THE RETURN: DELHI-LONDON, November 16, 2015
Boeing 787-9, Premium Economy Cabin
Boeing 787-9, Premium Economy Cabin
I arrived about two hours prior to scheduled departure (1400) at Terminal 3 of Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport. There wasn't much of a crowd around the Virgin Atlantic check-in area. I was directed to the Upper Class check-in desk (no customers ahead of me). The agent offered me a reasonably priced paid upgrade to Premium Economy up to Heathrow. I accepted: a good and fairly economical opportunity to check out their much vaunted PE product. At Delhi, Delta Platinums get Priority check-ins, but no lounge access. I cleared immigration (which can take forever at peak international departure times at night. In the middle of the day, it was smooth and quick), and got a sandwich at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Company. One of the offerings was intriguing:
|What does this even mean?|
|"Olivia Rae." Such a beauty!|
|Not bad, but the legs can't stretch out!|
|Love these large 787 windows!|
As I settled in, I discovered that my legs wouldn't stretch all the way. There is some kind of a barrier across the length of the bottom! I couldn't believe it ... Premium Economy, and my 6'3" frame couldn't actually be properly accommodated! This was a day flight, so it wasn't that big a deal. However, this would be a strong reason for me not to pay the extra to get a PE seat over a regular Coach seat, on a future night flight. In Economy, in the extra-legroom seats (accessible at no charge for Delta Platinums), I can actually stretch my legs straight out, all the way under the seat in front of me. But not in PE!
There was a nice neck pillow, a comfortable blanket, and a 500ml bottle of water, but no amenity kit (facemask, toothbrush). I guess VS only supplies those on night flights. (Delta gives these out on all long-haul international flights, at least in Comfort+.)
The taxi to the runway afforded an opportunity for some great plane spotting:
|Left: Pegasus Asia Boeing 737-800 (flying as ZM1025), to Bishek, Kyrgyzstan, and a |
Kam Air MD-87 (flying as RQ116), to Kabul, Afghanistan
|Very intriguing: A US registered Gulfstream GV, registration N36GV. |
According to the FAA, the owner is Utah Bank Trustee, based in Salt Lake City.
What is it doing in Delhi?
|An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 757-200 (flying as ET 687), getting ready to head back to|
|I'm surfing the web, somewhere near Tehran!|
|Wait, is this Flight Sim?|
The 787s are WiFi enabled. Unlike US carriers, the WiFi works globally -- the cost is a flat £14.99 for the entire duration of the flight (unlike the complicated variety of passes offered by Gogo on Delta in the US). You sign up, pay, and get a login which will work with any device (one device at a time). I found the speed to be better than the best connections I've experienced in the US (perhaps because fewer people were using it?), and I was able to watch some videos for an online class I'm enrolled in, without any hassles.
A movie and a long nap later, it was time to descend to London. The flight was over 30 minutes late, despite having departed Delhi on time, due to stronger than expected headwinds, for a total of 9h42m of flying time.
We flew right over the West End, with a nice view of the London Eye, Westminster Palace and Big Ben. Unfortunately, I didn't get the timing right on the camera. But here's a decent view of Central London nonetheless.
My bags were checked through to Atlanta. I cleared immigration in a breeze (no line), and went out to the Heathrow Hotel Hoppa bus stop outside Terminal 3 to take the H7 for my overnight accommodations. (Note: 1) It's a shame that Heathrow doesn't let airport hotels provide free shuttle service to the terminals. 2) The Hotel Hoppa costs £5 one way, or £9 roundtrip. Various websites advertise that it is a pound cheaper to buy tickets online. Except they charge a £1 convenience fee on the website! What? I just bought a return ticket from the driver.)
Part III: London-Atlanta
Part I: London-Delhi