The other day I posted this question on my FB page (please come & ‘like’ if you haven’t already)
‘Have you ever been seated right at the very back of the plane? What has annoyed you about it?’
Now I wasn’t trying to be princessy about my flying habits. We are almost always seated in Economy but either myself or my travel agent have usually pre-booked decent economy seats. Not this time. So my first travel tip to my friends is if you are flying with Virgin, take advantage of their free pre-assigned seating service. You can either go to ‘My Booking’ online or get your travel agent to pick seats up to 24 hours in advance. After that you are at the mercy of the online check-in (didn’t work for me) or worse still, going old school and checking-in at the airport.
To return to the above point, myself and Mesdames Jetlag & Mayhem were assigned on the last row, straddling the loo and the galley. We were on a A340-600 and the back 5 rows are 2-3-2 before moving into 2-4-2. On the upside it was nice to have our own bank of 3 and not have to endure the death stare of a fellow passenger (I get it, nobody wants to sit beside young kids on a long haul flight). However, when I’m doing it again, I will book the great seats I had on my outbound leg.
VS200 departs London at 22:30. Despite the initial lights off for take off, they will then keep them on for the first few hours until after the dinner service. If you have a child in a bassinet who you think might be bothered by the lights, you might want to pack a black pashmina that you can drape over to create a semi-blackout.
Travel Tip – don’t forget to pre-order your children’s meals. They arrive far in advance of the adult meal (especially if you’re at the back of the plane) and actually the Virgin one was pretty decent (think hummus & carrots and spag bol).
You don’t need me to tell you to always bring an arsenal of entertainment for the kids. You cannot rely on the seatback TVs – due to technical issues they kept having to reset those at the back of the plane for the first few hours. Bring sticker books, colouring-in, rainbow looms etc for the first bit where you aren’t allowed your electronics and then produce the iPads/iphones once the whingeing starts. I was quite unimpressed by Virgin’s entertainment – handsets that are very slow to respond and a minimal selection of kids movies.
Temperatures onboard were arctic so luckily I had packed some of our own blankets as there were no spares and dressed the kids in layers.
One of the few upsides of being right at the back is that as a solo parent, I could leave my 2 year old in the seat with the iPad whilst I took the 5 year old to the loo.
Once the lights had gone down (although it is still quite bright when you are at the back of the plane), my 5 year old went to sleep. I gave my 2 year old some phenergan and they both slept for approx. 7 hours. Travel Tip – as soon as your kids go to sleep, you must try to rest! You never know how long this window will be! The back of the plane is fairly noisy – people think it’s ok to congregate at the back and have conversations whether it’s Chinese tour parties or cabin crew. Thankfully you get some earplugs and an eye mask in the Virgin vanity bag.
Arrival to Hong Kong Airport
The bliss of those words ‘cabin crew, 20 minutes to landing’. Then self congratulation that you got through the flight and even kind words to your kids as you realise they were pretty well behaved. Be prepared for a long walk at HK Airport, including a short train ride to Immigration.
I had pre-booked a taxi to collect us and it was very helpful to have an extra pair of hands assist with my ten tonnes of luggage and two overtired kids.
Would I fly Virgin again on the Hong Kong – London route? Yes as it always appears to be the cheapest fare available. Next time I will pre-book better seats!
Travel Tip – If you are travelling with kids aged 12 or above, make sure you sign them up as members of the Flying Club to start collecting those miles pronto.