Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic – London to Hong Kong Review

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic – London to Hong Kong Review

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review – London to Hong Kong

I have been to Hong Kong on 3 previous occasions. In 2002 I went with British Airways in Economy class. On the next occasion in 2010 I flew Qantas but went in Premium Economy. In 2011 I flew with Cathay Pacific Premium Economy. This year I flew with Virgin Atlantic from London to Hong Kong in Premium Economy on flight VS206 and return on VS207  I had never flown with Virgin Atlantic before. Another first was flying on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Checkin and Pre-Flight

Because you have a Premium Economy ticket you do get to check in ahead of the Economy section. On arrival at your seat you find an amenity kit. This kit includes socks, sleep mask, toothbrush, tooth paste and ear plugs. A neck pillow and blanket are also provided for your comfort. The kit is very useful on the long flight and you will appreciate the toothbrush around 7 hours into the flight (nice touch).

As part of the VIP Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy service you are also treated to sparking wine or orange juice before takeoff.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Boeing Dreamliner Awaits
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Champagne Welcome

Your seat on board Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

The seats in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy are that bit wider than standard economy plus they recline further. They are very comfortable and combined with the quality leg rest, you can get into a decent resting position.

I managed to get about 4 hours sleep on the flight which is good for me as I usually end up watching movies on board. The neck pillows were a little soft so I had to double it over and use as a normal pillow.

 

The In-flight Experience & Comfort

Take off in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was powerful and smooth. The Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine delivers 80,000lbs of force to take you elegantly into the skies.

During the flight the Virgin on board entertainment system, “VERA”, has much to offer. If has movies, box sets, music, games and done extra features. The movies were all recent releases including IT, Despicable Me3, Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde. Music included albums from the greats such as Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Bob Dylan and many more. One notable omission was that Queen were not included much to my disappointment. However, it was nice to see Joe Bonamassa included in the listings. The box sets were varied including Big Bang Theory, Veep and Game of Thrones – but only a limited number of episodes are included. On the games, these are good but basic. Kids will enjoy the soccer and breakout games.

Other functions of the VERA entertainment system include a flight tracker showing current position, speed and altitude. You can also chat to other seats and use USB keys for media playing.

During the flight I found it very comfortable to watch the VERA screen. You can tilt it to suit your needs and adjust brightness and volume easily.

 

The In-flight Experience & Comfort

Take off in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was powerful and smooth. The Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine delivers 80,000lbs of force to take you elegantly into the skies.

During the flight the Virgin on board entertainment system, “VERA”, has much to offer. If has movies, box sets, music, games and done extra features. The movies were all recent releases including IT, Despicable Me3, Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde. Music included albums from the greats such as Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Bob Dylan and many more. One notable omission was that Queen were not included much to my disappointment. However, it was nice to see Joe Bonamassa included in the listings. The box sets were varied including Big Bang Theory, Veep and Game of Thrones – but only a limited number of episodes are included. On the games, these are good but basic. Kids will enjoy the soccer and breakout games.

Other functions of the VERA entertainment system include a flight tracker showing current position, speed and altitude. You can also chat to other seats and use USB keys for media playing.

During the flight I found it very comfortable to watch the VERA screen. You can tilt it to suit your needs and adjust brightness and volume easily.

 

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The VERA onboard entertainment system

The Food in Premium Economy

The dinner I had was a chicken dish with rice. It was very tasty but a little spicy to be served at almost 11:30pm (about 2h 30 into the flight) for my body clock.

As a Premium Economy flyer your meals are served in proper bowls with napkin and a choice of any beverages you wish. You can also avail of snacks from the galley, we were told to help our selves. The only comment I would have is that the snacks are all crisps and munchie style. On Cathay there were noodle pots, a 5 star version of Pot Noodle, and they were a delicious alternative to crisps or biscuits. Qantas also offered ice creams (small choc-ices) as part of their galley snack offering which I also thought was nice.

Breakfast next morning was served at around 5:30am GMT with about 2 hours to landing. It was waffles with blueberry and vanilla cream. The waffles were very well cooked and tasted great with the blueberry compote – however since I don’t like custard or cream I had to leave the half which had been coated in the vanilla cream sauce. The alternate was congee, a Chinese porridge – not an option for me.

Overall the food was very tasty and was served well but certain elements didn’t pass the premium test. On the return leg there was a pudding described as light and fluffy – it was tough and difficult to cut so not as described on the menu. For me, it would be great to have a third option.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has no window shades

The Premium Economy Service

From start to finish the service was excellent. We were well looked after at all times. The staff are friendly and had time for you. On disembarkation were were thanked by about 4 staff leaving the Dreamliner.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The Dreamliner is a beautiful aircraft. Previous to this flight I had flown in all the Airbus and Boeing aircrafts with the exception of the Dreamliner – so it was nice to cross it off my list. As you enter the Dreamliner the mood lighting is very cool and gives a very sophisticated look to the mood and ambience inside the 787.

