Route: Hong Kong International to London Heathrow
Departure date and time of flight: 23:25pm in January 2007
Flight Number: VS201 (Callsign: Virgin 201)
Flight duration: 13h
Class: Economy Class
Airbus A340-600. There are four variants of the A340. The A340-200 and A340-300 were launched in 1987 with introduction into service in March 1993. The A340-500 and A340-600 were launched in 1997 with introduction into service in 2002. The A340-600 is the longest version in the A340 airliner family.
Punctuality of the flight:
The flight pushed back from the terminal on time, however as we were taxiing to the runway in use for take offs on that night (which at Hong Kong is about 2 miles away from the terminal building!), the plane had around a 10 to 15 minute wait at the threshold (the starting point of take offs). However, once the plane lined up on the runway for departure, the Captain had to bring the plane back again to the starting point because he lined up too early (another plane was on final approach and it would have been too close a call for take off!).
Any baggage issues:
No issues- the bags arrived on time and in one piece.
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
No check in issues. Everything went perfectly smoothly at Hong Kong.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Pen state pretzels (with Worcester sauce flavour) served with a choice of drinks (standard- tea, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, lemonade or Virgin Cola). There was a choice of red or white wine, and a selection of cognac and whiskeys as well.
Comments regarding the first meal:
Since this was a late night flight, the crew did not delay in distributing the evening meal- and so the dinner service commences only around 30 minutes into the flight- which was great! Dinner consisted of a choice of “Sweet and sour pork with boiled vegetables and rice” or “Cantonese style chicken with noodles”. I went for the former. The Pork was delicious! Must have been cooked fresh that evening. The rice and vegetables were well cooked too. Side dishes included Salad (Consisting of grated mooli (white carrot), tomatoes and lettuce), a soft bread (bun) with Anchor butter, and cream crackers with “Bell Pease Cheese”. The dessert consisted of a chocolate cake blended in with “rich fruit”; and a miniature “Toblerone” chocolate bar. The meal will filling, and perfect to eat on a long flight such as this.
Comments regarding the drinks service:
A second round of drinks were offered after the meal (and again consisting of “Virgin Cola!”)
Comments regarding the in-flight snacks (if any):
The in-flight galley was open throughout the flight. Passengers could help themselves to a selection of “Mcvities Flapjacks”, “Walkers Scottish Shortbread”, and “Nestle Muffins”, as well as a selection of complimentary hot and cold drinks (including Tea and coffee). Hot Pot Noddles were also on offer.
Comments regarding the second meal (if any):
Around an hour and half prior to landing at Heathrow (it must have been 4am in the UK!), we were treated to some delicious breakfast. There were two choices: An English breakfast, or a Chinese breakfast. I opted for the English breakfast, while my friend opted for the Chinese one. The only difference between the Chinese breakfast and the English one was that the Chinese breakfast consisted of Congee (Chinese porridge with pork). What I can share is that for a long haul flight, this was one of the better English style breakfasts’ I have had (other airlines offer similar meals too)- but the Virgin breakfast was filling.
The sausages tasted as if they were cooked minutes ago, and the bakes beans were just too good. The scrambled eggs, and the bacon was just perfectly cooked too. Accompanying the main dish was a pot of Nestle delight yogurt, a pot of fresh orange juice, and a French croissant.
Comments on the in-flight system (if any):
The in-flight system was working without any problems. All the channels were showing the same as it was listed in the in-flight magazine.
Comments on the professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew were very professional and polite. Just a normal flight, without any incidents.
Improvements that could be made: The seats! Please read below.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The A340-600 has a standard 2-4-2 layout in Economy Class. However, the seats on Virgin Atlantic are not comfortable at all. It was one of those seats which you have to kind of slide yourself forward when the back of the seat reclines. It felt like you are sitting on a wooden chair and not on a flight that is lasting for half a day (13 hours). Especially for a night flight, it was uncomfortable. I could not sleep the whole night.
Despite the recline for Economy Class seats being standard as per the industry, it was the quality of the seat that really mattered. That being soft and seemed to be of the same kind of seats passengers are treated to on Virgin trains in the UK (for real!). In other words what I saying is that everything else about the flight was great except the seats. Yes, you can sit on those seats quite comfortably maybe for a medium haul flight, however for a 13 hour night flight it was not a good experience.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 8 (the quality of the seats let down the flight)
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