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#965137 by VS075
27 Jun 2022, 21:20
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
Somebody asked recently about wanting to see some non-Upper reviews. Happy to oblige here!

As those who follow my posts on here will recall, we should have been on the VS077 from MAN back in April and then back via LHR thanks to MAN-BGI being suspended for summer 2022 weeks after booking. However, a few days before my wife caught COVID followed by myself, so we had no choice but to re-schedule and this was the earliest we could do it. Luckily it was also quite cheap to reschedule through VH, but it meant driving to/from LHR both ways given BA MAN-LHR flights were expensive and trains in the UK not being a reliable form of transport to plan your life around at this time (with apologies to those who do work in the industry). If there was one advantage of the postponement, we saved a bit of money in testing fees as Barbados dropped the need for fully vaccinated visitors to show a negative test on arrival in late-May. :D

We drove down the afternoon prior and stayed at the Renaissance and paid a small upgrade to bag a runway-view room. What swung it was the park/stay/fly packages they do through Holiday Extras which allow you to stay the night before, leave your car there for the duration of your trip and pick up when you return. However, given the £18 single fares each way in a taxi to/from T3, I think that wiped out any savings compared to a Premier Inn and using LHR long stay.

Anyway, up at 5am for a 6am pick-up round to T3 departures. The queue wasn't the biggest as the only other VS flight out at the same time as our flight was the first JFK of the day. Checked in fine and then went upstairs to security which, compared to horror stories at places such as MAN was a breeze and we were through within less than 10 minutes and went for breakfast at Spuntino. One hour before, our gate was called and by the time we got there they had started boarding. Unlike usual, it wasn't Upper first, followed by PE and then Y in row order, it was just if you're on that flight you could board now if you were present.

G-VRAY would be our A330 today to take us to BGI and then the rest of the passengers onward to St Vincent. Looking at the flight history of that aircraft, it seems to have solidly stuck to operating to BGI plus tag-on islands one day, ANU the next and repeat since early-May.

Proceeded to our seats almost at the very back of the plane (very unceremonious). Boarding was mostly completed slightly early, however an early departure was ruled out. There have been some horror stories lately of disabled passengers being forgotten about when alighting at the end and being discovered by the crew for the next flight a couple of hours later due to no ground staff. This time, the opposite applied whereby a disabled passenger was unable to get in due to no ground staff. Eventually, the passenger got on and we pushed back.

The first sign of understanding why VS suspended MAN-BGI for the summer was because the crew announced there were 215 passengers on board, which is a load factor of about 80%. I estimated later on when alighting at BGI between 60-90 passengers were carrying on to St Vincent. That's one advantage of being one of the last off I guess. ;-)

The safety video started to play before being interrupted by the cabin crew to switch to a manual demo after a minute, a few screens weren't working for some folk. We took off and I settled in to watch some of the IFE, only to then be interrupted again by the same issue recurring (not my seat I should add) and that the crew would do a system reset to try and cure the issue. This took 15 minutes and I've no idea whether that cured the issue as another reset wasn't attempted.

Anyway, after nearly an hour lunch (quite early IMO) was served. I went for a chicken dish which, if I'm honest, wasn't that great. It was only marginally better than some of the "meals" charter airlines used to serve many years ago on short-haul flights when they used to be included, so just as well I had a decent breakfast at LHR. The panini roll was nicer and the chocolate pot looked it too, though I gave it to my wife as we forgot to order a gluten free meal for her (our fault and not VS to be honest, it was lost in the rush to re-schedule).

The rest of the flight was rather uneventful - crew came down with ice lollies about the 3-4hr mark, a few mild bouts of turbulence. Afternoon tea was served 90mins before and the sandwiches were generously sized and quite tasty, as was the scone and clotted cream. A big improvement on the main meal earlier. We began our descent into BGI and landed a few minutes behind schedule. On stand, stairs quickly attached and an announcement made to everyone that masks had to be worn whilst on the ground at BGI whether we were getting off or not (local regulations). We alighted around the same time as the Copa passengers and luckily just ahead of a JetBlue A320 from JFK that landed as we reached the door to the immigration hall.

Clearing immigration took about 20 minutes tops and that included somebody checking your vaccination status. After we cleared immigration, cases were on the carousel and ours were quickly spotted. Reunited, we made our way outside to the VH desk for our private transfer to pick us up to take us to our hotel. On the way, the driver thanked us for choosing to visit Barbados and commented that room bookings for this coming summer weren't looking great. With the recent abolishment for testing fully vaccinated travellers, hopefully that will encourage more bookings and hopefully they will have a winter season that's close to what it was in 2019.

The return TR to follow.
Last edited by VS075 on 01 Jul 2022, 09:56, edited 3 times in total.

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