The flight was smooth with only a little light turbulence. One feature I was impressed with was the lack of window blinds. Instead the Dreamliner can tint the window so that no light gets in. This stops the annoying instances of people opening a window blind on a night flight as morning approaches. The tinted windows really worked and although it was 3pm outside (7am GMT for our body clocks) the inside was still very dark.

 

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review – Overall

I really enjoyed the return flight from London to Hong Kong with Virgin Atlantic. I would have no hesitation on flying with Virgin again as there were no major faults or issues. However for the extra money paid for Premium Economy, it didn’t wow me as much as Cathay or Qantas previously; The biggest difference being the food.

I have outlined my scores below taking into consideration the commentary above.

Service: 9/10

Food: 6/10

In-flight Experience: 8/10

Comfort: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

If you have any questions on my Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy review and experience just drop a comment below.

The review is my own opinion of a recent flights on 28th December 2017 and 5th January with Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy. No promotion, payment or upgrade was received in return for this blog post. This content is my own thoughts on this flight based on the events, service and food on my flight. 

Top 5 Things to Do in Singapore

Top 5 Things to Do in Singapore

Singapore is an amazing city to visit and in this post I have outlined some of the Things to Do in Singapore.

Ride the Singapore Flyer

One of the icons of Singapore is the Singapore Flyer – you can see it from all the major areas and if you are staying in Singapore, its worth visiting. The Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest observation wheel and is a stunning 165m high. (30 metres taller than the London Eye in the United Kingdom). As the Singapore Flyer turns, you get visual 360 degree view of the city of Singapore landscape and historical landmarks. The Singapore Flyer gives you breathtaking views of the Singapore River, Raffles Place, Merlion Park, Empress Place and the Padang – it is also worth visiting at sunset. The ride on the Singapore Flyer takes about 30 minutes and if you time it right you can get day and dusk views of the city from the Singapore Flyer. This is certainly one of the best Things to Do in Singapore.

For the more adventurous, you can enjoy a dining experience on board the Singapore Flyer if you wish.
Visit http://www.singaporeflyer.com/ for details of the Singapore Flyer.

Flight Simulator Experience

If you have been on the Singapore Flyer (or you find yourself in the environs of it), you might want to try your hand at flying a plane. You can take command of a Boeing 737-800 NG in this 100% realistic flight simulator. The cockpit is exactly as per the 737-800, with overhead panel, rudder and throttle controls, complete avionics, full auto-pilot etc and almost exact flight model to the 737-800 series jet. You get full instruction from your co-pilot who is fully trained on this aircraft simulator and can help you get the most from the flight simulator experience. This flight simulator is exactly the same as pilots use for flight training and you can choose from over than 20,000 worldwide airports (I chose to fly into Kai Tak at Night – the old Hong Kong airport where you flew over the houses to land … see more below) and use the same operating procedures as the real airlines. No experience necessary as full instruction will be provided.You can get 30 minute to 2 hour flights, and if you do this, you should really get the DVD which is only S$20 extra.

I did the 30 minute flight from Hong Kong international to Kai Tak (now decomissioned as an airport but was one of the most iconic landings in recent flight history). I then had time to do a touch-and-go at Dublin Airport followed by a Full Stop Landing. (However the Traffic Collision system onboard, TCAS, told me that I came with 1km of an inbound flight which wuld have been frowned upon in real life). Thanksfully, all my landings were completed successfully and I was told to perhaps consider taking some lessons as my insructor said flight skills were very good. I hope to upload some of the flight video very soon… This was one of MY favourite Things to Do in Singapore.

Visit http://www.flightexperience.com.sg/ for details of this excellent flight sim attraction.

 

 

Take a City Tour – Tour East

When in Singapore you should certainly do a guided tour of the city, especially if you are on a brief visit. There are so many things to Do in Singapore, a city tour can cross off a lot from your list of attractions to see. The reasons for doing a city tour are two fold, (a) Singapore is a very busy city and it would be hard to cover everything if you were only in the city for a short time and (b) it can get quite hot in Singapore and getting from one sight to the next via an air-conditioned bus is most welcome.
The tour company we used was Tour East and the sights covered the Mer Lion, the Thian Hock Keng Temple and Chinatown, a Local Handicraft Centre. One of the highlights of the Singapore City Tour is visiting the National Orchid Garden located within Singapore Botanic Gardens – you get 45 mins here but if you didn’t stop at the handicraft centre you could easily have over an hour here. The final stop of the tour is at Little India, a bustling Indian hub within Singapore. If you want you can pay a little extra to take in the Singapore Flyer (a giant wheel similar to the London Eye … see below)
Visit http://www.toureast.net/Tour-East-Singapore/Sightseeing-Tours-Explore-Singapore for details of the Tour East Singapore Tours

