This was the trip that I have been looking forward to for about 6 months.

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I got to the airport early to have a look at any aircraft from the beach and as I approached the turning bay I could see the tail of the Virgin A340-600, I was starting to get excited about the flight now. It was about 35 degrees so I didnt stay long and there wasnt much traffic so I went around the control tower to take a picture of the plane ,park my car in the long term car park then head to the terminal.

Once I got through security I had a bit of a browse around the airport and got myself a few things to read on the flight. It was three hours before my flight but I like to go and have a bit of lunch, a couple of drinks and enjoy the whole experience.

I then went around to the gate which was brilliant as it is only a small section of the airport but there is a bar, food, good views and everything that you need. Plus there are not that manay people there, one United Airlines flight was boarding but once it was gone it was quite peaceful.>>

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After a minor delay we pushed back at 4.10pm and heading for our departure. I have watched this flight many times from the beach area at Mascot and to finally be on it I was really enjoying myself.>>
We turned around and thundered down the runway 34L, to my dissapointment there was condensation on all the windows inparticular mine as I tried to get a good photos of the Sydney skyline...>>


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>I had reserved seat 40K which is on the trailing edge of the wing on the right side, the seat next to me was taken but my luck was in as the Captain had announced that there were only 192 people on board including crew. In the forward economy cabin half the seats were empty. You could see that people were getting anxious for the seat belt sign to be turned off and once they were there wasa rush for good seats. I managed to move forward a bit and got seats 34 H&K. I was set for the first leg.>

>After half an hour we had climbed to 33,829ft and were cuising at just over 550 mph. It was a beautiful sight and by 5.25pm (Sydney time) we were over central west Queensland and cruising at 35,800ft.>

>We were served dinner which I must say was pretty good, on all four legs of my trip I couldnt complain about the food..>

>At 7.35pm Sydney time we we were heading out of Australian airspace over the Arafura Sea. There was quite a large storm brewing which we had to bypass. Fom 35,800ft it was quite a sight.>
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>It was a great sight on the window, I hadnt been on a long haul flight for a while and to just sit back and enjoy the sights was good..>
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>and the sunset>
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>By 9.30pm we were well over Indionesia and I dont know if the captain forgot or if this was done on purpose but the #4 engine was illuminated by a light from the fusilage of the plane. It was quite good to see and the wing tip was also bathed in a bit of light. I have this on a vide o file and if I can I will upload that.>
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>At 11.25pm (7 1/2 hours into the flight) we were suddenly woken by this blast of light as the cabin lights were put on. I was expecting the gradual lighting I have heard about and I noticed that the premium economy lighting came on a little after us and took a while to get to full brightness. I found this quite annoying, I know the economy seating do not charge that same price but how easy would it be to extend this little feature to the whole flight????>
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>We arrived in HK and had to go through the transfer procedure of getting hand luggage scanned again which seemed a pain. Once on the flight to LHR we were then served a good meal again and then it was time to get some rest.>
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>By the last 4 or 5 hours I was finding it hard to get comfortable and I was looking forward to getting off the plane. It did seem a long flight and I am sure that the extra comfort in premium would have made a difference.>
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>So what did I think of the flight??? >
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>Well, my opinion is that once in the air, the difference in the aircraft is minimal. The A340-600 was good, coped with the little turbulance we had well and from that point of view was comfortable. >
>To me the difference comes from the service.>
>I found that Virgin provided a good service but you had to go hunting for it. If you wanted a drink you had to buzz them, if you wanted another you had to buzz them. There was minimal observation from the cabin crew to the passengers in economy. >
>At one point I needed to get rid of a couple of empty coke cans from my tray and needed to go to the toilet so I did the right thing and took the cans to the galley, what did I find?? Three or four flight attendants reading womens magazines and chatting. This is their work, so why are they back there when people need trays emptied and other things. After all, of the 200 or so economy passengers, there were not that many awake that couldnt be looked after.>
>If I sat at my desk and was reading a magazine, I am sure I would have a stern word in my ear from my boss.....>
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>So overall I think I will give Virgin Atlantic 6.5/10 and the reason is that I am a customer and I expect to be looked after without having to search for service.>
>This time it was just myself but I am going back to London in 3 years time with my wife and two kids and I must say Virgin will not be my first choice. They will not be my last, but I will be looking at Singapore/Malaysia/Cathay/Qantas also. Singapore is the favourite as they are part of the same frequent flyer program.>
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>I found Virgin dissapointing only because thet pride themselves on customer service and on this particular trip I was constantly chasing it.>
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>Cheers>
>Carl>