Travel Tips

Substance without class: Virgin Atlantic economy reviewed

Having previously enjoyed all classes of travel with BA with our toddler (with the exception of first class), we made use of the north of England’s biggest (but not best) airport Manchester as our place to fly to and from Florida.

To get to Florida on a direct flight from Manchester, you can fly with Virgin Atlantic to Orlando or with Thomas Cook to Sanford. We decided to go with Virgin.

First of all, it has to be said that Virgin aren’t cheap. The total price for two adults and a child seems to start from around £1,300 return and this goes upward pretty sharpish, which means you should expect to get a decent flight given your outlay. Virgin do provide the substance to back up their fares, but what they seem to lack are the classy touches that leave them trailing well behind the likes of Emirates and, to a lesser extent, BA (who aren’t exactly world beaters as the latest Skytrax and other rankings will show you when it comes to long haul flights).

In terms of substance, our requested kids’ meal was respected and was actually pretty decent. Our meals were also fairly nice by airline standards and we were given a menu in advance so we knew what we would be able to choose from. The seat pitch and seat comfort were as good as you expect for economy seats, and there was no messing around with seats being split up or made awkward for families.

There were nice touches for families; kids were given a little drawstring bag with some activities in and the entertainment was decent enough (and when it didn’t work staff were pretty quick to help out with it). Sadly though this is where the substance ends and the class seems to disappear.

The staff on our return journey seemed very uninspired by their career choice, with one member of the cabin crew repeatedly running over someone’s feet, one of the male cabin crew treating some of the passengers pretty rudely (including us for enquiring if we had missed him when he was handing out drinks with the meal), and the general attitude simply not as good as you would expect from an airline that prides itself on style. Indeed, our minds wandered back to a documentary a few years ago when a Virgin cabin crew member had resigned and was looking to move to BA because the pay was slightly better.

All in all, Virgin are there when it comes to the substance but don’t expect the cabin crew to enhance your flight experience unless you are sitting well away from the cheap seats!

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