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#933795 by buns
26 Mar 2017, 17:12
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
Firstly, sincere apologies for the tardiness of posting this TR - since returning from Florida I have had the most viscous of chest infections that has laid me low for more than a week.

Anyways, to the TR, the sub title of which must me "Disappointing lack lustre sandwiched between two elements of superior excellence".

This was to be our first trip to the new Terminal at Gatwick and it was difficult to contain our excitement following splendid TRs here on V Flyer - enhanced by some very tempting photos ;-) Mr Tristar duly arrived just before the appointed hour and we were quickly in the Mercedes Mini Bus (there was only two of us mind) and on our way to Gatwick. Twenty minutes later and we pulled up at Gatwick North. I am gong to put it down to the fact that things are new and were in a mini bus that we were dropped off opposite the Premier Inn rather than up the ramp. However, this is no real issue as the escalator takes you up to the first level and a lift to the second meant that within a minute we were walking through the Terminal Doors to Zone A and to the UC Check in.

A very pleasant experience (with the usual "you're early"comment) armed with the sticker adorned boarding pass we were through the Premium Security Channel in no time in to what is really a dismal airside area and IMHO in urgent need of some TLC to bring it up to the South Terminal's standards.

The Clubhouse is essentially in the old BA Lounge pavilion area and directly above the No1 Lounge. Welcomed immediately upon arrival by the same staff who manned the door at the South Terminal - I should perhaps explain here that as you exit the lift, you turn right for the V Lounge and left for the Clubhouse - albeit each of the entry podiums are not visible to each other.

Given a quick tour, we could see how light and airy the new place is and (as we were later told) some of the regulars have not been so keen as there are no little hideaways :) We thought we would try and maintain our usual routine and at first took a table in the dining area adjacent to the bar. This allowed to see both the apron and the comings and goings of the Clubhouse ;-) One of the benefits of the new facility is the kitchen is now bigger and is shared with the V Lounge so fried eggs are now available!! After a bit of brekkie and the required splash of some decent Lanson Champagne, we retired to a corner plot (and I think the same place as Dickey D :cool: ) and watched the staff there go about their daily business. One point to note is there is no longer a shoeshine service :-( Like many others I will miss the chats with the various guys who used to provide the service and i know the staff there equally miss their presence.

One other interesting point is the Spa is now opposite the entry podium and tucked away from view from the main Clubhouse. Again the usual staff were there on hand and were disappointed to learn Mrs Buns was not feeling 100% so had declined her usual treatment, but both came up to where were sitting and wished her well. All in all i was pleased with the new facilities even despite the lack of a shoeshine man (but i will be writing to Crawley Towers to point out the error of their ways!!). I do think that as the spa is not immediately visible, new passengers are failing to notive the service.

Being unsure of the layout of the North Terminal, on first call we bade our farewell and made our way to the Gate. As per normal, we picked up the bottle of water before boarding (such a cheapskate move if you ask me) and straight into our seats at 19 A & C.

Boarding was completed very quickly and the reason some became apparent as there was a total of 135 (YES 135) passengers on board :-O Not surprisingly, push back was early and the 747 lifted off half way down the runway.

Now, you would have thought with UC full, PE 50% occupied and Economy virtually empty (with the exception of the bubble which was full!!) service would have been a priority. But hey no, it looked like the FSM had told the crew to sit back and relax and whilst some engaged, others seemed simply disinterested. No recognition of status, no amenity kits distributed and the galley below the stairs left unmanned.

I posted at the time the March cycle PE Menu and whilst the food was good, the service was anything but.

Watched La La Land and have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it (must be the old movie buff in me) and VS are very good at showing Oscar Movies at this time of the year.

Afternoon tea was again a disaster service wise and i appreciate that being in the last row can sometimes mean choice may have run out, but the CC simply did not grasp how to deal with things.

Being the last VS 747 to arrive at MCO and with us being over half an hour ahead to schedule, I was dreading arriving at MCO (even though we would be first off). For those of you who have visited MCO before, you will know after leaving the jetway you walk down a corridor before going over a "hump" and entering the Immigration Hall. Up and till now i had never taken much notice of the frosted panels on the right as you go down the corridor. On this occasion, as there is clearly some works taking place the area behind the frosted panels had been opened up and was a mass of tensa barriers to go back and forth before getting to the Immigration machines. Fortunately, the area was completely empty, so whilst having to walk backwards and forwards (no-one dare cut through!!) in a few minutes we were in an anteroom going through the automated process before walking over the hump into a deserted Immigration Hall to meet a rather pleasant immigration officer and quickly picking up our bags. Only half an hour between getting off the plane and getting to the Alamo Garage - a truly superior experience!!

