Written on: 23/07/2011
Over zealous agent at the Gatwick desk weighed our cabin baggage and said it was too heavy. We redistributed it to a carrier bag so we could get through security before re-packing in original handbaggage. Waste of time and somewhat unhelpful.
Elderly, careworn 747 was filthy inside, dirty seats and tables, ancient entertainment hardware and indifferent food. Left an hour late, but pushed back from stand on-time so good punctuality statistic for their records.
Return journey was on the new A330 and departed ontime from Orlando. Paid $80 for extra legroom but definitely a con as seats are adjacent to exit door and toilets, so noisy and used by other passengers to queue for toilets and as a walkway to cross the plane. Economy layout is 2-4-2 and seats are narrow, uncomfortable and it all seems very crowded. Entertainment system first class.
Crew were very good and handled a medical emergency with great professionalism. Flight diverted to Gander and all passengers kept fully informed by both cabin crew and from flight deck.
On this route Virgin is nothing more than a package tour airline pretending to be a full service airline. By price comparison with BA they have become a bit cheaper on selected dates so you can get a reasonable price deal, but don't rely on them for punctuality, avoid the 747's which are second-hand and beyond their use-by date, and treat the experience as less than an average package holiday standard with lots of children aboard, and toddlers, some of whom spend half the journet crying. Not a complaint, but it does get wearing for parents and fellow passengers.
Whatever you do, don't believe the hype of their advertising. Branson sold 49% of it to Singapore Airlines who must look on Virgin as less than cheap and cheerful. An undernourished airline, if ever there was one, living on a past reputation and falsely comforted by its own advertising.