CaptCufflinks From UK - England, joined Dec 2012, 78 posts, RR: 0 Posted (4 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2631 times:
Welcome to my trip report to the beautiful island of Barbados
It was mid August 2012, my girlfriend and I were sat in the garden with some friends having just had a BBQ (and a few beers, I should add!) when the conversation turned to where we were going on holiday - we hadn't really thought about it that much up until that point - so, in a fairly reduced state, we decided to have a look at Virgin holidays on my iPad.
Scrolling through a few deals, there were some really good prices for a week in various Caribbean locations. Less than 15 minutes later, we were booked to go away towards the end of September.
Fast forward to September 26th 2012:
We arrive at LGW to stay at the Hilton the night before we're due to fly out.
I won't go into too much detail about this one - as it could consume it's own TR! Needless to say, I had paid for an executive room, which was nice - but the service in the restaurants and bars was abysmal - I will never return.
September 27th 2012:
We arrived nice and early for our flight and checked in at one of the kiosks that VS have dotted around their bag drop areas. They're very simple to use and it was nice to see that it had remembered the seats I had previously chosen online. It printed our boarding cards within a matter of minutes and then proceeded to the bag drop.
The girl at the bag drop kiosk was a little grumpy - barely said anything to us when putting our bags on the conveyor belt. No chance of getting a cheeky extra legroom seat here!
Meandering upstairs, we proceeded through security. Owing to the fact that we had access to Virgin's V-Room, we had a couple of passes to fast track through security. They call it Premium Gatwick, and wow, it is brilliant. The security staff are very friendly and efficient and there is barely any queues - it did give me a very warm fuzzy feeling that I'd raced through security, given the size of the queue for the regular channels.
I would strongly recommend to anyone that you use the fast track security lanes if you can - they're well worth it!
Across the departure lounge we went, which was surprisingly busy, to the lift on the far side of the hall which takes you up the the level where the V-Room is.
Entering the V-Room, my eyes were instantly transfixed on the massive viewing window that runs the whole length of the lounge, 'brilliant!' I thought as we had an hour or so to kill.
The Virgin Holidays staff provided us with a very warm welcome and explained all that there was to do in the V-Room, what was for breakfast, where everything was and so on.
More information on the V-Room is available on the Virgin Holidays website, here:
View from my sofa in the V-Room, right over the runway:
We settled down into a full English breakfast with coffee while watching the early morning arrivals coming in from all over the place - there were a good few BA triples and VS 747's to watch landing - all in all it made for a very pleasant wait for our flight.
Just before the signs changed for "final call", a steward in the lounge came by to inform us that we should start walking to the gate and wished us a happy flight and a great holiday - again, a nice little touch!
The gate was a fairly long walk away, but I did get to take some nice pictures of some company birds along the way:
G-VROY, she was flying as VS15 to Orlando MCO
At our gate stood our aircraft - G-VAST aka 'Ladybird':
Here she is touching down in MAN exactly a month later, and snapped by someone who knows what to do with a camera!
We took our seats, sadly in economy, and buckled up ready for departure. Much to my amazmement, the aircraft parked next to us was a Monarch A300 - which I'd never seen before, so was a nice touch.
I was instantly impressed with the newly refitted 747's, the seats were quite comfy, the whole cabin looked very nice and the seat back IFE (similar to AC's offering) was brilliant.
We taxiied out for a runway 26L departure. We had a good few minutes waiting at the holding point as there was a US A330, an EasyJet A320 and a BA 734 a head of us.
The captain made his initial address at this point, which was littered with all the sort of information that an enthusiast/pilot like me could want - route details, weather, he even mentioned how light we were! He then mentioned that we will have a little bit of chop as we head south over the pond, but nothing out of the ordinary. He said he would speak to us again later in the flight and with that, we started to depart Gatwick!
CaptCufflinks From UK - England, joined Dec 2012, 78 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (4 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2519 times:
As soon as we started the take off roll, I could tell we just how light we were - we rotated well before I have experienced in a 747 before this. A friend of mine tracking my flight on an iPhone app said that we gained altitude very quickly, also.
As we passed overhead (what I would guess to be) the Southampton area, the crew were released to do their service by the captain.
The crew were really efficient at getting everyone a drink and a snack - we were offered a bag of cheese and onion pretzels, which were actually very moreish and tasty. Soon after, a drink was offered.
For flights to the Caribbean, VS offer a cocktail as well as the traditional drinks - a nice little touch and my girlfriend informs me it was very nice. A sentiment clearly shared by lots of people on board, because when I went to stretch my legs later on in the flight I saw a flight attendant mixing up some more - she poured a whole bottle of vodka into a bowl, clearly not skimping on the booze with VS! Either that, or it was for a crew party later on!
Soon after the drinks service, amenity kits, headsets and landing cards were all issued.
Once everyone had had their drink served to them, the FA made an announcement, inviting anyone who wants to sit somewhere less cramped to do so. She did mention at this point that they would have to return to their seats prior to arrival, however. We stayed put.
On a side note, at this point, I will just make a comment about the crew on VS - they're fantastic. Throughout the flight, I and passengers around me, were calling for more drinks etc and nothing was too much trouble. You might say "it's their job to get drinks", which is correct - but the way in which they do it, always with a smile and willing to have a little joke is brilliant and it's something I don't really see that often elsewhere. Personally, I believe AC come second to VS.
The flight progressed, I watched a couple of movies on the IFE, ordered some more drinks and had a non-descript meal. It wasn't great, wasn't bad - but more importantly, it wasn't memorable which is a nice plus for airline food.
The interactive moving map was quite good to keep an eye on, so I could keep abreast of our location, speed and altitude. It also shared various points of interest - this one I found particularly amusing:
By this point in the flight, I was starting to suffer from very little leg room (BA is definitely superior in this respect) and so had to go and wonder around.
A nice little view as we were nearing the Caribbean at FL400.
Later on in the flight, we were served an afternoon tea which was a nice refreshment before landing in BGI.
The approach into Barbados is always fantastic, this would be my third time arriving on the island and I still get excited to see the golden shoreline. Weather was beautiful, temperature in the 30's and good visibility.
As with most ops into BGI, we landed on runway 09 with what was an excellent landing - I must say, a real greaser - there was a few claps from around the cabin admiring it.
We got another announcement from the captain, welcoming us, updating us on weather and outside air tempreture. We parked on stand and the door was opened within a few minutes.
The one thing that I love about BGI and a lot of the Caribbean airports is the lack of airbridges - meaning you have to walk across the tarmac, a perfect opportunity to have a proper look at the aircraft that brought us over the pond. The heat struck me instantly - I'd forgotten just how warm this place was!
Customs and baggage was dealt with in a matter of minutes - they really do know that they're doing down there.
Outside the terminal, we were met by a VS representative (a lovely VS representative at that) who offered us a drink, and directed us to our transfer.
All in all, the whole experience felt very well oiled and painless - a great start to a great holiday!
CaptCufflinks From UK - England, joined Dec 2012, 78 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (4 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2497 times:
I forgot I had these - some bonus pictures of Concorde, which is parked in her own hangar at BGI:
The last picture is of a video that you are shown as part of the tour - the video is projected onto the side of Concorde, which is a really nice touch in one way - but sad to think that, now, her only operational use is as a cinema screen.