Route: London Heathrow Terminal 3 (LHR/EGLL) - Los Angeles Terminal 2 (LAX/KLAX)
Airline: Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS/VIR/VA)
Aircraft: Airbus A340-600
Registration: G-VEIL "Queen of the Skies"
Photo © Alexander Gill
Photo © Kevin Chin
The time had come for me to fly to Los Angeles. I had a meeting with someone who was very important at the time, so it was worth making the 5,500 mile journey for this occasion. I had only just got back from a long vacation to Miami, San Juan, St. Maarten and a connection in Chicago so I was still in the holiday mood!
I left my house at around 7:00am and took the National Express 032 service to London Heathrow. The journey was pretty mediocre as normal so nothing to report except I fell asleep on the way up as I hadn't slept the night before!
I arrived at Heathrow slightly dazed and I braced the cold winter air as I jumped off the coach to get my suitcase. I was still pretty sleepy so I wasn't 100% content with what I was doing, LOL! I headed from the Central Bus Station to Terminal 3 and stopped off at the little boys room en-route.
I arrived in Terminal 3 and surprisingly it was relatively busy! Although this wasn't a problem as I used the self service check in and then proceeded to drop my case off at the drop off point. I was asked the usual questions and then I was wished a nice flight by the rather attractive female check in dragon. I was seated in seat 60K as I requested online, so all was well from this point!
Security was busy as hell and I spent around 30 minutes going through this process. I was in front of some Australian chick who kept looking around at me, I smiled and she smiled back, it never went any further than that! Sadly..
I made my way through the Duty Free shops at T3 before finding TGI Friday's for some breakfast. I opted for the Bacon roll with OJ and I also ordered an extra Latte whilst I was waiting. I made a few phone calls to home and to the person I was visiting and continued to enjoy my breakfast.
I had a look around Duty Free, bought some Vodka as a present and then some aftershave for myself. I wear Davidoff – Echo and they had it for next to nothing so I got myself 4 bottles of the stuff, I'm using the third one at the moment!
I had another wander around the shops, I walked into a watch jewellers and ever so nearly got sold a watch unwillingly, LOL. Persistent sales person doesn't even come close!! It was fun none the less as I got to try on a variety of expensive watches, I just wish I never let them know that I was potentially interested in purchasing one!!
It was edging towards boarding time, so I thought I'd take a look at the screens to see what gate my aircraft had been assigned. Nothing as of yet, so I went and got Starbucks and sat down listening to some music on my iPod. It was now time to board! Hooray!
I walked towards my gate and I had the normal additional security checks that they like to throw at you! So there was a slight delay before I could jump on my plane. But I could see that it was G-VEIL, Queen of the Skies. I was happy that it was an A340-600, even though I knew it was going to be!
We were then called for boarding to I proceeded towards the desk and I handed over my boarding card and off I went! I found my way down the jet bridge and I was greeted by another smiling hostie, and a male hostie. I was pointed in the right direction and I found my seat towards the rear of the aircraft. I sat down in 60K and made myself at home.
This flight was totally empty! Probably one of the most empty transatlantic flights that I have made. I was joined by a middle aged couple in front of me by a couple of rows, and then a much older couple to the left of me. That was it, amazing! It was set to be a good flight, providing we got off on time. This was also looking certain!
We pushed back on time and headed towards 09R. There was a short delay whilst aircraft in front of us departed but soon it was our turn to power off along 09R. Take off was smooth and the acceleration was modest, airborne!
Rotation from a miserable grey LHR on 09R.
So far my impressions of the A346 were on par with what I expected. I had flown a whole host of A343's before this so I kinda knew what to expect at a minimum although the A346 definitely overtook the A343 in many areas. I was looking around the cabin and the use of silver fixtures as opposed to white fixtures made it feel a little bit more modern inside.
1 Hour and 10 minutes had passed since rotation and we were through all of that horrible grey crap that seemed to be everywhere had passed and the colours were definitely more inviting! The view was to be pretty much the same for the next 9 or so hours!
The cabin crew came around with the normal soft drinks and pretzels so I got myself a diet Virgin cola with Ice and two packs of Worcester sauce flavoured pretzels. That was just about right and edged my hunger back a little bit! I could eat those pretzels all day long!
I then proceeded to have a play around with V:PORT and I started to watch 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' for the one millionth time in my life!! This movie is absolutely hilarious, if you haven't seen it, I can most definitely recommend it! The only problem is, I forgot that I was on a plane and I started to laugh out loud and people around me were staring to see what the hell was soo funny!! Never mind, it wasn't like i was going to see these people after I got off the plane! For all of you that have seen it:
Some form of dinner was then served, I had some kind of chicken and pasta dish which wasn't too bad as far as airline food goes. It certainly kept my hunger at bay until the next round of feeding! I washed this down with more Virgin diet cola! Delicious..
Well as the time passed the views didn't change really! I watched more movies and listened to my iPod Nano. This is really the only problem with such a long route, time seems to drag after you hit the eastern side of the US! The positive side is, I had V:PORT at my side and I had all the music I could possibly want to listen to so I was happy!
