Hi everyone! Welcome to the second leg of the Winter 2016-17 travel series! Well, after a nice couple of days exploring London and catching up with the family, it was time for me to head back to New York flying on Virgin Atlantic. I have to say, this trip was one of the best trips that I've ever been on and just as I predicted, I had an amazing time! Even though it was a bit cold, it was worth it as I finally experienced the Christmas season in London. It's amazingly beautiful, especially with the visit to Winter Wonderland which is a must-do during the season. Anyways, without further ado, let's get to this report! ;)
So, the original plan was to arrange for the chauffeur service from Virgin Atlantic to pick me up so that way I could go through the Upper Class terminal and enjoy the facilities. However, my relatives were keen on seeing me off. So, I ultimately went with them since I couldn't resist such a sweet offer! Anyways, it was a 20 minute drive to Heathrow Airport, and there was hardly any traffic while on the way. We made it at around 12:00 PM, which gave me just enough time to do everything such as checking in, going through security, and spending time at the lounge.
Heading towards the terminal through the underground entrance
Terminal 3 Forecourt at London Heathrow Airport
Time to check-in!
The process was very smooth, with the total time of 5 minutes.
Before I knew it, I entered the Upper Class wing which I missed out. However, I was glad that I was able to enter and see what it was like. Also, security was really quick!
Once I passed through security, I found myself at the extensive duty-free area to check out some good deals. Afterwards, I finally made it to the airside
Time to do some sightseeing around Terminal 3 before I head to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Now, time to head to the lounge
Lounge area and entrances
List of lounges and directions
Before I headed to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, I thought I'd head back to my roots for a little bit and check out the entrance of the recently-renovated CX lounge!
Hopefully I'll have the chance to explore the lounge in full detail soon!
For now, let's try the Virgin Atlantic lounge!
Just like every lounge, it's accessed through a staircase or an elevator. I chose the former
I had high expectations for this lounge, and it met every one of them!!
Few shots of the lounge
From a first impression, it felt like entering a new dimension. I mean, it was one of the best airline lounges I've ever been to! This lounge is quite spaced out, has a variety of seating area, and a ton of amenities such as pool tables, salon, as well as buffet or à la carte dining!
After exploring the lounge, I eventually found a seat next to the bar area as it was quite crowded today.
Then, I decided to order a glass of champagne as a perfect end to my holiday in London
Menu in the lounge
Let's see what's there to eat!
Once again, I got myself a light meal prior to my flight. This time, I opted for a caesar salad
After spending less than an hour at the lounge, I finally headed towards the gate
I have to admit, it was quite a long walk!
Finally making it to the gate area
Gate 16 holding room
Plane to JFK: G-VGAS (this is the same plane that brought me to LHR and is now flying me back home), with a special appearance by British Airways Boeing 787-800, G-ZBJB, which had just arrived from MAA as BA36
It took about about 20 minutes for the gate to open, primarily due to all passengers to get through secondary security. I could tell that the flight was going to be full today.
I love priority boarding! ;)
Some pre-flight information: Date: 3 January 2017 Airline: Virgin Atlantic Flight Number: VS 45 Route: London (LHR) - New York (JFK) Aircraft: Airbus A340-600 Registration: G-VGAS Distance: 3440 miles Scheduled Departure Time: 2:35 PM Actual Departure Time: 3:03 PM Scheduled Arrival Time: 5:45 PM Actual Arrival Time: 4:56 PM Flight Time: 8 hrs 10 mins Departure Gate at LHR: 16 Arrival Gate at JFK: Remote Stand 61
Upper Class cabin
My seat, 12A
The narrow legroom
Menu and amenities found as soon as I boarded
Pre-departure beverage: Orange juice
Menu for today's flight
View from my seat: a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-900, G-VCRU, which will serve as VS11 to BOS along with the view of LHR's iconic air traffic control tower
I excitedly took this photo as soon as I spotted a Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER, B-KQZ, which arrived from HKG as CX257.
Prior to pushback, the crew were going around the cabin taking orders for the upcoming lunch service.
I remember the pushback occurring at around 2:45 PM that afternoon. I could tell that it was going to be a long taxi to the runway, but it gave me more time to see if I could spot some planes!
