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#940392 by mitchja
29 Dec 2017, 02:44
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Background

I'd booked my annual New Years get-away earlier this year via V Hols. I'd booked a Fly-Drive with Premium Economy flights. On a side-note, looking at the same dates / cabin next year, V Hols are wanting another £200 for the same package :-O

The A/C was originally a B789 but in late November, that changed to an A346. With the extra capacity in Upper Class, VS also released at least 1 G reward fare on the outbound. I posted about the process you need to go through to upgrade a V Hols booked fare using miles here. Basically you need to have paid your V Hols package balance and ask them to ticket your flights then you ring Flying Club and upgrade with miles the usual way. V Hols generally book you in H for premium which is now upgradable using miles. It's only K fares which cannot be upgraded now using miles.

A few weeks later the inbound A/C also changed to an A346, this time it took VS a week or two to release a G fare, but with my daily checking, I managed to grab that as well. As I'd already been ticketed, it was just a case of calling Flying Club to do the upgrade. The extra fees were ~£43 each way. VS have still yet to re-issue my ticket for the return flight. I've chased them twice now but they just keep saying ticketing are working their way through a back-log at the minute. My booking is showing Upper Class though so I shall see what happens between now and the return flight on Jan 3rd!!

The flight

I travelled down the day before in First Class on Virgin Trains East Coast from Skipton via Leeds to London Kings Cross. With their advance purchase tickets, you can generally get First Class for around ~£60 one way. Jumped on the tube to get the LHR and then a hotel hopper bus to my usual Crowne Plaza airport hotel.

Early start the following morning and I was heading back to LHR around 7am. It only takes about 15 mins to get to/from LHR via the Hoppa busses and it's still £5 each way or £9 for a return.

Check-in was a breeze and the staff working the Upper Class check-in where their usual bright and cheery selves. The Upper Class Wing was deserted and I was through security in no time at all. The maze to get through the duty free area is worse than ever now!!

I was warmly welcomed at the Clubhouse. Sorry if I missed anyone in there as I wasn't aware anyone else was travelling as I never posted a hello and I only saw pjh's 'hello from the Clubhouse' post whilst I was sat on the aircraft!!

The Clubhouse wasn't too busy. This was my first time in the fully refurbished Clubhouse. I headed straight to the Spa to book a haircut followed by breakfast in the Brasserie. I went up and had a look at the Igloo VS have installed which was generating a fair bit of interest.

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Service was good the whole time I was there.

The VS5 flight was called around 11:45 and as I said my goodbyes and headed to gate 16. No waiting as priority boarding was working well. 2 jetways in use as well. Upper Class where using door 1.

This is where the wow factor started and never ceased the entire flight!! :D

I was welcomed on-board by name, welcomed back as a Gold card holder and even asked if I would like escorting to my seat. As soon as I sat down the CSS came offered a drink and also welcomed me back. I was again addressed by my name which continued the entire flight. A short time later the FSM also came and introduced himself to me and once again I was welcomed back and thanked for my loyalty.

The CSS informed me that my duty free-free order ad been loaded and he would bring it to me shortly after take-off which he did.

We had 288 pax on-board today (so a nearly full flight. Upper Class was full). Not sure on the crew numbers but there where 3 flight deck crew.

We pushed back a little late as we where waiting for some late pax. The door where soon closed though as we used back at 12:50. The IFE was switched on and once I remembered it wasn't touch-screen, it worked perfectly the entire flight. I watched a few films and TV programs during the flight.

Drinks where offered and meal orders taken. I had the soup followed by the Seafood Linguine which was fantastic. One of the best main courses I've had in a long time.

The crew came round and asked me if I wanted anything multiple times during the flight and I was addressed by name every single time. The FSM also came and had a quick chat with me again. I paid a couple of visits to the bar during the flight. The seat-belt sign only came on once during the flight which was quite a long one today at 9 hrs 45 minutes.

I got a little peckish about 2 hours before landing so I had a burger which was as good as ever. This was actually just as the Afternoon Tea service was starting. The flight passed relatively quickly and before long where where on approach to MIA.

We had the shortest taxi I've ever experienced at MIA, it was around a minute or so. The walk to immigration at MIA doesn't get any shorter and just keeps going and going!! It was a bit chaotic around the Global Entry machines as many of them where not working, though it didn't take long and I was quickly through immigration. The longest wait was at the luggage carousel but the bags soon started coming off. A quick pit-stop outside for some nicotine and then the trek to the car hire centre with the walkway / monorail. I'd done online check-in with Alamo so headed straight down to the garage.

I'd already booked an MIA airpot hotel for tonight as I couldn't be bothered driving all the way to the coast that time of night which I'm doing tomorrow instead.

All in all an absolutely fantastic VS flight. In fact it was probably the best VS flight I've ever been on in the ~18 years I've been flying VS now. :cool:

When VS get it right, boy do they get it right with bells on!!! A very complementary letter will be going to VS when I get back home.

It will be interesting to see if my original Premium Economy miles / tier points post automatically or not.
#940393 by buns
29 Dec 2017, 06:52
James
Thanks for such a super TR!!

Being able to upgrade with miles is a bonus and certainly mitigates any concerns over the aircraft change ;-)

But of course the icing on the cake must be the on board experience - I have to agree, when the FSM is on the ball and briefs the crew, then VS cannot be beaten

Enjoy sunny Florida and happy New Year

buns
#940403 by hiljil
29 Dec 2017, 09:17
What a lovely TR to read with all those positives. So pleased it was such a great experience. Can’t believe you had such a short Taxi to the gate.
Have a wonderful time in Florida. Really envy you the sun & warmth :-D
#940417 by mitchja
29 Dec 2017, 14:21
Just to add. Having read a few comments on here about the condition of the older A346’s. The Upper Class cabin and seat where both in good condition (I was on G-VWEB).

Yes OK, the IFE isn’t as good as VERA Touch, however, it’s still perfectly usable and is still on-demand.

I paid for a 1 hour WiFi pass which worked well on multiple devices. It’s the GoGo system on the A346’s which I actually prefer over the T-Mobile system on the B789’s as the GoGo system doesn’t have any usage caps (other than time on the 1 hour pass).
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