Home > Virgin Atlantic > 2011 > Review
Taken 10 December 2011 from Orlando, FL (Orlando International Airport) - MCO to London, England (Gatwick Airport) - LGW
After a week in Orlando, it was time to head home with Virgin Atlantic - on Saturday 10 December.
We arrived at the check-in area for our flight to London Gatwick at around 3.30pm. With a departure time of 6.10pm, it allowed plenty of time to tackle any queues. After all, Virgin has a strong presence in Orlando, with two daily departures to Gatwick, and another two to Manchester. Two A330s and two 747s mean that several hundred of the airline's customers pass through the airport on a daily basis.
Knowing that the airline offers a miserable 6kg hand baggage allowance, I decided to park my hire car in the short stay car park before returning it to the rental company (a cost of $1.00 per 20 minutes). I emptied the contents of my rucksack into the boot and would return after checking in. My laptop, cameras and pilot logbooks were not items that I was prepared to pack in my checked baggage, but with a combined weight of around 10kg, I didn't think the airline would be too pleased to accept my bag as it was.
As was expected, our hand baggage items were weighed at check-in and tagged with a tamper-resistant 'approved for cabin baggage label'. With mine at just 3.6kg, it was well within limits. As for the checked baggage, the airline allows 23kg and mine was slightly under, whilst my travelling companion was over at 24.8kg. Rather nicely, the airline said it offered up to 25kg for no additional charge.
Online check-in had again been utilised, and with our baggage on its way to the aircraft, we collected our boarding cards and headed towards the gate.
The late arrival of the aircraft meant that there only around 1 hour 20 minutes between it arriving and being scheduled to depart back to Gatwick as flight VS28. A delay was inevitable, and sure enough, we departed at around 6.45pm.
Our aircraft was a brand new Airbus A330-300, which offered only economy and premium economy classes. The two aircraft in the fleet fly from both Gatwick and Manchester to only Orlando, which I suppose doesn't attract a sufficient number of passengers wanting to travel in upper class. The aircraft was in the standard 2-4-2 configuration and offered a sufficient amount of legroom. The entertainment system was impressive and offered a large screen with hundreds of hours of audio and visual programming, including an assortment of music albums, the latest film releases and popular TV shows from both the UK and abroad. Not only that, but an extensive selection games were available to all passengers, with most playable against fellow passengers. Below the screen was a rather useful USB port, which allowed for the charging of mobile phones, mp3 players etc. There was also the option for the 'Jam' entertainment system to read data from your personal devices and to display content on the screen in front.
Despite our delay from Orlando, we were sure to make up a lot of time on the flight. Significant tail winds meant that a flight time of 7 hours 20 minutes was possible - considerably shorter than the 9 hours 15 minutes it took to get to Orlando the week before!
Service began soon after departure and we were again provided with amenity kits - this time in small pencil case style cases - headphones and menus, telling us what we get to eat on our flight. There were again three dinner choices, and a small breakfast prior to landing in London.
I opted for the chicken korma, which was of an acceptable standard, however, the korma itself was not in proportion to the amount of rice being served. There were approximately two spoonfuls of curry and five or so of rice squashed into the tiny plastic dish. The meal also resembled anything but a korma. For a start, it was green in colour! And just like the outbound leg, the items listed on the menu were not on the tray. The dessert, which sounded quite tasty on the menu, was just an average vanilla mousse with some squirty cream on top. Not at all exciting!
With the meal and beverage service completed, the crew dimmed the cabin's mood lighting. That allowed passengers to rest as the aircraft continue the trek across the Atlantic. And for those who couldn't sleep (i.e. me), it allowed plenty of time to play with the entertainment system and to enjoy no end of episodes of Family Guy, The Simpsons and films such as The Inbetweeners and Contagion.
Around 90 minutes before landing, the crew served us another disappointing meal in a box - breakfast. I wasn't expecting anything fantastic, but I was expecting something a lot better than what was served. A cold, stale and dry croissant was served with butter and jam, a carton of orange juice and a strawberry yoghurt. Whilst the yoghurt was reasonably tasty, the croissant was not edible. Biting into the thing would surely have cost me a few teeth!
Even after our late departure from Orlando, we landed well ahead of schedule at around 7.10am (scheduled time was 7.35am) and the journey through the airport was very quick and problem-free. Clearing immigration took only a few seconds, and our baggage was already waiting to be collected by the time we reached the reclaim area.
All in all, it was another acceptable flight with Virgin Atlantic. They are definitely not the airline they once were, and I think that SkyTrax were right to re-rank the airline as a 3-star carrier back in July of this year. They say that the airline has declined in quality, which I am inclined to agree with.
Whilst not an unpleasant experience, I would almost certainly pay the extra £43 to fly with British Airways next time.
|Would you fly with this Airline again?||Yes|
|Does the passenger take regular flights (with any airline)?||Yes|
|Service marks (out of 10)||7|
|Flight on time marks (out of 10)||7|
|Comfort marks (out of 10)||8|
|Value marks (out of 10)||8|
|Date of Entry||Tuesday 13th of December, 2011|
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