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IAD-LHR Virgin Atlantic Premium A340-600

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  • G-OJET
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jan 2000
    • 402

    IAD-LHR Virgin Atlantic Premium A340-600

    Flight: VS22
    Aircraft: A340-600 G-VFOX
    Scheduled Departure time: 1900
    Actual Departure time: 1930
    Estimated Flight time: 6hrs 16mins
    Actual Flight time: 6hr 30mins
    Cabin: Premium Economy

    So for the final leg of my "American Grand Tour".

    After spending time up in Maryland with my family, it was finally time for the flight home back to England. I had to book seats with Virgin Atlantic from Washington Dulles now as there was no way I was going all the way back to Orlando just to fly home with Monarch. This was to be my first trip with VS, and every expection I had of them came true. They are a truely fantastic airline.

    Due to heavy traffic on Route 50, my sister had suggested getting to Dulles very early so as not to miss check-in and also I had to collect tickets. I arrived at Dulles around 1.30pm for a 7pm flight. I was a little gutted wondering what on earth I was going to do at Dulles for so many hours! When I arrived, the VS check-in was closed and said it would open at 4pm so I thought I'd go find the ticket desk and get my tickets. Wrong! The ticket desk is one of the check-in desks at Dulles, so I had to hang around. At around 3pm, there was a stirring of staff at the VS check-in, rolling out the red carpets and setting up security screening points etc. They then opened the desk not long after 3pm much to my surprise. As there was no one waiting around, I headed straight for the ticket desk. Little did I know my ticket was an e-ticket, so it was just a case of the agent charging my credit card and issuing the e-ticket receipt. I'd booked Premium Economy (thought it was least I deserved after my traumatic time with Hurricanes in Florida!) and the Premium check-in desk was right next to the ticket desk. The ticket desk agent was superb, think she was actually English, and asked her colleague on check-in to check us in while she issued the tickets. It was all totally effortless.

    With that done, I was given my boarding cards and allocated 18DEF in the Premium Economy cabin. Now.. if you've ever been to Dulles before, you'll know what they call it that! Its VERY dull! There are no cafe's, viewing areas or anything remotely of interest. Your lucky to get a seat to wait on until your at the gate area. So, I wondered around aimlessly for a while before finally giving in and going through security to reach the Duty Free and gate areas. Security was the usual "American" affair, all very tight, which is good. Managed to get my shoes x-rayed again! Eventually got through that to head off to the very strange bendi-bus-gate-thingys that they operate at Dulles. They are VERY weird. Kinda transporter things, can't describe them! Then I spent hours in the maze of signs trying to find my gate! After having passed (and stepped into!) some Duty Free outlets, eventually I got to my assigned gate, B32, and there she was!!! I have never seen such a long aircraft in all my life! It was all very professional, the VS staff were there making preparations for boarding and they had a board up with todays flight time, aircraft type, meal service etc. Very nice touch!

    Boarding commenced an hour before scheduled departure. Very early I thought, but then reaslied how many people were on this flight! I boarded in the first group as they allowed Premium passengers to pre-board. The usual TSA agents were hovering in the airbridge to give you one last once over, but luckily it wasn't my turn for the white glove treatment!

    We boarded through Doors 2 and were greeted with the Flight Supervisor and a gaggle of her other hosties. They were all very pleasant. My seating row was the first row of Premium so I managed to get everything I wanted away in the hat racks very easily. The hat racks on this aircraft had lovely silver handles, made it all look very space age! Pillows, blankets and amenity packs were already waiting on the seats for us. Seating was great, very comfortable and we had the lovely VPORT system to entertain us all the way to LHR. Boarding seemed like it went on forever, but the crew came around with Champagne, Orange Juice and Water whilst boarding which is a nice touch again. I suddenly wished I was spending longer on this flight, bizarre isn't it!

    Eventually everyone was on-board but now the ground staff had a delay with the report for the flight deck so we had to wait around 30mins for this to arrive. The crew came around again in this time with more drinks so it passed quickly. I was just by doors 2 and the mid galley so watched as they closed up, cross checked and we pushed back. It was great to hear the engines starting up and then we taxied away. Seemed a pretty long taxi to get to the departure runway, then pretty much revved up and away we went! Very long take off roll that evening, but it was quite something with the sun setting in the background.

