captainsloo
Topic Author
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:00 pm

Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:14 pm

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8520/8623004956_5f3bdb6dc8_c.jpg

Hello everyone! Welcome to my fourth trip report. This report will cover Virgin Atlantic Little Red’s latest edition: London to Edinburgh.

Introduction

Having read Richard Branson's book when I was younger, I have always wanted to give Virgin Atlantic a go. It seemed to be different, a rebel that provided an experience that is unlike the ordinary (in fact that seems to be their new advertisement). Having read several reports on VS, there seems to be a consensus that this is a thing of the past. Recently, though, their product long haul has increasingly started to look pretty good to me (check out jwhite's trip report Virgin Atlantic's New A330 LHR-JFK-LHR (by jwhite9185 Sep 21 2012 in Trip Reports)). I wil really like to try VS one day. Then the opportunity came. After taking over BMI's slots at LHR, Virgin Atlantic announced the launch of their domestic service Little Red. While it is not the long haul product, it was promoted that the cabin and experience will very much be similar to VS. I decided to give it a go and booked the first flight out from London on 5 April and parted with £99.

While booking my flight with VS, I have to agree with jwhite's report that Virgin's branding seemed rather inconsistent. I was also mildy annoyed at the length taken to retrieved bookings, and while I had repeatedly chosen my seats on the outbound flight, the system did not seem to register my preference. Oh wells, I guessed. I'm just excited to be able to try something new!

Departure Day

Fast forward to departure day, I once again rolled out of bed close before 6.30am (which a student is never inclined to do) and got ready just like my trip to Zagreb a week ago. I made my way to Farringdon tube station and eventually arrived at Paddington. There I caught the 7.25 Heathrow Express and arrived at the airport at 7.40am.

When I arrived at Heathrow, I was starting to feel excited. It did not take me long to find the check-in counters for Little Red. It was situated in prime position : right next to the lift from Heathrow Express (in Zone A) and direction opposite British Airways in zone B. The deep red colour of VS signs and their personnel instantly stood out. I am actually loving the red, a sharp contrast to blue in zone B. Placing Little Red's check-in right next to BA's imposing check in area made Little Red feel very much like a rebel child.

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Check-in was extremely smooth and quick and I received both my boarding passes for the day (I am flying back on the same day!).

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After collection my boarding passes, I proceed to clear security. The queue was long, both moved relatively quickly. Once air side, I headed towards Gate 8, eager to see the VS Little Red in person.

Which explains why I was disappointed when I reached Gate 8b. There was hardly a proper view of the plane!

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8396/8621879681_c1a60b323f_c.jpg

Heh heh, VS Little Red right next to BA.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8523/8622986936_7d25b90703_c.jpg

After roaming a little, I sneaked into an airbridge and manage to get this view. Better. And, woah, VS livery does look really good on the Airbus 320.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8529/8621882655_3b6a28836f_c.jpg

More BA and VS. Heh.

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At 8.53am, boarding was started for passengers with children and gold members. Oh, before that, there were a couple of senior looking people standing behind the desk at the gate. Probably VS people. They look slightly nervous, probably hoping there will be no delay at Heathrow that will cause delays for the rest of the day. In the meantime, EI-DEO arrived from Manchester. I finally saw the VS Little Red in full!

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Virgin Atlantic Little Red VS3003
London Heathrow - Edinburgh
Airbus 320
Registration EI-DEI Maggie May
Seat Number 6A
Departure: 9.50am (Scheduled (9.20am)
Arrived: 10.50am (Scheduled10.50am)


I was on board at 9.02am. First impressions were positive: the cabin looked really good! There was the classic purple mood lighting used on VS flights. The seats look decent and comfortable. They were leather and in a slightly red brown colour that fitted the ambience. When I took my seat, they were extremely comfortable! I could easily sit in these for hours. Each chair had adjustable head rest and wings. They were also declinable. So far so good - really solid product and extremely comfortable. Everything looked very stylish, since colours were put to good use. Oh, and of course VS played rock music while we were boarding.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8243/8622986672_03b92b1a4f_c.jpg

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Legroom was more than sufficient.

[img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8251/8622986370_4dd1fd6ddf_c.jpg[/mg]

Safety information.



