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#930856 by onelifeliveit
03 Jan 2017, 21:05
Ground Staff
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I stayed at the Bloc the night before; no faults there, great price and service. Availed myself of twilight check.in so that I was good to go in the morning. :D

I was up with the birds the next morning. I was so excited to try out the clubhouse that everyone talks about :-P . There were no queues at the premium security channel and I was all set for the clubhouse some 6 minutes later. I arrived at 6.18am to a fantastic welcome and one other passenger who had just sat down.

I ordered egg royale, fresh fruit salad and a pot of tea. Service was friendly and absolutely total professionalism for the 5 hours I was there. I had pancakes before I left, downed my SEVENTH and final redhead, picked up a paper and some magazines before making my way to gate 17 at 11.10 for my flight. I can't lie but I didn't want to leave as the staff waved me off and wished me a safe flight. I thought to myself that if service is this good in the cabin then I would have trouble turning right in future.

By the time I arrived at the gate, boarding was in full flow although it was not 11.30; the time they said that boarding would commence. The long queue moved quickly and I was surprised to be the third passenger in UC.

I was excited on entering, I was offered a drink but it wasn't the best champagne, I have often been offered another glass when travelling in PE but no second glass was offered. With 394 passengers on board, we were good to go about 90 minutes later. There wasn't a great selection of movies unlike my return flight so I listened to music instead.

Drinks and lunch were served pretty swiftly. I opted for smoked salmon and beetroot starter with mango salsa, beef fillet main and orange bread and butter pudding for dessert. The delightful cheese (more crackers please) and Port made the meal one of the best I have ever had on an aircraft. The beef fillet melted. Yummy !

Once lunch was cleared away, we were abandoned for what appeared to be hours. Some passengers went to the bar and discreetly helped themselves, much later a crew member finally brought out fruit and sweets etc. A few hours before landing, a passenger ordered pie and wedges. As we seem to have been left and some feeling peckish, other passengers started ordering snacks too. Where's afternoon tea?, I asked. I was told to let them know when I want it. Someone overhead and asked for their tea now and was then asked what they wanted, they said they want it as it is advertised on the menu. Thirty minutes later, I asked for mine, I was asked what I wanted and felt greedy :blush: in wanting it all so just asked for a scone which was warm and nice. I wondered why afternoon tea was not served as standard the way it is in other cabins. I didn't like how it was managed.

I also didn't like the fact that a passenger travelling in another cabin was constantly coming into the UC cabin to talk and guffaw loudly with her travel companion seated next to me. >-(

With the aircraft starting it's descent, I asked for landing cards which came as the seat belt light came on. The staff seemed bothered by my request. I understand they had only a few and although we in UC got ours many passengers didn't and the captain made his apologies saying that there are plenty cards in the airport, the groans echoed right through the entire aircraft.

With UC cabin at the front of the aircraft, we had to wait for PE behind us to disembark. Immigration was speedy but although I was travelling in UC, my bags did not come off with others and I waited forever for them to come through, panicking that for the 6th time using twilight checkin that my luck had ran out and my bags were still in London !!!! I was relieved when I saw them on the belt. In the past, my twilight checkin bags were often one of the first to arrive. Oh well.

Overall, I enjoyed UC for the amazing staff in the clubhouse. Whoever trains them needs to take over the training of the cabin crew. I also enjoyed being able to move about freely in the cabin rather than bothering the passenger beside me if I needed the bathroom, my own overhead locker, the food was lovely, the delightful cheeseboard and the small cabin. However, if this the best that Virgin offer then I was not completely impressed. The staff at times seemed uninterested and you felt like you were bothering them. I didn't like how afternoon tea was managed and felt that it is handled better in PE and E. It is a standard, so it should be offered and the passenger can choose whether they want it. I treated myself to upper class but honestly feel that clubhouse aside, PE represents better value especially if you are fortunate enough to have an empty seat beside you. UC was good but I wasn't wowed.
#930858 by marshy11
03 Jan 2017, 21:20
Thank you for your TR, a very detailed account.

I do love the CH at Gatwick and agree the staff are fabulous. As you say, if they could take that consistency in customer care onto the cabin it would be VS every time for me. I know the crews generally work hard and there have been cutbacks but it does seem a step too far (for me).

I also agree on the crackers. My last flight had enough cheese to fill a deli but only 4 crackers. I could have had half a pound of cheese on each cracker.

As for afternoon tea, my flight recently was "post staff reduction" and I also felt the service after the main meal was lacking. This is part of the cutback I fear.
#930859 by onelifeliveit
03 Jan 2017, 21:31
marshy11 wrote:Thank you for your TR, a very detailed account.

I do love the CH at Gatwick and agree the staff are fabulous. As you say, if they could take that consistency in customer care onto the cabin it would be VS every time for me. I know the crews generally work hard and there have been cutbacks but it does seem a step too far (for me).

I also agree on the crackers. My last flight had enough cheese to fill a deli but only 4 crackers. I could have had half a pound of cheese on each cracker.

As for afternoon tea, my flight recently was "post staff reduction" and I also felt the service after the main meal was lacking. This is part of the cutback I fear.

I agree with your response and cutbacks are probably to blame but I have had better service in economy class on other airlines namely Thai international. I saw a couple in the clubhouse who were travelling UC for their golden Anniversary, I think it was Barbados. The clubhouse staff fussed over them so much and made them feel extra special. I was glad that they were not on my lacklustre flight but I know they will rave about the clubhouse for years to come.
#930876 by buns
04 Jan 2017, 06:31
Thanks for the TR

Regrettably, your experience echoes many others (myself included) whereby the Gatwick Clubhouse goes the extra mile, whereas the staff reductions on board leave you far short.

A shame that that your experience was tarnished in this way and I hope you had a lovely stay

buns
#930881 by virginboy747
04 Jan 2017, 09:44
The crew in upper did not manage the afternoon tea service as its normally done. Usually about an hour and s half before landing everything is set up ready in the galley and the crew go round and take everyone's orders. Sounds like your crew couldn't be bothered which is unacceptable.
#930888 by LucyLu
04 Jan 2017, 11:39
I've flown UC 3 times now, twice on reward flights and once on a cheap upgrade on a holiday package and we decided that we prefer PE as it represents better value for money. My last flight was in economy on an exit seat on a A330 and that was even better value as I got the exit seat booking FOC, no-one sitting next to me and the door as a footrest!
#930896 by Janeclar
04 Jan 2017, 13:50
Another former UC traveller who has also decided that PE is far better value for money - the lack of a CH at Manchester together with the Gardet champagne were the final nails in the coffin. On my recent PE return from Orlando I slept better than I have ever slept on a plane :)
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