PlaneHunter
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:48 pm




Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz


Background
My girlfriend and I had been planning for a long time to spend a vacation in the United Arab Emirates again. Early this year we came to the conclusion that March would be a good time to go. We also decided to take my girlfriend's aunt with us - because she doesn't travel much and had always wanted to visit Dubai one day. She had already been expressing the wish to accompany us on such a trip for a long time.

Good beach hotels in Dubai are over-priced, so I suggested to spend two nights in a city hotel and five nights in a beach hotel in another emirate. After comparing countless hotels on various websites, we decided to stay at the Rose Rayhaan by Rotana at Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai - the world's tallest hotel - and the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa. Now we needed to find suitable flights, preferably on a quality carrier. Qatar Airways - still missing in my log - offered low fares, but either departure/arrival times or transfer times weren't favorable at all. Swiss would have been another cheap option, but I had just flown on that carrier. Finally, I discovered an attractive combo offered on Expedia: London-Dubai-London on Virgin Atlantic Airways plus connecting flights on British Airways (MUC-LHR) and Lufthansa (LHR-MUC). I had always wanted to try Virgin Atlantic - and I would get the chance again to fly on the Airbus A340-600. My girlfriend also found that option quite interesting, so I quickly booked the flights. All four flights were on the same ticket (issued by Virgin Atlantic), so we didn't have to worry about possible delays or cancellations.

After we had received the reservation code, I went to Virgin's fancy website where I could conveniently select our seats on VS400 (LHR-DXB) and VS401 (DXB-LHR). In either case, I chose a window seat and an aisle seat in the rear section plus a window seat in the row behind. Some weeks later, while randomly checking the booking on Virgin's website, I suddenly discovered that there had been an equipment change on VS401: the A340-600 had been replaced by an A340-300. Of course I was quite happy about that because I would now also get the chance to try Virgin's A340-300. However, the seat reservation was gone - we suddenly had a middle seat and an aisle seat together plus an aisle seat in another section of the cabin. Only single window seats were still available, no more two-seaters. Of course we wanted to sit together somehow, so I was forced to take one of the last few middle rows consisting of three seats. Well, there was still some hope left because, according to Virgin, a certain number of blocked seats would become available at the beginning of the check-in period. And I also kept hoping that Virgin wouldn't downgrade VS400 to an A340-300, too.




Connecting Flights
There have been countless reports about standard British Airways and Lufthansa short-haul flights, so I won't go into detail about ours. Both flights arrived at the destination on time and, fortunately, I got two new registrations: A319 G-EUPS and A321-200 D-AIDA.
What I found interesting was the check-in process at MUC. The friendly female British Airways check-in agent was quite surprised when she saw our itinerary. "Oh, you won't continue on British Airways, but on Virgin Atlantic?", she asked and continued staring at her computer screen. "I didn't know that Virgin flies to Dubai. I thought they only operate to the United States. Is that a charter flight? I have never seen that!", she said. I explained that Virgin does indeed fly to numerous worldwide destinations and that scheduled services to Dubai had already commenced some time ago. The agent didn't stop wondering and even called a colleague: "There is a Virgin flight to Dubai - have you ever seen that?" The other agent reacted with surprise, too. Well, my girlfriend and I really weren't able to suppress a smile...  Wink
Anyway, our luggage was checked through to Dubai, we finally got our luggage tags (boarding passes already printed at home) and the agent wished us a pleasant journey. After we had left, the agent and her colleague continued discussing while staring at the computer screen...




Tuesday, March 2011
London (LHR) - Dubai (DXB)
Virgin Atlantic Airways VS400
Scheduled times: 21:10-08:00
Actual times: 21:10-08:09
Flight duration: 06:28 (hrs)
Distance: 3421 miles
Economy Class, seat 63H

Airbus A340-642
G-VGOA (MSN 371), named "Indian Princess"
First flew in 06/2001 (2nd prototype) and delivered in 08/2003


1st flight on G-VGOA
2nd A340-600 flight
12th A340 flight
113th airline



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Photo © Mark Kwiatkowski
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Photo © Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt


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Photo © Hediye Akyuez
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Photo © Bastiaan Smeets



After arriving at Terminal 5 on BA955, we took the next airside shuttle bus to Terminal 3. We passed security and went to a Virgin Atlantic transfer desk. We had already checked in online and printed our boarding passes, but I asked whether Virgin needed to know our luggage tag numbers. The friendly agent checked our data and confirmed that everything was fine. Then we had to "wait in lounge" because the gate number hadn't been announced yet - how I dislike that at Heathrow!  thumbsdown 

Finally, about 45 minutes before departure, we could proceed to the gate. When we arrived there, we could straight go on board without waiting in queue. Of course I needed to check the registration first and take a picture. Nice perspective, isn't it?


The plane turned out to be G-VGOA which made my day: It's the second A340-600 prototype and therefore the oldest frame in commercial service. If Virgin had asked me in advance which frame in the 19-strong A340-600 fleet I would like to get, I would have demanded exactly that one.  thumbsup 

Once we stepped on board, we received a friendly welcome by smiling flight attendants. The same happened again while we were walking down the aisle. The cabin was equipped with red and grey seats - not really to my taste:



Virgin chose an interesting seat back design, but the silver plastic surfaces around the 9 inch screens can easily be scratched, as was evident:



The 17.5 inch wide seats were comfortable...



...and legroom (32 inch pitch) was sufficient, too:



IFE boxes are installed under all window (A and K) and G seats, but they don't take away much space:



What I had never seen on a plane before were chromed air nozzles:



Worn-out handset:



Safety card and inflight shopping magazine:



Virgin Atlantic belongs to the decreasing number of airlines which still hand out amenity kits in Economy Class - and it's quite amazing that those are even provided on one of the carrier's shortest routes:



In addition to the usual items, you even get a pen. And I like the design which you find on every single item - very cool stuff!



It was clear soon that many seats would remain empty. One of several nice and personal pre-departure announcements contained detailed information on that subject: "There are 185 passengers, 11 cabin crew and two flight crew on today's flight", the flight service manager (FSM) said. I had never heard something like that!  thumbsup  Considering that there are 306 seats on the plane I was really pleased that VS400 hadn't been downgraded to an A340-300.
Some time later the FSM added that passengers would be invited to move to one of 121 empty seats - but only after takeoff. We also learned that two captains were in charge of the aircraft today.

After one of the captains had made a short welcome announcement, a funny safety video was shown:




If you want to watch the video, just click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7QsXB9WRkg&feature=related

We left the gate exactly on time, but due to heavy traffic it would take another 25 minutes until G-VGOA gently lifted off into the night sky.

Unfortunately, the IFE system wasn't activated earlier than about 30 minutes after takeoff. All A340-600s and several 747-400s are equipped with an audio/video on-demand system called V:Port:



Main menu:



V:Port features 300 hours of video on demand content (including 61 movies), 14 channels of audio on demand and a jukebox with over 45 CDs, a selection of audio books, 15 games, a "Quick Find Facility" that allows passengers to look for films starring their favorite movie star, comedy shows or language programming. A dedicated "Kid’s Zone" has its own menus and contains programming suitable for children and a parental block. Allegedly, the system allows passengers to send emails and SMS messages, but I didn't check that. Interestingly, several movies are also available in German and French - that's quite remarkable considering that Virgin's focus is on O&D traffic.

The inflight magazines gives a good overview of all available features:



As usual, I watched the airshow most of the time. The interactive map application is called iMap:


Unfortunately, the plane symbol got stuck on the map sometimes. The zoom function didn't work properly either.

Dinner was served about 45 minutes after takeoff. Menu cards weren't available, but I heard a flight attendant offering fish on the other side. When her colleagues arrived at our row, we had the choice between shepherd's pie and vegetarian chili. We would have preferred fish, but apparently it wasn't available any more. And we weren't keen on shepherd's pie at all, so we ordered the chili - and our expectations weren't high, to be honest:


However, the main course tasted quite good, just like the salad.

The dessert (chocolate mousse with raspberry compote) was quite small, but it turned out to be delicious - one of the best desserts I have ever eaten on a plane:


What I found disappointing was the fact that I only got 150ml cans (Britvic) whenever I ordered ginger ale.

I continued watching the airshow and finally fell asleep for about three hours. When I woke up again we were already cruising over Saudi Arabia:



A small breakfast was served about 1.5 hours before landing. Virgin's tea and a currant and chocolate soft cookie tasked okay. Quantity was fine, I wasn't very hungry:



What I found very cool was the blue mood lighting in the lavatories - actually it gets replaced by normal light when you lock the door:



The windows in our section were still steamed up - they had already been in that state at Heathrow. I had never seen that to such an extent:



Tasty Love Hearts were distributed ten minutes before landing:



The window in the row in front of us didn't look as bad as ours, so I switched seats in order to take a few pictures on approach:



Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry:





Only a few more moments to go:



Touchdown after a flying time of 6 hours and 28 minutes:



One single Union Jack and countless UAE flags:



We arrived at the gate nine minutes late, but were soon able to disembark due to the light load. Last shot of "Indian Princess", "Air - born August 2003":


Our terminal area was quite deserted and there were only short queues at immigration. We soon grabbed our luggage and took a taxi to the Rose Rayhaan by Rotana at Sheikh Zayed Road.


Dubai Sightseeing
Very friendly receptionists welcomed us at the world's tallest hotel. This is how the 333 meter (1093 ft), 72-story hotel looks from the pool area on the fourth floor:



Due to our early arrival, one of our rooms wasn't ready yet (high floor requested), so we either had to wait or take another one. We came to the conclusion that we would only sleep there anyway, so we took the available room on one of the lower floors. The rooms were comfortable and looked nice:



Sand and dust on the window:



After resting for a while, we left the hotel...



...and walked to the nearby metro station:



While the stations and trains are modern and clean, they can become crowded at certain times. And it took some time until we got our tickets because one vending machine was out of order and the other one couldn't return any change. At least you find friendly and helpful metro stuff there, immediately offering assistance.

