Hopefully a shorter trip report, the return journey following my first trip report.
This is a Trip Report from the Economy cabin
Food & Drink
Conscious of how early we arrived for our LHR-JFK outbound, we were keen, particularly given any return journey is a tad more depressing, to arrive at the airport 2hrs before departure. We were once again on the new A350 and the delights of Economy Delight (sorry for that one!). As the sun set on a freezing (highs of zero) but blue-sky day in New York, boarding commenced on time just under an hour before departure.
This is where the chaos ensued! I personally blame a misleading announcement/quiet tannoy. The initial announcement came for pre-boarding for those with mobility issues and young children. This alone led to what seemed like everyone getting to their feet and surrounding the boarding line. At this point the gate agent reiterated that this was pre-boarding and for everyone else to clear the boarding area and return to their seats. About 5mins later the gate agent began to announce priority boarding for UC, PE and Gold passenger, not noticing a wheelchair passenger who was sat amongst the crowd still waiting for their assistance in order to bored. Once again everyone seemed to surround the boarding area making subsequent official boarding calls down the priority rankings to resemble a game of human tetris. This led to a much more stressful boarding experience for all. This is a personal peeve of mine but I struggle to come up with a solution ot the issue that people are inherently bad at listening.
Despite the gate chaos, onboard was sea of calm and we were greeted onboard, soon forgetting our stresses. Another seemingly full A350 flight with a notable American presence including a school group. I am a sucker for moodlighting and at night the A350 was not disappointing. The Captain soon announced that thanks to another storm on the way, Storm Dennis this time, that we would have a rather quick (albeit not record-breaking) flight time of 5hr 30mins, expected to arrive c.1hr early around 5.20am. This however would come at the cost of some persistent turbulence (within my Top 3 worst).
An enjoyable flight save for two bouts of turbulence, the first lasting what felt like about 20 mins, the second about half of that. Whilst I am a fairly regular flyer taking 3-4 flights minimum a year I can’t say turbulence doesn’t still get me! The first bout in particular was prolonged and came mid-way through the meal service. Cabin Crew handled this very professionally and I couldn’t help but feel for them. I know if I were in their shoes I would have run back to my seat straight away. They however carried on service until the turbulence was deemed to be too much. After a nervous 10mins further (for me at least) the worst of the lumps and bumps eased before repeating about 2hrs out of the UK. The winds were definitely making themselves known and the tailcam perfectly captured this during the rather skilfull landing into a very quiet LHR, arriving at 5.18am.
Food & Drink
Dinner options consisted of 3, what I considered to be very appealing sounding plates 1) Chicken and Spinach Curry, 2) Pulled pork, mac &cheese and beans; and 3) Tomato & Basil Gnocchi. After much debate 2 of us went for the Gnocchi and 1 for the curry. The Gnocchi didn’t disappoint, whilst looking at someone else’s pulled pork this wasn’t the most appealing looking (although I can’t account for the taste). As well as no bread roll, which I’ve learned is normal nowadays, there was now no salad either. In traditional fashion however the GU dessert and the second portion I nabbed were the stars. We slept through breakfast due to the short flight time (only 3.5hrs remaining after meal service) and as mentioned before, the IMO enhancing head rest). This was the new normal - croissant and fresh fruit so not much to miss. I do think given lots of people tend to sleep through breakfast or don't fancy an economy style fully english this is a decent enough option. If I had a magic wand though I would change it to include granol/yoghurt and a pain au chocolat or other pastry.
One thing I noticed was no amenity kit or even just amenities on the seat (toothpaste/brush, pen, eyshades,socks). I’ve noticed over the years the policy for these changing. Given this was sa night flight though I would have thought this was fairly standard? And is certainly what most of the competition offer. Similar to the salad/bread roll that I questioned myself how big a negative they really were, I thought whilst appearing cheap, on the whole this wasn’t a big issue. I do though like to brush my teeth before arrival.
After what on the whole (excl. boarding) was another solid flight on Virgin the journey was somewhat overshadowed by my bag not arriving on the carousel. Considering the number of flights I’ve done over the years I suppose it was overdue, however still frustrating in the moment, especially when our other 2 bags made it just fine. I quickly completed the relevant admin at the Virgin Baggage Desk (believe this is all outsourced) but disconcertingly found out that ‘the bag was loaded in JFK but clearly hasn’t arrived on the belt here’. Like some kind of riddle, I queried what this meant and whether my bag was therefore still in JFK or somewhere here in London. The agent couldn’t say, but now with my details said they would be in touch. Long story short, the bag was later returned to me although (per my investigative skills) had appeared to have fallen off the aircraft/loading belt on arrival at LHR. The bag was quite severely damaged with the handle no longer extendable, with many tears and bits of plastic ripped off. An explanation and any kind of compensation/bag replacement, I am still waiting for.