Eat in a local restaurant and a walk around Clarke Quay

One of the best Things to do in Singapore is to enjoy the excellent local food, great sea food and plenty of choice. There are many restaurants around Clarke Quay, a busy venue worth visiting in the early evening and on into the night ; it becomes a buzzing nightlife area after 6pm. Clark Quay is nice to walk the circuit before you make your decision on food as all tastes are catered for, from Indian, Japanese, Italian and Chinese food, Look for the restaurants with the most locals as this is usually a good indication. We found the “Jumbo Seafood Restaurant”. Excellent food, try the fish in ginger and spring onion dish, the fresh juices and the fruit platters to finish.

Check out http://www.jumboseafood.com.sg for details on the Jumbo Seafood Restaurant, Singapore

Get a fish pedicure while you have a Back Massage

On Level 2 of the Singapore Flyer complex you can get your feet manicured and nibbled at by tiny fish … and you can get a great back massage as this is happening. The fish foot spa is where Doctor Fishes or “Garra Rufa Fish”, give you a pedicure you won’t forget (and they do a great job too). The back massage is excellent and reflexology is also provided in this area … don’t forget to try out the chinese tea if you are there for a while. Of all the many things to do in Singapore , this was one I was most squirmy about, as I found it very ticklish.

Details : Kenko Reflexology and Fish Spa, Located at: Level 2 of Singapore Flyer Complex, #02-08 : Tel: (65) 6565 0303 :: Open Daily from 10am – 11pm

Recommended Hotel in Singapore City

Singapore is a fantastic city to visit and if you are planning to go there and you are looking for a good hotel, then the Fairmont Singapore is worth looking at…. check out the review of the Singapore Fairmont Hotel on this site for more details !

I hope you enjoyed this list of Things to Do in Singapore and if you liked this post, please share. You can find more ‘Things to Do‘ City Guide posts on my website.

If you have an addition to this ‘Things to Do in Singapore’ list please let me know.

  • Singapore Flyer 90%
  • Flight Simulator Experience 100%
  • City Tour 85%
  • Clarke Quay 93%
  • Fish Pedicure 80%
Pre-flight Airline Safety Announcements (Should the Truth be included?)

Pre-flight Airline Safety Announcements (Should the Truth be included?)

Everyone knows the pre-flight airline safety announcements…. What you should and should not do on the flight, as well as what to do in an emergency. But would it not be better if the truth was thrown in also for a more realistic airline safety announcements.

As a little bit of fun, it just might go a little like this….

“Ladies and gentlemen, you are very welcome abroad your flight today, on board this (insert aircraft type here) series aircraft.

To fasten your seatbelt …. In fact if anybody by now does not know how to fasten their seatbelt please leave the plane now, as you don’t deserve to be on a plane.

This aircraft has 8 emergency exits – 2 at the front , one left , one right , 2 at the rear , one left , one right and 4 over wing exits 2 left , 2 right. It should be fun watching all 300 of ye scrambling for a gap barely able to fit one person , especially if the wings are on fire and you have to find an alternate exit.

In the sudden loss of cabin pressure, at about 39,000 feet, your lungs may puncture and blood vessels on your skin will burst almost immediately being exposed to a huge pressure difference no to mention temperatures as cold as -50 C. Oxygen masks will drop from the panel above your heads.  If you are still conscious , pull on the mask to start the flow of oxygen.  Stop screaming, place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally.  Oxygen will continue to flow even if the bag is not fully inflated. Oh by the way, there’s only about 12 minutes of oxygen in those passenger tanks, sorry!

In the unlikely event of us landing on water (very unlikely as our journey today is 90% over land today and in all probability we will be landing sideways in a field going at 670kph) … your life jacket is under your seat.  Plunging at speed towards the ground, the G Forces of 8 G mean the in all reality you will not even be able to reach for your lifejackets as your body will weigh 8 times its normal weight.  If you do manage to get them place it over your head, tie the straps at the front.  Do not inflate the lifejacket inside the aircraft as this will jam you into your seat and you will just have to watch all the sensible people leave the aircraft from your seat.

The lifejackets has a light and a whistle to attract attention …. as if 3 miles of burning wreckage won’t get you enough attention.

Please read the safety card in your seat pocket for further reassurance.

We hope you enjoy your flight.”

I don’t think this new style airline safety announcement will take-off (excuse the pun).

