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#952674 by ColOrd
13 Oct 2019, 17:00
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So this was my second 350 flight and what transpired over the course of this experience was both my very very best and very worst experiences of VS. I was on the 154 not the 138 but the site doesn’t have the 153/154 rotations on.

So the tale of woe starts end of July when I had a nasty fall outside Leeds station and have damaged all of the ligaments around my knee. It’s left me unable to walk long distances and I have good days and bad days with it. I’m not gonna hide it it’s pushed me into feeling very depressed and this holiday, whilst not what was originally planned because of my knee was much needed!

Fort Lauderdale was nice and relaxing the hotel was lovely the weather for the most part was great, and it was all small and easy enough to get around.

I flew from FLL back to JFK via Atlanta and on the outbound was into JFK terminal 2, but the return ended up onto Terminal 4....gate B37! I could have cried as I know how long a pier that is! I spoke to the Gate Agent in JFK and asked for a buggy and they couldn’t be more helpful, one turned up (actually 2 did!) within 10 mins and I made it to bagage reclaim just as bags started arriving!

Stayed a night at the JFK TWA hotel which is incredible, it’s expensive but it’s an experience like no other!

Hobbles my way back to T4 on the AirTrain, through security which was pretty painless and a slow walk with a few rests to the Clubhouse. The walk took me about 20/25 mins.

Gets to the Clubhouse, welcomed back all good! I asked at the concierge desk what gate we were on...A3...wonderful no issues there whatsoever. I explained to her if if changes to a B gate can she let me know and I will need assistance. “oh you should have booked it in advance” I explained to her that every time I’ve ever flown with VS to LHR it’s always been the A gates and I can just about manage those so I didn’t need to book assistance.

Anyway I’m clearly annoying her so walks off into rapturous welcome back from a few of the JFK CH staff who I always have a great time with.

15 mins later the girl from the concierge desk comes and finds me “your gate has changed to B31 now” (across from the DL skyclub....a major major issue for me to get there from the VS CH)

I asked about assistance, she was insistent that it was my fault and she couldn’t book it “this late” ...this was 3pm for a 1940 boarding call, and then told me that I needed to walk back to duty free on the main shopping plaza and speak to someone there. I can only assume there must be a desk there for assistance, but as I said, that was gonna be at least a 20 min painful walk in current condition! I explained this to her she and she kept making excuses about “oh well it’s not our job, and we don’t deal with this and it’s Deltas terminal and Delta don’t help us we don’t have anyone to sort this out” generally I was made to feel like I was an annoyance to her.

Anyway had my treatment at 6.30 and then consigned myself to having to make this walk. I thought if I set off around 6.45 with the moving walkways it might not be so bad.

Anyway one last ask at the desk if they had sorted something. Anyway apparently they had! Excellent I didn’t have to waste my valuable Clubhouse time....no not quite I had to go downstairs and sit and wait as the buggy had to come straight away.

And I waited!

And I waited!

About 20 mins later I collared one of the assistance people who had been dealing with the Kuwaiti flight at A6....I assumed since the Assistance teams belong to the airport it was a fair chance that they would be able to find out....apparently not as despite wearing the same uniform as the guys on the B gates they are different companies?!

It’s now 1915 and i’m panicking cos I know this is gonna take me best part of an hour to walk it.

From somewhere the girl from the concierge desk showed up “i’m going to chase it down for you...” and eventually 5 mins later turned up with the buggy. I can only assume a last minute change of heart from her as she had never shown anywhere near that level of concern in any of the previous encounters.

Anyway the buggy ride took about 10 minutes down to the far end of the B Gates and the lady driving was more than helpful and I arrived just as boarding commenced.

The whole experience left me wishing for home, I felt really let down, I didn’t choose to have this injury, but I do choose VS as I trust them a lot, and the way I was made to feel was awful. I felt let down, vulnerable, I was sat there at A5 waiting for this buggy, that as it happens couldn’t come down that far and I had to be picked up from outside McDonalds. I lost pretty much an hour in the Clubhouse, an generally was treated like it was my fault and I was in the way!

I’ve managed railway stations with big assistance teams, and I’ve never been on the receiving end of it myself but the whole thing has left me feeling quite disappointed in this day and age how we are still treating people!

Anyway, I managed to board the aircraft without much more fuss....

End of Part 1, remember I said that this was the worst of times but also the best of them too...
#952675 by ColOrd
13 Oct 2019, 17:36
Welcomed on board with 2 glasses of welcome champers, I was one of 4 AUs on and the FSM came around to welcome us on both before and after take off , and if their was anything we needed or any thoughts on the 350s to let him know.

The crew, three of which all had the same first name, in Upper were amazing, they were attentive, read the cabin, asked how people wanted to be served or sleep etc. There was a bit of a mix.

I took a veggie main course, I genuinely can’t remember what it was but it was really meh and I left half of it!

