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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Flight - VS201 Sydney to Hong Kong

The train that took us from the domestic to the international terminal was a rather dodgy local train - aromatically challenged and graffiti ridden we were thankful that the trip was indeed 120 seconds long.

The Virgin Atlantic counter wasn't quite ready for check so we stopped for a refreshing drink at the Danks Street Cafe outlet - I managed to escape with just the loss of an arm after purchasing a couple of soft drinks.

Check in here was also very easy and the rest of the process was a breeze as we were given priority passes to see us through immigration and the rest. Before you knew it we were relaxing in the Virgin lounge which in Sydney is a shared facility with Air New Zealand.

We propped ourselves on a comfy sofa by the window right next to our gate - so we could see exactly when our plane arrived

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And here it is

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and in a couple of hours it will be ready to take off.

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Inside the plane:

Having flown business previously in Qantas, BA, JAL and Alitalia we thought we'd try Virgin Atlantic. Of the other four, BA was the best because you're able to lie flat out, JAL was the worse with Alitalia figuring higher than Qantas, though I haven't flown on the new A380's so Qantas may have improved.

VA's Upper Class has an unusual seating arrangement - quasi herringbone design - you are at an angle with your seat back facing the window. Yes, if you are one of these people that like looking out of the window then this isn't for you. On the other hand, you are in such a cocooned position it is impossible for your neighbour to chat to you.

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Looking through the cabin it does have a lovely feel of space. It is 3 seats wide across and you'll either be facing the back of a seat or sort of facing someone's feet due to the angles. We selected seats that look onto the backs of chairs.

The amenities pack is a bit different too:

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Inside the shoe bag we find this:

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Pretty dodgy in comparison to other airlines. Earplugs, eye mask, socks and one of the worse excuses of a toothbrush known to man.  The shoe bag itself is pretty useless, it only really fits in smaller shoes and it's not really worth the effort of trying to put them in there.

One of the better things about the seat is the dining table

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It's a great size and it is designed so you can supposedly dine with your traveling companion. You can sort of make out the curved back of a seat - it also doubles as your footstool. Unfortunately, no normal sized adult would be able to comfortably take a seat there, let alone dine.

The food:

There is a menu which has 3 choices for starter and main, followed by the choice of 2 desserts and cheese.

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It is actually butter and you are offered a choice of reheated stale rolls.

For starters:

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I had a prawn dumpling with chilli sauce - quite passable for airplane food.

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Paalo had the spiced pumpkin soup, served extra piping hot. Apart from the temperature it proved to quite a tasty soup. Good level of spice, creamy yet still tasting of pumpkin.

For mains;

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We both ordered the fillet steak served with "potatos dauphinois" - it looked more like boiled potato cubes in a creamy, gratinated cheese sauce. The fillet steak though tender, had that very sad grey colour that comes form being over cooked.

For dessert:

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I enjoyed the cheesecake

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while Paalo had the cheese - and ofter having a taste of my cheesecake, ended up ordering one for himself.

With meals out of the way, we did our best to try to catch some shut eye before landing in Hong Kong.

We're still a bit sleeply when we're told that we have to take everything off the plane during the stop and that we'll have to go through immigration and scanning again. Seems a bit strange but best not to argue with the Chinese government.

The worse part was getting off the plane and walking into the hot and humid terminal - it was close to midnight and about 35°C with 90% humidity - almost as bad as Singapore.

Luckily for us we could wait this out in comfort in the Upper Class lounge. They had quite a large menu on offer but this platter of fruits just hit the right spot

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