We got off at Dubai Marina and took a taxi to the amazing Atlantis, The Palm at Palm Jumeirah:





The next destination was the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai's second biggest shopping center:



Of course we had a look at the integrated indoor ski slope, Ski Dubai:



Whenever you have to wait the mall's taxi stand, you can have a look at fancy cars parked in front of the entrance. Here's a Lamborghini Murciélago:



In the course of the afternoon I had exchanged a few messages with legendary trip reporter ronerone in order to arrange a meeting. He picked me up at the hotel after dinner and we went to a place where we could watch planes on final approach. It was dark already and I couldn't log any registrations, but that was a secondary issue. We had a nice chat about trips, a.net and aviation in general - time literally flew by. Some hours later ronerone drove me back to the hotel. It was a great meeting - many thanks again to you, ronerone!  thumbsup 

On the next morning, after enjoying a great breakfast, we took a taxi to the tallest structure in the world, Burj Khalifa. I had bought observation deck tickets for the 11:00 slot and we still had plenty of time, so we first visited the attached Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall based on total area. This is a part of the mall's forecourt:



This building is simply amazing:



Shortly before 11:00 we returned to the entrance of the visitor center. Many people were waiting there, but all those who hadn't bought tickets in advance had to realize that they wouldn't be able to go on top anytime soon. Regular tickets (AED100 = EUR20) were outsold for most time slots on the same day and the next day. I guess there weren't many people willing to pay AED400 for immediate access.

Illuminated model:



These figures speak for themselves:



On the way to the high-speed elevator, I noticed this saying:



I had already wanted to visit the observation deck during a short stay in February 2010, but it had been closed due to an elevator malfunction. This time everything worked fine, the elevator with the world's longest travel distance from lowest to highest stop shot us up at an incredible speed of 10 m/sec.

Welcome to At the Top, the world's highest outdoor observation deck, located on the 124th floor at 452 m:



The views were breathtaking:



Dubai Mall:



The Address Downtown Dubai:



Countless buildings under construction:



Skyscrapers along Sheikh Zayed Road:



The Rose Rayhaan by Rotana aka Rose Tower stands out:


Btw, slightly to the left of the center you can see the Four Points by Sheraton with its roof top bar area - that's a nice place to go at night.

Emirates Towers and Dubai World Trade Centre in the middle:







Burj Khalifa Metro Station to the right:



It was too hazy to see the Burj Al Arab, but at least we could have a look at The World:



After walking around a few times, we went down again and passed this wall:



That's what we saw when we stepped outside - job application, anyone?



It looks unreal, doesn't it?



My girlfriend and I had already made a classic city tour some years ago, but we booked another one this time so that her aunt could also see Dubai's most important sights, e.g. Jumeirah Mosque...



...Dubai's old downtown in Deira...



...and the Al Fahidi Fort with Dubai Museum:



Of course we crossed the Dubai Creek on a water taxi:



The Deira Twin Towers aka Rolex Towers in beautiful evening light:



After doing some shopping at the Bur Dubai Souk, we returned to our hotel, had a great dinner at a Persian restaurant and finally took a taxi to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel where we enjoyed some delicious drinks at the legendary Uptown Bar - stunning views included:



The Burj Al Arab celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, joining the global green lighting phenomenon of city monuments:




Ras Al Khaimah
On the next day it was time to say goodbye to Dubai and we took a taxi to Ras Al Khaimah where we arrived after a 60 minute drive. The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa came up to our expectations - it's a fantastic hotel with friendly staff and great buffets.

Very elegant lobby:





That's the way to the integrated duty free shop where you can buy all kinds of stuff at attractive prices (including beer from various countries):



Our awesome deluxe room was equipped with all kinds of amenities:





View from our balcony:



Pool bar in one of the six outdoor pools:



The whole complex was very nice and well kept:



White sandy beach and clear water - perfect!





The hotel's main building, seen from the beach:



And here's another part of the huge complex:



A look beyond the hotel property:



The buildings, all pools and even palms are nicely illuminated at night:









During our stay at Ras Al Khaimah we booked a desert safari tour. We had already highly enjoyed such a tour a few years ago and it was about time for another one. Before we entered the desert, our driver reduced the tire pressure at the tour meeting point. This is done to gain more traction by increasing the footprint of the tire:



In the meantime, we had a look at a baby camel and other animals at the meeting point:



Finally, it was time for dune bashing:




The ride was awesome, we enjoyed a much more aggressive driving style than a few years ago!  thumbsup 

We also made a stop in the middle of nowhere and met some nice camels:




The tour also included a barbeque and a belly dancer and derwish show in a desert camp.

After five relaxing days at the outstanding Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, it was time to say goodbye. Sunrise on departure day:






Wednesday, March 2011
Dubai (DXB) - London (LHR)
Virgin Atlantic Airways VS401
Scheduled times: 10:00-14:05
Actual times: 09:50-13:30
Flight duration: 07:16 (hrs)
Distance: 3421 miles
Economy Class, seat 62D

Airbus A340-313X
G-VAIR (MSN 164), named "Maiden Tokyo"
Delivered in 04/1997


1st flight on G-VAIR
9th A340-300 flight
13th A340 flight



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Photo © Andreas Mueller - Spotterteam Graz
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Photo © Thomas Ernst - Aviation Arts


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Photo © Paul Guinea
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Photo © Mark Kwiatkowski



We arrived at Terminal 1 after a 50 minute drive and went straight to the Virgin Atlantic counters. I had already checked in online on the day before, but hadn't been successful in securing better seats. Even though I had logged in exactly 24 hours prior to departure, no other seats had been available. Of course I was disappointed because it said on Virgin's website that a certain of percentage of seats would become available at the beginning of the check-in period. So we had to accept sitting in the middle.  Embarrassment

The gate wasn't accessible yet, so I took a seat nearby and logged registrations of departing aircraft. My girlfriend and her aunt were meanwhile exploring the airport shops.

I had hoped to get one of the two oldest A340-300s in commercial service (MSNs 002 and 003, built in 1992), but Virgin had sent G-VAIR, a -313X model delivered in 1997:






Btw - the two oldest frames have meanwhile been retired. G-VHOL (MSN 002) left the fleet in June, G-VSEA (MSN 003) followed in July. Only four A340-300s are left in the Virgin Atlantic fleet.

We remained seated in the gate until most people had boarded, so I had been able to log some more registrations. Friendly flight attendants welcomed us at the door and we walked to our row in the rear section - interestingly, I didn't spot any empty seats except for ours.

The plane was still equipped with old-style seats, but they weren't bad at all:



Legroom (32 inch pitch) was the same as on the A340-600:



Most A340-300s and some 747-400s are equipped with a non-AVOD IFE system called Odyssey. Highlights coming up? Let's wait and see...



Old-style handset:



Headphones:



I was impressed that Virgin even handed out an amenity kit on this daylight flight:





There weren't as many pre-departure announcements as on VS400, and they weren't as cheerful either. The captain made a short welcome speech and informed that we would fly over Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, the Black Sea, Hungary, Austria and Germany. Before the safety video was shown, flight attendants sprayed the cabin - not without an announcement referring to certain regulations.

We left the gate 10 minutes early and soon lifted off gently after a long take off roll. The passengers on the left side enjoyed great views of the skyscrapers along Sheik Zayed Road and the artificial islands - too bad I wasn't able to take any pictures.

Shortly after takeoff, I had a look at the Odyssey IFE system. Aircraft delivered between 1997 and 2002 were fitted with that non-AVOD system featuring 10 movie channels, 2 kids channels, 8 TV channels, 14 audio channels, 35 Nintendo games and an airshow. Let's start:



That looks quite basic, doesn't it?



IFE guide:



Of course my preferred choice was the Skymap...


...but the screen remained black. I soon told a flight attendant about that and she promised: "I will double check." Some minutes later she returned with bad news: "The Skymap doesn't work today, unfortunately." No window, no airshow - that was really frustrating!  thumbsdown 

Sour cream and chive pretzels and drinks were served shortly afterwards. One half of the duo working in our row was a skinny young lady wearing too much signal red lipstick and apparently unwilling to smile. I ordered a ginger ale, but that's what I got:


The liquid in the cup turned out to be gin - now that was odd. I don't think that my pronunciation was so bad, but who knows. I wasn't in the mood to start a discussion, so I accepted what I got.

Before the flight attendants returned with lunch trolleys, I used the opportunity to take a cabin picture:



Unlike on VS400, menu cards had been distributed on this flight. The options sounded quite promising:



We wanted to try the chicken, but it wasn't available any more. We took the fish instead:


The main course looked quite good - and it tasted very good! The fish wasn't dry at all and the vegetables and the potatoes weren't mushy either. The sauce and the salad tasted good, too.

Interestingly, the dessert was served afterwards - actually a very good idea. The apple strudel turned out to be quite tasty, too. And I cannot complain about the tea either:



About 1.5 hours later, the flight attendants handed out ice cream bars - another nice surprise!



Shortly after the ice cream service, my girlfriend went to a rear lavatory - and when she returned she told me that she had been hit in the face by a female flight attendant!  ouch  Well, of course it hadn't been intentional. A group of flight attendants had been chatting in the galley and one of them had been gesticulating intensively - and exactly in the moment when my girlfriend was passing, the flight attendant's hand hit her under the left eye. The very flight attendant was shocked by that and the whole group asked my girlfriend if she was okay. Finally, the "punchy lady" promised to bring champagne as a compensation.

About 20 minutes later, she really showed up with a bottle of champagne, wrapped in a plastic bag. We didn't want to drink the whole bottle in the remaining few hours, so we asked whether she could seal it in a special bag, referring to our connecting flight. "Oh no, you have a connecting flight?", the flight attendant said visibly surprised. "I need to find a plan B", she added and disappeared again. 10 minutes later she returned and informed us that it hadn't been possible to seal the champagne, but she placed something else on my girlfriend's table - delicious pastries from Upper Class:



Some time later the punchy flight attendant showed up again - with pretty salt and pepper shakers from Upper Class...



