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Anonymous23 Aug 2013
I flew with Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red service from LHR to EDI on Friday 23rd August 2013.
I had checked in online, received my boarding pass via my smartphone and stored it in the Passbook app. I didn’t travel with any luggage other than carry-on, so when I arrived at LHR T1 at 05:30 for the 06:50 flight I proceeded straight to the departures area.
The security check was busy, for what was quite an early time on a Friday during school holiday time. The queues moved smoothly and it took about 10 minutes to pass through to the departures area.
While I’m a Silver card holder for Virgin, that didn’t give me access into the lounge, so I passed a few minutes in the departures shopping area before the gate was confirmed (as 8). I do think that Virgin should consider offering lounge access to Silver card holders (as BA do), but then the Virgin (contracted) lounge in T1 is not a patch on the one in T3, so I wasn’t too worried about how to occupy myself for the short wait.
I visited WH Smith to pick up a paper and copy of Airliner World. Note that if you buy the Telegraph you get a free bottle of Buxton or Evian water, a good deal even if you don’t read the paper!
I then picked up a coffee and pastry from Cafe Nero, knowing that there would also be a snack offered on the flight.
At 06:05 the gate was confirmed as 8, so I proceeded through the secondary security check to get to the UK and Ireland departures area. It seems odd that an additional level of security is applied for internal flights when one would expect more stringent security for international passengers.
The secondary screening was busy and it took a good 5 minutes to pass through. There were a couple of international transit passengers (Korean/Japanese) who were worried about missing their flight to Dublin, so a few of us in the queue let them through first.
There was a short wait at the gate before boarding commenced at 06:20, with people with disabilities and parents with children boarding first, followed by people from the rear forwards. I was in seat 3A so got up to board in the final wave, but after being seated there followed plenty more people who had not been at the gate and looked like they had run for the final call, including a STAG party in fancy dress!
Since this was my first flight on Little Red, I noted the pleasant pink/purple lighting and comfortable purple leather seats.
Everyone was on board on schedule and we pushed back on time at 06:50. The plane was fairly full, probably 80 to 90%, hard to judge from sitting at the front but there was a spare seat between me and the other passenger in our row. I wondered whether this was because I/we had some status with Virgin or just good fortune.
The announcement from the flight crew (pilot/co-pilot) was very quiet and I couldn’t easily hear what they said. The announcements from the cabin crew were perfectly audiable.
It was a long taxi from the stand to the runway 9R, which was being used in mixed mode as we waited our turn for take-off. While waiting we saw a BA A380 take off, such a graceful plane for its size and I’m looking forward to a flight to LAX in December on the beast.
We eventually took off at 07:20 and remained at quite a low elevation before turning over the top of Wembly Stadium and then asscending to the cruising altitude.
The cabin crew (4 off, 2 front, 2 rear) were very polite and unusually were all male on this flight. They started the inflight service about 10 minutes into the flight when near cruising altitude.
We were offered a bacon roll (with ketchup or brown sauce) and a drink of our choice (tea/coffee/soft/alcohol). I chose an orange juice as despite my travel being for a STAG do and there being alcohol on offer I needed to work when I arrived (from a suitable free wifi zone/coffee shop) and most of the other attendees wouldn’t be arriving until later that afternoon.
Rather annoyingly the person in the seat in front of me had almost immediately reclined his seat fully and closed his window blind after take-off, but given I’n not the tallest person in the world there was still room for me to read my magazine (catching up on other airline news), to eat my snack and drink my OJ.
We landed into EDI at 08:15 and after a short taxi we arrived on stand at 08:20, 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
The cabin crew closing remarks were polite and concise and also made special mention of the Edinburgh festival and the STAG party at the back of the plane.
We disembarked into the departures area and it was a short walk to the exit where I caught a bus into the centre of Edinburgh. The busses leave every 10 minutes, are clearly signposted and cost £6 for an open return ticket. The journey to Waverly station takes about 30 minutes.
Overall a very smooth flight, on schedule, politely managed and efficently processed. The only negative was not being able to hear the pilot’s announcements.
However, despite all the positives, I’m not really looking forward to my return flight as it is at 06:30 on Bank Holiday Monday after a weekend of debauchary. Nevertheless I’m sure Little Red will look after me and perhaps I’ll have a Bloody Mary as a hair of the dog!23 Aug 2013