I would've liked to balance out my previous scathing Virgin Atlantic blog entry by providing a glowing report for the return journey. But alas, that's not to be. I can officially state that, in my humble opinion, Virgin Atlantic sucks and I will not be flying with them again if I can help it. Let me explain.
After a fairly uneventful, smooth drive to Heathrow we arrived at Terminal 3 to be greeted by the huge red WELCOME sign over the VA terminal. Before we'd left home we'd done "Step 1" of the check-in process, i.e. on-line check-in, entered all our passport details, printed out our boarding passes, and weighed and labelled all our luggage. Now according to the VA website, all that remained was "Step 2 - drop the bags off at the 'Drop bags' counter in the terminal". Simple enough I thought, but sadly no. We entered the terminal to be greeted by umpteen long lines of people queuing to "just drop off their bags". We waited while the slowest VA check-in agent in the world attached sticky labels around suitcase handles. We were in line for 40 minutes; What can possibly take them so long? I did half the work for them already for goodness sake!!
Once through this ordeal, we were faced with the joys of Heathrow. We went pretty swiftly through the hand baggage screeners into a chaotic mass of people waiting to pass through a teeny passport checkpoint. Why was it so small? This is Heathrow after all? All became clear as we squeezed ourselves through into the vastness of the duty-free area; obviously it was important to reserve at least 75% of the airport space for the duty free shopping. We snaked our way to our departure gate, on a route that was designed to take us past as many designer stores as possible, and one which could only be surpassed in its length by the Great Wall of China.
Although the plane was large and obviously new, the seats were probably the most uncomfortable I have sat in since I took a charter flight to Yugoslavia in the seventies. There was barely enough legroom even when I set my seat-back bolt upright with my chin resting on my chest. When I attempted to push the seat-back down, the seat cushion slid forward, forcing my knees into the back of the seat in front. My back was, I believe the technical term is, "in half" by the time we landed. As on the outbound journey, the food was minimal and pretty average. The snack before landing was a Brownie ; I'm glad to see that VA are doing their bit to help us all be more health conscious.
So all-in-all, not a great flying experience. It reminded me of how much I hate Heathrow Airport, and I for one will be seeking out airline operators who utilize local airports in the future.