We left for the Caribbean on the 25th of February from Gatwick airport. It was a beautiful, crisp sunny day in England, ideal for flying.
Virgin’s brand, tailored to precision, is perhaps one of the most iconic in all of aviation. As we stepped through the door of the Airbus A330-300, we were greeted by a warm and friendly crew, dressed immaculately in Virgin’s lipstick-red Vivienne Westwood attire.
A blanket, water, menu, pillow and headphones were ready and waiting on our seats of the Airbus, which was spotlessly clean and modern.
The aircraft can accommodate 266 passengers; 33 in Upper Class, 48 in Premium Economy and 185 in Economy. We occupied 46H and 46K, economy seats on the right of the aircraft, just behind the wing. I couldn’t help but notice that our seats were a little cramped compared to other long-haul planes we’d flown on. We purposely picked seats which were next to the washrooms, but unbeknown to us, this came with the added disadvantage of limited reclining space.
As we pushed back and taxied towards the runway, the safety video played on the small screens on the seats in front of us. I must say, this was the best safety video demonstration I’ve ever encountered. Virgin have avoided the yawn-a-minute corporate style presentation in favour of a series of trendy cartoons, which explain each part of the safety process by taking on different movie genres and accents.
Before the in-flight entertainment began, we were asked by Sir Richard Branson to find small change to place in an envelope for charity. An integral part of the Virgin brand and celebrity in his own right, the Branson ethos underpins virtually all of Virgin’s activities and I’d predicted he’d make an appearance somewhere in our flight journey!
The in-flight entertainment was second-to-none, featuring relevant and critically-acclaimed films such as The Martian, Black Mass and James Bond Spectre. I watched Amy, a documentary on the late singer Amy Winehouse and Cristiano Ronaldo, a documentary on the life of the famous footballer with the same title. My husband watched Straight Outta Compton, a film about the lives of five rap stars which revolutionised pop culture.
We travelled on a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok last month, which required passengers to note their dietary requirements during the check in process. I’m vegetarian, and wrongly assumingly the same rules might apply, my husband accidentally selected the lactose-free vegetarian option for me whilst checking us onto this flight. It turns out the in flight menu for Virgin features fantastic vegetarian options, such as meat-free curry and caramel chocolate ganache which don’t need to be ordered beforehand. Nonetheless, I rather sheepishly enjoyed the lactose-free vegetarian option made especially for me; dumplings with vegetables and bean salad, and dairy-free cheesecake, with the ubiquitous aeroplane side dishes of bread rolls and crackers with butter. My husband had chicken curry with mashed potato and broccoli. We were also served wraps, crisps, chocolate biscuits and sour cream pretzels outside of our main meal.
We arrived half an hour before schedule in St Lucia where the plane stopped to refuel and change crew. Ironically, St Lucia is planned to be our permanent home, but as explained in previous posts, my husband has training in Grenada before we settle there. The flight from St Lucia to Grenada was a mere thirty minutes and we were on the ground on time to meet our welcoming party.
Virgin are a lovely airline which were a pleasure to fly with. However, they do not hold some elusive level of magic aviation genius as suggested in their rather dramatic marketing campaigns. A similar level of service is offered by many of the larger carriers such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Garuda Indonesia but I’d definitely fly with them again.