Hello everybody. Been using airliners.net for over 10 years now and thought it was about time i contributed!
Menu, Boarding cards and Amenity kit by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Seat 77k Premium Economy
After enjoying many trip reports on here, I thought I'd contribute my own. I wasn't planning on doing a report on this flight, plus the fact it was 18 or so month ago details might be a bit lacking.
After what seemed like a long day at work on Wednesday, the day that i had been looking forward to for months arrived. I woke up about 7:30 ready for my lift to the airport at 8:00. It was a bit earlier than I had wanted for a 13:00 flight, but as my dad had to be at work, 8:00 it was! At about 8:45 I arrived at Gatwick's South terminal and headed for the Virgin Atlantic check in. I'd already checked in online but always find the queue shorter at the Premium check in than the bag drop anyway. Around 10 mins later, minus my suitcase but plus a proper boarding card, I was free to roam around for the next 3 or so hours. Had a quick wonder around the shops landside before heading to the fast track security. It was a bit busier than last year but still fairly quick. About 5/10 minutes at the most. I went for a wonder round a few of the airside shops, but no mega deals jumped out at me so I headed for the Bridge bar. I usually pay a visit here when I'm in the south terminal as its one of the few (if only) places that allows you to see out across the airfield. I managed to get a few pics while i was waiting:
G-VTOP by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
G-VHOT by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Flybe by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Mexicana by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
After about an hour or so, i went for another look round the shops, but still nothing took my fancy so decided to place myself down next to a FID as by now it was around 11:15 and from previous experience the gate was announced at about 11:30. By looking at what gates were called already, i managed to figure out that the VS015 would be leaving from gate 19 - purely by the fact that was the only gate left! Around 11:40 my suspicions were confirmed and i made my way off to gate 19. Once there i saw i would be on G-VROY Pretty Woman, as i thought i would be by looking at what aircraft operated the VS043 to LAS the previous day. Now i only need to go on G-VROC Mustang Sally to have been on all of Virgin's 747-400's. At about 12:15 boarding for Premium and Upper class was called and it seemed like nobody wanted to be the 1st on. So i took the initiative and made my way down the air bridge.
Once on board the usual champagne, orange juice or water was brought round, along with the menus. I took this time to look through the seatback magazine to see what films would be on and made a flim of my own:
Shortly after, push back commenced pretty much on time (maybe even a little bit early) and we made our way out to 08R. People say that its a rare(ish) occurence to depart to the East at LGW, however 4 times in my last 4 trips out of LGW have all been from 08R. Infact the last time i did depart from 26L was back in 2002. As we made a few turns, i noticed we were being followed by G-VHOT on its was to Montego bay.
G-VHOT and RAM by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Once we were at 08L there was a couple of aircraft to land/depart ahead of us but it was no major hold up.
Shortly after becoming airborne the drinks service started, shortly followed by the meal. I chose the pasta, and it was quite good.
Not much else can be said about the flight really. I don't remember there being any turbulence or any other major events. About 1h30 before landing i thought id take a couple of pics of the Premium cabin. The LGW fleet is unique among VS 747's as its entirely Premium Economy upstairs. The LHR fleet is a Upper class/Economy mix. One of the cabin crew noticed me taking the pictures and offered to take one of me. After that i got chatting to him, and asked if he would be able to take my camera into the flight deck and get a pic for me. He said he couldnt do that, but if i waited around after we landed he would see if i would be able to go up there myself - sounded good to me!!
Nearly there by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Premium Economy by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Just before we started our descent, the captain came over the PA and said there were a lot of storms around MCO and that we would have to hold just south of the airfield for a bit. I looked out of the window and noticed it had got very cloudy. As we decended into the clouds, i could see that the red engines were getting a good intake of rain water, and the lower we got the darker it got. We emerged from the clouds around 2000ft. And the captain certainly meant it when he said there was a storm! We touched down, landing to the North and i wish now i had recorded it. Quite amazing to see how much water 4x GE CF6's can throw up when in full reverse. The taxi in was very damp. The aircraft was so wet that I could barely see out of the window. All i could make out was an EI A330 landing shortly after us, throwing up just as much water.
Once we reached the gate everybody wanted to be the 1st off the plane. I had other arrangements however. I waited around and had a chat to the steward who offered me the flight deck visit. We spoke about G-VLIP with its new Harry Potter sticker, that just happened to be parked next to us, G-VROM's mission in Bolivia and the new (at the time) config of the LHR 747 fleet. He also mentioned that it might be a bit of a wait as due to the weather in MCO we were very close to diverting to TPA. I thought that was a shame as i would of got to experience a new airport plus an extra flight between TPA and MCO afterwards. Shortly after the flight deck door opened and i was given the thumbs up to go in. Had a quick chat with the flight crew and, of course, took a pic.
