Inconveniences, annoyances on flight

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My wife and I in May ’06 flew Virgin Atlantic out of Orlando, Florida, to London (Gatwick) with a connection to Malta. The outward trip was marred by only two problems: the check-in line was extremely long, as there were three flights checking in at the same time, and the seats aboard the planes were smaller and closer together than those on any other airline we have flown.

However, the real problems started on the return trip. As we connected from Malta and were checking in at Gatwick an hour and a half prior to our departure, we were curtly informed that we were the last passengers to check in and that our confirmed seat assignments had been allotted to other passengers. (Incidentally, the flight was over an hour late taking off.)

In recompense, we were to receive exit-row seats at no extra charge. To our amazement, these turned out to be on opposite sides of the plane, with no “shuffling” possible as each set of three exit seats already had a couple installed. As a result, my wife and I spent the flight far apart, which was a problem since we always “cross pack” our carry-ons; sharing became virtually impossible.

As you are aware, the additional legroom of the exit seats is provided by being adjacent to the galley, which itself produces a regular flow of traffic and noise. In addition, our experience has shown that no matter what the point of origin, flights into Orlando always suffer from a surfeit of children, and this flight was no exception.

Soon after departure from Gatwick the aisles became a racetrack and the space outside the galley, a playground. The “circus” slowed for the meal service, but after that the children discovered that by approaching the galley they could obtain drinks at any time. Needless to say, the traffic was constant and heavy.

Our requests and appeals to the cabin crew fell on deaf ears. In fact, the crew encouraged rather than discouraged the traffic and were not interested in the concerns of the adults in the area. The result was a stressful, tiring flight, one which will certainly prejudice our choice of airline for future travel.

CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY

Ormond Beach, FL

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Virgin Atlantic Airways and received the following reply.

Virgin Atlantic prides itself in listening and responding to our customers’ feedback, and we are continuously striving to offer our passengers only the best in travel experiences. We regret to hear of the difficulties encountered on Mr. and Mrs. Hartley’s trip. Please be assured this is not how Virgin Atlantic normally operates.

Although Virgin Atlantic gives our customers the chance to choose their seats before they fly, we can’t always guarantee availability of the exact seat requested, as situations arise during the check-in process that can cause the seating arrangements to change. It could be a question of families traveling with small children or certain medical concerns that come up that must be accommodated.

That being said, we can certainly understand the frustration of the Hartleys’ being separated during the flight, and we apologize for any inconveniences.

Our cabin crew is extremely attentive to passenger needs, therefore I regret that the cabin crew on your flight were not more responsive. Our cabin crew management team has been made aware of the details of this situation in order to handle this with the crew involved to prevent it from happening again.

To assure Mr. and Mrs. Hartley of the efforts of the entire Virgin Atlantic team, we have extended to both, when they next travel, an offer of a space-available upgrade to the next cabin of service as well as the offer of opening a Flying Club account for each with a credit 10,000 miles each as a further gesture of goodwill. We hope this offer will go some way in making up for the inconvenience of their last flight.

The flight experienced by Mr. and Mrs. Hartley is not at all representative of the way we fly. I can ensure you that their next flight on Virgin Atlantic will be much different, and we look forward to their experiencing all that we stand for.

LAUREN VERRUSIO, Communications Coordinator, Virgin Atlantic Airways, 747 Belden Ave., Norwalk, CT 06850

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My wife and I in May ’06 flew Virgin Atlantic out of Orlando, Florida, to London (Gatwick) with a connection to Malta. The outward trip was marred by only two problems: the check-in line was extremely long, as there were three flights checking in at the same time, and the seats aboard the planes were smaller and closer together than those on any other airline we have flown.

However, the real problems started on the return trip. As we connected from Malta and were checking in at Gatwick an hour and a half prior to our departure, we were curtly informed that we were the last passengers to check in and that our confirmed seat assignments had been allotted to other passengers. (Incidentally, the flight was over an hour late taking off.)

In recompense, we were to receive exit-row seats at no extra charge. To our amazement, these turned out to be on opposite sides of the plane, with no “shuffling” possible as each set of three exit seats already had a couple installed. As a result, my wife and I spent the flight far apart, which was a problem since we always “cross pack” our carry-ons; sharing became virtually impossible.

As you are aware, the additional legroom of the exit seats is provided by being adjacent to the galley, which itself produces a regular flow of traffic and noise. In addition, our experience has shown that no matter what the point of origin, flights into Orlando always suffer from a surfeit of children, and this flight was no exception.

Soon after departure from Gatwick the aisles became a racetrack and the space outside the galley, a playground. The “circus” slowed for the meal service, but after that the children discovered that by approaching the galley they could obtain drinks at any time. Needless to say, the traffic was constant and heavy.

Our requests and appeals to the cabin crew fell on deaf ears. In fact, the crew encouraged rather than discouraged the traffic and were not interested in the concerns of the adults in the area. The result was a stressful, tiring flight, one which will certainly prejudice our choice of airline for future travel.

CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY

Ormond Beach, FL

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Virgin Atlantic Airways and received the following reply.

Virgin Atlantic prides itself in listening and responding to our customers’ feedback, and we are continuously striving to offer our passengers only the best in travel experiences. We regret to hear of the difficulties encountered on Mr. and Mrs. Hartley’s trip. Please be assured this is not how Virgin Atlantic normally operates.

Although Virgin Atlantic gives our customers the chance to choose their seats before they fly, we can’t always guarantee availability of the exact seat requested, as situations arise during the check-in process that can cause the seating arrangements to change. It could be a question of families traveling with small children or certain medical concerns that come up that must be accommodated.

That being said, we can certainly understand the frustration of the Hartleys’ being separated during the flight, and we apologize for any inconveniences.

Our cabin crew is extremely attentive to passenger needs, therefore I regret that the cabin crew on your flight were not more responsive. Our cabin crew management team has been made aware of the details of this situation in order to handle this with the crew involved to prevent it from happening again.

To assure Mr. and Mrs. Hartley of the efforts of the entire Virgin Atlantic team, we have extended to both, when they next travel, an offer of a space-available upgrade to the next cabin of service as well as the offer of opening a Flying Club account for each with a credit 10,000 miles each as a further gesture of goodwill. We hope this offer will go some way in making up for the inconvenience of their last flight.

The flight experienced by Mr. and Mrs. Hartley is not at all representative of the way we fly. I can ensure you that their next flight on Virgin Atlantic will be much different, and we look forward to their experiencing all that we stand for.

LAUREN VERRUSIO, Communications Coordinator, Virgin Atlantic Airways, 747 Belden Ave., Norwalk, CT 06850