...and a bag full of candy:



Tasty wine gums were handed out shortly afterwards - but they were part of the regular service:



I was still disappointed that the airshow didn't work, but at least I could play the Trivia Challenge. Aviation was my preferred category, of course:





The "punchy lady" showed up one more time and handed out a bag of chips:



Some 45 minutes before landing, "afternoon tea" was served:



The box contained a cheese and tomato roll and a walnut cake - both items tasted quite good:


We were really full after finishing the pre-arrival snack, Virgin's catering was more than sufficient on that flight.

The rest of the flight was uneventful. We touched down at Heathrow after a flying time of 7 hours and 16 minutes and arrived at the gate 35 minutes early. Some hours later we arrived at MUC on Lufthansa's A321-200 D-AIDA after an eventless flight, a great holiday had come to an end.



Conclusion
I have read many negative comments about Virgin Atlantic, but I enjoyed my first two flights on that carrier. Seats were comfortable and pitch was sufficient on both planes. The V:Port IFE system on the A340-600s and selected 747s keeps you entertained for a long time. The new A330s are equipped with a more advanced system, called JAM. Hopefully, the A340-300s and 747s with non-AVOD systems will also be retrofitted. The catering was very good both in terms of quantity and quality, especially on the DXB-LHR flight. And it's quite impressive to get amenity kits on these relatively short flights between London and Dubai. Ground staff members and most flight attendants were friendly and helpful - and it was nice to see how the "punchy lady" reacted after her mishap. No doubt, I would certainly fly Virgin Atlantic again - preferably on the carrier’s new A330-300.

There's not much to say about Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah - they're great holiday destinations, always a pleasure to be there. The excellent Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa will see us again, no doubt about that. Just for the record: I logged 23 new registrations which is not too bad considering that the trip was more or less a classic holiday trip.


Best Regards,
PlaneHunter



P.S.: Just in case you missed them - my previous trip reports:
Superb Stübli & Crew: LAS-LAX-ZRH-MUC, LX J Class
Grand Canyon & More: Scenic Flight On Dornier 228
San Francisco Sunshine...and A Frontier Fiasco
Fully Flat Bed to SFO: SWISS' New Business Class
Mountains, Meals & More: SunExpress Vs. Pegasus
Crossing Two Oceans: AKL-SFO-MUC, NZ 777 & LH A346
Bad Weather & Other Bad Luck: Touring New Zealand
Trans-Tasman Treat: Aerolineas Argentinas A340-200
Detours To Sydney: Wildlife, Tiger, REX & QFLink
Thai Fails To Impress: MUC-BKK-BNE On 744 & 777
Painful Delay & My 100th Airline: AF A380, VO F100
Fifth Freedom Tidbit: Kuwait Airways A300-600
Ship Vs. Plane: Porto Santo Line & Sata Air Açores
Awesome Approach, Splendid Scenery: LIS, FNC & TAP
Guernsey, Ash Cloud Alarm & Mostly Empty SQ 77Ws
Totally Thrilling: Scenic Flight On Lufthansa A380
Cirrus D38, Adria CRJ & Captain Niki Lauda On Duty
Monarch Hot Meal, E195 & More: PMI-ALC-MAN-MUC
Premium Meal & Palma Spotting: MUC-PMI, DE 757-300
The Dead Slow Transfer: PEK-MUC On Air China A332
Cancellation Brings Joy: HKG-PEK on Dragonair A330
A380 Cacophony, 777 Star Livery: DXB-SIN-HKG on SQ
The Next 5* Carrier? MUC-MCT-DXB, Oman Air A330
Turkey For 1.5 Hrs: Daytrip To AYT On Sky Airlines
CO Scores Again: ATL-IAH-EWR-FRA On ERJ, 752 & 764
Riding The Ultra Long-Haul Twin: Delta 777-200LR
Pacific Coast Jaunt: 3 Carriers, E120, E140 & Fog
The Ultimate 737: LHR-IAH-PDX On CO 777 & 739ER
Bye Bye, Hell! TRD-OSL-TXL-NUE - DY/AB/HE DH4
My Trip To Hell: NUE-CPH-OSL-TRD On Cimber & SAS
SFO-YUL-FRA: Map- & Sleepless On Air Canada's 77W
Sin City Gloss & Virgin America's Chic First Class
Seat Dilemma & Canyon Glamour: FRA To LAX, AC 763
On Par With Air France? DTW-AMS-MUC, KLM A330
Goodbye, Red Tails! DC-9-40/50 & Chicago Tour
Champagne & World Of Coke: Air France A340 To ATL
"Mission A380": Disappointing Legs On BA/BD/EI
Delights Of Doha, 773 & 77W: DOH-DXB-LHR On EK
A380 Really a Step Forward? LHR-DXB-DOH On EK
Quality & Style: HKG-LHR On Air New Zealand 744
Taiwan Trio: TransAsia, UNI Air And The Taipei 101
"The Wings Of Taiwan": EVA Air A332, 744 Combi
SHA-SZX, Shanghai 757: Delayed By The Military
PEK-SHA, China Eastern A330 & Shanghai At Night
Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330
Short & Splendid: MXP-MUC On Air Dolomiti's 146
3 Hours On Blue1: HEL-MXP On The MD-90
Winglets On A Classic: MUC-RIX-HEL On Air Baltic
BCN-MAD-ZRH-MUC: UX Shuttle Meets Swiss Quality
MUC-MAD-BCN: Star MD-87 & The Pain Of Vueling
Low Fares, Lovely Island: AK & Best Of Langkawi
4 Stars Or 5 Stars? FRA-KUL-FRA, Malaysia 777s
First And Last Time? JFK-FCO-MUC, Alitalia 777
JFK For 1 Day: Transatlantic Hop On CSA's A310
Sardinian Sun, Shiny New 73Gs & Cramped Mad Dog
Top And Flop: KIX-HEL-MUC, Finnair A320 & MD-11
The 524-Seat Twin-jet: HND-ITM On ANA 777-300
Kobe For 1 Hour: 767-Quickie On ANA & Skymark
Rocketing To Tokyo: FUK-HND On JAL (ex-JAS) 777
Oddities & Okinawa: JTA 734 & JAL 744D(Domestic)
MUC To Nagoya: Finnair E170 & (Old) "New" A340
Mad Dog, A320 Tech Delay & Best Of Lanzarote
Canaries Prop-Hopping: Islas Airways & Naysa
Canaries And Confusion: LH CRJ900 & Spanair A321
Hubbing For 162 Miles: HOQ-FRA-STR Ret On IQ/EW/LH
BOS-JFK-AMS-MUC: SSSS-Check And KLM 777
ATL-PIT-JFK-BOS: FL B717, JetBlue E190 And Delays
MUC-AMS-MEM-ATL On NWA A332 And 40-year-old DC-9
FRA-BKK-FRA Via CMB: SriLankan A332 & A343
BNE-SIN-DXB-MUC On Emirates B772ER & B773
2 Hours In Paradise: Hamilton Island (JQ/DJ)
BNE-SYD-BNE: Domestic Run On QF’s Oldest B747-400
Testing Qantas: SYD-MEL-SYD-BNE (B738, B763, A332)
Going Down Under: MUC-DXB-SYD On EK A332 & A345
9/11 Review: Failed Trip To LAX - Fuel Dump Pics
Surprised By NIKI's Newest A320 & Screw-up By AB
Leisure Vs. Full Service: Condor & SN Brussels
"betterFly" On LH: Business Class For 99 Euro
Weekend Transatlantic Trip (2): US A321 & B762
Transatlantic For A Weekend (1): MUC-DCA On US


[Edited 2011-08-08 10:38:33]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
Luxair747SP
Posts: 543
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 2:24 pm

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:31 pm

Hi PH
another amazing TR with many high quality pictures.
VS seems to be a real good alternative to BA and their service on this shorter longhaul flight looks fine.
Was a very nice gesture of bringing all these goodies to your girlfriend.
Also the pictures of your stay in the UAE are really nice.
Thanks a lot for sharing
Cheers
Johannes
My blog about travelling in Moscow & Russia:
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PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:51 pm

Quoting luxair747SP (Reply 1):
another amazing TR with many high quality pictures.

Hi Johannes, thanks for your reply! You're the first one again!   

Quoting luxair747SP (Reply 1):
VS seems to be a real good alternative to BA and their service on this shorter longhaul flight looks fine.

Absolutely!

Quoting luxair747SP (Reply 1):
Was a very nice gesture of bringing all these goodies to your girlfriend.

Yes, she was really nice.

Quoting luxair747SP (Reply 1):
Also the pictures of your stay in the UAE are really nice.

Thanks!


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
MSS658
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi PH

another wonderful trip report you've got there. Glad to see that VS has pleased you, even with the share of bad luck you had on VS 401 from DXB to LHR. Dubai looks quite impressive as well.

Greetings
Marc
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:09 pm

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 3):
another wonderful trip report you've got there.

Thank you, MSS658!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 3):
Glad to see that VS has pleased you, even with the share of bad luck you had on VS 401 from DXB to LHR.

It was a positive experience despite a few glitches.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 3):
Dubai looks quite impressive as well.

It never ceases to amaze me.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
FLIEGER67
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:39 pm

Servus, PH,

well done, such a number of great quality location pictures, you know, that´s what I prefer and also you´re perspective of Virgin looks good.
The Emirates are always a place to go, lile you stated.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
. Of course I needed to check the registration first and take a picture. Nice perspective, isn't it?

Superb.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
It looks unreal, doesn't it?

Also my first impression, but I was also there and know that it´s real!.

Greetings,
Markus(FLIEGER67)
Tripreporter.net
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:55 pm

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5):
well done, such a number of great quality location pictures, you know, that´s what I prefer and also you´re perspective of Virgin looks good.

Servus Markus, many thanks for your comments!

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5):
Superb.

It wasn't easy to get a decent picture through the glass.

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5):
Also my first impression, but I was also there and know that it´s real!.

Yes, it's real and it's amazing. I have heard numerous negative comments about the building, but I think it's a beautiful architectural marvel.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
Burj
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:57 pm

Wow awesome trip report!

