Thought I might bore you with another one of my trip reports ( I haven't written any in a while) so what the heck!
I thought It would be a good idea to leave wintery UK in December and head for some sunny weather down in Miami, Virgin Atlantic offered the cheapest option so I decided to loose my virginity and fly with them hehehe.
And also It would be my first time on the A340, First time crossing the atlantic from LHR and first time on Virgin Atlantic! talk about first times!
So here we go then.
Monday December 8th 2003
Airbus A340-300 G-VFLY "Dragon Lady" (the one with the "retro" livery)
Departure 11:30am (Actual 11:30am)
Arrival 04:30pm (Actual 04:00pm)
Flight time 9:25
Photo © Raymond Wang
Photo © Derek Pedley
Well my day started rahter abruptly by my alarm clock at 4:00 am, grumpy and moaning I got ready and at 5:00 my cousin tokk me to the coach station to catch my 5:30 coach to Heathrow.
I arrived at LHR's terminal 3 at 8:20 and briskly made my way to the Virgin Atlantic check-in and the qeue was not that big in less than 15 minutes it was done. then I just wandered around the terminal doing some last minute shopping. also got a newspaper and some munchees.
At 9:40 I decided to head in for the security checks because I thought they would be a hassle, but to my surprise and despite a HUGE line security was done in no time! no hassle no shoe removing no bag searches NOTHING (God I love LHR).
So once security was cleared i did some duty free shopping (again) and sat around the food court until boarding was called.
The check-in lady said boarding should commence at 10:15 but actually they called the flight at 10:25.
"Virgin Atlantic passengers to Miami should proceed to gate 29"
When i arrived at the gate all my predictions became reality I was to fly on one of the remaining A340 still in the old livery ( I was already betting with my friend in MAN which reg I was to be on, but we where wrong it wasn't G-VAIR)
Anyways boarding proceeded without any problem and at the gate what do I see..... Oh my god is it an angel? a vision? noooo its a Virgin Atlantic Flight attendant! God how beautiful she was! she looked like Rachel Stevens (If you dont know who she is, then look around)
"Mr Tocco seat 62A is thru the corridor on your right hand side" she said.
I made my way to my seat on the very end of the airplane and meanwhile had a look at the cabin, It was very nice I never saw the bar but those upper class seats sure look confy! overall the cabin showed it's age a bit but it was well maintaned!
Finally stored my carry-on and took my seat and the first thing I noticed was how wide my seat was! damn confortable! nice pitch and the seat is designed so you can actually slide your legs underneat the seat in front of you! and stretch! nice touch indeed. and the cabin is very wide too.
IFE fitted on this aircraft was ARCADIA, it has 12 TV channels (movies and other programs) and 9 music channels, Super nintendo and Skymap the screen is a bit small but hey it's an old system also the sound was a little cracky but i think its because of normal wear and tear of the headphones jacks.
loaded and locked we pushed back on-time and taxied to runway 09R and in no time we were ready to take off, we lined up and the throttles were pushed to the max, takeoff roll and power was more or less like on the 747 and 767 and the climbout was also quite nifty, I did not felt the plane to be "underpowered" and "sluggish" as some people say.
Anywas the IFE was started 20 minutes after with a Virgin commercial and a news magazine. and a snack service followed shortly, my seat mate a guy from Norway called the F/A and complained because he couldn't adjust the head rest on his seat, to which the F/A ( yess you guessed it the same one that welcomed me onboard) explained him that it was impossible to do so because the seat is not fitted with such thing, to what he replied if it was the company's policy to install such uncorfotable seats and a lot of nonsense, the F/A very politely told him there was nothing she could do about it and that she was sorry and the guy just kept complaining.
We continued on our merry way without any problems the sky was clear and there was no turbulence around
Later on the flight the main meal service started and because we where at the back of the cabin we did not had a choice of meal. the F/A offered me the Sausage option which i gladly accepted and I must say it was really good very tasty and well heated, It consisted of 2 sausages, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies, a salad side dish bread with cheese, crackers and a chocolate dessert all very nicely presented, I washed it down with Virgin Cola! and I got the full can!
Again my seat mate started to complain, this time about the food, he said that why the airline never asked him what he wanted to eat? he said " I got asked in LHR many times for my passport and all that but they never asked me what I would like to eat?" to what the F/A politely explained that it would be impossible for the airline to cater for 300+ ppl on a plane if they where to choose what they would like to eat that specific day on the flight (hey dude it's an airline not a flying restaurant!)
Anyways trays where cleared up and I started zapping thru the PTV movie choices today where SWAT, Seabiscuit, the shape of things and the singing detective and some others. I settled for SWAT and it wasn't that bad. afterwards I played some Mario World.
Our Flight plan today was London straight to Shannon then on the atlantic crossing making land on Canada and then down along the east coast of the US to Florida.
An Ice cream service (yep! Ice cream nice eh) service started as soon as we reached canada so you had something to munch while enjoying your movie.
From my window I could see Boston all covered up in snow and later on passengers on the right side got a glimpse of NYC because i saw a lot of them giggling and gathering around.
We passed Philadelphia, Norfolk and then I couldnt see anything else thanks to some clouds.
Before landing a Sandwich and tea service was offered and I got a Cheese sandwich with coffee and a chocolate muffin, again very nice. also thrughout he flight the F/As passed around offering oranje juice and water, you could also walk up to the galley and ask for whatever you wanted to drink (including alcohol)
Soon enough the captain came in and anounced that we will be starting our descent into MIA local time was 3:30 pm and we will be landing shortly after 4:00 pm
Throttles down. we started our descent and broke clouds just above the South Florida coast we made a brisk right turn and Miami airport was in sight, we then made a tight left turn over the Everglades to line up and landed smoothly on Rwy 9R we slowed down rather quickly and vacated the runway and proceeded to our gate E8.
Welcome to Miami....Bienvenido a Miami...local time is 4:00 and the temperature is.. NICE!
I was one of the last to deplane after the mad crowd and proceede to Inmigration no problems there but the agent was the typical Mr Nasty Attitude.
Got my baggages quickly and proceeded to the customs screening and then out to greet my Mom and my Dutchie friend!
So that concludes the first part of my trip. (too tired now to post the return leg, but keep an eye for it soon).
Virgin Atlantic performed absolutely great and it left a very very good impression on me I will definitely fly with them again and again and again.... the cabin crew was very professional and so was the staff at LHR.
"Love at First Flight" says one of their planes... well you got that right!
Hope you enjoyed reading all this nonsense and drop a comment if you liked it.