I wasn’t going to rant about this but after a few days stewing I thought what the hey!!!! Reading back it’s quite long and wordy but the whole 7 and a half hours going home was sheer hell!
We went to Florida for Christmas and New year, While it was a great holiday, the one thing that let us down was Virgin Atlantic. My wife and I were travelling with our three kids aged 7,3 and 1 (15 months to be exact). The journey out was fine, We were provided with a sky cot so the baby could get his head down and give us a few hours rest. The staff onboard were great and took a shine to the kids Apart from a broken coffee cup spilling on my lap and a broken entertainment screen all went well.
The journey home was a night flight. We checked in and enquired about the sky cot again….we hoped the baby would sleep most of the way. ”Yep you got it” was reply from the manager at check in .
We boarded and found our trays were broken….all four of them. Everything roled into our laps. We were advised by the staff to use the shelf for the sky cot during the meal service, Then 15 minutes later another member of staff told us off. For Pete’s sake we had a baby and four meals to manage and no seat trays. There was no consistency our understanding here.
We were offered the sky cot twice after take off but the baby wasn’t ready so we said maybe later. As people bedded down for the night, a flight “attendant” came up to us and informed us they had decided we couldn’t have the cot. Why? The baby was over 12 months. However, he was under the size and weight limit written on the bulkhead.
Soon after a “manager” came to us, She couldn’t get our name right…Hughes? Smith? Jones?, She stood over us waved a piece of paper with the “rules” on in our face and was quite aggressive saying that she wouldn’t be giving us the sky cot no matter what our argument and that she’d be writing about us in her report. Bare in mind we hadn’t bee rude, sworn or shouted, the missus was in tears and the manager just wouldn’t stop barking rules at us…in the end we told her that if she wasn’t going to help, she should go away and leave us alone, she got the message second time around. She even offered a baby bottle as compensation when the baby was known to have a milk allergy. One passenger offered to look after the baby while the missus freshened up and gave her a tissue.
So we struggled for 5 hours, the baby wouldn’t settle, we couldn’t settle and I expect the passengers around us couldn’t settle. Finally 2 hours from home (5am UK time) the baby fell asleep in the missus arms. 1 hour later BREAKFAST. All the lights went on and we were presented with hot coffee and Tea and hot food. Remember, the trays were bust. I had one child on my knee the missus had the baby. The missus was presented with a hot drink and food, Being in a skycot seat we had extra legroom and the seat belt sign was off, she lay the baby, still asleep at her feet, so she could hold her hot food and hot drink as we had no were to put them.
Well that went down like the Titanic. She was told to pick the baby up, She refused, there was no way she was going to hold a baby while hot tea and coffee was being passed around. Besides he was asleep and peaceful for the first time in 10 hours (we’d driven for 4 hours to the airport and he wasn’t happy then either).
A manager arrived and with a little more tact than the previous manager asked us to pick up the baby, . Again we refused. We argued that if he was awake, he could walk around, sit or do what he liked, but as he was asleep he had to be restrained?, this was a problem for the cabin crew. In the end the manager said she’d have to report it, fine we said and she left.
10 minutes later after finishing her breakfast, the wife went to the loo and heard the cabin crew we talking about us. While she was in the loo they moved the trolleys around to block her path back to the seat while another flight attendant who had had nothing to do with our section of the plane set to work on me. It didn’t work. Then, when the missus got back to the seat, we were called bad parents, told we would be met by the authorities at the gate and be barred from Virgin….Bring it on we thought. 5 minutes after that the baby woke and we put his seat belt on, 20 minutes after that the seat belt sign came on.
On average I fly twice a week, In May when My father was on his death bed, Virgin let me down when I was trying to get back from the US before he died. In 5 years of flying, I have never seen a passenger spoken to as we were and frankly I felt Virgin have a clear anti baby policy. We flew Monarch to the Maldives a few years ago with our daught when she was 1 year old and the airline gave us extra seats on the day free of charge.
There were no authorities at the gate, it was just a threat, The staff were inconsistent and in some cases rude and aggressive. And if I ever have to fly Virgin again, it will be too soon. I thought about writing a letter of complaint, but what would it achieve?
So my advise, If you have a baby or an emergency Do not I repeat Do not rely on Virgin.