Journey: Orlando to London Gatwick – Virgin Atlantic – Economy
PRE-BOARDING: I was flying overnight with Virgin Atlantic from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick, and was hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep. As I hadn’t managed to check in online, I headed to the airline’s check-in area where I was greeted with an empty machine and checked-in within moments. Making my way to Airside 4, I was a little underwhelmed and slightly confused with the choice of restaurants on offer for an American airport, between Bahama Breeze and Aussie Outback, the obligatory Burger King proved very popular among flyers.
THE SEAT: I was greeted with a pillow, blanket and headphones on my seat, a nice gesture but with no obvious place to put them if you choose not to immediately use them. The seat itself was comfortable and presented enough leg room for even tall passengers. It was easy to recline and the leather headrest ensured you had sufficient support when trying to sleep. Staff were very well presented, smiley and prepared to do what they could to make the journey as comfortable as possible for passengers.
THE EXPERIENCE: Staff were quick to bring round snacks, drinks and an evening meal soon after take-off, perhaps conscious that people were keen to try and sleep. Dimmed lighting and a variety of films on ‘Vera’ – Virgin’s entertainment system, made it easy to drift off, however I found the new releases limited and difficult to find as you had to scroll through the entire list.
THE CATERING OFFER: We were given a menu card early on in the flight which gave the option of three meals (one vegetarian). My meal consisted of a cold pasta starter, then a hot lamb curry, a cheesecake pudding and cheese and biscuits. The meal was filling and tasty and was served with red or white wine, followed by tea, coffee or hot chocolate. We were also served a mini ice cream which provided a refreshing perk and before landing a breakfast of a cheese croissant and yoghurt – we certainly didn’t go hungry! Staff circulated with drinks regularly but were cautious not to wake sleeping passengers.
THE VERDICT: Despite some strong turbulence at times, the flight seemed smooth and quick. I left the plane feeling well-fed and relatively rested and found the accommodating staff to be the highlight.