So all in all, a solid trip let down by a lack lustre FSM. As my return flight revealed, when the FSM is on the ball, VS cannot be beaten

Thanks for reading

#933797 by Traveller2
26 Mar 2017, 17:39
You are lucky to be able to use the UC Lounge in North Terminal because as you so rightly say, it is a dismal place to wait for your fact, I think "dismal" is far too kind a word!
You certainly did well at MCO!
#933809 by Amo
27 Mar 2017, 06:03
Thanks for the TR Buns - sorry to hear you have been unwell - hope you are on the mend now.

It's great to hear you got on so well with the Clubhouse!

There is really is no excuse for the service on your flight - less than 150 people on board and you really should be falling over eager to help CC!!
#933810 by hiljil
27 Mar 2017, 07:12
Thank you for the TR. At least overall you had a good journey but what a shame that a major part of it was disappointing. However, your spirits must have lifted at the sight of an empty Immigration Hall !

Do hope you are now fully recovered.
#933820 by ratechaser
27 Mar 2017, 12:39
Thanks for the TR. This Sunday will be my first VS flight from the north terminal, so good to be warned that it's a dismal place, especially as I have no CH access these days ;-( At least with the south terminal, there were a few places worth having an early coffee/breakfast in...

Oh well, will just have to hang around the Hampton buffet until the last possible minute... There are worse problems to have...
#933826 by ScoobySu
27 Mar 2017, 18:34
Thanks for the TR Buns. I hope that you are now feeling much better.

It's so disappointing to hear that the crew were not up to speed :-( but what a result on an empty immigration hall at MCO!!!!
#933938 by tomthumb
29 Mar 2017, 20:02
Thanks for the TR and am I grateful we managed to grab some G's for our forthcoming trip to BGI. Shame about the CC there is no excuse for that in my humble view.
#933989 by horburyflyer
31 Mar 2017, 19:56
Thanks for the TR buns. Shame the FSM didn't inspire to ensure the experience onboard was magic and sparkle. You really would think by now that VS would understand, if not just from our feedback (when the FSM fails to deliver) but all other Vflyers, how vital this element of the customer experience really is.

I've been on the VS75 and VS74 in the last week (the VS75 had three FSMs on board - one came and gave me hug (as I have flown with her a few times) even though she was leading the service in Y, another came back (she was working in the UC galley) personally to say how thrilled she was I was back on board and how nice it was to see me again, even though we have flown only once before together and a new FSM in post due to the MAN expansion (the actual FSM for the flight) came along and introduced himself, welcomed me back my name and told me to ask for anything at all.

This was in addition to the welcome from the UC CSS who was super. Some may think that was over the top but it cost them nothing, made me feel great and got the flight off to a great start as it was done before we had even taken off. Service was top notch throughout.

On the VS74 we had two FSMs on board - the UC CSS and FSM working in UC galley came along and welcomed me back, they were lovely. The actual FSM for the flight said nothing and he was new in post too so not off to a great start. Some may say it wasn't needed, and maybe it wasn't, but it shows the differences between two flights in less than a week and the wider point being its just not consistent.

Thankfully in this case the FSM didn't affect the service which it can and often does!

When VS are at the top of the game (usually down to a fab FSM) they cannot be beaten....oh and by the way we had 101 pax (YES 101!) on the VS74.

#933999 by buns
01 Apr 2017, 07:24
horburyflyer wrote:

When VS are at the top of the game (usually down to a fab FSM) they cannot be beaten....oh and by the way we had 101 pax (YES 101!) on the VS74.



Thanks for the reply - I have to agree that VS cannot be beaten when it all comes together, but let themselves down badly when it does not.

An article in the Business section of the Times today talking of how Norwegian is now the upstart rival with VS in thier sights.

The senior managment at VS have to realise thier USP is the service and they must know thier weakness is the consistency of the FSMs

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