Flying With: Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is the staple airline of the UK for long haul flights, mainly based at London Gatwick and Heathrow Airports. With Vivienne Westwood designed bright red uniforms, high class aircraft and glamorous destinations, it might be hard to find a reason not to fly with Virgin Atlantic at least once.
Virgin Atlantic graced the skies with their glamorous planes in 1984 and have grown from a small fish in a big pond, to being one of the biggest and well known airlines in the world. They continue to specialise in long haul destinations such as the Caribbean, America and China. At present, they do not fly domestically, nor short haul from the UK.
This airline review is post number 7 in my Flying With: series. You can find other airline reviews on my blog or by clicking here.
**DISCLAIMER** I am in no way affiliated with Virgin Atlantic, nor the Virgin group in any way and all opinions in this post are based on my experience only and no other influence.
Check-in with Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick Airport.
The route I was travelling on this flight was from London Gatwick to Montego Bay, Jamaica. We departed on Sunday 1st March and returned Monday 9th March 2020.
Gatwick airport was so easy to navigate. We flew from the North Terminal and used the shuttle bus on offer from our accommodation the previous night Acorn Lodge, Gatwick.
The shuttle bus drops you at bus stop 12, which is only a 2 minute walk from the main terminal. We arrived into the terminal and headed for the Virgin Atlantic check in desk and was greeted by a really friendly lady in the iconic red uniform. Friendly people on check in desks are usually rare, especially in London airports, so well done Virgin for this lovely lady!
Check-in was probably the quickest experience I've ever had - no ques, quick and efficient. I should probably mention here that I travelled right at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the UK. This may have been the reason why the airport was empty, or maybe it was because it was a Sunday.
We didn't do any check-in online for this flight but we did pre-book extra legroom seats for my husband as normal.
On Board a Virgin Atlantic Flight
Boarding the flight was actually a bit of a novel experience. Not only did we fly on the massive Boeing 747 (double decker) which was a novelty for me in itself, but when you step onto the plane they had really lively holiday music playing quite loudly which instantly lifted everyone's mood.
We found our seats and were so lucky to have a row of 3 seats for the two of us. Score! We were sat in the emergency row so my husband and I both had loads and loads of legroom. My Husband told the cabin crew who was sat opposite us that we were travelling for my 30th Birthday and she treated us all flight!
Once we were in the air we were treated to Champagne from 1st class which was so lovely and completely unexpected. We also had one of our meals from 1st class too - touches like this really made the flight special. Thank you to Amber! :)
The on board entertainment system was good, however, I must admit that it was not as good as the system on board the Qatar flight. But, it still included quite a few recent films and series - my husband watched series 1 & 2 of Netflix's "You" on the way there and back. I mostly slept both ways :)
The flight was mostly comfortable but the emergency exit seats have ridgid sides, meaning you cannot lift the arm up for extra room if you need it. I would say choose these seats with caution as they are quite narrow.
On Board Food Review
We were lucky enough to have a day flight going to Jamaica and a night flight for our return, meaning that I had chance to sample all meals including breakfast from Virgin Atlantic.
The food on the way was great, as I said previously we were lucky enough to have an afternoon tea from 1st Class. This included a chicken ceaser wrap, a small scone with jam and cream and some crisps. It was served on a proper plate with actual cutlery - what a treat when you're sat in economy class!
The main meal which was served around 3 hours into the flight was a birryani which was really tasty, a bread roll and soft cheese plus a Gu desert, which is pretty fancy.
On the way back, we ate another similar hot meal and then for breakfast, about 2 hours before landing, we had a bacon roll and some fruit with a coffee. All the food was of very high standard and very hot when served.
There is a very good selection of drinks on board too - beers, wines, fruit juices, fizzy drinks and water is freely available all flight.
Virgin Atlantic Cabin Crew
I have added this section into this post, as it's important for me to acknowledge the cabin crew on board both of these flights.
Cabin crew don't usually interact with you too much on a flight unless you need them. However, on both flights to and from Jamaica, the whole crew on board were fantastic. I don't know if it's because of where we were sat, but lots of the cabin crew took the time to ask us how we were, where we were going to, and make small talk with us which was really pleasant. There was a little bit of an uproar on our outbound flight too and the cabin crew, along with the cabin manager managed to calm the situation down without many of the passengers even noticing what was happening. Of course, I noticed because as a nervous flyer, my senses are heightened during a flight and I can't help but notice most things!
Landing and disembarking
The landing was smooth and quite uneventful, which is just how it's meant to be.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, disembarking from the flight took a little longer than it would usually. I am assuming that this was the ground staff doing extra bits and pieces before allowing people into Jamaica, however I don't know this for sure.
A Few Last Thoughts...
The moral of this post is for me to recommend flying with an airline or not - in this case, I would totally recommend flying with Virgin Atlantic! The only slight issue is the cost - as the airline flies long haul, you can expect to pay slightly more than other more budget airlines but in my humble opinion, it is worth every penny.
I would rate my experience with Virgin Atlantic highly and would rate them amongst one of my favourite airlines I've ever had the pleasure of flying with.
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