Posts: 376
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2000 3:32 pm

IAD-LHR-IAD On VS, Including Special Meal

Tue Mar 20, 2001 12:14 pm

I had to head to London 3 weeks ago on short-notice (business), and I ended up taking Virgin because they had the lowest fares.

Plenty of people have posted trip reports for similar or even the same flights, so I'll just post the highlights. I flew economy class.

Amenity kits were provided both directions. They included a plastic bag, socks, ear plugs, tooth brush, toothpaste, breath mints, notepad, and probably some other things I'm forgetting.

I booked through Virgin's site, and it reported the aircraft was a 744, but the safety cards stated the aircraft was a 742. How can I tell the difference?

I read in a travel column in a newspaper that ordering a gluten-free meal (gluten is a type of wheat, I think) is often a better meal because they have to prepare it specially, but it's not necessarily as flavourless as other special meal options, like low-fat. Well I didn't fare so well on this. IAD-LHR (dinner), I had a plain boneless chicken breast with rice and two florets of broccoli. Very bland. The salad had rice wine vinaigrette (also bad), and the dessert was a rice crispie treat (since cake would have wheat in it).

Return trip it was bland, dry salmon on rice, and some sort of dried fruit as the side dish. Again, some of the worst airline food I've had.

On the bright side, special meals are served before the other passengers are served (except for vegetarian, which was served at the same time with dinner, since it was a meal choice). So I was able to finish up my meal and get some sleep while others were still eating. Does anyone have suggestions for other types of special meals to try that might be better? I'm flying to AMS on UA (my first 777 trip) in a month, and I ordered gluten-free on there -- perhaps I should switch it.

On my return from LHR-IAD, I got to the airport (Sunday morning) a bit earlier than expected. After checking in, I wandered over to the observation deck, which I believe is near Terminal 2. I was there around 9am, and there must have been 30 people on both floors of the observation deck! On a Sunday morning at 9am! I never realized there were so many spotters. Anyway, the views were fairly good, and the cloud cover was only minimal.

Overall, I'd say VS had good service and I was pleased. The only downsides were the gluten-free meal wasn't very good, and I didn't get any FF miles for the trip because none of the airlines I am an FF member with are partners with VS.

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RE: IAD-LHR-IAD On VS, Including Special Meal

Tue Mar 20, 2001 9:20 pm

Try a special fish meal.
Isn´t Gluten that stuff that´s often used in Chinese dishes and gives some people a stiff neck, the so called "Chinese restaurant syndrom"?
Daniel Smile
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RE: IAD-LHR-IAD On VS, Including Special Meal

Tue Mar 20, 2001 9:57 pm

In my ticket (on the same route, Feb 23rd/25th but LHR-IAD and back) it also said it would be a 744, and it also was a classic. You can tell the difference by

-the longer upper deck on the 744
-the winglets
and if you flew Premium economy: the fact that in the 744, Premium Economy would be in the Upper Deck

Nice trip report. Glad you had a good flight. I myself don't really mind airline food much - it's just the kind of microwaveable meals I often eat anyway....



BTW: On what dates did you fly?
Posts: 376
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2000 3:32 pm

RE: IAD-LHR-IAD On VS, Including Special Meal

Wed Mar 21, 2001 1:25 am

I left on the night of 28 Feb and returned the afternoon of 4 March. On the outbound, I did note the aircraft had winglets (I was thinking that's a way to determine a 744, but wasn't sure). Thanks for the information.

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RE: IAD-LHR-IAD On VS, Including Special Meal

Wed Mar 21, 2001 5:07 am

i find that the easiest way to tell a 742 from a 744 is that there is an exit on the upper deck of the 744 but not on the 742
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RE: IAD-LHR-IAD On VS, Including Special Meal

Wed Mar 21, 2001 7:18 am

Thanks for including the bit about the special meal  Big grin

In my experience, the special meals are generally WORSE than the regular meals. For the moment, I've given up on these inept airline catering departments
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 9:01 am

RE: IAD-LHR-IAD On VS, Including Special Meal

Thu Mar 22, 2001 7:20 am

Angus is right, special meals being better is a misconception. The reality is that special meals are usually much older than the regular airline meals, because the kitchens prepare them in large batches and then freeze them. It isn't economical for them to specially prepare just a few meals a day, so they make a whole bunch in advance. Also, the dishes in general tend to be pretty bland, as there are restrictions on the ingredients they can use. Most catering companies won't go out of their way to make special meals tasty - its almost as if they are more concerned about making a meal "glutan-free" (or whatever) than edible. Anyway, I would change your upcoming meal reservation back to good ol' standard economy fare if I were you.
Hope I didn't make you lose your appetite  Smile
Cheers, Zac

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