Virgin Atlantic has always been my airline of choice ever since I first flew with them in the 80s. Back then they were ever so ahead of their rivals; with the inflight entertainment, lovely food, little comforts in the form of socks, eye masks etc and very friendly and happy to please cabin crew. I have flown with them many times since and always had a good experience.
I booked a flight from London Heathrow to Lagos online and checked in online the afternoon I was due to fly. According to my cousin I left it far too late as online checking opened 24 hours before the flight departure so the majority of the seats were gone. I did manage to find a seat that was in the middle of the plane but every time I tried to save my seating options it kept on coming up as unavailable. In the end I gave up out of frustration.
When I arrived at the airport to check in and drop off my baggage I was told that a seat had not been allocated to me online and the staff member allocated me a seat then and there. My seat was smack bang next to the toilet, in fact it was so close I might as well have been inside the toilet. Plus the flight was booked solid so there was no chance in hell of moving. Also with the amount of people going in and out of the toilet combined with the noise, you can imagine how much fun that was especially on a night flight.
Also annoyingly the cabin crew had installed some heavy objects in the luggage compartment above my seat which meant that I had to use another compartment further down the aisle. No alternative compartment was offered which meant that the plane was two luggage holders down. This not only caused a backlog on boarding while the passengers organised their hand luggage but caused me inconvenience as I had to walk halfway down the aisle in order to grab something from my bag.
I found the in-flight entertainment to be poor, a few of the shows that were advertised in the magazine such as Insecure were nowhere to be seen and the rest of the options were not to my taste. I spent most of the flight reading or sleeping. This was a massive letdown because back in the day one of the highlights of boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight was the inflight entertainment.
Now to the food – kudos to Virgin for trying to make us Nigerians feel welcome by catering to our culinary tastes but I am afraid the Jollof Rice was pretty awful. It was bland and needed more than a sachet of salt and pepper to give it some taste.
I do have to say that the return flight from Lagos to London was a lot better. This was mostly down to the seating which was an aisle seat in the middle. However, I did have the same situation with checking in online and this time I made sure I did it 24 hours before only to find out when we got to the airport that our bookings had not been made. Luckily the airline stewardess sorted us out and allocated decent seats for us. Sadly the food was not much better or the inflight entertainment.
To me I feel that Virgin Atlantic has lost their wow factor. This could be because other airlines have caught up to them in terms of hospitality and entertainment or maybe because the staff just don’t enjoy the London to Lagos flight as a lot of them looked pretty fed up. Whenever I fly I always look for a Virgin but after this poor experience I think I will be giving them a miss.
Have you ever travelled to London from Lagos with Virgin Atlantic? What was your experience?