Our love affair is over. Relationship status changed to “it’s complicated.”
I’ve been a huge fan of Virgin Airlines since the mid-1990s. We decided it was (almost) always worth paying a little bit extra for a comfortable, service oriented, efficient flight experience (in coach!). Virgin Airlines was a shining star in the sea of mediocre and abysmal airline experiences. Pay attention: Key word in the last sentence is “was.”
The Mister, daughter and I flew from London to NYC for a short home visit. The Mister was flying business class for work, my daughter and I were in coach (with extra leg room…such luxury!). Yes, The Mister did offer me his seat. No, I didn’t take it. Yes, I regretted it for the duration of the flight.
My Tale of Woe…
We arrive at the gate and notice the boarding area is standing room only with departure only 20 minutes away. Sigh. When we finally board, there is a lengthy, garbled announcement containing the words ”delay” and “paperwork.” The cycle of announcement and delay continue for 40 minutes. By now, the cabin staff is a bit miffed and passengers get up to use the restrooms and ask questions about connecting flights. Not a great start. One hour after the scheduled departure time, we hear a new announcement about an extra piece of luggage on board and a further delay. The cabin crew start to distribute cups of water to distract everyone from the misery of being late/stuck at the gate, which was a nice gesture until our attendant pours water for my daughter and ends up pouring water on me, my seat and my IPad. I laugh it off and ask for paper towels or something to clean it up. Her response?
“Go queue for the bathrooms. There are paper towels in there.” And said attendant disappeared. Really? REALLY? I stand in the bathroom line for 10 minutes as the water seeps into my seat. I gather paper towels and do my best to clean up my seat and myself to no avail. 8.5 hours in wet pants (oh sorry, trousers) and a wet seat.
Take-off is 1 hour and 15 minutes late. Everyone adjusts and settles in for the flight. My daughter plugs in the airline-provided headset and hands them to me stating “The aliens are trying to communicate with us.” Eh? The only thing you can hear through the headset is a high-pitched squealing. We flag down an attendant and ask for another set. Still doesn’t work.
Me: ”Is there any way someone could check the audio for this seat?”
Attendant: “We’ll reset the unit.”
Me: ”Thanks, I appreciate it.”
Time lapse 45 minutes. Still no audio
Me: “Hi, I’m sorry. Someone was going to reset the audio on this seat. Did someone get a chance to do that? I know you’re busy, sorry”
Attendant: “Mmmm. I don’t know, I’ll check.”
Time lapse 1 hour
Me: ”I’m really, really sorry, but could someone let me know if there is anything that you can do about the audio?”
Attendant: ”Yes. I’ll reset it and if that doesn’t work, I’ll bring you a DVD player.”
Me: ”Thanks so much.”
Time lapse one hour. No audio. No dvd player. My daughter and I spend 30 minutes synching my tv screen and her tv screen so she could use my audio and her screen. It was impossible to perfectly align program and sound…kinda like watching those 1960s King Kong movies dubbed in English. I didn’t mind that her audio cord stretched across my neck and through my dinner for the duration of the flight. Really. I returned the inconvenience by accidentally unplugging her headset every time I moved.
It was a long flight.
Everyone else is tired of listening to me complain about my flight, so I’m venting to you. I understand that the flight attendants are busy and stressed dealing with the demands of hundreds of passengers, but I guess I expected..too much? Are my expectations unreasonable in this day of miserable air travel? Should we even HAVE expectations when we turn over our hard-earned dollars to an airline.
I’m dreading my flight back. Send me flowers and I’ll think about flying you again, Virgin Atlantic. Rant over.