Thanks for sharing so many UAE photos! So how far ahead of time do you need to buy tickets for the observation deck to get the normal (cheaper) price? Can you buy them online from overseas ahead of time?

That is great that the FA tried to make up for being so punchy! The Virgin Atlantic salt and pepper shakers are really cool and I know lots of people who liberate them from their flights!

Did you girlfriend develop a bruise or anything afterwards?
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:33 pm

Quoting Burj (Reply 7):
Wow awesome trip report!
Quoting Burj (Reply 7):
Thanks for sharing so many UAE photos!

Hi Burj, thanks for your feedback! Good to hear you enjoyed it.

Quoting Burj (Reply 7):
So how far ahead of time do you need to buy tickets for the observation deck to get the normal (cheaper) price? Can you buy them online from overseas ahead of time?

It depends on the saison and the day of the week. The earlier you buy them, the better. I bought them 15 days ago. It's quite easy to purchase them online. Here's a link:
http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/observation-deck/ticket-information.aspx

Quoting Burj (Reply 7):
That is great that the FA tried to make up for being so punchy! The Virgin Atlantic salt and pepper shakers are really cool and I know lots of people who liberate them from their flights!

Yes, she reacted well. The shakers are really nice souvenirs.

Quoting Burj (Reply 7):
Did you girlfriend develop a bruise or anything afterwards?

No bruise, fortunately.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
deltamartin
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:07 pm

Hi PlaneHunter!

Great tripreport, very well written!

Seems like you had two nice flights with VS, just a few disappointments on the inbound flight. I wish to fly them some day too. That "punchlady" sure paid back after her mistake.

I agree that Dubai is a fine town, I was there my first and so far only time in march this year aswell, but I'm sure I'll come back some day.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I explained that Virgin does indeed fly to numerous worldwide destinations and that scheduled services to Dubai had already commenced some time ago

When I was waiting for my flight at DXB i saw an A340-600 from VS at a gate, until then I was unaware that they flew there aswell actually. But I did know that they flew to other destinations than North America, unlike the check in agent.  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):

Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry:

Agreed.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
While the stations and trains are modern and clean, they can become crowded at certain times.

Tell me about it, as our hotel was right next to a metro station, we decided to take advantage of the metro to get there, but after standing the entire 25 min trip to the hotel, my mother, who was also on the trip, refused to take the metro when going back to the airport. So we grabbed a taxi instead.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
It looks unreal, doesn't it?

This sums my experience of the Burj Khalifa aswell. So much higher than any other free standing building.

Martin
 
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:24 pm

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):
Great tripreport, very well written!

Hi Martin, many thanks for your feedback!

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):
I wish to fly them some day too.

I can only recommend to do so.

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):
That "punchlady" sure paid back after her mistake.

  

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):
I agree that Dubai is a fine town, I was there my first and so far only time in march this year aswell, but I'm sure I'll come back some day.

Nice to hear! Did you stay a few days or longer? Any report to expect?

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):
But I did know that they flew to other destinations than North America, unlike the check in agent.

 

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):
Tell me about it, as our hotel was right next to a metro station, we decided to take advantage of the metro to get there, but after standing the entire 25 min trip to the hotel, my mother, who was also on the trip, refused to take the metro when going back to the airport. So we grabbed a taxi instead.

What hotel did you stay at? We took the metro just once this time, after that we switched to taxis. Taxi rides are really cheap in the UAE.


PH

[Edited 2011-08-08 14:26:32]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
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OA260
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:27 pm

Hey so all is finally revealed  

Great report and not many VS ones. I have to say Im impressed as you say some not so good remarks about VS but Im glad you had good flights. Love those GU desserts they sell them in my local supermarket , they do a soufflé in nice glass dishes you heat in the oven   Also the Love Hearts I remember from school lol..

Nice the FA was quick to try to make up for the accident . So well done to VS for that.

Love the pics of Dubai , I spent a full day in the Mall of the Emirates . Love your hotel would love to go back to Dubai sometime. Its changed so much .

Thanks for the lovely report.

Philip  
 
gabrielchew
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:17 pm

Good set of flights you had!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):

What I had never seen on a plane before were chromed air nozzles:

Nice look nozzles!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):

Worn-out handset:

Looks like it needs to be replaced

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):

The views were breathtaking:

I was so annoyed the tower was unexpectly closed the day I was there
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-CDG,LHR-BKK-AKL-TBU,EUA-TBU-NAN-WLG,WHK-AKL-BKK-LHR
 
SPLTA
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:22 pm

Hi PH,

outstanding report, thanks a lot for sharing!

Dubai looks to be a really amazing place. Most of the things you caught on your photographs seem to be out of this world and time. Great shots, btw. The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa you stayed at, looks impressive too.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
If Virgin had asked me in advance which frame in the 19-strong A340-600 fleet I would like to get, I would have demanded exactly that one.

Congratulations on logging this unique bird.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The cabin was equipped with red and grey seats - not really to my taste:

Indeed, a rather strange combination.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I had never seen on a plane before were chromed air nozzles:

That's really surprising to see.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
There are 185 passengers, 11 cabin crew and two flight crew on today's flight", the flight service manager (FSM) said. I had never heard something like that!

It's definitely helpful information for the ones planning to write the trip report. They could have given the passenger numbers in particular classes, as well.  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I had hoped to get one of the two oldest A340-300s in commercial service (MSNs 002 and 003, built in 1992), but Virgin had sent G-VAIR, a -313X model delivered in 1997:

Well, at least you were lucky to get G-VGOA on your outbound flight.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
When her colleagues arrived at our row, we had the choice between shepherd's pie and vegetarian chili. We would have preferred fish, but apparently it wasn't available any more.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
We wanted to try the chicken, but it wasn't available any more. We took the fish instead:

That's really funny. Don't worry PH, next time you want to try a steak, most probably you'll be offered the chicken!  

Best regards,
SPLTA
 
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:30 pm

Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
Hey so all is finally revealed
Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
Great report and not many VS ones.
Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
Thanks for the lovely report.

Hi Phil, thanks a lot for your nice comments!

Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
I have to say Im impressed as you say some not so good remarks about VS but Im glad you had good flights.

I remember reading some reviews on airlinequality.com some weeks prior to the trip - many of them were very negative and I wasn't amused. But we were all satisfied with VS in the end, my girlfriend and her aunt didn't complain about anything. In contrast, the broken airshow was considered a serious issue by the PlaneHunter...  



Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
Love those GU desserts they sell them in my local supermarket , they do a soufflé in nice glass dishes you heat in the oven

They're not available here which is too bad!

Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
Also the Love Hearts I remember from school lol..

And I can't buy those here either...

Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
Nice the FA was quick to try to make up for the accident . So well done to VS for that.

  

Quoting OA260 (Reply 11):
Love the pics of Dubai , I spent a full day in the Mall of the Emirates . Love your hotel would love to go back to Dubai sometime. Its changed so much .

There's always something new to explore.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 12):
Good set of flights you had!

Thanks for commenting, Gabriel!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 12):
Nice look nozzles!

  

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 12):
Looks like it needs to be replaced

  

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 12):
I was so annoyed the tower was unexpectly closed the day I was there

That's too bad. I guess that was last year after the elevator indicent?

Quoting SPLTA (Reply 13):
outstanding report, thanks a lot for sharing!

Hi SPLTA, many thanks for your feedback! Good to hear you enjoyed reading.

Quoting SPLTA (Reply 13):
Dubai looks to be a really amazing place. Most of the things you caught on your photographs seem to be out of this world and time.

Absolutely. It's amazing how Dubai has changed within the last few years.

Quoting SPLTA (Reply 13):
Congratulations on logging this unique bird.

I was lucky indeed!

Quoting SPLTA (Reply 13):
It's definitely helpful information for the ones planning to write the trip report. They could have given the passenger numbers in particular classes, as well.

I thought exactly the same!

Quoting SPLTA (Reply 13):
Well, at least you were lucky to get G-VGOA on your outbound flight.

  

Quoting SPLTA (Reply 13):
That's really funny. Don't worry PH, next time you want to try a steak, most probably you'll be offered the chicken!

Well, I've become used to that, it has happened many times...


PH

[Edited 2011-08-08 15:32:30]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
deltamartin
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:42 pm

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):

Nice to hear! Did you stay a few days or longer? Any report to expect?

Stayed for 5 nights if im not mistaken. Did a report soon after I got home, it was my first TR on a.net.
My First TR: ARN-CPH-DXB And Back On SAS (by deltamartin Mar 7 2011 in Trip Reports)

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
What hotel did you stay at? We took the metro just once this time, after that we switched to taxis. Taxi rides are really cheap in the UAE.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu in Dubai Marina, we we're recomended about that hotel by friends to our family, who visited Dubai about a year ahead of us.

Martin
 
767747
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:33 am

Another great report, PH!   Great to hear from you again!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Then we had to "wait in lounge" because the gate number hadn't been announced yet - how I dislike that at Heathrow!

Also something I dislike when leaving LHR ... Very frustrating!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):

Virgin Atlantic belongs to the decreasing number of airlines which still hand out amenity kits in Economy Class - and it's quite amazing that those are even provided on one of the carrier's shortest routes:

When I flew them back in 2001 from JFK-LHR-JFK I remember this small detail. Very unique to them to provide this in Y.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
We remained seated in the gate until most people had boarded, so I had been able to log some more registrations. Friendly flight attendants welcomed us at the door and we walked to our row in the rear section - interestingly, I didn't spot any empty seats except for ours.

VS did this to my mother and I when I flew them many years ago. I still remember the trip, as I was pretty young (it was in 02/97 I think ...). We were due to fly back on a 747-400 and before the flight they changed the equipment to a 747-300 if I can recall? This led to us being in the middle 2 of the middle 4 in the way back of Economy. That was a long flight back to the US ...

Great photos from Dubai. I'd love to visit!

Matthew
I love to fly!
 