G-VROY Flight Deck by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Not wanting to delay them (or my aunt waiting to pick me up), i said goodbye, and just as i did that they offered me a box of chocolates they didnt want - nice touch! Seemed as if members of the public visiting the flight deck are as rare for the crew as it is for us these days.
As most of the plane had disembarked by now, there was a shocked sounding official on the air bridge as he thought all the passengers had long gone. Only downside to this though, was that by now the queue at immigration was quite long. Although at least having priority baggage meant my case was waiting for me for a change! Then it was onto the monorail to the main terminal and to my aunts house for 2 weeks.
Aunts pool by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Out at the lake by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Yeah it was hot! by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
74k Premium Economy
So my 2 weeks were at an end and it was time to fly back to the UK. The day started the same as every other day really, due to the fact that nearly all US-EU flights depart in the evening. I looked on v-flyer.com and saw that 4 VS 747's were heading for MCO. G-VFAB, which was unusual due to it being based at LHR, G-VAST from LGW, G-VGAL from GLA and G-VROS from MAN. I quickly managed to figure out that i would be on G-VROS back to LGW as the other 3 were running quite late and so far my flight was due to depart on time.
At 16:30 we left for the airport. It was a bit later than i would of wanted for a 19:30 flight, but that's when my aunt got home from work so thats what it was. On the way to the airport, the traffic was bad and i was starting to get just a little be edgy as time went by. At LGW on the way out i was far too early for my flight. This time it was the opposite. Finally arrived at the airport at 18:00, and due to all the late flights, it was chaos! I went to the Premium check instead of the bag drop and was given a new boarding card. Seems i had been moved overnight from the seat i selected at online check in, 77k, to 74k. That’s what you get for turning up at the airport 40 minutes before boarding when everybody wants to be on your flight. After that it was a pretty mad rush through immigration and on to the monorail. At immigration, i could hear something mentioned about the VS016 but it was so loud i couldn’t make out what was being said. At i guess, i think they were saying all passengers for this flight go to the front, but as i said, i couldn’t really hear all that well so i held my place. Once off the monorail, i made a very brisk walk to gate 81 where the flight was already boarding. Never before had i got out of the car one end and walked straight on to a plane. Once on board, it was pretty full. Im assuming that a lot of people wanted to get off the delayed VS028, that G-VFAB was operating (technical issue with original aircraft maybe??) and on to our flight.
After a while sat on the tarmac, the rain re-appeared and all the ground crew went indoors. In all it was well over an hour from boarding to pushback.
G-VAST in the rain by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
Once underway, we made a pretty quick taxi to the runway passing 2x Air Tran 717's followed by G-VAST on its way back to MAN. Shortly after take off, the usual drinks, meals etc were brought round before the lights were dimmed. Bed time for all!
I woke up about 2 hours before landing and shortly after we were served breakfast. Just a muffin and a cup of tea. Much better that the awful cheese and ham rolls VS used to dish up for breakfast. Not long after that we started our descent into a sunny LGW. Once again we landed on 08R and rolled out right to the end.
Almost immediately after exiting the runway stage left, we swung round to the right and pulled up on stand 25. Never knew that the stands that far down could handle 747's, but i guess this was enough proof it could be done.
We had one of the newer style glass walled jet bridges and i saw a photo opportunity.
English Rose by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
One thing that i like about arriving at LGW is the views you get from the top of the pier as you walk down to immigration/baggage reclaim.
TCX A330 by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
LGW Lineup by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
G-VLIP Harry Potter sticker by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
FR 738 by jwhite9185002, on Flickr
At immigration, there only seemed to be one person for all the arriving flights. One of the advantages of being in Premium Economy on the LGW fleet is that the crew disembark the upper deck first, so even with all my picture taking along the way i was luckily towards the front of the queue. Although as usual at LGW the bags seemed to take ages to come through and even with a Premium Economy tag on mine, it still came out after some economy bags. Oh well, luckily i wasn't in a rush. After that, it was through customs, through the duty free shops last ditch effort to sell you stuff and out to the train station. Then it was home via Clapham Junction. Being June, it was a nice day out and made for a refresing walk home from my local station.
All in all, the usual on board experience from Virgin. The crew on the outbound flight were Fantastic. I guess having a very light load upstairs made their job all the easier and they could pay a bit more attention.
So turns out my memories of the event weren't too bad after all.