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#930542 by linb121
25 Dec 2016, 20:41
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
This may be one of the worst flights I have ever taken, in any travel class on any airline.

It started out OK with my first time in the Virgin Clubhouse in JFK, although I was a bit surprised and disappointed with the spa policy - after a really cold spell in New York both my hair and skin were in need of rejuvenation, so I wanted to have the complementary hair treatment which would cost $40 if purchased, and I wanted to pay for an express facial ($20). But I was told that if I wanted both, then only the cheapest would be complementary and I would have to pay $40 for the hair treatment. So I opted to have just that as complementary and forego a facial treatment. I don't recall this policy being explicit and have never encountered if before at either the Heathrow or Gatwick Clubhouses. It also makes no sense, especially when demand for spa services was not that great on this occasion. However the food and drink and general ambience of the JFK Clubhouse was fine. I had a Redhead and a Bramble cocktail and a couple of snacks.

My flight was on Christmas Eve from JFK landing on Christmas Day back in London. I had checked a couple of days before we flew and there appeared to be lots of empty seats, but when we boarded the Upper Class was full and I overheard the women next to me discussing the fact that they had been upgraded. I suspect they were not the only ones as economy and PE appeared quite full too.

I was apprehensive when we boarded as there were at least four babies / toddlers in Upper Class. Two of the babies were at the front of the cabin, twins, and they were quiet for the entire flight although they appeared to be the youngest. However the toddler who appeared to be about 2 years old in seat 10 G did not stop screaming for nearly the entire flight. She was part of a large group who appeared to be an extended family, and the woman she was seated with, who I guess must have been her mother, made no attempt to pacify her. She only fell silent when the head of the cabin crew stopped and distracted her. On the one occasion she did settle for more than 10 minutes, another baby who was about 3 seats further back took up where she had left off. The woman in 10G did not appear to make any attempt to settle the little girl, who was only quiet when the head of the cabin crew or one of the men in the family group picked her up. But they only did this once or twice and quickly handed her back, which was when she started screaming again.

VS04 is a night flight, and in ordinary circumstances is a red eye with lots of business travellers on board - it leaves New York at 6.30 pm and lands in London at 06.00 am. This was Christmas Eve so there were no business travellers, but I imagine that Virgin would be handling a number of complaints from them had this been an ordinary week day flight. Most of the UC crew commented on the noise of this one child, but were unable to do anything about it.

I am not sure if this family were upgraded but the seats they occupied had appeared to be empty when I changed my seat two days before flying. However the noise would have been disruptive to other travellers whichever class they were seated in. No one in the rear section of Upper Class appeared to get any sleep at all, and everyone was complaining as we disembarked in London. I had a massive headache brought on by lack of sleep and the extreme decibels we were exposed to for the 6 hour flight.

I don't like to complain unless I can also offer a solution, and maybe when there are several day time flights on the same route, people with young babies and toddlers should accept that their children may be disruptive and could travel during daytime hours rather than night, when other travellers are wanting to sleep? Virgin Atlantic has flights on this route during the day. The free ear plugs were useless at combatting the noise.

I was not the only person who was on the flight who had a long drive ahead of them following disembarkation as no public transport was running on Christmas Day. I had to stop and sleep in the car and my plans for Christmas Day had to change because I had had no sleep.

Lesser problems on the flight include the fact that my table was completely jammed so I ate dinner off a tray, which I didn't mind, as I accept that some things can't be fixed when you are 30,000 feet over the Atlantic. But the seat area had not been cleaned properly and I found a used tissue in the seat pocket, and a chocolate bar wrapper and a dirty knife jammed down the side of my chair. I was also disappointed with the choice of films and TV on the flight, as it appears to have deteriorated. For dinner I just had a starter, parsnip soup, and the cheese course, both of which were fine. I also had a very nice cocktail the mistletoe cosmopolitan. The crew were great, although their taste in dodgy Christmas jumpers was questionable. But all they could do was sympathise with passengers about the extreme noise.
#930630 by LucyLu
28 Dec 2016, 12:43
Having been in a similar situation on an overnight UC flight from BGI earlier in the year, I can sympathise with you. We paid the extra so we could get some sleep and be fresh the next day, only to be kept awake all night by a 2-year old screaming the whole flight. Even with noise cancelling headphones I was still kept awake. I know people with children have just as much right to travel UC as anyone else, but the whole point of having a flat bed is to be able to sleep and it is extremely frustrating when you are not able to do that.
#930815 by tomthumb
02 Jan 2017, 18:07
I have to say it is the luck of the draw when it comes to parents and their darling offspring. My last flight from ANU had a toddler in UC and I was dreading a screaming kid, but they were as good as gold.
#931344 by linb121
13 Jan 2017, 21:50
Just to update - I did contact customer complaints at Virgin Atlantic to let them know what had gone on and how disappointed I was. I wasn't expecting a positive response so was pleasantly surprised to get a full response and apology and some Flying Club miles!
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