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#934649 by Sealink
25 Apr 2017, 16:15
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
So, you may recall that Virgin had an amazing one-route-one-day sale way back in November last year.

If you don't, it was £1096 rtn in Upper to Chicago. I decided to bite the bullet, but for my dates, there were no direct flights (and in fact, the direct route has been dropped - a real shame.) and given that I am now an anxious flyer I wanted to fly on a more modern plane internally in the US. So that meant flying via Atlanta.

It turned out to be quite fortuitous as it's a nice long flight, changing at Atlanta was a breeze, and it would lead to my first ever US domestic flight!

There were to be some dramas with the booking on the way - I posted about them here, and at one point I started booking BA flights instead as VS were annoying me so much.

It all started... (plays dreamy harp music)...

...when I asked my friend if she would be willing to go to Chicago. Unfortunately, by this time the super cheap fare had disappeared, but still, I had made a commitment, so that was that.

Second issue: two days after my booking, the connecting flight no longer appeared on the VS website.
Strangely, I could book it on the DL internet site. So, booking made, carefully ensuring that we were on the same flight, the booking was confirmed.

Nothing more to do, except call VS and DL to link the bookings. Easy.

A few months later, I received an email from DELTA regarding my pals booking. There had been a schedule change on the inbound flight, and the connection was no longer valid. Not to worry, they have reprotected my pal. ATL-JFK-LHR all on Delta. I log into Virgin to see my booking, Virgin have an alert to advise of a schedule change, but I have to call them to change. There now begins what I hesitatingly call a nightmare. I don't like hyperbole (I've told you that a million times!!!) but my goodness VS tested my patience.

They couldn't help with the DL booking. And DL couldn't help with my booking.
There was a schedule change because DL realised they could get more revenue from other passengers (honestly, that's what VS told me.)
They eventually, after about 90 minutes of phone calls (75 of those minutes being on hold) got us back on the same flights.
Only for, at regular intervals, the bookings to revert to the initial, now unworkable connection, and for DL to action a re-route, with VS playing catch up.

Each time I called, I was told that the bookings were not linked.
Each time I called, I asked could the bookings be linked.
Each time I called, I was told that the bookings were now linked.
The bookings were never linked.

I even checked BA direct flights as by this point I thought about cutting my losses, and just going to the dark side.

Then, a brainwave. While at the Clubhouse for a trip to Boston, I approached the desk there and explained the situation. In about three minutes they sorted both flights, and give me a printed itinerary for each booking.

About a month before the flight departed, I received another ntoification of a schedule change - yes - I was back on the unworkable connection at Atlanta.

Shouting at Virgin over Twitter, they assured me that there was an error on the website (!!!) and I was definitely on the same connection as my friend.

I decided not to look at my booking after that.

Online check-in opened and while mobile boarding passes were not available, I was able to collect a paper one at the airport.

I tend to stay over at the Ibis Styles these days as it avoids very early journeys to Heathrow from the other side of London.
The Ibis was fine as usual, and the next morning we jumped in an Uber to T3.

I always love the Virgin side of T3 - it's a very welcoming sight!

Check-in was fairly quick - I don't know what it is but I always end up behind seriously slow passengers at the Upper Class bag drop. This wasn't really an issue today as we were there early, to enjoy all the Clubhouse had to offer.

Also as usual, security was quick. Virgin's private security channel is really amazing and a feather in their cap.

Doddled through the duty free maze, and ended up at the steps.

It's always interesting to see the Clubhouse through other passengers eyes, especially when you explain that all the F&B is complimentary.
We had a lovely breakfast, and then sat down by the windows overlooking American Airlines apology!
We were checked on regularly and the overall atmosphere was busy, yet still sedate.
The building work where the library used to be is finished, and it is now more dining tables, but feels like a natural extension.



Grey Goose Lounge

Also popped outside, for the first time ever.
The weather wasn't really conducive for 'plane spotting!

We left the Clubhouse on the first flight call as I wanted to maximise the time on the plane, and to avail of the priority boarding. Well, you've got to!

I was somewhat dismayed to discover we'd be on an A340-600, much preferring the seats on the A330 and 787.
However, my memory must have been playing tricks on me, as the seats were very comfortable.

Welcome drinks were served (water for me) and if I recall there were 250 pax on board. Upper was full.

At take off I spied at tiny FlyBe Dash8 next to a 747 :cool:

I can't remember if I ordered a special meal or not, and the crew said no special meals were loaded. Whether VS let me down, or I let myself down, I can't remember. But I found the actual meal very nice.



Sinful dessert (key lime pie)

Service was lovely, and I went to the bar which was quite busy and had some nice chats with other passengers. Two of them were flying Virgin for the first time and were really impressed, having previously been Delta fans. That was nice to hear, and I could see why they felt like this: the crew were lovely, and nothing was too much trouble.

I had a burger at the bar later, and then a scone, before going back to my seat to watch the end of Bad Moms.

So, it was a happy Sealink and friend who arrived in Atlanta, slightly full of trepidation at my first US connecting flight, and of course, my first domestic flight.

US Customs was a breeze, (I have Global Entry) but that wasn't working properly; so a very friendly customs agent helped me. I found everyone in Atlanta Airport to be friendly - I had been advised on the plane that I would notice a difference compared to New York and Boston.

On to the DL lounge for our connecting flight to the Chicago - a simply fantastic city.

And finally: the moral of the story is: avoid separate bookings!
#934665 by Bretty
25 Apr 2017, 22:13
Thanks again for another great TR, glad it all worked out but gosh, all that would have stressed me right out! Sounds very much like on the day everything was as it should be and I'm pleased you had a great experience and your friend too.
Thanks for sharing.
#934671 by SlimpyJones
26 Apr 2017, 09:42
Great report, glad to hear of a positive experience. CH looks good after the refresh. Was it fully done during your visit or were there still bits boarded up? I'm due back in 27 days time. Not counting or anything. :P
#934673 by mitchja
26 Apr 2017, 10:20
I believe all airlines (and hotels) do when they they say they 'link' different bookings is make a manual note of the other booking reference in each booking. There's not much else they can do.

I've had many issues with IHG and linked bookings even with 2 IHG bookings at the same hotel with consecutive dates.

I use the IHG Ambassador free weekend night vouchers you get once a year and you can't book more than 2 nights in one go with this voucher and so to stay longer I always have to make a separate booking at the same hotel on consecutive dates. It never works and always causes confusion/issues even when they say they have linked the bookings together so it's not just VS/DL that have this issue!
#934682 by buns
26 Apr 2017, 19:19

Thank you for a super TR.

Your snaps of the Clubhouse do seem to indicate the increasing of capacity, but as long as service remains the same.....

Glad you had a grat on board experience

#934761 by tomthumb
29 Apr 2017, 01:39
Great TR and glad it all worked out fine in the end - but my what a drag
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