Tag Archives: flying

Virgin Atlantic: still shi… oh wait

This is now the second time I’ve flown with Virgin Atlantic and it’s the second time I’m going to whine about them being shit. Aside from the light fitting falling out on someone in our group, leaving the burning hot bulb exposed for all to see, there’s the TV/movie service, which was apparently fitted in 1834.

How can you have looping movies? How can you make it so people can’t actually choose to watch what they want to watch? How can the tiny, shitty little TVs be such poor quality, constantly breaking, crackling, going well weird like whenever the cabin crew talk on the speaker system? HOW? I know it can be done right, as I’ve flown with Air Canada. Who were brilliant.

Still, at least the shittitude of Virgin means people are less likely to fly with them, meaning I got an empty seat next to me in which I could stretch out a tiny bit.

But another thing, I hate how th… oh, wait. They gave us Love Hearts just before we landed. All is forgiven, Virgin Atlantic!

Now we begin the good old-fashioned descent into jetlagginess as I try and be awake an extra five hours over what I’d be awake at home. WOE IS ME. Still, first time in New York. Could be worse.

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Oh piss off, weather

I do wish there was a genuinely accurate manner with which we could predict the weather – something that wasn’t about as accurate as guessing, or only marginally more accurate than forever saying “tomorrow’s weather will be the same as today’s” (both true, the internet told me so). While it would be nice to know that in four years time it will be 23 degrees on the 17th of June, that isn’t what concerns me right now.

No, what concerns me is getting to Gatwick airport and seeing that they are still running flights, and not intermittently cancelling the route I’m supposed to be flying on Thursday. I keep on checking the weather for some clues as to what will be going on in the area that day, but I know it’s pointless. On average (again, internet), weatherpeople get their predictions right 30-40% of the time. I am no longer a gambling man, bar the brief foray back to the glory days with fake money at work’s Christmas party, so those odds don’t really appeal. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a 60-70% chance the prediction that it will be ‘partially cloudy’ and ‘between 0 and 1 degree through the day’ is utter bollocks.

But I went through this exact same thing last year – I ended up getting lucky, my flight was delayed by about an hour but I got to my destination (the same one again) and shitloads of other people had their flights cancelled. It was similar weather last year. I was catching similar trains, going to the same airport and blah de blah. Probably the only things different are I’m fatter now, I let the hair on my upper lip grow for some ungodly reason and I have Tiny Laptop to entertain me.

So yes, TL;DR: I really bloody hope Anna’s flight tomorrow gets her home okay, and I really bloody hope my flight on Thursday gets me out there okay.

I don’t much care if it knobs up on the way back. Extra holiday!

This isn’t an interesting blog, I’m aware. I couldn’t actually think of anything else because I’m worried. Stupid brain. I do not like uncertainty in these kinds of situations.

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WE DIDN’T LISTEN!

I remember this feeling from last year, seeing as it all happened in a very similar fashion. Let’s take things back to a simpler time: it was known as December 2009 – suddenly! – cold weather struck. We were… unprepared. The greatest minds of our nation had predicted things, they had noticed the air was getting colder – at least colder than it had been a few months before. But they never expected that. How could they? Temperatures plummeted by a few degrees, some frozen rain fell from the sky and the country… well, the country came to pieces.

I was just one man back then, trying to make my way in the world. Some called it a pilgrimage, others said I was a fool to pursue it – but I had to get to the Holy Land of Zurich, even if it killed me. Well, not if it killed me, but I did really want to get there with the minimum of fuss. But the weather. The weather. In the days leading up to my attempted departure, things had been grim. Temperatures had hit the lowest we’d ever seen in and around Gatwick airport – 1 degree, 0 degrees, and at one point I swear it got to -1 degree, but that may just be an urban legend.

But somehow, some way we got through it. Call it luck, call it the indomitable nature of the human spirit – call it whatever you want. It was close, it was frightening and it wasn’t something I wanted to go through again – but we got through it. I got there. After the Attack Of The Weather we promised ourselves it would never happen again. We would never be caught off-guard. We would always be alert.

