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.