FLIGHT 1 - 21st March 2007
Virgin Atlantic Flight VS19
Aircraft: 747-400 G-VHOT
Photo © Manas Barooah
DEP: London Heathrow Terminal 3
ARR: San Francisco - International Terminal
SCHED DEP: 11:00
ACTUAL DEP: 12:20
SCHED ARR: 15:05
ACTUAL ARR: 16:04
CLASS: J (Upper class)
I took the Heathrow Express (although expensive a very useful service) to the airport to arrive at around 8AM and slowly made my way to the Upper Class check in, believing, in my nieve way, that since it was a premium class there would be little or no queue. I was wrong, there was quite a long queue as one passenger were trying to do something at one of the two check in desks which he should've done somewhere else which held up the queue massively. Anyway 25 minutes later I approached the check in Lady. The conversation went something like this:
HER: Where to Sir?
ME: San Francisco
she taps war and peace into her computer
HER: Have you changed your ticket MR Stockler?
ME: Yes, I was told I could pay the transfer fee at the check in desk
HER: You were told wrong, you have to return to the ticket desk
ME: OK, thats fine but i would rather not queue again, can i come to the front of the queue?
HER: No problem, just come to my desk
Happy with this agreement I run to the ticket desk, pay my fee, and go back to the desk where i merrily go to the front of the queue. Now, I admit that queue jumpers are some of the most annoying people at the airport, but I felt that I had the right to. Especially considering that I stuck to the one desk (there were 3 open now). But despite this I got a lot of lip from many different people in the queue, who it had turned out had been waiting for less time then I had to. Anyway got checked in and headed for the Virgin Clubhouse. Now, I was seriously looking forward to this as I had heard so much about it, but also noticed a distinct lack of photos on Airliners.net TR's.
I have given this lounge its own section because words can't describe how amazing this lounge is. It simply leaves the others in the shade. BA - completely different, AA - no match, UA-nope. THere are waiters/waitresses walking around waiting to take your order for food and drink. Considering the time I ordered a full English Breakfast. I was not dissapointed:
There is a giant TV, snooker table, a restaurant (Well, the whole lounge is a restaurante but there is actually an area with tables), a library, Rooftop Garden, ideal for viewing:
THere was an announcement - Oh dear a delay of an hour on the SFO flight. Normally I hate delays but this time I actually was quite pleased. THis is simply because the lounge was so fantastic. I went to the Cow Shed (TM) beauty area, hoping to have either a massage or a shower. Sadly there were no spaces left for the former but there was a free cubicle for the latter. I went in for a shower and discovered ANOTHER surprise. The shower doubled as a steam room. 20 minutes later I emerged refreshed and had a look round the rest of the lounge. Briefly there was also a spa and jacuzi (bring trunks) and a hairdresser! All in all I rate the lounge 20/10. Unbelievable.
At the call I headed towards gate 32 and was given priority boarding. I was welcomed aboard by a lovely young lady (unbelievably i can't remember her name I appologise, if your reading i'm sorry). She took my coat and I made my way into the nose of the plane. First impressions. WOW (again), the upper class suits looked incredible:
I sat down and immediatly started playing with the seat (man i'm such a child - but no one was on board yet). Thats when I discovered the only complaint I have about the service. That is the noise the seat makes when it moves! It makes a big racket. Aaaanyway Jessica (the aptly names In Flight Beauty Therapist) came up to me to ask if I wanted any in flight treatments. I chose the Head and shoulder massage. It turns out that the treatment wasn't guarenteed but a draw would be done and that I would be fairly high up as I hadn't had a treatment in the lounge (a very fair system I believe). The Menu was handed out. Here are the details:
Loch Fyne hot-smoked almon served with potato and horseradish Salid
Cream of Potato and Double Gloucester soup served with a choice of warm breads
Cumberland pork sausages served with buttered mashed potato, sauteed spinach and red onion gravy
Chicken tikka masala served with basmati rice, mini naan and mango chutney
Potato thatched vegetable Cottage pie served with spring greens
Chocolate and pear posset served with rasberry sauce
Honeycomb ice cream served with a giant chocolate button (it really was giant trust me)
Warm fruit scone served with Tiptree strawberry jam and Roddas Cornish clotted Cream
Your choice from the cake stand.
I had the salmon and saussages - both of which were fabulous.
Later in the flight the stewardess (ill call her Rachel as it seems too impersonal to call her Stewardess, she really was fantastic very friendly and kind, couldn't do enough) made my bed. The upper class suite turns over into a fully (and I mean fully) flat bed I put on the sleeper suit and tried to sleep. An hour later I woke up and explored the V:PORT system which is Virgin's AVOD system. Very easy to use and enjoyable. All together I watched two episodes of The SImpsons, Top Gear, An inconvienient Turth, Employee of the Month and Casino Royale (as I seemed to be the only student in my university not to have seen it!).
The hours ticked by peacefully but fairly quickly and before long it was time for landing. I was given some spectacular views of both the USA and Canada on the way:
I was the first off the plane and my bags came through very quickly. I slowly made my way to the Alaska lounge which is where I am now. Oop my second flight has just been called. Will write Part 2 as soon as I can.
Long story short I would rate the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class project as highly as possible. I'm not going to give individual scores as in all areas they topped! I feel truly privaleged to have been able to try this product.
It seems my photobucket isn't working here, Rest assured I will upload the pictures as soon as I can but still all comments and questions are greatly appreciated.