Depart: Wed 7-Apr-04 at 12:00
Arrive: Wed 7-Apr-04 at 15:10
Depart: London (LHR), 7-Apr-04 at 12:00 Terminal 3
Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX), 7-Apr-04 at 15:10 Terminal 2
Flight: Continental 8227, operated by VIRGIN ATLANTIC -- VS7
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Meal Service: Lunch
Duration: 11hr 10mn
Distance: 5442 mile(s) (8758 km)
Photo © Darren Rhodes
Photo © Dennis Lau
My first Trans-Atlantic flight for 6 years was arranged with 2 weeks to spare. My good pal Chris Sharps contacted me and said did I want to go, I couldn't resist!
I left my house at 6:00 a.m. to get the 6:20 a.m. coach to Heathrow. It was a pleasant journey and passed very quickly. I arrived at the Central Bus station about 15 minutes early! I rang Chris and informed him of my arrival. He was there within 5 minutes smiling and very happy! No wander; we were flying Trans-Atlantic with Virgin!
We proceeded towards T3 for check in. We arrived at a very quiet Virgin desk and checked in. We had changed our seats to 61A and 61C as these are pretty much the best seats on the 747-400
We cleared security and had a while till our flight departed so we grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and found various locations to shoot pictures of aircraft! Here is my pal Chris standing in front of a UAL 767:
We waited for our gate to be displayed on the board; with no joy we approached a Virgin Atlantic member of staff. They informed us that the flight was delayed by approximately 15 minutes. We then asked what aircraft we would fly on; she informed us it was a 747-400 with the registration G-VTOP!
We continued to do some more aircraft watching and shooting when we came across this cool security camera! Here you see me taking a picture of the camera which is videoing me! Anything to pass the time before a flight! LOL
We walked towards a big seating area and discussed the flight ahead. We talked about various things to do in LAX when we arrived Here is a shot of the departures lined up for the day from T3.
All of a sudden our gate number flashed on the screen, me and Chris gasped with joy! It was gate 35. Apparently this gate takes about 20 minutes to walk to!? It took us about 2 minutes! We proceeded towards gate 35 and picked up speed as we got nearer towards the aircraft! To our surprise it was G-VTOP Virginia Plain Seen here:
Boarding was announced and we proceeded to the queue. We were quite near the front so that was lucky. We gave our boarding cards over and I had to wait to one side for some reason! That was scary as it was my first International trip in my new passport and I thought something was up, luckily all was ok! Does anyone know why this was?
We boarded our aircraft at 12:05 and made our way to seats 61A and 61C. These are very good seats as there is so much more space back here! We had made an agreement on who gets the window seat on each flight or at what point in the flight. I had the window seat all the way over to LA! (I hope you didn't mind Chris?!) Under the seat in front of me I had that horrid black box for the entertainment system
As soon as we boarded we had our cameras on! Chris wanted to take a wing shot as we were parked at the gate. So I had to get him doing this! Sorry Chris!
We pushed back at 12:40, 40 minutes later than scheduled! It wasn't bad really. Our Captain, Colin White, came on the P/A and outlined us of our flying time and the fact he would let us know the conditions when on approach to LAX.
We taxied towards 27L and I noticed that we passed G-MIDR which I flew on a few weeks before hand! We waited in a queue of Aircraft for about 5-10 minutes and finally got our turn to depart. We done a rolling take off and were airborne at about and up past through the clouds at about 13:13.
We climbed and the seat belt signs were off. The IFE was then loaded and I went straight to the in-flight map I noticed there was an old guy behind me shooting film, so I swung around when he was shooting, snapped a shot of him
After about an hour of flying dinner was served, I opted for the Vegetable Curry meal. It was really quite tasty for Airline food! I'm never usually a fan of taking pics of the meals consumed on board but hey, I made an exception for this one!
So we got to play with Odyssey, it wasn't at all that bad really. We noticed it froze a few times!? Has anyone else experienced this!? We played a few games and I watched loads of different Simpsons and Will and Grace Episodes! Its the type of thing I would normally watch back home on the sofa with a bag of Doritos!
After a few hours of flying we passed over Greenland! I was amazed at the views captured from this altitude! I was using a Canon D30 with 24-85mm lens if anyone is interested to know. Extremely good results if you ask me. These are all Photoshop Processed images too; they looked really bland when unprocessed! Hope you all like them.
We both decided to wander around the Aircraft and shoot some images of the cabin. We established that next time we fly VS we would go Premium Economy! I took one of the wing from the middle of the Aircraft, damn impressive sight really. The people that were sat in that row asked if we wanted to take a pic of them and if they had to smile We declined their offer and thanked them for letting us invade their legroom for 5 minutes! They seemed ok with it.
When Chris wasn't looking I also decided to play a game of *Spot the Airliners.net member* He is sat enjoying his 3rd strawberry ice cream
We were over North/South Dakota when I decided to take a shot of the moving map on the PVT in front of me. I had a lot of fun watching this on and off through out the flight to keep an eye out on where we were heading
Throughout the flight the Virgin Cabin crew remained very friendly, now was the surprise part We asked them if we could take a visit up to the flight deck whilst on the ground at LAX. They said no problem at all!! They continued serving us drinks and snacks. It was very good service indeed!
Our Captain came on the P/A and announced that we were about 15 minutes away from LAX. He said we were flying over Vegas and the weather was pretty good in LA. It was around 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. He was right! It was lovely
We made a few turns, and I noticed we passed over an airfield. I managed to grab a shot of it. Anyone know which it is?
We also passed some lovely snow topped mountains which I just couldn't resist taking a shot of! The looked pretty nice and I feel the winglet in this shot made it pretty cool
The seatbelt sign came on and at last we were on approach to LAX. I got pretty excited looking down on the city. We made one final turn then the spoilers were deployed, this made the ride very bumpy and noisy. It was fun though Here we are on finals for LAX:
The landing was good with no harsh slamming to the ground or anything like that. We didn't use reverse thrust we just braked and rolled to a stop! I was impressed at how quick we halted. We vacated the runway and proceeded to our gate. I noticed we passed a USAirways building.
We arrived at our gate and I thought I would start the fun. I took a shot of a guy on the ground, he looked directly at me when I took this one!
We waited till all the PAX disembarked and started taking some shots of the interior. We also went up to the cockpit and spoke with the crew. They asked us if we were from Airliners.net! How did they know? LOL
Here are the shots my pal got uploaded to the site. Unfortunately as I went to take one of the F/A's came running up and said "Quick guys, you have to leave they are leaving"! That was a real bummer
Photo © Chris Sharps
Photo © Chris Sharps
Well done on these shots by the way
We left our plane with masses of excitement for the next 31 hours that were in front of us. I took a shot of our bird as we departed.
We had a very good experience with Virgin Atlantic and will fly them again in the future Thanks to all the Crew on VS007 for their great hospitality on this long flight across the pond!
I hope you all enjoyed reading this. My return report on the A340-300 will follow!
Please feel free to leave any comments and ask any questions.