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Part 1: Virgin to Mumbai - India and China Trip 2019

Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:15 pm


Video Report

Virgin Atlantic - VS354 - London to Mumbai - Boeing 787-9

Hello A'Netters. Hope you are doing well. Another one had bitten the dust and my younger brother was getting married in India (Mumbai), so we had to make our way over there in November. This trip would take us from London to Mumbai for a week, for the wedding festivities, before we head to meet my in-laws in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China, for another week, before making our return back to London. A total 2 weeks trip (for me). My wife will be continuing to stay back with her parents for another 2 weeks for a total of a 4 week trip!

I was intrigued by the -url=] soon to be inaugurated Virgin flight to Mumbai [/url] and they had some very cheap redemption offering taking place. The timing looked good and we thought it was a good option.

15 minutes later we were booked onto Virgin's Dreamliner flight to Mumbai for November. The booking process was very good and we were also allowed to select our seats for free.

Although, a month before the wedding, it had to be called off due to unforeseen circumstances :(

But we are not a family to sulk about it. We thought we would proceed towards India and China on those dates. But now, instead of being in Mumbai for a week, we decided on travelling, as a family, to the Northern hill stations of India --> Shimla, Kullu and Manali with Chandigarh as our base.

My route would be as follows:
1. London to Mumbai on Virgin Atlantic (This Report)
2. Mumbai to Chandigarh (on Air Asia India, via Delhi) and return on IndiGo (Via Delhi)
3. Mumbai to Beijing on Air China, followed by Chinese High Speed train to Shijiazhuang
4. Return from Shijiazhuang Via Chengdu and Doha on Hebei Airlines, Qatar Airways and British Airways

My wife's route:
1. London to Mumbai on Virgin Atlantic
2. Mumbai to Chandigarh (on Air Asia India, via Delhi) and return on IndiGo (Via Delhi)
3. Mumbai to Beijing on Air China, followed by Chinese High Speed train to Shijiazhuang
4. Shijiazhuang to Shanghai Pudong on Hebei Airlines
5. Shanghai Pudong to London Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic (Upper Class --> Her Birthday Gift!!!)

Thanks to GCMAPS for my itinerary map, below.

And for completeness, my wife's itinerary map:

The ticket booking process on Virgin Atlantic's website was seamless and intuitive. Once booked, the Manage your Boking section was clear and concise and also allowed you to pre-select seats, except the exit row seats which were charged at £59. A very upmarket feel to the entire booking experience. BA are you listening?

Virgin Atlantic - VS354
Route: LHR - BOM
Flight Reg:G-VFAN; Delivered to Virgin Atlantic on June 2016
Aircraft Type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Seat: 55K
Flight time: 10:30 - 00:55 (11:19 - 01:15)
Actual flight time: 8Hr 26 min
Distance: 4487 Miles
Load: 100% in all cabins
02 Nov 2019
Booking details: Booked via Virgin Atlantic website, using points. Total of 10000 points + £176 (taxes) per ticket including 2 check in luggage and seat selection (Economy Classic)
My Log book: 2nd Flight on Virgin Atlantic / 3rd flight on Boeing 787-9 / 217th Total overall flight

Previous day, online check in was a similar experience as using their website -> simple, slick and quick.

On the day of the flight, it was a quick drive to the airport. Reached terminal 3 by 8 am. Bag drop was fairly quick as it seemed like a busy time for virgin and delta flights. Bags dropped by 0815.

Virgin always have some entertainment for their passengers. It was a DJ booth the previous time. This time was a virtual flight simulator. I tried my luck at landing an A350. Coincidentally the captain for our flight to Mumbai was commenting on my landing saying I have skills and would I like to be a pilot. A very nice American pilot and he asked my details. I was flattered.

Virgin Check-in area at Heathrow T3


I could spend the entire day here

Quite swift to reach airside

Security was a bit busy but all said, we were airside by 830.

A bit of duty free shopping and settled in for some food at Yo sushi.

Boarding commenced on time and we were sat at our seat by 1015.

Virgin have a very generous check in baggage allowance to India. Even with that, the amount of hand luggage on board was huge. Which slowed the entire boarding process. Thankfully the large overhead bins of the Dreamliner digested them all with ease.

Festive decoration already put up! where did this year go?

Rugby 2020 finals. England Lost :(

Heading to our gates

Full flight to Mumbai today


The entrance to the virgin Dreamliner is special. You enter through the bar area showing off their hard product and rightly so.

The cabin temperature was comfortable and there was the usual virgin hues of purple and red interior lighting.

The cabin we were at was neat and tidy albeit I have mixed feelings of the vibrant red interior seat colour. The seat pitch seemed adequate although the leg space was impeded by the entertainment unit, for the window seats.

Virgin had a very exhaustive selection of duty free items on board. Probably one of the largest collection I've noticed in an aircraft.

On board the Virgin B787-9 DreamLiner

Row 55


Seat presentation during boarding

IFE box! URGH!