Pushback occurred at 9.20am and heralded the long taxi and wait before take off. That was alright with me, the window was a nice companion. I was extremely fortunate to be lined up to some pretty aircrafts. Most notable of them all was the new American. We lined up next to other heavies including Emirates and VS. (please excuse the dull photos, the window was slightly scratched)

BA in Olympic livery
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8401/8622986226_4894fa4e1b_c.jpg

Americans
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8109/8622986192_a42a28c873_c.jpg

YES
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8248/8622986144_533708cef6_c.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8545/8622986084_f38655bb31_c.jpg

Plenty in the queue
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8383/8622986026_5f2f847f41_c.jpg

Fellow VS
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8124/8621881769_2fbd4249e4_c.jpg

At 9.50, we roared down the runway and rotated into the sky. You can watch the takeoff HERE
I do recommend watching it, the view of Heathrow in the air was worth the video!

Little Red 3003 then made a left turn and headed up to Edinburgh. It was time to sit back and enjoy the ride. The comfortable seat, bright sun light after clearing cloud cover, and the bright red engine made everything perfect.

Watching the world go by
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Service started quickly, and I was eager to see the Plane Crisps. I think it is here that I started to feel that VS was truly giving a strong competition to BA. Everything seemed more stylish - from specially packed (or repackaged) crisps to those purple, rather stylish designed, plastic cups.

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Lovely looking plastic cups and an artistic shot

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At slightly over half pass 10, we started our descend into Edinburgh. 20 minutes later, we landed smoothly in Edinburgh. Right before landing, we received sweets standard on VS flights.

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http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8396/8622985684_52c977cbaa_c.jpg



Before disembarking, I spoke to the Captain of the first London - Edinburgh Little Red and congratulated him on flying us here. He was very nice, and agreed with me that the product looks very good and comfortable. He also clarified my doubts. The inaugural flight is indeed next Monday, that's why there wasn't any fanfare on this flight even though it's the first London - Edinburgh. Richard Branson will be on Little Red on Monday, that should be exciting!!



And one last look:

[img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8121/8621881255_75dfbf61f7_c.jpg[img]

What to do?

My return flight back to London was at 5.35pm, so that meant I had three hours to spare. What do you do in Edinburgh in three hours? I visited the castle again.

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This time, I manage to catch the 1 o'clock gun, albeit jumping a little when it actually went off.

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Whisky!

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At 3pm, it was time to catch the airlink back to the airport. Time to head home!

Returning back



Before I begin on the return journey, I have to say that everything was almost the same. It was the same plane, almost the same seat and the experience was consistent. Therefore, there isn't much for me to write that is different from my first flight. However, I'll show some nice photos!

Check-in desk at Edinburgh. I had already collected my boarding pass at Heathrow so I went straight to security.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8523/8622985080_a8430a8b62_c.jpg

Once air side, I had plenty of time to kill. I noticed that EAT had a nice sitting area next to a wide window and decided to purchase a sandwich and coffee to accompany my plane spotting.

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I like this shot, three planes in one haha.

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I was also in luck. Little Red had not arrived from Heathrow and that meant I could see it land and taxi to our gate. And I was right, at 4.40pm, EI-DEI arrived. I managed to get shots of the beautiful plane in full.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8386/8622984852_f60cced191_c.jpg

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Moments later, BA passed the exact same spot hahaha

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8116/8621880491_fdd35386de_c.jpg

Boarding began at 5.10am and this time I had seat 5A. The load on this plane was not very high though, only around 60%. I'm not sure if this is standard on this route? I do hope VS is at least covering cost on these routes. It has a nice product and it'll be bad if it went out of business (a lot of people seem to believe this though :/)

Everything went well and similar to my first flight. This time, though, I ordered a gin and tonic and noticed that the FA rubbed lemon round the tip of cup before giving it to be. Nice gesture and that truly resembles a bar. At 6pm, we descended into Heathrow, and I was thinking...so fast? I wanted the flight to be longer.

You can watch the takeoff HERE

Red Redbull was given to everyone before boarding. Interesting! Does anyone know why?


