Just thought I'd share mt latest travel experience with you. My wife and I had the pleasure to fly VS in Premium Economy cabin from SYD to LHR and back.
Since we both purchased the tickets using Virgin's Miles Plus Money offer, we paid a very reasonable price for the retun fare - on the downside these flights didn't earn us any miles at all, which is a shame.
Naturally, the equipment was an A346 ("Surfer Girl" on the way back is all I recall) both times and we had a stop-over in Hong Kong, so nothing out of the unusual. We departed SYD on July 2 (VS201) and returned back home on VS200 out of London on July 31st.
In terms of the flying experience with VS there was very little to be unhappy about. The comfort, overall, was sensational in Premium cabin, especially given the fact that we paid little over 3000 AUD per person for the return fare. The leather seats are wide and there is ample leg-room for medium-sized adults (I'd say up to about 1.85m maybe as a rough guess). The only critiscm in terms of the seats I see in the seat recline, which is better than in economy but still not really a home run. Also, in my opinion, the 2-3-2 configuration is optimal for couples (our case) and families and another wonderful thing is the size of the premium cabin itself: it is tiny compared to economy or even Virgin's Upper Class. This, I thought, helped create a feeling of more intimacy and I liked that. Whether or not the complimentary glass of Sparkling wine is a bonus or not I don't know (my wife liked it for the 'gesture
'; I hated it because it was cheap stuff, which gave me a headache). Also, we sat in row 19 on all legs and I recommend to avoid this row if you are planning on a window seat - you have to lean forward so far that your back hurts if you want to look out of any window at all. Overall, I give the cabin itself a 8.5/10 for this past experience.
My wife and I both had mixed feelings about the service onboard. Ironically, from SYD-LHR, the servive was amazing - the personnel aboard was super friendly and the service was lightning quick despite the aircraft being really full.The food was okay (I am picky on this subject!) and the experience was very satisfying. Much more so than what I have experienced on LH or Emirates as a frame of reference. My only critique here (and this goes for the return flight as well) was that the toilets were permanently occupied. Now, this is not because there are only two premium economy toilets available - the Premium cabin size is small enough to justify that - but rather is was because Economy passengers kept bargin through the curtains from behin
d. This was annoying as the wait was always long (believe me, you go several times when you are in the air for nearly 22 hours in total). I wish the crew would have acted here instead of ignoring what was going on.
The reurn flight from LHR was slightly less pleasant service-wise. In fact, it was, plainly spoken, quite miserable. THe first leg was characterised by grumpy crew members, who did little to go beyond the very minimum of delivering timely meals. The second leg, however, was ridiculous in this respect as our Premium Economy attendant was simply incapable of performing his job (Iit sounds harsh - but he really was). He forgot to collect the empty champagne glasses before takeoff (not nice as they are solid glass and not plastic), generally forgot to collect garbage, spilt coffee over my wife and, again, forgot to collect meal left-overs until at least an hour after consumption. I hate staring at airplane food leftovers and attempted to call him over to collect my tray; unfortunately, he was nowhere to be seen for most of the flight.
Based on the above, I'll give the (mixed) service quality a 6.5/10.
Now to the big question: will I travel Virgin Atlantic again?
Well, the answer, for the time-being is no. This, however, is due to something else which relates to their route network. Principally, I would recommend them to anyone attempting a mammoth flight. They are specialised in long routes and they do show that they handle their business well. For myself, though, I am disappointed with the fact that SRB does so little to befriend other airlines in order to use their route network. For my wife and I, who travelled onwards to Hamburg from LHR, we had to book a separate connecting flight with BMI (BA and LH also serve LHR-HAM), a flight operated by
tle="Lufthansa (Germany)">LH. Despite Virgin's apparent ties to BMI no coherent booking was possible. In turn, this led to the huge problem that VS was unable to check our luggage through to HAM. The aftermath was that we had to collect our luggage at LHR, switch terminals, checkin again, pass security, pass passport control, etc. until we were back at the next flight's gate. And at LHR this takes at least 1.5 hours, if not 2. Quite honestly, this is something I will never do again no matter how tempting Premium Cabin on VS is. To me it is a shame that
itle="Virgin Atlantic Airways (United Kingdom)">VS is really only feasible for UK travelers due to the poor partner network they have. It's great that I can use Virgin miles in Australia now - but still, that doesn't convince me either.
For us it's back to Emirates next time, simply because of the much better network - they fly SYD-DXB-HAM. And, yes, DXB can be a stressful airport. But, hey, compared to LHR almost any other airport is like a day spa. Maybe not quite, but you get what I mean .
Anyway, hope this was interesting to some people on here. Sorry I didn't have time to make this more comprehensive.