Seat view

Good amount of leg space

Reading material on board

Charity envelope along with the headphones

There was a bit of a queue for take-off. Delay of around 15 minutes predicted for the journey.

Once airborne the cabin crew commenced a round of drinks and pretzels.

Over Hounslow

Bought 20 MB Wi-Fi @ £2.99

Menu for this flight

Enjoyed this film. Very dark humour

Bloody Mary. Yes Please!

Following this, lunch was served around 1 pm UK time. The meal was sumptuous. Especially the Murgh tikka with Daal makhani which was topped up with a GU pot. Hit all the right spots. Wife quipped saying that this was the best chicken dish she has had in the air. It was perfectly succulent and moist. And I'd agree. Top marks for the meal on this flight. Washed it down with a shiraz which was the perfect accompaniment to the meal. My only slight complaint was that the tray was tiny and they serve the tray separate from the main meal, which means that there is no space to keep the main meal appropriately. Perhaps it is due to the minute table on this aircraft.

Meal tray cleared by 2 pm followed by hot drinks by 230 pm.

Sumptuous meals!

Cabin view after meals

Toilets (Clean for now)

Second film of the flight. Enjoyed this one too

There was another brownie and drinks round at 15:30 pm. This seems like a very busy flight for the crew and the passengers are really well fed and looked after.

During this time the head purser approached me by name and said that the captain had invited me to the cockpit after landing. Wow!! How special is that. I might've really landed that simulator A350 well. Haha. I feel so special and this shows the virgin soft product is a cut above the rest. Even the captain takes customer service to the next level. Derrick was the captain.

The crew were exceptional on this flight. Always on the move, drinks, snacks, rubbish collection, they were constantly on the move. they were real troopers and they did it with a smile. Special mention to Gaby who was from south Africa and was thrilled that they had won the rugby world cup earlier today.

Absolutely full flight across all cabins today.

For the economy cabin, of the 4 toilets only 3 were functional. This created quite a long queue at times which was not the best situation to be in.

Due to the lack of toilets situation, the toilets were a mess towards the end of the flight.

Another light snack was served 2 hours before landing. Once again the stuffed naan meal was sumptuous and it was served warm. Another excellent food item served on this flight.

Rest of the flight was uneventful in a good way. It was a mainly turbulent free flight.

We were well fed on this flight. Snack before landing

Landed by 0120. Got the amazing opportunity to visit the super friendly captain Derrick and the rest of the crew at the cockpit. I even got to sit on the captain's chair!!!! Most certainly the best flight related experience and thrill I've experienced.

The cockpit!


Thank you Virgin! for a great flight!

From there, immigration took quite a while. Moreover, I had to split away from my wife as she was on a first time e-Visa where as I was on an OCI.

By the time I was out and collected the bags, it was around 230 am.

I was allowed to bring back the bags to the immigration area whilst waiting for my wife. It took well over an hour for her to navigate the immigration queue. Finally out of the airport by 3 am.

Over 90 minutes since landing. Overall I think it was ok, but the immigration process could've been much better. Bags were quick to arrive though. And with all 4 of them safely in it custody. That's the main thing.

Baggage collection


Exiting the airport

The virgin experience was indeed special. Great timing, superb food and entertainment and the icing on the cake was the cockpit visit which I shall be treasuring for a very long time to come. Thank you Virgin for a great flight (But please sort out the toilets on G-VFAN :))

Please stay tuned for the next section of my report, hopefully in a couple of days' time.

Until then, happy and safe flying, Adios!

Pre-paid taxi booking

Our ride to the hotel. Literally anything would fit on/in these cars :)
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Re: Part 1: Virgin to Mumbai - India and China Trip 2019

Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:16 pm

Previous Trip Reports

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Part 4: South American escapades - Domestic Peru on LATAM(s)
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Part 1: South American escapades - On BA's Longest flight to Santiago
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Part 1: Emirates from London Stansted to India and back
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Re: Part 1: Virgin to Mumbai - India and China Trip 2019

Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:03 pm

Thank for the enjoyable report. I think Virgin's cabins have excellent design.
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Re: Part 1: Virgin to Mumbai - India and China Trip 2019

Sun Dec 08, 2019 9:15 am

Thanks for the comments, Ryanair01.
Yes, I would agree. A very pleasing cabin.
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Re: Part 1: Virgin to Mumbai - India and China Trip 2019

Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:42 pm

Great report, I enjoyed it a lot. VS on the 787 looks like a really nice product.
What didn't you like about the toilets on board? Were they dirty?
chase the sun
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Re: Part 1: Virgin to Mumbai - India and China Trip 2019

Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:22 pm

Thanks for the comments Luftymatt
Wrt the toilets, off the 4 available toilets in Eco, only 3 of them were functioning for the entire duration of the flight. So for a full flight with 25% less toilet availability, it was not a good place to be towards the end of the journey.

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