Better images of the comfortable seat
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8391/8621880273_f1fd9d5e8c_c.jpg

Purple mood lighting
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8393/8622984530_b51be309c7_c.jpg

Up in the Air.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8115/8621880117_c3c2ca1ee7_c.jpg

Gin and Tonic. Plane Crisps. Lovely!
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8529/8621880037_652533d8d4_c.jpg

Hello London! Spotted Wembley and the Shard but I don't think you can see it in this photo http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8534/8622984252_786c3ed858_c.jpg

And that's Heathrow from the sky.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8260/8621879875_b8b86bc8c4_c.jpg

We landed at 6.35pm, very much ahead of schedule. I noticed an extremely interesting livery of Lufthansa!
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8126/8621879859_601a7f8345_c.jpg

And finally, thank you Little Red. It's been exciting and fun.
Conclusion

I had a wonderful experience with Little Red. Everything went smoothly and I honestly think they have a very solid product. There is a lot of potential and I do hope they stay in the market. Looking at the idea of Little Red, it might even work well (arguably) if VS does short haul to other destinations as well.

It is inevitable to compare BA and VS. Little Red has definitely been more stylish, sort of like a luxury lounge. BA on the other hand (judging from my past trip to Amsterdam and Zagreb) seemed more proper and professional. Both are extremely comfortable ways of flying to and from in short haul. I only really like the seats on VS at the moment so I'm going to say VS has my vote this time.

Thank you for taking time to read my report. As always, feel free to critique, comment and provide feedback.

Cheers,
David
  

Past reports:
Easter In Croatia And Slovenia: BA And WizzAir (by captainsloo Apr 4 2013 in Trip Reports)
A Short Weekend Trip: BA LGW-AMS (by captainsloo Feb 19 2013 in Trip Reports)
To Beautiful Vancouver: Air Canada (Y) LHR-YVR (by captainsloo Mar 26 2012 in Trip Reports)
 
AAMDanny
Posts: 224
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:06 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:22 pm

Great trip report! Thanks for sharing!
 
adamspotter
Posts: 1191
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:06 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:42 pm

Hi David,

Great report with many nice pictures, really enjoyed it! I cant wait to try Little Red out myself, the service looks nice!
I sure hope they become successfull on these routes although a lot of peple doubt that..

Thanks for sharing!

cheers,

Brendan
 
FlyboyOz
Posts: 1744
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2000 10:05 am

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:31 am

Great report... Would love to fly with Virgin Altantic Little Red one day. Thanks for showing me a new safety card!

I know cabin crew wear Virgin Atlantic uniform but do they come from Aer Lingus?
The Spirit of AustraliAN - Longreach
 
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nimool
Posts: 160
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:44 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:21 am

exciting and good to see VS servicing domestic! sure it has to be better than BA, from these photos and videos I have to experience the little red once!
thanks for sharing.
Iran Air, we take you there, we take you back!
 
SInGAPORE_AIR
Posts: 11619
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2000 4:06 am

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:35 am

Thanks for sharing. Having also flown Little Red I would disagree about the seat pitch; I hadn't experienced something as tight as that since a Tiger Airways flight.
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
 
shamrock321
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Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 7:27 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:16 am

I may have missed it in the report, what was the load like?
 
767747
Posts: 2136
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:08 am

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:53 pm

Nice report, David. Great to read about the new VS short-haul service. It looks pretty good in my mind, and definitely some competition for BA!

Thanks for sharing,

Matthew
I love to fly!
 
visualapproach
Posts: 215
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:09 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:18 pm

Thanks for sharing!

Quoting FlyboyOz (Reply 3):

The crew are contracted to Aer Lingus by a third party.
 
sk736
Posts: 547
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 4:47 am

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:43 pm

Nice report, I'm due to fly MAN/LHR in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to it. However, what was all the hype about the great VS service when these flights were first announced? A small packet of crisps is no better than BA offers and hardly counts as service!
 
captainsloo
Topic Author
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:00 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:31 pm

Hi everyone, thanks for your comments!

Quoting FlyboyOz (Reply 3):
I know cabin crew wear Virgin Atlantic uniform but do they come from Aer Lingus?
Quoting visualapproach (Reply 8):
The crew are contracted to Aer Lingus by a third party.

That's correct visualapproach, thanks!
Yes, they come from Aer Lingus. I noticed the Captain wearing an Aer Lingus lanyard and enquired if he's from Aer Lingus. To which he replied, yes but he has been contracted to fly VS Little Red for the next 2 to 3 years.

Quoting shamrock321 (Reply 6):

I may have missed it in the report, what was the load like?

The load from LHR to EDI was quite good, decent. But the return load wasn't so good, about 60%?

