Hello everyone! Welcome to my fourth trip report. This report will cover Virgin Atlantic Little Red’s latest edition: London to Edinburgh.
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!
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.
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!).
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!
Heh heh, VS Little Red right next to BA.
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.
More BA and VS. Heh.
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!
Virgin Atlantic Little Red VS3003
London Heathrow - Edinburgh
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.
Legroom was more than sufficient.
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
Plenty in the queue
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
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.
Lovely looking plastic cups and an artistic shot
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.
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:
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.
This time, I manage to catch the 1 o'clock gun, albeit jumping a little when it actually went off.
At 3pm, it was time to catch the airlink back to the airport. Time to head home!
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.
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.
I like this shot, three planes in one haha.
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.
Moments later, BA passed the exact same spot hahaha
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
Purple mood lighting
Up in the Air.
Gin and Tonic. Plane Crisps. Lovely!
Hello London! Spotted Wembley and the Shard but I don't think you can see it in this photo
And that's Heathrow from the sky.
We landed at 6.35pm, very much ahead of schedule. I noticed an extremely interesting livery of Lufthansa!
And finally, thank you Little Red. It's been exciting and fun.
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.
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