    Shortly after take off, the crew came around and closed everyone's window blinds and got everyone comfortable. The Flight Supervisor was lovely and made several PA's about the service for the flight and also had to apologise that VPORT hadn't started up correctly but she was re-booting the computer and this would take around 15mins before it was ready. Apparently, this happens frequently with VPORT, but its very much worth the wait! The crew then went straight into a meal service with drinks on the top of the meal trolley. Choices were Beef in barbeque sauce or Chicken Chasseaur kinda thing, and a veggie option. It was all well presented, nice trays, I chose the chicken and it was very tasty. There was a pasta salad starter on each tray, bread, and rather good chocolate cake desert. I had a little wine with my meal and surely enough decided I need a little shut eye after dinner. I managed to watch something on VPORT for a few mins before drifting off. I seem to remember hearing the crew very discreetly dashing through the cabin with duty free, but nothing much else for the next hour or two!

    Eventually, I woke and decided to nip to the loo (as you do!). Well, all I can say is "are all VS loo's that trendy?!". It had amazing blue lighting that made you feel like you were in a nightclub and off your head, surreal experience but very interesting! I went back to my seat and the crew quickly came round with water and orange juice for everyone who was awake. This continued throughout the flight. I started watching a movie on VPORT again now and started to really get into when my screen packed up! GUTTED! One of the crew noticed I was sat staring at a blank screen and asked if everything was OK. I told her what happened and she went away to try and reboot my screen. No luck! She was very nice about it and offered me a personal DVD from Upper. I declined, it was nearly 4.30 am now and we would be landing in around an hour and a half so I wasn't that bothered. She then offered a 25 duty free voucher in compensation, again, another nice thought. How could I refuse! So I sat in silence for a bit and contemplated what to get from Duty Free.

    Eventually, breakfast was served. This consisted of fruit and muffins with Orange juice, tea and coffee etc. Again, it was all very tasty and I really couldn't have faced much more so it was just right. The flight was nearing London and the Captain came on to advise that we would probably be holding over London for a while waiting to get into LHR (no change there!) and wished us all a pleasant onward journey. We started decent, everyone strapped in. All window blinds were now open, daylight dawning and I was kinda sad that my trip on the A346 was coming to an end. Sure enough went started making turns in the sky which is something I always feel is more of a mechanical movement that you really feel on an Airbus. Eventually we were n finals followed by a lovely smooth landing! After a long taxi, we pulled onto stand and were greeted with a miserable wet english morning at London's Heathrow!

    I have to say, I am totally impressed with Virgin and really can't wait for my next VS trip. The A346 is really something else, well worth a trip!

    Well done Virgin!
  • LBARULES
    Pointless flightaholic!
    • May 2003
    • 9820

    #2
    The usual fantastic report - Sounds like you had a great flight.

    Comment

    • RIPConcorde
      EGPH
      • Feb 2004
      • 3192

      #3
      Shortly after take off, the crew came around and closed everyone's window blinds
      Excellent report, no you HAVE to do this, and if so why?! I can't remember ever having to do so on my transatlantic flights.

      Comment

      • G-OJET
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Jan 2000
        • 402

        #4
        Originally posted by RIPConcorde
        Excellent report, no you HAVE to do this, and if so why?! I can't remember ever having to do so on my transatlantic flights.
        Cheers guys!

        The window blind thing I guess is a preference for each airline. Its not an official requirement as far as I know. I guess they just wanted everyone to be allowed to sleep if they chose to.

        The only official requirement with any airline I've worked for has been to have them fully open for landing incase the crew couldn't see out of there own windows for any reason in a emergency evacuation. Its more a UK think, most US carriers don't seem bothered if they open, closed or hanging off when your landing over there

        Comment

        • steve rowell
          Expat Geordie
          • Apr 2003
          • 13281

          #5
          Very enjoyable report there lad
          Best Regards Steve

          Comment

          • G-OJET
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Jan 2000
            • 402

            #6
            Cheers Steve

            Comment

            • Airline owner
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Oct 2003
              • 5327

              #7
              nice detailed report. A good read.

              Comment

              • 4 engines good
                Senior Member
                • Feb 2004
                • 424

                #8
                Great report.

                How could you refuse the offer of a portable DVD from upper? You should've asked for a massage instead.

                Nice of them to offer compensation anyway.

                Did you at some point take a look at the back of the plane when the curtains were open? Does it seem that long from the inside as well?

                Comment

                • G-OJET
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jan 2000
                  • 402

                  #9
                  Originally posted by 4 engines good
                  Great report.

                  How could you refuse the offer of a portable DVD from upper? You should've asked for a massage instead.

                  Nice of them to offer compensation anyway.

                  Did you at some point take a look at the back of the plane when the curtains were open? Does it seem that long from the inside as well?
                  Well, I would have accepted the DVD but it was only just over an hour left of the flight and with breakfast on its way out, it didn't seem worth it!

                  Yes, I did venture into Economy to use the loo's, it is ABSOLUTELY massive down there too! Upper was from doors 1 to 2 and there was hardly anyone in there, shame really!

                  Comment

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