RvXKaz
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:06 am

Hi PlaneHunter,

Thanks for sharing this detailed insight into hows VS like these days. Glad to see that you have had a wonderful holiday in Dubai and the photos of your trip are very nice indeed!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Worn-out handset:

Yes, very worn out indeed but interesting design!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic belongs to the decreasing number of airlines which still hand out amenity kits in Economy Class

That's a really nice touch.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
"There are 185 passengers, 11 cabin crew and two flight crew on today's flight", the flight service manager (FSM) said. I had never heard something like that

Neither have I. Its most interesting indeed and good to know!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I found very cool was the blue mood lighting in the lavatories - actually it gets replaced by normal light when you lock the door:

I think it has this really cool factor to it.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Tasty Love Hearts were distributed ten minutes before landing:

A really nice touch once again.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry

I agree!

Thanks for sharing with us the wonderful photos of your trip, especially the bird's eye view from the Burj Khalifa and the classic tour! The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa you stayed at looks most exquisite indeed!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Whenever you have to wait the mall's taxi stand, you can have a look at fancy cars parked in front of the entrance.

And your flight back,

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Old-style handset:

This one looks alot like the ones from SQ.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Shortly after the ice cream service, my girlfriend went to a rear lavatory - and when she returned she told me that she had been hit in the face by a female flight attendant!

Ouch... is your girlfriend alright now?

Its nice of the flight attendant to come back to offer you a whole variety of goodies to make up for her clumsiness. The pretty salt and pepper shakers looks like a nice collectible.  

Glad to see that you've had an enjoyable flight with VS! It has been a most interesting read! Oh, I have to ask, do they still play pop music before take-off and after landing?

Cheers
RvXKaz
They say that I'm a dreamer. But I'd only Dreamt Skyward.
 
aflyingkiwi
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:02 am

Hi PH,

Great report as usual. You're flights with VS seemed enjoyable which seems to contradict some of other recent reports I've read about them. I'm especially impressed by the catering, you got stuffed on the second flight!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
connecting flights on British Airways (MUC-LHR)

I'm quite surprised that the bundle included a BA flight considering they're the biggest of rivals.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin chose an interesting seat back design, but the silver plastic surfaces around the 9 inch screens can easily be scratched, as was evident:

This design makes the cabin look very 'space agey'.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry

  

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Dubai Sightseeing

Great photos, Dubai looks so unreal. Hopefully I can visit the city sometime.

Thanks for sharing

Regards,
aflyingkiwi
 
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SOBHI51
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:23 am

Great report as usual.
The pictures were marvelous, well done
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The777Man
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:38 am

Hi PlaneHunter!

An amzing report with amazing pictures! VS look very impressive both ways with amenity kit and decent food. Lots of food on the way back especially! Annoying with the 150 ml cans as well. I would not would have kept the gin and tonic but that's me. How was the ginger ale ? You don't seem to have too much luck with getting the meals you want in Y but it usually turns out okay.

Really bad that your girlfirend got hit and i'm happy to hear that she did not get bruised. Nice that they gave you guys a lot of stuff. Especially the salt and pepper shakers are very nice.

Yes, very annoying at LHR with "remain in lounge" message. No real good area to spot from terminal except from the gate itself.

Burj Khalifa looks unreal and I agree that it is a very appealing design. Looks simply stunning in those pictures. I had some frends who went skiing at the mall in Dubai and it was actually a good value of about USD 25.00 or so for two hours including skis and gear. I was going to get a model of Burj Khalifa at the airport when I was there in January but thought it was too expensive and now I realize it wasn't that much and regret not getting it. When I get well, for sure I will visit Dubai and go to the observation deck and of course get my model.

Both hotels look very nice especially the one in Ras Al Khaimah. How much did you pay ?

The picture of the camels at the top of the sand dune is fantastic !

Very much looking forward to your next report.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:48 am

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 15):

Stayed for 5 nights if im not mistaken. Did a report soon after I got home, it was my first TR on a.net.
My First TR: ARN-CPH-DXB And Back On SAS (by deltamartin Mar 7 2011 in Trip Reports)

Alright, thank you for reminding me! It enjoyed reading that one!

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 15):
We stayed at the Radisson Blu in Dubai Marina, we we're recomended about that hotel by friends to our family, who visited Dubai about a year ahead of us.

That looks like a nice hotel.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
Another great report, PH! Great to hear from you again!

Hi Matthew, thanks a lot for your reply!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
Also something I dislike when leaving LHR ... Very frustrating!

  

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
VS did this to my mother and I when I flew them many years ago. I still remember the trip, as I was pretty young (it was in 02/97 I think ...). We were due to fly back on a 747-400 and before the flight they changed the equipment to a 747-300 if I can recall?

It must have been a 747-200 back then. VS only leased a 747-300 for a short time from Air Atlanta.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
This led to us being in the middle 2 of the middle 4 in the way back of Economy. That was a long flight back to the US ...

That's really bad!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
Great photos from Dubai. I'd love to visit!

Thanks. I'm sure you'd enjoy a stay there.

Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 17):
Thanks for sharing this detailed insight into hows VS like these days. Glad to see that you have had a wonderful holiday in Dubai and the photos of your trip are very nice indeed!

Many thanks for your comments, RvXKaz!

Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 17):
I think it has this really cool factor to it.

  

Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 17):

Thanks for sharing with us the wonderful photos of your trip, especially the bird's eye view from the Burj Khalifa and the classic tour! The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa you stayed at looks most exquisite indeed!

Thanks! The Hilton is a truly impressive hotel.

Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 17):
Ouch... is your girlfriend alright now?

Yes, she didn't suffer from after-effects.

Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 17):
Its nice of the flight attendant to come back to offer you a whole variety of goodies to make up for her clumsiness. The pretty salt and pepper shakers looks like a nice collectible.

  

Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 17):
Glad to see that you've had an enjoyable flight with VS! It has been a most interesting read!

Thanks again, your feedback is really appreciated!

Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 17):
Oh, I have to ask, do they still play pop music before take-off and after landing?

Yes, if I recall correctly.

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 18):
Great report as usual.

Hi aflyingkiwi, thanks for commenting!

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 18):
You're flights with VS seemed enjoyable which seems to contradict some of other recent reports I've read about them. I'm especially impressed by the catering, you got stuffed on the second flight!

I had been prepared for a number of negative issues due to certain reports. Good to see VS turned out to be very good.

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 18):
I'm quite surprised that the bundle included a BA flight considering they're the biggest of rivals.

Those combos don't show up on many travel websites.

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 18):
Great photos, Dubai looks so unreal. Hopefully I can visit the city sometime.

Thanks again. You should definitely go there one day.

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 19):
Great report as usual.
The pictures were marvelous, well done

Thanks for your feedback, SOBHI51! I'm glad you liked it.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
An amzing report with amazing pictures!

Hi Lars, thanks so much for your nice comments!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
How was the ginger ale ?

It was alright.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
You don't seem to have too much luck with getting the meals you want in Y but it usually turns out okay.

That's true.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
Especially the salt and pepper shakers are very nice.

Yes, very nice gifts!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
Yes, very annoying at LHR with "remain in lounge" message. No real good area to spot from terminal except from the gate itself.

That's one of the reasons why I don't like transfers at LHR.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
I had some frends who went skiing at the mall in Dubai and it was actually a good value of about USD 25.00 or so for two hours including skis and gear.

Sounds quite reasonable. It's a very popular attraction.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
I was going to get a model of Burj Khalifa at the airport when I was there in January but thought it was too expensive and now I realize it wasn't that much and regret not getting it.

Wasn't it quite heavy?

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
When I get well, for sure I will visit Dubai and go to the observation deck and of course get my model.

I really hope you'll be able to go very soon!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
The picture of the camels at the top of the sand dune is fantastic !

I was glad the picture turned out to be quite nice.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
Very much looking forward to your next report.

Who knows when I will be able to post that one...at least I have started working on it.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
lukeyboy95
Posts: 1058
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:50 am

Got to say, pretty impressed with VS. Seems like they do have a food loading problem with you not getting alot of your options.

The report was really great, very informative. Interesting to see that Dubai has now calmed down on its superlatives! The desert safari looks nice, though a bit of a highway in the desert!

Now, VS really like their brand power don't they? From Gu, to love hearts, to those pretzels. I quite like that. The meal tries looked a bit anemic in both cases. The measure of gin you got was pretty hefty too. Can you remember what beer they served?

Great report PH,

Luke
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:08 am

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 22):
The report was really great, very informative. Interesting to see that Dubai has now calmed down on its superlatives!

Many thanks for your comments, Luke! Good to hear you liked it!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 22):
Got to say, pretty impressed with VS. Seems like they do have a food loading problem with you not getting alot of your options.

Well, that's what happens quite often when you sit in the rear section.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 22):
Interesting to see that Dubai has now calmed down on its superlatives!

Let's wait and see what comes next...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 22):
The desert safari looks nice, though a bit of a highway in the desert!

We weren't surrounded by so many cars all the time. I simply wasn't able to take pictures most of them time because it was a very bumpy ride!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 22):
Now, VS really like their brand power don't they? From Gu, to love hearts, to those pretzels. I quite like that.

I can only agree.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 22):
Can you remember what beer they served?

No, unfortunately. I didn't order beer on both flights.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
The777Man
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:28 am

Hi PlaneHunter!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
Wasn't it quite heavy?

Dont' think it was too bad.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
I really hope you'll be able to go very soon!

Me too; we'll see.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
Who knows when I will be able to post that one...at least I have started working on it.

Good to know! It's good to hear that you have started on the next one already. Have a good trp !

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:52 am

Quoting The777Man (Reply 24):
It's good to hear that you have started on the next one already. Have a good trp !

Thank you! The next report will also contain some pictures taken by my friend Satchmo.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
lychemsa
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:05 am

Is it pleasant to swim in the ocean in Ras Al Khaimah? Thanks.
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:09 am

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 26):
Is it pleasant to swim in the ocean in Ras Al Khaimah?

Yes, absolutely! But the water was still a bit cool in March - cooler than usual, as I was told.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
LazialeMKD
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:22 am

Wow, great trip report, I felt like I was in Dubai while seeing those pictures. Dubai is certainly place to visit, with all the futuristic buildings around.
Also, I hope I'll get hit by a cabin crew member next time I am flying and be treated the same way.  
Thanks for sharing!
 
