«

»

Review of Virgin’s Shiny New Dreamliner! Hong Kong to London

About two months ago, I was aboard one of Virgin’s A340-600s, setting sail from Hong Kong to London.  As usual mid-flight, I was struck by blogging inspiration and was furiously tapping away a review on my iPhone.  It went something along the lines of ‘shabby, ropey and rough around the edges’.  I never published the review as I suddenly remembered Virgin were swapping them over for a shiny new Dreamliner.  It was only fair that I should share a review on this new service.

For those of you unfamiliar with the exotically named Dreamliner, let me fill you in. This is Boeing’s attempt at a super duper fuel efficient airliner, thanks to being 50% ‘composite materials’, rather than aluminium.  The Dreamliner sales pitch also included snazzy features like LED lighting, bigger windows and a roomy cabin to make passengers feel more comfortable (although we all know that airlines would rather replace roomy with seats).  The Dreamliner hasn’t come without drama. According to the good old Daily Mail ‘it was originally due to enter service in 2008 but repeated setbacks delayed its first commercial flight until 2011 and sent its cost spiralling to an estimated $32billion’.  There have also been some safety concerns but I won’t dwell on that here as I’m due to return on the Dreamliner this time next week..

IMG_8472

So what did we all make the of Virgin’s shiny new Dreamliner?  My 6 year old proclaimed it was ‘just like being in a disco’.  Indeed she was right, the LED lighting gives the impression of being in a trendy nightclub rather than a metal tube smelling of farts.  The cabin did feel roomier and the seats were very comfortable.  The touchscreen seatback TVs are a huge improvement on the tiny screens and rickety remotes.

IMG_8473

The economy configuration is 3-3-3.  My girls and I were seated in 50 D-F-G which is a middle 3.  Now one of the things you should now about the Dreamliner is that it is so very quiet.  No big rumbling engines to lull you to sleep. Whilst some (likely those living beneath its flightpath) will see this as a positive, it does mean you can hear everything.  From the baby crying in the bassinet row to loud flushing of the toilet.  Use this to choose your seat wisely – if you don’t need a bassinet, check the detailed Seatguru map to find where would be best. There is also no ‘middle galley’ in economy, the galley is located at the back of the plane.  Given how the noise travels, that is probably a good thing!

The VS207 departs at 11.45am Hong Kong and lands in London Heathrow around 5am.  The trick to getting your kids to sleep on this flight is to force them into sleeping as soon as you start to take off. I’m a mean mum and don’t allow mine to watch TV etc, they must sit and close their eyes.  The reason for this is that as soon as you are in the air, they turn on the spangly purple disco lights and keep them on for at least two hours.  I also give my 3 year old a little helping dose of phenergan.  

IMG_8482

The seats are definitely more comfortable than the A340 and there are no big power bars taking up space in the footwell.  The seatback pocket felt a bit more snug than the older versions so you may want to keep your nappies etc in a small bag under your seat.  There is a decent selection of TV and movies, especially for kids although nowhere near as good as Cathay Pacific.  The touchscreen is also fairly intuitive, especially for kids. It did take me ages to figure out how to turn on the seat light – fyi it’s on the touchscreen!

The amenity pack is ok – your standard red socks, eye mask, pen and ear plugs.  You also get a bottle of water.  The cabin did get very cold so I suggest you bring layers for all the family.  We missed dinner so when I woke up hungry a few hours later, the only snack option was some pretzels. This is where British Airways excels – they have a whole tuck shop available in their galley.

IMG_8479

Once up in the air, I also inflated our Fly Tot which is an absolutely brilliant invention.  This is essentially an inflatable cushion that you stick in front of your child’s seat so they can stretch their legs out.  Stay tuned for the full review!

Overall I was really impressed with our Virgin Dreamliner experience.  Even the cabin crew seemed positive uplifted by the purple disco lights.  Sadly not everything in the Dreamliner is shiny and new. It’s still the same old food, including the shocking children’s breakfast meal of ‘pancakes and chicken breast’.  Sigh.

IMG_8495

 

Have you flown the Dreamliner yet?  What did you make of it?

6 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. louise phillips

    Nicola- great article, thankyou. I am interested to know where you bought your Fly Tot from. Many thanks Louise

    1. Nicola

      The Fly Tot ladies are just putting the finishing touches to their website, will let you know when you can order one – or i’ll email you their details

  2. klimburn

    Wow – those disco lights are really something! Reminds me a bit of the low lighting they had in the midwife led unit when I had my second daughter…not sure that’s a good thing! Looks good though – wouldn’t mind a ride in it sometime!

    1. Nicola

      haha – that’s quite a memory!

  3. MummyTravels

    I can’t decide if those purple lights would drive me mad or if they’d be great on a night flight – shame about the food though! Thanks for linking up with #mondayescapes

  4. Zoe

    I can’t get over the fact that pancakes and chicken breast is served as Children’s breakfast! wow.

Leave comment