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-900, G-VNEW, which will serve as VS41 to SFO
Emirates Airbus A380-800, A6-EES, which landed from DXB as EK29
Terminal 2, which is fairly new
Two Aer Lingus Airbus A320-200s: EI-DEJ and EI-EDP
Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER, C-FNNU, which will serve as AC855 to YVR
Got a lot of tails here: Avianca Boeing 787-800, N792AV, as AV121 to BOG Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER, ZK-OKO, as NZ1 to AKL via LAX British Airways Airbus A380-800, G-XLEF, as BA209 to MIA Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350-900, ET-ATQ, which will prepare to go back to ADD this evening as ET701 Air Canada Boeing 787-800, C-GHPV, which will head back to YYZ this evening as AC859
Taxiing to Runway 27L
Etihad Airways Airbus A380-800, A6-APG, preparing to go back to AUH as EY20
We finally took off half an hour behind schedule
Sights of Britain
A beautiful sunset
Thanks for everything, London! See you soon!
Planned flight route
Surprisingly, the captain finally came on with his pre-flight welcome as soon as we reached cruising altitude, apologising at first about the late departure as this aircraft had arrived late from a previous destination, but had promised us that we would make it to New York City on time.
I headed on to the bathroom with the amazing mood lighting
Once I got back to my seat, I was time to explore the inflight entertainment!
After browsing through the entertainment selection, I started my list with yet another comedy, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates!
Before I knew it, the crew came around with drink orders. I settled for a glass of Coke with some kettle cooked chips
Table setup. Note the interesting design of the salt and pepper shakers
The appetiser: Halloumi salad. It was not that bad
For the main course, I went for the Louisiana styled crab cakes with salad, which were actually better than I expected.
For dessert, I decided to get some chocolate cake (another one of my favourites)
To end the lunch service, I ended up getting some cheese, crackers, and fruits. One of the cabin crew noticed me taking pictures, knowing that I'm an aviation geek. I remember him telling me "This setup will look great for your review!" ;)
The whole service didn't take too long, as the crew cleared out the tables within half an hour.
Once I was done, I decided to check up the progress of the flight
Right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
Bar area, which was pretty much deserted.
One difference about this flight was that this flight had a few bumps of turbulence and the seat belt signs went on and off during the flight, compared to the inbound flight to London where it was smooth throughout the entire journey. Nevertheless, we were making good progress in terms of the flight.
Since I couldn't really sleep, I settled for another movie. This time, I went for Neighbors 2
I watched the first half an hour of that movie until I started to feel a bit tired. Hence, I asked one of the cabin crew for the turndown service.
Time for a quick nap!
I woke up only to realise that we were already nearing JFK
Cabin with darker mood lighting
Just as I expected, the captain came on again at that time announcing that we were now starting the descent into JFK, and had 45 minutes before landing.
The seat belt sign came back on giving the indication that we had to prepare for landing, which didn't take long.
While descending towards New York, it was not surprising to see poor visibility as the captain did note that the weather was not going to be pleasant due to rain. However, it didn't stop us from landing there!
Final shots before landing
We landed 50 minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival time into John F. Kennedy International Airport. The taxi was quite long, but it gave me a good chance to spot some planes while waiting for the plane to stop.
While taxiing to the terminal, I got a good opportunity to spot a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-200LR, AP-BGZ, which will prepare to go back to LHE this evening as PK722
Sister-ship Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600, G-VFIZ, currently on remote standby. It will prepare to go back to LHR this evening as VS138
Docking at remote stand 61. I found it quite weird that we were docking here. I guess the gates were taken up at the terminal, but I don't even know to my recollection.
It took about 10 minutes to disembark as we had to wait for the stairs
Taking the bus to the terminal via the air stairs
I breezed through immigration and customs as always. However, it took 1 hour to get my bag unlike LHR where I waited for 5 minutes. As soon as I was done, I was on my way to the crowded arrival hall where I met my private cab driver outside, and then headed on home.
Terminal 4 Arrival exterior
Virgin Atlantic Airways London Heathrow Clubhouse
London - LHR
New York - JFK
Overall, I would say that this was an average flight on Virgin Atlantic. As always, VS has an outstanding pre-departure experience as well as the lounge at LHR. The only drawbacks I would remark were the seats which were extremely narrow, and the crew. I've noticed that most of the crew members of this flight were less interactive with passengers unlike the inbound flight to London. The only exception was one of them who was served me cheese and crackers during the latter portion of the flight. Also, I hope I get the chance to try out Virgin Atlantic's other aircraft such as the Airbus A330-300 along with the Boeing 787-900, and see how it compares in terms of overall service. In particular, the seating.
Nevertheless, thanks for reading this trip report as this is the end of the Winter 2016-17 trip report series. I hope you enjoyed reading it. I will be posting more trip reports in the near future. So, be sure to tune in next time for the Summer 2017 travel series which I'll be posting very soon! ;)
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