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:37 am

Quoting LazialeMKD (Reply 28):
Wow, great trip report, I felt like I was in Dubai while seeing those pictures.

Hi Angel, thanks for your comments!

Quoting LazialeMKD (Reply 28):
Dubai is certainly place to visit, with all the futuristic buildings around.

  

Quoting LazialeMKD (Reply 28):
Also, I hope I'll get hit by a cabin crew member next time I am flying and be treated the same way.

Well, be careful - you could easily get a black eye!  



PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
nipoel123
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:21 am

Sweet and detailed as usual, PH, a great read once again.

Nick
one mile of road leads to nowhere, one mile of runway leads to anywhere
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:32 am

Quoting nipoel123 (Reply 30):
Sweet and detailed as usual, PH, a great read once again.

Hi Nick, that's nice to hear, thanks!


PH

[Edited 2011-08-09 03:33:35]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
BZNPilot
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:40 am

Hi PH,

You have once again given us a great report. Thanks for taking the time to turn your memories and photos into a most enjoyable read.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
"I didn't know that Virgin flies to Dubai. I thought they only operate to the United States. Is that a charter flight? I have never seen that!"

Hahaha! Well, I guess the agent learned something new.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
amenity kits in Economy Class - and it's quite amazing that those are even provided on one of the carrier's shortest routes:

Very impressive, indeed. Even though they're not offering high quality products like what comes in amenity kits in the higher classes on some airlines, it's nice to get something. I like the fact that everything had the logo on it. Looks like it was a good little array of Virgin souvenirs.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry:

Never been on Virgin Atlantic (well, not yet anyway) but I agree! Nice winglets.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
This building is simply amazing:

Great photo of the building. Wow. Dubai is on my list of places to visit. Until then, thanks for the opportunity to travel along by way of your photos.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The views were breathtaking:

Again, wow.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
she told me that she had been hit in the face by a female flight attendant! Well, of course it hadn't been intentional. A group of flight attendants had been chatting in the galley and one of them had been gesticulating intensively - and exactly in the moment when my girlfriend was passing, the flight attendant's hand hit her under the left eye.

And again...wow. That's a funny story (even though it's not funny if your girlfriend was hit, glad it wasn't serious). Sound like the flight attendant felt awful about it and did her best to make it up to you. I like the salt and pepper shakers! If it were me, I would have used the occasion to ask for a cockpit visit after landing  

Looking forward to more of your reports.

Cheers,
BZNPilot
 
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sultanils
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:25 pm

Hi PH,

Thanks for this wonderful picturesque report from your trip to Dubai. A fascinating destination it seems. I find it has some resemblance with Las Vegas: a city in the middle of the desert with lots of skyscrapers, each of them wanting to be the highest and the largest. And I must admit: the Burj Khalifa looks absolutely amazing!
As for the flights: good choice on Virgin Atlantic and the graceful A346 and A343, love them! In the past we had Virgin Express at BRU, but that's finished yet a long time ago. And they were only short haul flights. But they were in the same group, so at least a touching point there.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The cabin was equipped with red and grey seats - not really to my taste:

Not to mine either, especially the brown ones look rather...well, brown. I think some 10 years ago this cabin looked more modern than it does now (ie the silver plastic surface).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I had never seen on a plane before were chromed air nozzles:

Looks cute, a pimped overhead panel  

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic belongs to the decreasing number of airlines which still hand out amenity kits in Economy Class - and it's quite amazing that those are even provided on one of the carrier's shortest routes:

Good to see they still have this in Y   

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry:

Looks great indeed.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
That's what we saw when we stepped outside - job application, anyone?

I wouldn't mind hanging there once, but only abseiling, not washing the windows. I imagine that being a quite demanding task, hanging up high and with a lot of wind.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
So we had to accept sitting in the middle.

Oh damn...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I ordered a ginger ale, but that's what I got:

Ha, a gin tonic! She must've misunderstood you.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
the flight attendant's hand hit her under the left eye. The very flight attendant was shocked by that and the whole group asked my girlfriend if she was okay.

Funny situation, especially to see how you got pampered with all sorts of goodies  



   Sultanils
In thrust we trust.
 
Quokka
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:36 pm

Hi PH,

Another great trip report. The changes that have occurred over the years in in Dubai are amazing - a far cry from my first visit to the UAE back in 1974. You have captured some impressive sights with your photos.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa came up to our expectations - it's a fantastic hotel with friendly staff and great buffets.

Looks terrific: the rooms, the pools. the beach. You could get used to that very quickly.  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The passengers on the left side enjoyed great views of the skyscrapers along Sheik Zayed Road and the artificial islands - too bad I wasn't able to take any pictures.

Shame, but often the haze and dust is so thick that you can barely make out the buildings, especially on the morning departures that I often have.

Nice of the stewardess to make it up following the "slap", going out of her way to find little gifts when the champagne proved a no go.

Glad that you enjoyed your holiday and thanks for sharing.
Quokka
 
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:55 pm

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 32):
You have once again given us a great report. Thanks for taking the time to turn your memories and photos into a most enjoyable read.

Many thanks for your nice comments, BNZPilot!

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 32):
Hahaha! Well, I guess the agent learned something new.

No doubt about that!

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 32):
Looks like it was a good little array of Virgin souvenirs.

Yes, we cannot complain.

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 32):
Wow. Dubai is on my list of places to visit.

I'm sure you'd enjoy Dubai!

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 32):
Sound like the flight attendant felt awful about it and did her best to make it up to you.

  

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 32):
I would have used the occasion to ask for a cockpit visit after landing

A jump seat landing would have been even better...  

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 32):
Looking forward to more of your reports.

Numerous reports to follow in the next weeks and months!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 33):
Thanks for this wonderful picturesque report from your trip to Dubai.

Hi Nils, thanks a lot for your feedback! Good to hear you enjoyed it.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 33):
A fascinating destination it seems. I find it has some resemblance with Las Vegas: a city in the middle of the desert with lots of skyscrapers, each of them wanting to be the highest and the largest.

That's true. But I prefer Dubai, to be honest.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 33):
Looks cute, a pimped overhead panel

  

Quoting sultanils (Reply 33):
I imagine that being a quite demanding task, hanging up high and with a lot of wind.

Yes, I guess the wind can become nasty.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 33):
She must've misunderstood you.

Totally!

Quoting Quokka (Reply 34):
Another great trip report.
Quoting Quokka (Reply 34):
Glad that you enjoyed your holiday and thanks for sharing.

Hi Roy, thanks for your reply!

Quoting Quokka (Reply 34):
The changes that have occurred over the years in in Dubai are amazing - a far cry from my first visit to the UAE back in 1974.

It's quite interesting to see old pictures from the 70s and 80s - unbelievable what has happened there in the last 30 years.

Quoting Quokka (Reply 34):
You have captured some impressive sights with your photos.

Thanks again!

Quoting Quokka (Reply 34):
Looks terrific: the rooms, the pools. the beach. You could get used to that very quickly.

Yes, we would have loved to stay longer.

Quoting Quokka (Reply 34):
Nice of the stewardess to make it up following the "slap", going out of her way to find little gifts when the champagne proved a no go.

  


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
The777Man
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:09 pm

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
Both hotels look very nice especially the one in Ras Al Khaimah. How much did you pay ?

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:29 pm

Quoting The777Man (Reply 36):
Both hotels look very nice especially the one in Ras Al Khaimah. How much did you pay ?

Hi Lars, see my PM!


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
FlyingFinn76
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:17 pm

Hi PH,

An excellent account of your little UAE holiday. Very good that you managed to fly with VS, most of the things you hear about this airline are usually positive and this report only confirms that. Congratulations on logging both the 343 and 346 and a special -600 at that!

Lots of very pretty pictures from the Adult Disneyland aka. Dubai. Those hotels look great.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
After we had left, the agent and her colleague continued discussing while staring at the computer screen...

That's quite weird behavior. You don't expect agents to know everything about everything, but that kind of reaction and even getting the other agent to go with it is just weird. I guess you really had a hard time keeping up your appearances...  

I know us geeks rave over these things of course.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
how I dislike that at Heathrow!

Who doesn't? Except of course if you have lounge access, then you definitely want to wait in the lounge, hah.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I had never seen on a plane before were chromed air nozzles:

Interesting, me neither! But somehow quite fitting to Virgin's imago.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
However, the main course tasted quite good, just like the salad.

That looks okay to me!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry:

I can only agree with you here. I like the Virgin America ones as well, but being Airbus they are of course much smaller.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The liquid in the cup turned out to be gin - now that was odd. I don't think that my pronunciation was so bad, but who knows. I wasn't in the mood to start a discussion, so I accepted what I got.

Heh. She probably just heard you start with "GIN..." and figured out the rest - after all it's mostly British passengers so I bet everybody else was downing G&Ts with both hands!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The main course looked quite good - and it tasted very good! The fish wasn't dry at all and the vegetables and the potatoes weren't mushy either. The sauce and the salad tasted good, too.

I don't really like the look of that dish as all. But of course it's the taste that matters.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
she told me that she had been hit in the face by a female flight attendant!

Wow! Never heard that happening to anyone - I guess there's always the first time. The FA really tried hard to make up for it - she must've felt really bad!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
About 20 minutes later, she really showed up with a bottle of champagne, wrapped in a plastic bag. We didn't want to drink the whole bottle in the remaining few hours, so we asked whether she could seal it in a special bag, referring to our connecting flight.

Come on! There were three of you - it's only two glasses per head, nothing! Finns would've demanded a bottle EACH  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
...and a bag full of candy:

Yummy. You can tell the FA was really sorry.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Some 45 minutes before landing, "afternoon tea" was served:

Why is that box plain? Is it part of the ubercool design image or did they ran out of Virgin stock? I'd expected Virgin to have something like "Five O'clock Box" printed on top of it etc.
 
lasmike
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:55 pm

Great trip report! I do not see many VS ones on here. I am flying from Las Vegas to Delhi in December and was having very low expectations until I read your trip report. I hope my flights go as well as yours!