In truth, the airline safety record these days is very good and millions of people travel on aircraft without incident. I love flying and I never fear going on a flight, quite the opposite. The above actually came to me on a flight so it is actually dark humour on my part.

 

FlightRadar24 Vs Plane Finder, Flight Tracking iPhone Apps

FlightRadar24 Vs Plane Finder, Flight Tracking iPhone Apps

I downloaded 2 Aircraft Tracking iPhone Apps, FlightRadar24 and Plane Finder. These smartphone air traffic apps allow you to track the position, height, speed, Squawk Code, Aircraft type, heading, source, destination and Aircraft Registration, plus much more.

These amazing iPhone apps are brilliant if you are interested in aircraft or just want to know where a plane in the sky is heading.

So Which one is better, FlightRadar24 or PlaneFinder (Harry Hill would normally do ‘FIGHT’ at this point but I’m going to look at the 2 apps and do a proper review…In no particular order)

FlightRadar24

This was the first app I downloaded. The main features were full flight tracking plus visual tracking where you could hold the iPhone camera up to the sky where there was an aircraft and it would point to it with identification. The Augmented Reality makes it possible to point the camera to the sky and view aircraft information and all the details regarding air traffic over you.

Flight Radar Screenshote - FlightRadar1 iPhone App Review

Flight Radar Screenshot - FlightRadar24 iPhone App Review

The accuracy is stunning – I actually grabbed a pair of binoculars when a Lufthansa 747 was reported over Waterford, and it was indeed the aircraft mentioned on the FlightRadar-24 iPhone App. Amazing.
Check out http://www.flightradar24.com/ for more details.

PlaneFinder

I downloaded this app just as a comparison as this one showed actual photos of the aircraft in question and also allowed for sharing of the spotted aircraft on Facebook etc.

PlaneFinder iPhone AppThe screen shot above shows the same Aircraft which was spotted in the FlightRadar24 App.

PlaneFinder does almost everything that FlightRadar24 does, but I find that there are certain functions you can achieve such as advanced filters, e.g. show all aircraft above a certain height, speed or indeed of a certain airline.  I also found some aircraft not listed on FlightRadar24.
More information on PlaneFinder can be found at http://my.pinkfroot.com/

How do these iPhone Aircraft Tracking Apps Work?

These apps only show information regarding aircraft which are equipped with ADS-B transponders. About 60% of the passenger aircraft and some private aircraft have an ADS-B transponder installed.

The Flightradar24 and PlaneTracker apps use a network of ADS-B receivers around the world. These ADS receivers get plane and flight information from the aircraft with ADS-B (Broadcasts) and sends this information to a main server. These apps simply collect the ADS data and displays this information on the iPhone Apps map. However only aircraft within the coverage area of the ADS receivers are visible – so if you are in USA you may have limited visibility as these apps are mainly covering Europe. Current coverage is approx 90% of Europe. However, there is also limited coverage in USA, Australia and Middle East.

App Problems?

Both Apps require WiFi or a 3G connection to work. If you only have a cellular data connection you may get 1 or 2 aircraft showing up but the app won’t work to it’s full potential – so ensure you have 3G turned on.

The only problems I saw was one aircraft which was a ghost image of itself – i.e. for example an aircraft D-GBHF was showing up side by side but it was the same aircraft. Could have been a glitch.
However the most fun glitch I saw was an aircraft which had a recorded cruising speed of zero knots – clever trick!

Flight Tracking Apps – Conculsion

Both apps are excellent in the way the aircraft are displayed plus the refresh rate and the accuracy is very good on both apps.

Both apps have been updated since my original post and I will be updating this post with the changes and new features.

PlaneFinder retails at €3.99 in the App Store

FlightRadar24 reatils at €2.39 in the App Store.

FREE Versions of these Flight Radar iPhone Apps are available also.

If you have any comments regarding these apps please comment below!

 

 

This post is a re-edit of the original post regarding FlightRadar24 and Plane Finder which was written earlier in 2015.

Captain Sullenberger, Hero on the Hudson pilot retires

The hero pilot, Captain Sullenberger, who landed his Airbus 320 safely on the Hudson River, in New York, on Jan 15 2009 has retired after 30 years.

Captain Sullenberger, 59, officially retired at a private ceremony in Charlotte after flying his last commercial gig, Flight 1167 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida – landing 17 minutes ahead of schedule.

Captain Sullenberger also flew with the same co-pilot as during the Hudson landing of US Airways Flight 1549, First Officer Jeff Skiles. Also on board were some of the same passengers that were on Flight 1549 to celebrate his final flight.

If you don’t know the history of Flight 1549 and the amazing landing on the Hudson, check out the video below.