I wasn’t feeling in the least bit tired so thought I would give the loft another go and ordered a cheese plate, and the Flourless (every time I read it I think it says Flavourless) choccie cake to the Loft.

Sat had a few drinks with the captain of a large container ship, and a banker heading to London for crisis talks with her client on Sunday. Was a very civilised hour, with the crew dropping in checking on us and joining our discussion.

Both of my fellow loft mates went to watch films, and me still feeling the insomniac that I was stayed at the loft and played with the screen and read a bit of my book. I was then joined by half of the crew, and we sat and a right old session chatting.

The FSM has been involved with the development of the 350 from the start and has been more involved with the process than actually FSMing, one of the crew had been with VS since before they had any aircraft and had worked the second ever LGW-EWR!

The FSM was very interested in my thoughts on the service and the overall design of the 350. It turned out we had a few mutual friends who had left VS to come and work for my company. He then furnished me with a load of VS merchandise and a card for my birthday!

We must have been chatting a good 2hours. One of the interesting things is that whilst VS used to discourage crew from sitting at the bar they have told and encourage staff to sit and chat with customers when the service and the opportunity presents to offer that personal approach.

Breakfast was served about an hour out of LHR, and I took an Almond and a normal croisant and a couple of cups of coffee!

The IFE system then went haywire and kept quitting out and restarting. It sorted itself just as we were on short finals so I got to watch the arrival in full HD glory!

Arrived onto gate 301, in the 380 pier which meant a nice short walk to immigration with plenty of moving walkways to rest my knee! Had hugs off the whole crew as I disembarked. Nice breakky in Revivals before the car service to Kings across for my train home!

So overall thoughts, I haven’t really reviewed my out bound flight, but the crew weren’t amazing, they were really slow as they were trying to pick up the aircraft and it really showed, they made little attempt to get involved or chat with the passengers.

The return couldn’t have been more different, so the critical element here is despite the aircraft, it’s still the crew that makes or breaks the flight!

350 - Seat I love this seat, I love having more space, I love the huge foot wells in row 1. I love the divider gives you a feeling of being enclosed without being claustrophobic.

The table - we have discussed to death.

The shelving at shoulder level ... slight missed trick here I feel in terms of should have had a roller shutter on so you could keep stuff on them for take off and landing.

I’m a bit confused with why the existing UC Seat you can have in any position for take off or landing, but the new one you must have it upright?

The Loft ... due to the mix of pax and crew on my outbound it wasn’t a great experience but was fantastic on the return and was the social space at its best! We did have some turbulence and it was nice not having to
go back! I’m sold on this concept now!

The technology! Now this has been the major let down of this aircraft! Pairing didn’t work (I had LUX out and POP back) to control the IFE. I got further on POP than I did on LUX. The bluetooth pairing at the loft didn’t work. The Wifi was incredibly challenging to get working! Once it was working the connection closes as soon as you locked your phone! The banker I was talking to was hardly a technophobe but she couldn’t get on line at all. I tried and managed to get her to the page to pay but couldn’t get any further! Overall it was a pretty shoddy experience coupled with the whole system IFE&Wifi going down about an hour before departure. VS need to address this pretty quickly!

Overall I LOVE the 350 it’s a fantastic aircraft with a great new VS product onboard. Some teething issues which they seem keen to resolve, but despite whatever type of seat the aircraft have ... it’s the crew that make it!!
#952890 by VS075
31 Oct 2019, 14:28
Just seen this thread. Many thanks for sharing and it sounds like you enjoyed the A350.

That's very poor about the assistance at JFK, I would definitely write in about that if you haven't done so already. Hopefully your knee will recover soon, though I appreciate these sort of injuries can take a long time to heal.
#953171 by CommanderB
19 Nov 2019, 19:54
Thanks for the TR ColOrd! Glad the A350 is stacking up.

Real shame about the JFK assistance, despite the wheelchairs & buggies being provided by an external provider, i'd have expected VS to do a lot more. I was unfortunate enough to go through JFK once, in a wheel chair after a serious injury in NYC and the experience was the exact opposite for me and I had not pre-booked either. It was very spur of the moment "get back home quickly" kind of situation. I hope you get some explanation from VS on this because whether its their responsibility or not, unhelpful excuses and attitude from staff really isn't on. If we wanted that, we'd book BA :D

Hope your injury improves soon.
#953175 by buns
19 Nov 2019, 20:29
I have just caught up with this, so apologies for being late to the party.

Before we talk of things VS, that TWA Hotel is on my bucket list :-D I know I might be financially poorer for it, but I will be enriched !!

Yep, when VS get it wrong then you can empathise with Ryanair, when they get it right, the ME 3 are left streets behind.

I will reserve judgement on the 350 as I suspect it might show signs of wear / BA competition in a short space of time

Thanks for an interesting read

buns
Virgin Atlantic

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