Mike
a first class dude in an economy world
 
palmjet
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:05 pm

Super report PH! I really enjoyed reading about your flights to Dubai and back to London. Your pics were stunning - definitely some of the best I have seen of Dubai on this site.

I used to fly with VS quite a bit but these days not so much. Nice to see what their current Y product is like.

The GU pudding that they served is available in UK supermarkets - they are really tasty!

I am thinking of a short trip to DXB next March - your report has given me some great tips - thanks again! P/jet
Eastern - Number One To The Sun
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:18 pm

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
An excellent account of your little UAE holiday.

Hi P., thanks for your extended feedback, always appreciated!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
Congratulations on logging both the 343 and 346 and a special -600 at that!

That was luck indeed.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
Lots of very pretty pictures from the Adult Disneyland aka. Dubai. Those hotels look great.

And they're just two of many really good hotels in the UAE.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
You don't expect agents to know everything about everything, but that kind of reaction and even getting the other agent to go with it is just weird.

Probably they were a bit shocked to hear that their carrier's archrival has invaded more markets...  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
I guess you really had a hard time keeping up your appearances...

  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
Except of course if you have lounge access, then you definitely want to wait in the lounge, hah.

  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
I like the Virgin America ones as well, but being Airbus they are of course much smaller.

Now Virgin Australia needs to add the Australian flag to its winglets.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
She probably just heard you start with "GIN..." and figured out the rest - after all it's mostly British passengers so I bet everybody else was downing G&Ts with both hands!

Yes, I guess you are right.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
The FA really tried hard to make up for it - she must've felt really bad!

Yes, definitely. And she apologized several times.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
Come on! There were three of you - it's only two glasses per head, nothing! Finns would've demanded a bottle EACH

I knew you would say something like that!         

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
You can tell the FA was really sorry.

  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 38):
Why is that box plain? Is it part of the ubercool design image or did they ran out of Virgin stock?

Good question. Probably the message was "100% ecofriendly"?  

Quoting LASMike (Reply 39):
Great trip report! I do not see many VS ones on here.

Hi LASMike, thanks for your feedback!

Quoting LASMike (Reply 39):
I am flying from Las Vegas to Delhi in December and was having very low expectations until I read your trip report. I hope my flights go as well as yours!

Sounds very interesting. I guess you'll get a 744 on the transatlantic sector - but what's on schedule for the DEL flight?

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 40):
Super report PH! I really enjoyed reading about your flights to Dubai and back to London. Your pics were stunning - definitely some of the best I have seen of Dubai on this site.

Thanks a lot for your nice comments, Palmjet! I'm glad you liked it.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 40):

The GU pudding that they served is available in UK supermarkets - they are really tasty!

I really need to buy a few when I visit the UK next time.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 40):
I am thinking of a short trip to DXB next March - your report has given me some great tips - thanks again! P/jet

Sounds like a great idea. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask.


PH

[Edited 2011-08-09 11:24:07]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
717Flyer
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:41 am

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:40 pm

Hi PH.

Thanks for a really nice and detailed report. Your pictures of Dubai are simply stunning and - most of all - bring back memories from my trip to Dubai in February this year. That trip came up thanks to a great promotion by Turkish Airlines.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
My girlfriend and I had been planning for a long time to spend a vacation in the United Arab Emirates again. Early this year we came to the conclusion that March would be a good time to go.

Well, Dubai really is something different from everything else, and it is a city everyone should see during their life. A city with such contrasts. And Sheikh Zayed Road is of course unique.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Good beach hotels in Dubai are over-priced, so I suggested to spend two nights in a city hotel and five nights in a beach hotel in another emirate. After comparing countless hotels on various websites, we decided to stay at the Rose Rayhaan by Rotana at Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai - the world's tallest hotel - and the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa

Well well, that's almost the same that we did! All my friends who had been to Dubai praised the city but complainted that "in Dubai you can't live both in the centre (Deira) and close to the beach. So, I decided to spend three nights in Deira and four nights on Sheikh Zayed Road.

In Deira, we stayed at the Riviera Hotel , a three star hotel that for the bargain of 60 EUR per night provided us with a comfy room, central location, excellent breakfast, and most of all, this creek view:

http://i1197.photobucket.com/albums/aa439/717Flyer/Dubai2011123.jpg

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I had always wanted to try Virgin Atlantic - and I would get the chance again to fly on the Airbus A340-600. My girlfriend also found that option quite interesting, so I quickly booked the flights.

I think pretty much everyone (that knows Virgin) finds it as an interesting choice - perhaps because of the publicity that Mr. Branson has got.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I suddenly discovered that there had been an equipment change on VS401: the A340-600 had been replaced by an A340-300.

That's really good news!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I found interesting was the check-in process at MUC. The friendly female British Airways check-in agent was quite surprised when she saw our itinerary. "Oh, you won't continue on British Airways, but on Virgin Atlantic?",

Well, I think it was good for the BA agent to realize that "hey, not everyone is flying on your airline!".

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
After we had left, the agent and her colleague continued discussing while staring at the computer screen...

That's a bit unprofessional. I think it would be enough to point it out once.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
(boarding passes already printed at home)

You did not ask for them to be replaced by "real" ones?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Then we had to "wait in lounge" because the gate number hadn't been announced yet - how I dislike that at Heathrow!

That's VERY frustrating. On the other hand it's good business for the shops (I guess) and thus passengers won't get lost if a gate change happens. But anyway, it isn't a very clever system.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic belongs to the decreasing number of airlines which still hand out amenity kits in Economy Class - and it's quite amazing that those are even provided on one of the carrier's shortest routes:

So did Turkish Airlines! Or well, it wasn't a complete amenity kit, but it did contain some basic things and a pair of socks, headphones etc.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry:

It can't get any more British than that!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
We soon grabbed our luggage and took a taxi to the Rose Rayhaan by Rotana at Sheikh Zayed Road.

We stayed at the Gloria Hotel Apartments Dubai that is located just in front of the metro station in Internet City. It offered great skyline views and views over the Palm Island. For around 100 EUR per night we got a comfy apartment with a complete kitchen and a large balcony plus a great breakfast buffet. Warmly recommended!

http://i1197.photobucket.com/albums/aa439/717Flyer/Dubai2011204.jpg

http://i1197.photobucket.com/albums/aa439/717Flyer/Dubai2011214.jpg

http://i1197.photobucket.com/albums/aa439/717Flyer/Dubai2011206.jpg

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
This is how the 333 meter (1093 ft), 72-story hotel looks from the pool area on the fourth floor:

Perhaps not just that tall, but this is what Gloria Hotel Apartments Dubai looks from the pool area (scary, isn't it 

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
the tallest structure in the world, Burj Khalifa.

Well, not for very long. I think I read somewhere that one of the richest princes in Saudi Arabia is planning to build a tower that clearly will beat Burj Khalifa.
Some people can never get enough...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I had already wanted to visit the observation deck during a short stay in February 2010

Thanks for these amazing views. Myself, I did not have time to visit the observation deck during my short week there, so yes, your report is appreciated.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
While the stations and trains are modern and clean, they can become crowded at certain times. And it took some time until we got our tickets because one vending machine was out of order and the other one couldn't return any change. At least you find friendly and helpful metro stuff there, immediately offering assistance.

Ah, the Dubai metro. Did you travel much by metro? We did, so many times that one of the staff at our nearest station started to recognize us, always buying single tickets, and advised us to load money on a "card". That's what we did and sure it was worth it - we went pretty much everywhere with the metro. Also, I must thank the Dubai metro for the few words of Arabic that I learnt - now I can say The next station is..., Doors closing and This train terminates at this station in Arabic. Always a great way to impress on your friends!  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
On the next day it was time to say goodbye to Dubai and we took a taxi to Ras Al Khaimah where we arrived after a 60 minute drive.

As taking a taxi is so bloody expensive (at least here in Finland) it was a joy to see how cheap and convenient it was to travel with taxi. On the other hand we had started to like the metro so much that we even ended up taking it back to the airport (even though it could have been more comfortable with a taxi).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
My girlfriend and her aunt were meanwhile exploring the airport shops.

I am sure they found something! Myself, I found a shop with Emirates branded stuff, ending up having bought a lot of (un)necessary stuff.  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
No window, no airshow - that was really frustrating!   

Congratulations for coping with it!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
10 minutes later she returned and informed us that it hadn't been possible to seal the champagne, but she placed something else on my girlfriend's table - delicious pastries from Upper Class:

I already thought those small sweet bites were a nice way of saying sorry, but with all you got I think that the little accident turned into a positive experience. Surely a sweet way of apologizing, many airlines would only have said sorry only.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The "punchy lady" showed up one more time and handed out a bag of chips:

As a part of the regular service? If it is, then VS surely does provide a good service. By the way, I'm sure you did not leave the plane hungry!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Some 45 minutes before landing, "afternoon tea" was served:

That box looks terrible! Even Ryanair would have bothered to put their logo on the box. Such a contrast to the otherwise so finished VS experience.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
No doubt, I would certainly fly Virgin Atlantic again - preferably on the carrier’s new A330-300.

Pretty much thanks to your report I am also myself trying to get some travel plans including Virgin Atlantic.

Whups, that was a lot of text for you to read!

Thanks once again, cant wait for your next story!

Regards
717Flyer
 
destinations
Posts: 174
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:00 am

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:59 pm

An excellent report, very good read.
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:53 pm

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Thanks for a really nice and detailed report. Your pictures of Dubai are simply stunning and - most of all - bring back memories from my trip to Dubai in February this year.

Hi 717Flyer, thanks so much for your extended feedback! And thanks for posting some nice pictures from your trip.   

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
That trip came up thanks to a great promotion by Turkish Airlines.

Interesting - will you write a report? Would be great to read about your experiences!

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Well, Dubai really is something different from everything else, and it is a city everyone should see during their life. A city with such contrasts.

