Sleeping Kids, Rustles & Bright Lights – Longhaul With Virgin!

It was 10pm and I was at the Virgin check-in desk in Hong Kong.  One daughter surreptitiously removing things from my suitcase whilst the other one making a break for freedom. So when then the lady at check-in informed me that the flight was overbooked and would we be interested in taking a flight 24 hours later I rolled my eyes and said ‘absolutely not’.  This was a 12 hour flight I wanted over and done with.

But then this happened….

Sleeping on the plane

For a whole 8 hours!

You can’t win though, as sadly I found it difficult to sleep due to:

  • A cacophony of rustles which started after dinner was served and lasted for about 20 minutes (a never-ending bag of crisps?  Particularly noisy lids on the meals?)
  • The arctic temperature that Virgin insisted on blasting throughout the cabin (always dress your kids in layers my friends)
  • No 1 daughter insisting that she used up two seats and lay out flat leaving me with about a centimetre of wiggle room
  • A whining toddler seated directly behind me!  As my two lay fast asleep I couldn’t help but internally roll my eyes and mutter my disbelief at my bad luck whilst shooting the parents sympathetic(ish) looks every now and then.  Sadly we’ve all been there but I have forgotten just how annoying it is.
  • A fellow passenger who was snoring so loudly he could be heard three rows away.  Anyone who says that a toddler is a frustrating source of noise on a flight, hasn’t met a loud snorer.
  • Turbulence. Despite the captain announcing it would be great flying conditions, this was a pretty bumpy flight with the seatbelt sign going on and off like a disco light.  
  • Bright bright lights in the cabin.  That didn’t go off for at least two hours.  Bring eye masks for all the family
    Bright lights

My one saving grace throughout this was a fabulous travel pillow that I highly recommend, especially for those who are front sleepers.  Until no 1 daughter decided she was using it.

For anyone looking for a more technical review of this flight rather than just my usual travel ranting, here goes… We were on an Airbus A340-600 and the economy seating was a 2-4-2 configuration.  We had 3 seats in a bank of 4, of the left hand side of the plane (35 D,E and F). I highly recommend this section of the plane as it is the first cabin behind Premium Economy and your closest toilet is a large disabled one with a huge nappy changing table.

Unlike BA, Virgin don’t provide plentiful snacks, ‘raid the galley’ style.  It’s sour cream & chive pretzels or bust.  So bring lots of snacks for the kids.  Likewise the entertainment system is veering towards archaic (no touch screen, slow to respond, limited kids selection).  We weren’t offered any kids packs so I was pleased I had brought my own stickers, colouring etc.

When you disembark at Heathrow’s T3 (screaming cries of hallelujah, the 12.5 hr journey is over), be prepared for a loooooong walk to immigration.  The bonus of this flight is that if you’re on time (05.20am), the airport isn’t hellishly busy so you can expect reasonable queues at immigration.

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