Virgin Atlantic Economy Flight Review (LGW-MCO)

I recently embarked on a little “Jetsetting” adventure for a few days to the Sunshine State of Florida. Today I’d like to share with you my experience of flying in Economy with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick to Orlando International Airport.

Flight Information

Flight: VS015
Route: LGW-MCO
Flying Time: 9h15m
Aircraft Type: Boeing 747-400
Aircraft Reg: G-VBIG
Aircraft Name: Tinker Belle

Route Frequency

Virgin Atlantic currently fly to Orlando daily from London Gatwick (with up to three flights per day during peak times). In addition, direct services to MCO are offered from Manchester (daily) and from Glasgow on select days. The Belfast route ceases on September 3.

 

The Economy Cabin

All of Virgin’s 747 fleet that operates out of Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow were refreshed in 2012 at a staggering cost in excess of £50 million. The refresh saw the addition of new seats and the ultra-responsive Vera in-flight entertainment system.

The Economy cabin itself consists of 375 seats and is separated into “smaller cabins” with seats in a 3-4-3 configuration.
You’ll also find 33 economy seats in a 3-3 format on the upper deck. These seats are incredibly popular owing to their position on the upper deck in a very small cabin with storage bins beside the window. I was very lucky to be seated on the Upper Deck.

I found the Economy seats to be fairly comfortable and a huge improvement as to when I last flew with Virgin on an A340-600 in 2012. Now that was awful and the A340 still operates on some routes. All seats come with an ample 31″ seat pitch and USB power at every seat, hurrah!

Upon reaching my seat, I found a 250ml bottle of water, a red blanket (no surprise there), and a pack of headphones.

Inflight Entertainment

When browsing through the content available, I liked the fact you can also add items to your playlist to enjoy later in the flight, in addition to the making use of ever-popular functions such as the interactive map and destination videos. One of my personal favourites is the Travel Tip Catcher. This is where you can read and share travel times with your fellow passengers onboard. Who knows, someone may know how to maximise your time in the theme parks, or tell you about the chicken exit in the Tower of Terror!

You are also able to connect your camera, iPod, phone and other small personal electronic devices from where you can view your content on the screen. In a day and age where we are all practically obsessed with the battery life on our phones, you’ll be pleased to know it may charge some of your devices too. Saying that, you are only allowed to leave the device “plugged in” when you are using it; and it shouldn’t be used as a charging facility due to the risk of overheating.

Virgin were actually the first airline to provide all passengers with seat-back television screens, but did you know that they were the first airline in the world to use this cutting edge version of IFE. Additionally, they are the first British airline to offer SMS texting and email facilities onboard?

Virgin’s partnership with Aeromobile allows you to use your phone just like you would 37,000 feet below. The charges for this are very similar as if you were abroad. If you have data roaming activated then you are good to go.

WiFi in the sky

The entire Virgin Atlantic fleet offers WiFi connectivity which is available when you are above 10,000ft.
WiFi internet access on Virgin is a paid proposition and I’ve listed details of that below for you.
Boeing 747, A330 and A340 aircraft
Messaging Pass = £2.99 for duration of the flight (Does not support sending photos or videos)
WiFi Light = £4.99 for one continuous hour
WiFi Max = £14.99 for duration of the flight, with no data cap
Boeing 787 aircraft
WiFi Light = £4.99 for 40mb of data
WiFi Max = £14.99 for 150mb of data
Personally I think the prices were pretty reasonable. For the purposes of my leisure trip, I decided to try out the WiFi Light pass on my flight to Orlando (on the Boeing 747). It was simple to register following the instructions and the major credit/debit cards were accepted as a form of payment.
The speed itself was okay. To be perfectly honest it was one of the first times I had ever used WiFi in the sky; so it didn’t take much to impress me. As the industry continues to evolve I am sure we will see speeds increase in no time at all…
*On certain routes the WiFi may not be available during certain parts of the flight due to local restrictions.

Food & Drink

Virgin Atlantic offer a pretty robust food and drink proposition on board their flights and this trip was no different. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit their HQ in Crawley and learn about their food and drink offerings, which you can read about here.

Shortly after departure from Gatwick the crew passed through the cabin offering customers a drink from the bar along with a packet of Pretzels. Mmm. The savoury snack is very popular, there was outrage when another UK-airline removed them from part of the service. I’m pleased to say they are back now. Phew!

 

I love the little purple plastic cups that are used. As part of the airlines commitment to encourage recycling as set out in their Sustainability Report, a PA was made asking customers if they would like to retain their plastic cup so it can be re-used later during the flight. Good show VS is what I say!

After the first bar-round, the drinks are cleared away and it’s time for the main meal service. Yum!
I received a tray which featured a small salad, entree, cheese and biscuits and a gorgeous “mini GU” pud. There are a choice of three entrees to chose from – one which is vegetarian. I had Sausages and Mash which wasn’t too bad at all.

 

Mid-way through the flight, a little ice cream treat was offered – just like being in the cinema in the olden’ days…

Then around 90-minutes prior to our arrival into Orlando, it was time for some afternoon tea! It’s worth noting this flight was taken before the new Afternoon Tea service launched onboard, but it was still pretty good. I received a box which contained an array of treats, from some “Plane Crisps”, to a Nougat Bar, Sandwich, and some Fisherman’s Friends mints.

Overall, my food and drink experience on my recent Virgin Atlantic flight from Gatwick to Orlando was very good. It certainly raised the bar on my expectations from airline food, but there is always room for improvement.

Crew Service

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew are known for being a friendly bunch and I’m pleased to say it was no different on my flight. Every crew member I came across was polite and friendly; whilst going the extra mile to make the flight fun for everyone. As it was half-term, the crew decided to play a little game and encourage younger travellers to enter a colouring competition; whilst the adults were tasked with guessing the ages of all the flight and cabin crew members on board. It was 750 or something!

Overall

I enjoyed my flight with Virgin Atlantic and thought it was great value for money. Sure I did book a “good old package holiday”, but the airline are offering some great fares to the Sunshine State of Florida. Plus it was great to fly on a Boeing 747 again before they are sent to Victorville… that’s an airplane graveyard in the US of A.

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