us a brief on the flight and informed us that we may notice that our flightpath would take us quite a long way North before turning East and to Gatwick, the reason for that Hurricane Lorenzo, oh and that we could expect some turbulence about mid-way into the flight because of it.

We still managed to pushback nice and early and departed off 09 and began to track North. More drinks were offered along with nibbles as we settled in.

Food for tonight’s flight was:

Smoked trout mousse, Carrot and ginger soup, Apple & walnut salad.

Coffee rubbed fillet steak, Thai green chicken curry, Mozzarella ravioli, Seared prawns and mango salad.

Cinnamon bread and butter pudding, Guava cheesecake.

I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry so went for just the Thai Green Chicken curry which was one of the offerings by “TV personality” & chef Donal Skehan. They say that looks can be deceiving because the chicken had been cut into such small pieces it looked like an up-market cat food. But it tasted superb and was pretty fiery too which surprised me as I always thought airlines didn’t like to get to spicy food wise. Served with jasmine rice it really hit the mark and I quickly demolished the lot.

The seating on the A330-200 are different from the rest of the fleet (I’m not including the A350 here) in that instead of the normal herringbone pattern they all face forward, with different set ups, called by Virgin - Love Suites, Solo Freedom Suites & Solo Corner Suites.

5A was one of the Solo Corner Suites and if you like that slightly secluded feeling it’s a nice seat. The recline on these is much better than the normal Upper Class seats and even though I find it very difficult to sleep on aircraft I feel that given the circumstances I could have been very comfortable here. Instead of making it into a bed I just gave it quite a lot of recline and I was cocooned away in the corner. The only gripe I have about this cabin is the lack of overhead air vents, I do like the feeling of a bit of cooler air on me, saying that though the cabin wasn’t that hot, and I felt comfortable.

As promised just before halfway Hurricane Lorenzo made itself felt, and we had what seemed like a good couple of hours of quite moderate turbulence. We had descended from our initial 39,000' to 38,000' and for a lot of the time we were in cloud. Turbulence doesn’t normally bother me in the slightest, but I think the prolonged amount we had, and that the aircraft seemed to be slightly vibrating at a frequency I found to be quite uncomfortable leaving me feeling a bit green round the edges. Green enough for one of the great Cabin crew to enquire if I was OK as she passed through the cabin.

Breakfast was served slightly later than what I would have expected under normal circumstances, but I wouldn’t have expected the cabin crew to be up and about preparing it due to the turbulence. I decided to give it a miss and settled just for a glass of orange juice.

The cabin crew were excellent throughout the flight with a very proactive FSM in charge and the requirements of a passenger in front who I think thought they were just on board for her didn’t faze them in the slightest.

We landed about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, guess that happens when you're zipping along on occasions at 1,000km/h with a Hurricane blowing behind you, and Gatwick was still deserted, the automatic passport gates were still in bed, as were Customs so with bag in hand I was probably on my way out of the airport within 15 minutes.

Another great flight with Virgin, all in all this last minute reward flight break to Barbados turned into a bit of adventure and I look forward to being back on Virgin soon.
#952597 by buns
07 Oct 2019, 05:11
Thanks for the return TR - a further flight out of the Ordinary ;-)

Thank you for your detailed critique of the A300-200 Upper Class product. I was interested on hearing your views on the recline - as someone who prefers to recline rather than concerting into a bed, this was welcome news.

I imagine these aircraft will be around for some time and suspect they will crop up more on the MCO route as more A350's come on line for the LHR routes.

Thanks once again

#952600 by hiljil
07 Oct 2019, 09:01
I enjoyed reading the conclusion to your short, but eventful, trip.

Thank you :-D
#952632 by AlphaEcho
09 Oct 2019, 12:14
buns wrote:Thanks for the return TR - a further flight out of the Ordinary ;-)

Thank you for your detailed critique of the A300-200 Upper Class product. I was interested on hearing your views on the recline - as someone who prefers to recline rather than concerting into a bed, this was welcome news.

Definitely don't travel with me I'm a jinx. I know what you meant about the seats, the normal Upper Class when converted into beds are way to hard for me to lay on and sleep comfortably. With the A330-200 as you're still on the properly padded part it's definitely way more comfortable and with the extra recline if you don't want a fully flat bed.

flyingfox wrote:Thanks for posting 2 trip reports on a route I really enjoy. My last trip in May I made use of the VH departure beach which I highly recommend; ... ture-beach

I had a quick look at that and it did seem good, but as I wasn't on a Virgin Holiday pacakage I didn't think I could use it, and I managed to get a late checkout of my hotel for nothing, so for me it worked out fine. But the Departure Beach definitely looks a great idea, just being able to get rid of your luggage early is always a bonus. And a few more hours on the beach, whats not to like. :-D
#952671 by tomthumb
13 Oct 2019, 13:17
Thanks again for a great TR
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