I think some of you were already impatient to read this one, so sit back.... relax and enjoy this trip (report)!!
Date: 30th juin
Equipment: A320-200 OO-SFS
We arrived about 1.5hr early at the airport for our flight to LAX. The check-in counters at Brussels were quite bussy that day, obviously it was the beginning of the summer-holiday season in Belgium, but it never gave me the impression as being really crowded. Check in of VG 005 was done by (ex-)Sabena personnel, quick, effective, and as always.... with a smile. By that time Mr Van Gaever arrived and welcomed us in his own special way, quite amusing actually.... There was no difference in check in between business class pax and economy class pax (Emily-Michael class??), but this didn't bother at all, because as I said before the check-in was very efficient. (And I have to add as well that the VG-counters were rather empty compared to the other ones.)
We went through security checks, did a little shopping and walked to our gate.
Boarding only started at the time we were supposed to start the engines, 12h40L, so it was already quite obvious that we were not going to leave on time. Boarding went fast,...., only 17 paying pax on board, you can immagine that it went fast, a total of about 40 pax on board. We went to our seats, 6A and B. A welcome drink was offered (champagne, juice, wine...), by the really friendly cabin crew. The business seats were still the same as the former Sabena seats, very spacious, electrically operated.... and of course a large PVT. At about 13h15 the purser anounced that the delay was due to maintenance that had been performed to the plane, and the fact that the plane wasn't fueled when we started boarding. At about 13h30 we were ready to go, as the purser anounced again, for a flight time of 11hours and 40 minutes!!
Take-off on 25R at Brussels was smooth, Tolen departure, heading north. As VG-airlines has still no ETOPS certification, we had to take a more northerly routing, which explains of course the flight time. Just prior take-off the Captain made an announcement (only in English, and he didn't mention his name, or even his function, so for other pax it was rather difficult to guess who was speaking.)
About 20min after take-off we were offerd an other drink (aperitief) before the meal service started. (Various choice of Champagne, wines, spirits etc etc). VG-airlines states it wants to be innovative in air-travel, one of their so called innovations, is that every passenger can order whenever he wants his meal. To me, as a passenger, this sounds rather good, but I think this might become impossible in the future when they have more pax, but as I mentioned already before, that was not going to be the problem that day. We were quite hungry so we started right away.
First course was a choice of cold lobster or Foie Gras... both looked very good I must say, I went for the lobster, which was good! (fresh, .... excellent actually). For the main dish we had the choice between Turkey and veal. I tried the Turkey, which was again very good, served on an individual small plate, together with a salad on the side. A choice of excellent wines was offerd (various reds and whites). After this came a cheese platter, followed by different cakes (chocolate, fruit, creme brulee etc etc), accompanied with coffee, and again a choice of chocolates!! The cabin crew was extremely friendly, helpfull, and really caring.
The inflight entertainment system was a bit of a disappointment. No movies... only some 'special' documentaries were going to be shown. The special documentaries (actually they are old Belgavox Journals, funny for about 5 minutes I think, but after that, it gets quite boring), were preceeded by an announcment by Mr Van Gaever himself on the PVT's. It looked more like a 70's style dictator adressing the people of his country instead of a CEO welcoming his clients. (but actually I had good fun watching it, certainly with the Italian and the German, which did not go as smooth as the Ducth announcement). I wasn't too fond of the radio-channels either, there were about 5 of them, one classical, one with country music, one with 'typical' Flemish music.... ( was rather dissappointing, except if you really like Willem Vermandere... Lisa Del Bo etc etc, but that's not my style).
So if we wanted some entertainment, we were going to have to entertain ourselfs ( 11h40 is loooooooooooooooooooong), so we started a discussion, semi-interview with Mr Van Gaever. The discussion lasted over 2hrs long, most of the time Mr Van Gaever talking himself,...., I didn't want to argue too much because our views on aviation are sometimes quite different, but still it was a nice conversation.
Rest of the flight went smooth, just a little bit of turbulence overhead the Hudson bay, after which the purser made an announcement to fasten our seatbelts.
About 1.5hr prior landing, an other small meal was served, the options were Chicken or tuna (both cold).
We touched down on LAX rwy 25l about 35minutes late than the sheduled arrival time. A very smooth landing by Captain Lamoulin!!! LAX, what an airport, while we waited for our gate to be available (an oher 15 min), we saw several exotic birds on take off!! (Thai 747, Korean 747, Swiss MD11 etc etc).
In general this flight was overal excellent!! I think VG-airlines doesn't have to position itself as being a NEW experience, or innovative, they have to promote themselves as having a superb product, that, I am pretty sure, can not be compared to any other American carrier crossing the Atlantic between the USA and Brussels. They should work of course on the inflight entertainment, certainly when Freddy himself is not on board
A biggggg thumbs up to the entire crew that made this flight an unforgettable experience for me, thx to captain Lamoulin for letting me take pictures from the flight-deck!!