I can only agree. You often hear negative comments about Dubai or the UAE, but I guess many people would change their mind if they actually visited the country once.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Well well, that's almost the same that we did! All my friends who had been to Dubai praised the city but complainted that "in Dubai you can't live both in the centre (Deira) and close to the beach. So, I decided to spend three nights in Deira and four nights on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Good decision!

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
In Deira, we stayed at the Riviera Hotel , a three star hotel that for the bargain of 60 EUR per night provided us with a comfy room, central location, excellent breakfast, and most of all, this creek view:

Wow, great view! I need to check that hotel. The rate is really low. When I went to Dubai with my brother last year, we stayed one night at the Hilton Dubai Creek which was great, too. Here's a link to the report:
A380 Cacophony, 777 Star Livery: DXB-SIN-HKG On SQ (by PlaneHunter May 1 2010 in Trip Reports)

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):

I think pretty much everyone (that knows Virgin) finds it as an interesting choice - perhaps because of the publicity that Mr. Branson has got.

Yes, he has done a great job in establishing the Virgin brand.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
You did not ask for them to be replaced by "real" ones?

No, I didn't. I once had to send in a few original boarding passes in order to claim missing miles, so I stopped actively collecting them. However, I keep the "real" ones I get.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
That's VERY frustrating. On the other hand it's good business for the shops (I guess) and thus passengers won't get lost if a gate change happens. But anyway, it isn't a very clever system.

It seems one reason for that policy is a lack of space in the gate areas.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
So did Turkish Airlines! Or well, it wasn't a complete amenity kit, but it did contain some basic things and a pair of socks, headphones etc.

That's better than nothing! I really need to try TK one day.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
It can't get any more British than that!

That's true. I'm wondering when VS started adding the Union Jack to the winglets - probably they were introduced together with the slogan "Britain's Flag Carrier". And that was a reaction to BA's Utopia re-branding.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
We stayed at the Gloria Hotel Apartments Dubai that is located just in front of the metro station in Internet City. It offered great skyline views and views over the Palm Island. For around 100 EUR per night we got a comfy apartment with a complete kitchen and a large balcony plus a great breakfast buffet. Warmly recommended!

That sounds really good! We also had a kitchen in the Rose Rayhaan.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Perhaps not just that tall, but this is what Gloria Hotel Apartments Dubai looks from the pool area (scary, isn't it

Absolutely!

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):

Well, not for very long. I think I read somewhere that one of the richest princes in Saudi Arabia is planning to build a tower that clearly will beat Burj Khalifa.
Some people can never get enough...

Yes, it's planned to be at least 1000 m high - well, let's wait and see what happens. Even if it gets built, it won't become as famous as Burj Khalifa - at least as long as Saudi Arabia remains as conservative and unattractive to tourists as it is.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Thanks for these amazing views. Myself, I did not have time to visit the observation deck during my short week there, so yes, your report is appreciated.

Maybe next time?

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Ah, the Dubai metro. Did you travel much by metro?

No, we mostly took taxis. We were a group of three, so it was very cheap to go by taxi.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Always a great way to impress on your friends!

No doubt about that!

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
I am sure they found something! Myself, I found a shop with Emirates branded stuff, ending up having bought a lot of (un)necessary stuff.

Of course they found something!   Yes, I know that Emirates shop. You can buy really cool stuff there.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Congratulations for coping with it!

Well, better don't ask my girlfriend about my mood...  

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
I already thought those small sweet bites were a nice way of saying sorry, but with all you got I think that the little accident turned into a positive experience. Surely a sweet way of apologizing

  

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
As a part of the regular service? If it is, then VS surely does provide a good service.

No, the bag of chips wasn't a part of the regular service.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
By the way, I'm sure you did not leave the plane hungry!

Absolutely!

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
That box looks terrible! Even Ryanair would have bothered to put their logo on the box. Such a contrast to the otherwise so finished VS experience.

That's true, very odd.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Pretty much thanks to your report I am also myself trying to get some travel plans including Virgin Atlantic.

I can only recommend to try VS.

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Whups, that was a lot of text for you to read!

I really appreciate long replies! Thanks again for taking the time!

Quoting 717Flyer (Reply 42):
Thanks once again, cant wait for your next story!

It should be ready in late August.

Quoting destinations (Reply 43):
An excellent report, very good read.

Thanks a lot, destinations! Good to hear you liked it.



PH

[Edited 2011-08-09 13:08:47]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
User avatar
airbuseric
Posts: 3560
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:24 am

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:18 pm

Hi PH,

that's a great report on VS. I'm glad to see something positive on them again after reading a lot of negative 'press'. Also I did 2 flights on them (LHR-NRT v.v.), both A346 (VMEG and VSHY), and just after their delivery to VS with the state of the art V:port system. It was really a pleasure on board.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I discovered an attractive combo offered on Expedia: London-Dubai-London on Virgin Atlantic Airways

Nice routing indeed! Sometimes these tickets websites combine strange itinerarie...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
If Virgin had asked me in advance which frame in the 19-strong A340-600 fleet I would like to get, I would have demanded exactly that one.

Lucky you!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic belongs to the decreasing number of airlines which still hand out amenity kits in Economy Class

Ah yes, still the same contents as I got in 2003. Even the bags are similar style (I use them for my stationary goods at home these days)

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
a funny safety video was shown:

The best one in the world of aviation (as far as I can judge)

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I found disappointing was the fact that I only got 150ml cans (Britvic) whenever I ordered ginger ale.

Yeah true. Also Virgin Coke comes in these tiny cans.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Virgin Atlantic’s winglets belong to the prettiest ones in the industry:

Agree!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
This building is simply amazing:

Wonderful photo!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
We also made a stop in the middle of nowhere and met some nice camels:

Another really great picture with the sun behind!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I soon told a flight attendant about that and she promised: "I will double check." Some minutes later she returned with bad news: "The Skymap doesn't work today, unfortunately." No window, no airshow - that was really frustrating!

Bad luck, but for an a.netter readlly annoying...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Unlike on VS400, menu cards had been distributed on this flight.

Inconsistent service?! Why no menucard on the outbound then?

All togehter, good flight experience and for sure nothing really serious to worry about when flying VS. I would consider them also in the future again.

Regards
Eric
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
 
debonair
Posts: 2712
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:26 pm

Great TR! Well done...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
We passed security and went to a Virgin Atlantic transfer desk. We had already checked in online and printed our boarding passes, but I asked whether Virgin needed to know our luggage tag numbers.



Unbelievable... Did your bag always arrived at the final destination?! I can't believe that a baggage transfer from BA to "rival" carrier VS at LHR is working. WOW!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa came up to our expectations - it's a fantastic hotel with friendly staff and great buffets.



ThanX for the recommendations, planning a trip soon! Have you been to the sister-hotel Hotel Hilton Ras Al Khaimah? It only costs half of the Hilton Resort & Spa, but is sharing all facilities (incl. free transfer).
 
abrelosojos
Posts: 4050
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 6:48 am

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:56 am

Wow. Great report, and you seem to have had a solid VS experience! I love the depth of their amenity kit - it is better than several carriers JCL kits. Heck, it even looks better than your favourite LX JCL kit  . Good job by the "punchy lady" to recover - that is what a good airline is after all!

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:16 am

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
that's a great report on VS. I'm glad to see something positive on them again after reading a lot of negative 'press'.

Hi Eric, thanks for your comments!

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
Also I did 2 flights on them (LHR-NRT v.v.), both A346 (VMEG and VSHY), and just after their delivery to VS with the state of the art V:port system. It was really a pleasure on board.

Yes, that must have been a great experience to fly on these new birds.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
Sometimes these tickets websites combine strange itinerarie...

That's true - and sometimes transfer times are simply ridiculous.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
Lucky you!

I have indeed been lucky with the A340-600. I got the oldest LH frame in October and another very special one in May. Report to follow...the question is when.  

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
The best one in the world of aviation (as far as I can judge)

NZ's videos are also really funny.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
Also Virgin Coke comes in these tiny cans.

Ah, I totally forgot to try that once.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
Another really great picture with the sun behind!

Thanks! That's one of my favorites. I was lucky that the picture turned out fine.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 45):
Inconsistent service?! Why no menucard on the outbound then?

Very good question, I have no idea.

Quoting debonair (Reply 46):
Great TR! Well done...

Hi debonair, thanks for your feedback!

Quoting debonair (Reply 46):
Unbelievable... Did your bag always arrived at the final destination?! I can't believe that a baggage transfer from BA to "rival" carrier VS at LHR is working. WOW!

Everything worked fine. I was thinking about that, too.

Quoting debonair (Reply 46):
ThanX for the recommendations, planning a trip soon! Have you been to the sister-hotel Hotel Hilton Ras Al Khaimah? It only costs half of the Hilton Resort & Spa, but is sharing all facilities (incl. free transfer).

I haven't been to the sister hotel, but it gets rated very positively, too. The question is how often these shuttles run per day. Honestly, I wouldn't want to miss the outstanding sea views and great facilities which you find at the resort hotel. And the buffets may also be smaller at the city hotel.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 47):
Wow. Great report, and you seem to have had a solid VS experience!

Hi A., many thanks for your reply!

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 47):
I love the depth of their amenity kit - it is better than several carriers JCL kits.

And some carriers don't even provide amenity kits in J Class.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 47):
Heck, it even looks better than your favourite LX JCL kit

 

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 47):
Good job by the "punchy lady" to recover - that is what a good airline is after all!

I can only agree.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
717Flyer
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:41 am

RE: Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights

Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:43 am

Hi again!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 44):
will you write a report? Would be great to read about your experiences!

Well, you know, this February I wasn't at the forums yet and of all the HEL-IST-DXB-IST-HEL flights I only took photos on the first segment - mainly because of crazy flight timings IST-DXB-IST. On the outbound journey departure from IST was at midnight and departure from DXB was at a "very comfortable" 03.00 a.m.
The most important things were the great meals in economy as well as the nice menu cards that were distributed. Also, all flights bang on time and crews were alright. All flights were supposed to be on the A321, however, I was happy that the DXB-IST changed to an A330.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 44):
Here's a link to the report:

Sure something I need to read, thanks for the tip!

Regards
717Flyer

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