Tag Archives: travel

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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I blame British Rail. And Thatcher

Train rant. Woo woo! See, it took me a total of seven and a half hours to get back to Bournemouth from Manchester. Normally this takes about five hours. A 150 per cent of standard journey time is not something that makes me very happy, to say the least, and I would like to know just a few things.

Why the fuck do we have to go via Reading? Why can’t we fucking well go in a fucking straight fucking line? What the fuck is the point in going to that fucking place? I mean, yes, there is a point in going there, but only for people who want to go there. A train from Manchester to Bournemouth should have two stops: Manchester and Bournemouth. That’s it. Cut hours off the ridiculous length of the journey by not doubling back on yourself halfway down the country. Stupid bloody direction.

Then there’s the endless engineering works. Build the fucking tracks out of something that doesn’t degrade – adamantium, or something. Get it prepared for the future, then you won’t have to replace the bloody things every single weekend. I was supposed to catch one train – one train – and I ended up getting three and a coach. I also ended up standing in Winchester for 35 minutes for no fucking reason.

But hey – surely it’s okay? In all seriousness, I know engineering works can’t be avoided. Problems come along with the fact that the cattle being shipped across the country (also known as ‘passengers’) are not told a bloody thing about what’s going on. The most you get is “sorry, engineering works” and then you’re electrically prodded off the carriage. I’m sorry – yes, the British trait of apologising when you’re the one who should be apologised to – but I would like to be told what the hell is going. WHY did I have to get off at Winchester? WHY was it a coach from Banbury to Oxford in the first place? WHAT the hell is Banbury anyway?

Then there are the things I’ve mentioned before, like the complete lack of space – hence making me sit in the disabled seating and thus making me feel quite bad. And the astonishing cost of a ticket across the country – I would like to, at some point in my life, at least think I have some money left over to spend.

Still, I am happy I can get from here to Manchester. If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to go and see the girl who makes me cookies and bread. And that’s not a euphemism.

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