PLANE TYPE: BOEING 747-400
FROM: BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS TO LONDON GATWICK
Many think that the 747 is out of date when compared to newer models and, sad to say, I was one of them. This flight convinced me that I might have been a bit premature.
Like many Caribbean airports, Grantley Adams at Barbados actually checks passengers in just outside the main concourse, in the fresh air. It’s an easy process, and a simple airport to navigate.
We boarded on time, walking outside to see the great plane standing against the last glow of the sunset as it warmed up on the tarmac. There’s still something evocative and effortlessly romantic about boarding a flight on the tarmac via a set of external steps.
Delighted to find that this plane was one of the recently refurbished 747/400 series. As always, seats were in a 3-4-3 configuration, and newly refurbished in shades of grey and black. 31″ of legroom was more than adequate for me (I’m 5′ 6″ to be fair) and there is a new, touch screen AVOD system built into the back of each seat.
I had managed to score an aisle seat, 51H, on the edge of one of the rows of three. It was handy for the galley. On this seat, the meal tray was of the smaller, fold down kind.
In flight cabin crew was a good, hard working, fun and professional team that worked well together, and seemed to enjoy doing so. I majored in hospitality, and know a good- and indeed a bad- working team when I see one. This one made the flight a true pleasure from start to finish.
Push back was on time, and the pilot welcomed us and gave us an overview of the flight, which had around a hundred or so empty seats in economy.
Take off was followed quite soon by a welcome cocktail, and a menu offering the choice of three courses. I plumped for sausages, mash and veg for the main.
Sausages were good and full of flavour, but the mash was overly sweet for my taste. Still, it was a good and fulsome meal. The dessert looked like some filo confection. As always with most airlines, the bread roll was harder than a panzer’s armour.
Kudos to Virgin for developing a tray set up that does not leave you with random bits of tinfoil, plastic and bits of paper exploding all over your tray like some technicolor tidal wave.
Coffee service followed the main meal, which was cleared away with commendable speed and style. Then it was time to delve into the in-flight AVOD system.
This worked wonderfully and, while it was full of a great films and TV selections, I opted for an amazing, four hour Motown retrospective, one of an astonishing 289 album choices available to passengers. With complimentary headphones, I spent the next four hours or so in a state of near utopia as Miss Ross, Marvin, Smokey et all kissed my ears and plucked at the heartstrings. This was true, down home quality time.
It was interrupted- very gently- from time to time- by the staff making the kind offer of another screwdriver. Went particularly well with the Four Tops tracks, they did. That’s the screwdrivers by the way, and not the staff.
Some mild turbulence was no big deal. I finished off my flight with a welcome breakfast croissant and some orange juice, and a few Bobby Womack tracks. Lovely stuff.
Touchdown at Gatwick was on time, and effortlessly smooth. As ever, that airport remains a far easier, less pain inducing option to arrive in than the platinum chip horror experience that is Heathrow.
Disembarkation was painless, and I was on my way into central London within forty minutes of wheels down.
In summary, a fine flight with decent food and excellent service. AVOD system was of such good and extensive quality that it elevated the status of a homeward flight to something of a joy ride.
Well done to the excellent flight crew of VS030 for a superb experience. It was a pleasure flying with you.