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#961521 by mitchja
10 May 2023, 17:12
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
I booked this trip at the end of 2022 as I thought it was about time I went back to New York. Barring connecting via JFK, I was last there for a full visit back in 2018.

Choice of either flying direct from MAN or going via LHR - LHR won without any hesitations due to the much better airport offerings such as Clubhouse and drive-thru check-in etc.

Booked the VS9 outbound and the VS46 inbound. Both originally showed the A/C to be an A351. As often happens with JFK flights that changed (several times). I ended up getting an A339 outbound and an A333 inbound. VS send the full mix of A/C to JFK and change them often so don't book JFK for specific A/C configs. Whilst the A339 is a great A/C at the end of they, I'm not fussed one bit which A/C type I get as it's always the staff that make VS what it is, not the A/C they use.

At T-14 days, I caved and moved to 1 of the Retreat seats again (same £200 upgrade fee). Tried 1G this time. Having tried them both now; out of the 2 I do prefer 1G overall.

Did my usual and went down to London the day before on the train. Skipton to Leeds then Leeds to King's Cross LNER First Class. LNER are another one who don't change their First Class menus very often as they have offered their current menu for probably as long as VS offered their previous J menus - apparently it is due to change soon! Piccadilly line King's Cross to LHR T4 and then my usual Crowne Plaza LHR T4 overnight.

Parker Car's booked the following day to take me round to VS drive-thru for 10:30 the following day. The car turned up 30 mins early (the send text messages with link to track your drives progress; good job I was pretty much ready to go as it happened.

VS Drive-thru was very quick as no-one was waiting with just 2 other people arriving behind me. The agent was fantastic and a complete credit to VS. 3 or 4 people in front of me going through Upper Class Wing security which appeared to be operating as normal (May 4th was supposed to be day 1 of another security staff strike).

I was very warmly welcomed back to the Clubhouse. The clubhouse didn't appear busy and as I'd already eaten breakfast at the hotel I headed straight up to my usual spot in the loft. As the weather was nice, the roof garden was a pleasant place to relax. Whilst I was there I witnessed a couple of pax get caught smoking. They tried to say they had read it was OK online - they clearly couldn't read the 2 or 3 signs on the way up to the Roof Garden that are prominently displayed explicitly stating you cannot smoke or vape. IMHO they should have been kicked out of the Clubhouse. It's f'ing idiots like that end up spoil it for everyone else. Ex-smoker here (it will be 5 years in June) so I do know what it's like but there's a time and place and that isn't it and there's no excuse what so ever. Anyway; the money I saved by not smoking now pays for at least 1 round trip Upper Class flight each year for me. I know what I'd rather be spending my hard-earned money on :cool:

Service in the Clubhouse was as good as ever. I ordered a couple of things to eat whilst I was there and they all arrived very quickly. The VS9 was called around 13:45 and we were departing from gate 17 where G-VJAX was waiting to take us to JFK today. Said my goodbyes to the CH staff and headed to the gate. Nobody waiting when I got there. Turned out there were only 86 pax on todays flight. I was warmly welcoming at the A/C door. Upper Class was less than half full.

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As soon as I'd sat down win 1G, the FSM came and said hello welcoming me back as a Flying Club Gold member, as did another crew member.

A couple more pics of the Retreat Suite:

The buddy seat had already been pulled out so here's a pic of it in use. The back cushion bit can either be up or down. It's actually a good height to rest your feet on it (if you are tall enough to reach)

The buddy seat
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View from the buddy seat
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There's a storage locker to the left of the buddy seat were you will find the 2 extra cushions. Plenty of space to store other items as well.

No-one was seat in 1D as apparently that seat wasn't working properly (a few other seats also had issues during the flight but as the cabin was less than half full, pax were able to move to other seats). The suite divider wall had already been lowered so I left it like that for the entire flight:

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Your table is stored under the white section of the divider. It's a one-piece table that slides in all 4 directions and so can joins to the table in 1D giving you a large central shared table if required.

I'd already pre-ordered my meal; the cod, which was very nice. I also had the salmon gravadlax which was and the Pimm's summer pudding for desert which were also pretty good.

I visited to Loft a few times during the flight. Those loft seats are not designed to sit in for very long as they are not the most comfortable to sit in (I'm thinking that been done on purpose possibly?)

The Wireless charging points are hit and miss, especially with handset cases. I use an iPhone 13 Pro Max here with a standard Apple leather case on it and I really struggled getting my iPhone to charge. Take the case off and it charged straight away. The Bluetooth headphones connection works well with your seat and is relatively easy to set-up.

Ice-cream was offered during the flight. I watched a couple of films.

The afternoon snack was served 90 mins before out arrival. I had the cream tea which is essentially just 2 warm scones with jam and clotted cream.

The crew were all hard working and as good as ever on today's flight with a good FSM :D

We landed nice and early (scheduled was 17:45, actual was 17:03). Everything at JFK was super speedy today as I was getting on the JFK AirTrain at T4 at just after 17:25 to get the E line subway into Manhattan. The JFK AirTrain was the same old usual chaos with crowds of people trying to pay using the 4 or 5 working ticket machines. Staff just ended up waving people through so I ended up not having to pay (AirTrain is now $8.25 each way). The same thing happened coming home as well!

Stayed at the usual InternContinental New York Barclay hotel on Lexington Av which was as good as ever. My IHG status got me a 1 bedroom suite upgrade for the 4 nights I was there :cool:

I did a couple of the newer observation decks. Summit and The Edge. I booked The Edge City Climb which included a visit to The Edge and was amazing and well worth the ticket cost. It takes several hours and clearly not for those who don't like heights. You are made feel entirely safe the whole time. You get a couple of videos included as well.

The whole Hudson Yards area is relatively new and none of it was there last time I was in New York.

Another thing I can recommend and is completely free is is the High Line walk which one end also starts in the Hudson Yards area.

Summit was rubbish. I was not impressed by that at all. It was poorly organised with long lines and parts of it were also closed (the Ascent glass elevator bit). It was just trying too hard to impress with too many Instagram posters trying to look good and get likes.......sigh. Wont be doing that again any time soon >-( (I did get a partial refund on my pre-booked Summit ticket price due to the closed bit though). The only OK bit was the outdoor observation deck section which is actually only a very small part of 'the experience'.
#961522 by buns
10 May 2023, 18:29
Thanks for the detailed TR :-D

Our flight a couple of days later provided a similar experience in the Upper Class Wing and Clubhouse, but a totally different on board welcome ;-( (TR to follow)

The new seats look far more inviting and comfortable opposed to the 351

Have a great vacation and once again thanks for the pics and detailed TR

#961525 by mitchja
11 May 2023, 08:16
Sorry a couple things I forgot to mention.

1) Hot towels are back :) Not seen those for a long time on-board VS flights. Offered shortly after departure in both directions.

2) VS have finally fixed Apple Wallet boarding passes to correctly show priority status. They now show both TSA-Pre and Sky Priority status banners.

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