Like a Virgin
Virgin Upper Class on an Airbus A340-600 is a strange affair. To be honest I prefer the A380 of Emirates……if you ignore the tendency of the engines blowing up on the damn things.
Boarding the plane one turns left at the bar. Like Emirates there is a stand up bar like in the old disaster movies of the 1970s when men with big hair and moustaches and bigger lapels and medallions would sip Campari and chat to blonde waifs in hot pants. I guess the point is that it reeks of opulence, heritage and as a smack in the face to those unfortunates who have to turn right at the bar and face eleven hours of torture in cattle class.
Having passed the bar you enter a strange environment of subdued lighting. To be honest I think Mr Branson has been spending far too long in lap dancing clubs and has styled his business class service accordingly. Without the lap dancers unfortunately. They are busy in the First Class section……
Even the seats are reminiscent of booths in a seedy night club. Now, in case my mother is reading this (hi mom) I want to be clear that my personal knowledge of clubs of ill repute comes only from the movies and by way of one Mr Kierbeck. But enough of that lest that particular knife wielding cage fighter lets rip…….don’t ask him about Mexico! What goes down in Mexico stays down in Mexico……..
Unlike most planes, where the seats are aligned in rows parallel to the sides of the plane, Virgin has decided we should sit with our backs to the wall at a forty five degrees angle with our feet pointing North West (or North East if you are on the right side or starboard). This feels kinda different, which is I guess the sought after effect. It is strange to be sat there with your feet sticking into the aisle on the foot rest with all and sundry walking past, including some rather obese people who spend far too much time visiting the loo or the stand up bar and brushing your feet as they go past.
We were delayed about an hour at takeoff as the engineers sought to fix a broken seat back in cattle class. It may have been kinder to have ejected the passenger or to have shot him on the spot but, apparently, he was part of a wedding party en route to Sydney so special care needed to be taken. Imagine all that way with a seat that doesn’t recline.
The seat back in economy was not the only thing which was not working properly. Neither is my state-of-the-art entertainment system. I can flick though the movies OK but I cannot get any TV, music, or the irritating map with the plane telling you you’ve still got a lifetime to go to your destination and it is minus sixty six outside……
Not to worry. A glass of champagne, a gin and tonic, and a couple of glasses of red wine with my wontons and pork hoisin soon did for me, and, I fell asleep twenty minutes into X Men: First Class. I awoke about an hour later and decided to go to bed proper. Now, on Emirates, this was achieved with a single push of a button to achieve flat-bed heaven, but, on Virgin, it is a tad more complicated and involves standing up, holding a button down for a while and retrieving mattress, duvet and pillows. Nevertheless I must have slept for a good four hours. This was not the plan. I had intended to try to be in Sydney time zone and stay awake until Hong Kong and then sleep the whole of the second leg.
Oh well, I’m awake now. And I’ve finished X-Men. Only two and a half hours until HK and a stretch of the legs. And then back onto the same plane for the next eleven hours, in the same seat, with the same broken entertainment system.
Oh, breakfast is coming!
Oh, and note to Mr Branson, please join the twenty first century and fit something in your Upper Class that enables me to charge my phone and my iPad2. You can do this on your trains (occasionally) so why not in your flagship enterprise?
So, got to save my battery for the second leg. Catch you later!