Well, I have read so many of the wonderful trip reports on this forum I felt it was high time to contribute one of my own, and I'm glad I can since this was my first air trip since before 9/11.
I'll start with VS
Nov. 26, 2004-G-VAST 747-400 "Ladybird"
I sat at the departure terminal for quite some time and saw the SQ
A345 taxi into my gate from Singapore, what a gorgeous plane. I also saw the Air Portugal A343 and Air India 744. Those of you familiar with EWR
know these are some of the real highlights at this airport. Anyway after the SQ
A345 was tugged away from the gate a while later "Ladybird" rolled in, I am always amazed at the vastness of those planes. Coincidentally I had the opportunity to go to the Science Museum in London, right nest to the Natural History Museum and they have an actual cross section of the front portion of a British Airways 747 with a cargo container in it and a couple of seats on both the main and upper decks. The museum also has something amazing just as you enter, there is an actual landing gear from an A340, it is truly amazing to be able to walk right up to it and appreciate the size of the whole aircraft, not to be missed if you are in London. We boarded the plane some time before our scheduled departure time of 2120. I had a seat right over the wing which I recommend when booking. I think the best seats to get are window seats close to the wings/engines so you can watch the flaps and the flexing of the wings and also the juxtaposition of the wings to the ground below is interesting. As the departure time grew closer the captain came on and announced that there was a problem with the cargo rollers underneath and that it would be about 25 minutes till the situation was rectified and that he would keep us posted about the situation. After 25 minutes the pilot came back on and said the problem was more difficult than originally anticipated and another 30 minutes would be required. We ended up not leaving until around 2230 though the pilot must've compensated by increasing our cruising speed since we got there at 0930 London time. We had the Odyssey entertainment system on board which was adequate though the Nintendo games did not work. I tried to watch The Bourne Supremacy but I find I can't watch serious films while flying, I'm usually too distracted to follow the plot. I think this is true because I watched Anchorman on the way back like 3 times, it's pretty funny if you like that kind of humor. The flight was very uneventful, we had a rolling takeoff where we taxied onto 21L (I think) and began the takeoff roll as soon as we lined up. Apparently 21L departures perform a left turn and then a right turn after climbing out, I observed several other flights doing this and we did this as well, not sure why, avoiding airspace or something? Anyway, straight forward from there, it was a night flight so not much to observe from then on. The meal was great (economy class), I had beef and noodles, a roll, pasta salad, chocolate cheesecake, and a cadbury crunchie bar, all excellent, I would pay to eat that meal on the ground. Also as is normal on VS
I got an amenity kit, the usual, I won't go into it though we got a different one on the way home and had to hand in the headphones at the end of the flight, it was a larger plastic carrying bag with the same contents as the first little pencil bag with the addition of some slippers and a small scratch pad. Word of advice, if you like the amenities kits look around as you deplane, some people leave theirs on the seats, I got an extra one, don't tell Sir Richard. Anyway the landing into LHR
had a nice steep right turn which I love, there was also some turbulence on the way over which I love also. Great spotting while taxiing into the gate at LHR
, that is one of the widebody capitals of the world. Relatively long wait for a stand after taxiing which I hear is very normal for LHR
G-VAEL "Maiden Toulouse" A343 Dec. 4, 2004
Another night flight. I have to say, I was thoroughly disappointed with Heathrow from a spotter's standpoint on the way out. At LHR
Terminal 3 there is a gigantic room full of benches and duty-free shops where everyone must wait until there gate number is assigned, which never occurs more than 1 hr. before departure. There are no windows in this area so you have no opportunity to view the planes at your gate other than the 5 minutes you spend before boarding starts. So I spent a ton of time at LHR
without seeing many planes as I arrived by the underground. Anyway I watched the pilot do the walk around from our gate and then boarded the plane. I am a big Airbus fan so I was pleased with the aircraft again, though it had the Arcadia system which has a tiny screen but was fine for me, like I said before I watched anchorman about 3 times and laughed the whole way home. Very routine flight with another rolling takeoff, I prefer lining up first and then waiting for the takeoff roll to commence. I was prepared for the A343's long takeoff roll and climb after hearing so much about it, I like long takeoff rolls so that was nice. My meal was beef stew, a roll, pasta salad, a dessert called Yimbo that was awesome, it was a chocolate cake with chocolate and butterscotch icing on it in a cup but it was almost like a mousse, again I would love to buy that on the ground. All in all VS
is a great airline but for me it's all about the almighty dollar and I would go with the lowest fare regardless of the airline.