Thursday, 29 November 2007

Virgin Ata - lantic ; We salute you

I like the randomness of different travel modes and rarely do much thinking about what form of travel will be best. I like variety. I've taken fourth class trains to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, heaving with noisy chickens and snoring rice farmers in intense heat, or more memorably one dangerous 26 hour coach journey from Rangoon to Ngapali beach on the Bay of Bengal in Burma (easily the most beautiful and tranquil beach in the world I've come across). The driver on that particular trip used vocal instructions to a "co-driver" pulling a piece of string which led out the window and underneath the bus to control the breaks. I was OK with that (I had no choice actually) but late into the darkest of nights towards the end of the journey I was compelled to use some ferociously strong language as the driver started nodding off and careering across the road until he was jolted awake by some innate ability to save his and our lives.

I was the only one witness to notice we were facing impending death as my co-passengers were asleep, so despite having only a few words of Burmese I made it clear I would personally throttle him if he fell asleep again by roaring at him in language that would have made mid 80's Millwall fans proud, and gesturing wildly like I was wringing a chicken's neck. This worked a treat and he woke up permanently at this although the snoring passengers were none the wiser.

So it was with some surprise that I received a text from Virgin Atlantic the night before my flight asking for my passport number. We were all having a few cleansing departure ales the night before and eating my red rose that darling Sasha gave me, so I couldn't oblige at the time.


I called first thing the next morning and to my surprise was confirmed as having a chauffeur to Heathrow which kind of made me feel a bit spesh. But once you've flown Bangladeshi/Ethiopian Airlines or Air India its all Bisto after that as Ricky B would say. I was however highly impressed with the whole experience because once inside, the very pleasant driver checked me in with his mobile phone, and within no time at all I was driven into the new Virgin Atlantic 'Upper Class' entrance and passed through the whole shebang within minutes. Without even time to conclude that I wasn't going to have my socks X rayed by a surly Heathrow security attendant, I sashayed into the Upper Class lounge. Virgin have got it going on and I wont even go into the massage treatment on board the plane or the bar that allows travelers to socialise and mingle a little.

Here's a brief 'squirt' as they say in the TV trade, of the lounge. I was most impressed with the food selection which included brilliant breads, roll mop herrings, fresh anchovies and lots of yummy salty things that only the Scandinavians know how to do best. All in all, Virgin Atlantic have got it going on. We salute you.

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