Quoting SInGAPORE_AIR (Reply 5):
Thanks for sharing. Having also flown Little Red I would disagree about the seat pitch; I hadn't experienced something as tight as that since a Tiger Airways flight.

Hm, I've never flown Tiger Airways before, do you know the seat pitch?

Quoting sk736 (Reply 9):
owever, what was all the hype about the great VS service when these flights were first announced? A small packet of crisps is no better than BA offers and hardly counts as service!

Yes I have to agree. On hindsight, it's just a new alternative (although an enjoyable one). It will be really cool if they did European flights too!
 
phunc
Posts: 174
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:52 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:51 pm

Quoting captainsloo (Thread starter):
Check-in was extremely smooth and quick and I received both my boarding passes for the day (I am flying back on the same day!).

Strange FFP number. Not flying club. Mind if I ask what this is? SQ?

Quoting captainsloo (Thread starter):
And, woah, VS livery does look really good on the Airbus 320.

Be great if the'd used the glittery andaro paint like on the new livery.

Quoting captainsloo (Thread starter):
Oh, and of course VS played rock music while we were boarding.

Never been a fan of this!

Thanks for posting! I really do hope they do well as it's a neat little service. Great report.
 
captainsloo
Topic Author
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:00 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:17 pm

Hi phunc,

Thanks for your comments. Just out of curiosity, why are you not a fan of the music during boarding?

Quoting phunc (Reply 11):
Strange FFP number. Not flying club. Mind if I ask what this is? SQ?

Yes, it's Krisflyer. Still Singaporean at heart  
 
phunc
Posts: 174
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:52 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:02 pm

Quoting captainsloo (Reply 12):
Just out of curiosity, why are you not a fan of the music during boarding?

Personal preference I guess! I do cringe a little when some airlines hit play on Abba's greatest hits during taxi-in!

Again, great report.
 
jwhite9185
Posts: 1581
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 10:34 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:17 am

Hi David, great read there. And thanks for mentioning my report!

Interesting to see that VS' second A320 is slightly different to the first. -DEO has purple mood lighting throughout like their A333's where as it seemed the one you went on was half purple and half conventional.

And the can of Red Bull - never heard of this one - wonder if its a VS exclusive?
@mytripreport
 
Gingersnap
Posts: 827
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:09 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:58 pm

Looked great, very nice report.

Hopefully if it does well for them, we may even see a small expansion in the future.

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 14):
And the can of Red Bull - never heard of this one - wonder if its a VS exclusive?

I've seen it sold in Tesco near me, along with a few other varieties so no not exclusive to VS.
Flown on: A306 A319/20/21 A332 B732/3/4/5/7/8 B742/4 B752 B762/3 B772/W C152 E195 F70/100 MD-82 Q400
 
jeffrysky
Posts: 177
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:56 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:40 pm

Great report David 

Knew you from army days back in the sunny island and yet never realised you were such an airline freak like I am .. what a shame !
 
captainsloo
Topic Author
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:00 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:44 pm

Quoting jeffrysky (Reply 16):
Knew you from army days back in the sunny island and yet never realised you were such an airline freak like I am .. what a shame !

Hi James! Haha I remember you were the one who introduced me to A.net! Nice to see you here. Thanks for reading my report. Let's catch up when I'm back for summer.  
 
MSS658
Posts: 2454
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:16 am

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:43 am

Hi David


Great pics of Little Red, glad you enjoyed the service. I can relate a lot to my Little Red flight taken on the same day to MAN. Good service however I hope they will be picking up the loads.
Did you have any problems with your seating arrangment as well?

Greetings
Marc
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
 
captainsloo
Topic Author
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:00 pm

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:34 am

Hi Marc,

Oh yes I recall there was a A.netter meeting in Manchester on the same day. How did it go?

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 18):
Did you have any problems with your seating arrangment as well?

Unfortunately yes, the system did not seem to register my seat preference. Did that happen to you as well? I thought I was just unlucky. Thankfully the check-in assistance was nice enough to ask for my seat preference.

Cheers,
David
 
abrelosojos
Posts: 4050
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 6:48 am

RE: Trying Out Virgin Atlantic Little Red: LHR-EDI

Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:55 pm

David -

Thanks for the report. I do hope Little Red is able to improve the game on domestic UK flights and give BA something of a competition. Product looks compelling.

Saludos,
Alex

PS: I first thought it was a Virgin America 320 ... even the interiors look alike.
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