I was sat around listening to some music and I checked the time, it was potentially a good time to ring from the on board phone system! I whipped out my phone numbers and proceeded to dial the American I was going to be staying with. I had a 2 second conversation with them, and the phone went dead! Great, I figured I wouldn't try again as it would probably cost me the earth. Later on I discovered it had cost me £3.91 for that 2 second conversation!! The views became more clear, and I started to see some form of land!
All in all the crossing so far was smooth and we really only had some minor turbulence. Time seemed to be ticking relatively well, and I wasn't finding myself bored at all! I made a visit to the bathroom for the first time on this flight, amazingly enough, and I was impressed with the ample room to move around in this bathroom!
As time passed we were getting closer to the West Coast of America, we were passing over Montana and I found many interesting photo opportunities, so I whipped out my camera and started snapping away!
Some pretty impressive views from up here, I especially like the rocky surroundings. Adds some real contrast to the image! Here is my screen on the V:PORT entertainment system as we passed over Montana!
More and more time passed, which is all that can happen on an 11 hour flight, and the land became more flat so what did I do? I took more photos! I never managed to take any of the cabin or any of my food but I will be doing that in the next trip that I make to give a more in depth airline review as such!
I continued in the mission of listening to iPod whilst watching my moving map edge towards the West Coast of America, time was definitely starting to drag now! I just wanted to be on the ground in Los Angeles and starting my vacation! I have to say, I've experienced the V:PORT system before but I enjoy using it more and more every time I make a flight with Virgin.
The view below became more breathtaking and a little more mountainous in comparison to what we had just been flying over a few hours ago! The camera does come in handy at times like these, you will never experience such amazing views on the ground, so I always like to capture these views with my camera when flying high above the ground!
The afternoon snacks were handed out to the pax, it was great to have just a little something that would take the edge off my starvation later on in the evening. I already knew where I was going for dinner, that was to be Hooters in Costa Mesa!
Finally we started to make a descent, somewhere just before Las Vegas. This enabled yet more rather cool views! I will include pictures from the descent for your entertainment, even though pictures can't really sum up the overall feeling at the time, I'm sure they'll help!
The descent was smooth, but obviously we had the normal amount of bumps as we dropped off altitude. I love feeling the aircraft point it's nose down ever so slightly, it gives a real feeling of 'dropping'. It's great!
North East Las Vegas with an unknown airfield!
Las Vegas Boulevard and McCarran International Airport! I'll be there in a few days!
On approach to LAX, passing over a very well built up area!
Just passing Downtown Los Angeles!
On final approach to 24R! Sweet home Los Angeles!
We made our landing on 24R at 3:00pm and the plane came to a halt towards the end of the runway. We taxied in to our stand and dis-embarked. This was another successful and complaint free flight I have made with Virgin Atlantic.
Immigration was pleasant and very efficient! My POE officer was a mid-aged lady who seemed very relaxed! The conversation went as follows:
Me: Hello, good afternoon!
Silence – I hand her my passport and visa...
POE: Hey there sir, how are you?
Me: Not to bad thanks, you?
POE: Oh yeah, I'm great, thanks. So, where are ya'll staying?
Me: Well I'll be staying in Costa Mesa for a few days but proceeding onto Las Vegas.
POE: Oh, cool. If I'm honest with ya, there's nothing to do in Costa Mesa. Other than a few good places to eat on Anton.
Me: Oh yeah, I'm good with that. The Hotel was cheap and we're not too fussed where we'll staying!
POE: Where are you staying?
Fingerprints and photo's being taken...
Me: The Marriott Suites on Anton actually!
POE: Oh okay, cool. Right, you're all done have an awesome time here!
Me: Thank you, I will indeed, see ya!
POE: Uh huh! (Typical So.Cali)
This is by far the most friendly entry I have had into the USA! If I saw her again, I'd tell her that!
Anyway, I proceeded towards baggage claim, which was already spinning with luggage. In about 5 minutes after arriving I was leaving! My bag was here and I was stepping outside being greeted by my girlfriend. We were out in the car lot and in the car just pulling onto Aviation Boulevard at 3:28pm! I landed at 3:00pm!!
I spent the next few days in Costa Mesa going shopping, visiting Huntington Beach and just general chilling.
View from the balcony of my hotel in Costa Mesa, The Marriott Suites!
Huntington Beach, it was cold and miserable! Similar to what I had left back home in England!!
Me and my girlfriend. Just hanging out on the pier.
Just hitting the road towards Las Vegas!
Absolutely amazing views and colours here!
It's Zzyzx!! I've always wanted to see it!
I really liked the contrast and deep blue sky here! We stopped off just here to get Starbucks and the hicks had a hard job understanding my English accent!
Just cruising along the 15, just about to turn off into Las Vegas! Views some of you might recognise!
View from my hotel in Las Vegas, The Luxor! I freaking LOVE Las Vegas!
This car was clean the day we started driving around in it, now its caked in crap!
My view all the way back to LAX! I left shortly after on VS24!
I hope you all enjoyed my report, and the additional pictures of my activities!
Comments, Flaming, and anything else is much appreciated!
Best Regards and thanks for reading!