But it’s happening again. How WEATHER slipped past our keen defences I have no idea, but slip past it has. I’m scared, people. Last time we barely managed to scrape by – I arrived at the final destination on my pilgrimage a whole two hours later than I was supposed to. I don’t know if I can go through that again. The doctor says I suffer from something – PTSD, he calls it – all because of last year’s events.

I can’t go through it again. We should have seen it coming. We should have been prepared.

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Virgin Atlantic: an apology

I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to Virgin Atlantic, after they put me in my place yesterday/today on our flight from LA to Heathrow. You see, I was under the impression that they were a capable, functional carrier, offering an efficient, modern service. As such, it is my duty as a man of (supposed) integrity to offer a full, frank and complete apology to the company, as my 11-hour-plus experience with them taught me they are very much nothing of the sort.

After a flight out with Air Canada – on which I assumed we would be flying with moose-skin suits and all the flight attendants would be mounties – I had already been surprised by how really bloody good it all was. I am quite tall – about 6′ 3″ – and yet I fit in the economy-class seats rather comfortably. The food was decent if not special, they gave us ice cream randomly at one point and service was constantly going up and down the aisles, making sure we were well-catered for. Oh, and the movie/TV selection was quite good.

So when your colleagues say they are “looking forward” to flying Virgin as by all accounts they are a “great” service, you can understand my dismay on boarding the fucking shanty plane they had sent out to fly us over. Apparently it was an Airbus A340, which was 10 better than Air Canada’s effort. But apparently-also, the A340 Virgin operates doesn’t bother with any kind of modernisation. Or basic, human comfort, for that matter. I’m not small, but I’m not an American-fatty. As such, I really shouldn’t have to squeeze into my seat. I understand leg room is a bit of a complaint on a lot of flights, but I had not encountered a problem in any of the four prior journeys – including one on a plane smaller than my thumb – until boarding the Virgin flight. Being cramped is something I am willing to put up with – it’s punishment for me being so tall (and awesome). But on an 11-hour flight it’s just a piss-take.

I could go on. And I will.

See, it’s one thing to be cramped owing to a plane design that doesn’t offer adequate space for customers with less money than the others. It’s a whole other thing to have that combined with a fat, stinking woman next to you who falls asleep completely underneath a blanket (face and all) and then ends up taking up half of your seat. I can only apologise to the little Mexican/American girl next to me who had to endure my leaning away and growling at the fat piece of crap. I think I still have the delicious tang of mustiness on my breath, actually. A genuine cattle carriage, it was.

But hey, you can always amuse yourself on a plane by looking out of the window and seeing sights the human eye was never meant to see. Except for the fact that my view only stretched so far as the toilets on either side. Why not try looking forward and watching the world (on a plane) go by? Ah, view blocked by a bulkhead. See, in stadium situations, seats like this are cheaper than the norm. In Virgin Atlantic situations, they are the same price as any other Economy-class ticket. Make them cheaper, point out to people you can only see the embarrassed look on a girl’s face after she’s clearly been for a massive dump and left a huge queue of people waiting outside (instead of the Rockies, for example) and you would get people happily snapping them up and avoiding all complaints. But hey, they’re here to make money, right?

So instead I could just watch a film on the headrest TV unit – a selection of a few dozen recent releases, some classics and a few dozen TV shows on top of that means the hours should fly by. Except for one minor drawback: every single movie and TV show I tried to watch would not work, and it would instead show me a random clip of the Sandra Bullock film The Blind Side. I wanted to watch The Simpsons, or Peep Show, or even sodding Family Guy. I did not want to watch Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, Oscar or no. I would have watched something on my laptop, but it had ran out of battery. Though this wasn’t a problem on Air Canada, as their seats have plug sockets in them. But hey – we’re British, we don’t conform to fucking common sense, right?

Even the food was stereotypically shite, again being put to shame by the Canucks. And there was no ice cream.

So, just to reiterate: I am sorry Virgin Atlantic. Sorry for thinking you could be anything other than an utter, complete and total failure. Next time try crashing – put me out of my fucking misery.

