Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Virgin Atlantic Sucks - OR - Form and not bloody function

Excert from FlyerTalk posting regarding a recent flight with Virgin Atlantic Airways.

I arrived at T3 to find just two desks open for UC check-in and a large queue snaking around the concourse. Various staff members were wandering around but none of them appeared to be ready to open up additional desks. After 40 minutes I managed to check in and make my way to security. Thank heavens for Fast Track otherwise I would have been queuing for over an hour. Isn't T3 appalling!!? VA marketing department keep bombarding me with emails about the future of T3 which all sounds very nice but what about managing things a little better during the refurb. Awful experience. Once in the Lounge (Virgin - your lounge rocks!!) I was able to relax.

Service on the flight was average but not exceptional. I sometimes think Virgin crew are more interesting in their wellbeing rather than their passengers. They spent most of the flight discussing their plans for that evening rather than checking on the passengers. Are any other airlines better?

My partner was due to join me in Chicago the following Friday. Just prior to boarding a technical fault was discovered and the flight delayed for an hour. This turned into two hours before they started to bus the passengers to the plane. Once boarded the same fault on the opposite side of the plane was discovered. Surely this is a maintenance issue. The passengers were offloaded and the flight eventually departed 5 1/2 hours later. During that time a few sandwiches and bottles of water were offered but they were insufficient for the number of passengers in the departure lounge.

When returning my partner was travelling PE. I enquired about upgrading using miles or money but was told the flight was full. I checked again at the gate and was told the same thing. After takeoff I wandered around the UC cabin and counted 6 empty seats. I had heard the check in staff @ Chicago were a little on the frosty side (earlier posts on this site) and I would tend to agree. Not the most helpful of people.

We have since complained the Customer Relations and got the 'I'm sorry we didn't live up to your expectations and thanks for telling us. We'll do better in future' letter. Sorry but that’s just not good enough. I've since responded and I'm waiting for a reply before I pick up the phone.

In summary I was very disappointed with the level of service offered by Virgin Atlantic. Check in at T3 and my partners flight are more than enough to send me back to BA but then throw in its extensive route network, One World Partnerships and the new Club World and they more than have the edge. I appreciate that a BA flight hasn't left on time for several years but at least you know you'll get their within an hour or two of the arrival time. Virgin…is it a case of form over function?

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