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Leavin’ on a jet plane (do know when I’ll be back: the 26th)

I’m off jet-setting for a week – in fact, I’ve written this well in advance and right now should be halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, barring any delays/terror attacks. I will continue to update this blog to the best of my ability through my five days in North America and will fill you in on my opinions of the four cities I will be taking in: Vancouver, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. The last one I will be in for approximately two hours (again, barring delays/mad bombers), which I think will be more than enough time to form a coherent, definitive opinion on the place.

Yes, that’s right – I’m planning on bringing back my world famous reviews of a place, seeing as more than three people have referenced the Sweden review in some way, shape or form. So, people of the aforementioned cities across the pond: be on your best behaviour, and if you see someone who has a face like the one up at the top of this article then be extra nice to him. And probably give him money – he likes to have money, you see.

The rest of you can hold tight and wait to see if I can maintain this whole one a day lark when I’m in and out of planes for the next five days. I hear they don’t take kindly to wireless internet in those hurtling metal tubes of doom. Oh well, we shall have to challenge that belief*. Also, this will be my first experience of both Canada and the US, so if I come back spouting unbelievable nonsense when I get back –  like gap year students do – then you’ll know why.

Oh, this also, unfortunately, means the loss of my world famous world famous world famous Photoshop editing skills. Sorry Samuel.

*I’m not going to challenge anything, I’m going to turn wireless off, I am not a dimwit.

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My predictions for today’s train journey

By the time you read this, I will be dead. Well, not “dead” per se – more “on a train”. This is a part of the ritual I and my girlfriend, who shall remain nameless throughout, take part in quite often. She doesn’t remain nameless to protect her identity, it’s just so I can hilariously refer to her by comical pseudonyms throughout this non-stop folly which I have been crafting for a couple of weeks now. It’s a hard life…

Anyway, I would like to make a few predictions covering what I think will happen on my train journey as I travel up the country to meet Melvyn Bragg’s Soggy Wart, as I lovingly call her.

1. Some idiotic knobends from the Army will get on around Brockenhurst, or somewhere like that, and spend at least until Birmingham talking loudly to each other, drinking four cans of Stella between ten of them and talking about which girl they managed to get pregnant last time they were ‘on leave’. Don’t get me wrong, I have a fair few mates in the forces, and while I respect the job they do (while not really supporting what/why/where they do it, bar the obvious humanitarian work and blah blah I don’t have to justify myself to you), I cannot abide by morons.

2. I’m not going to tell said morons anything I’ve written here, nor am I going to complain to them or politely ask them to keep it down. I value my life more than I value not being irritated for a couple of hours.

3. There will be a girl sat either directly behind or in front of me and she will be crying. Sobbing her eyes out. Really taking the train to tear town.

4. I will not care about said girl to my front/rear.

5. Some idiot sat nearby will stare at my home-made sandwiches with a confused look on their face. It won’t be disgust, pity or sadness – nor will they be coveting my poorly-made near-meat and cheap-cheese surprise. No, they will just look at it as if I had just pulled a hammock full of pre-filleted haddock from a sling. Confusion tinged with delight, really.

6. I will get PSP Claw, leaving my hands in a small amount of pain for an hour or so post-journey.

7. I will never want to make the journey up the country again.

8. I will remember about Captain Cous-cous and her veritable jamboree of a personality and realise I do actually want to make the journey up the country again.

9. I will remember I have to get back down the country before I can come up it again, thus reminding myself it’s a two-way trip and wondering why the fucking hell Bournemouth appears to be the most remote place in the country.

10. I will vow to abandon all pretence of environmental consciousness (first step: stop reading the Grauniad, second step: burn tyres) by deciding I will now fly from Southampton to Manchester and back.

11. I will realise this costs too much and is a bit of a ball-ache, so will instead get back to playing on the PSP/DS.

12. I will pity the fools without PSPs/DSs’s’ss.

13. I will think of Mr T.

Then, once arrived, I will have to deal with Manchester. That’s a whole other post in itself. Probably a better one. That’s actually funny. And has more casual fucking swearing. Nevertheless, I will arrive and demand tea from Ego Destructis, and she will refuse and I’ll have to make it.

It’s a hard life.

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