“ Country: Belgium „
I have mixed feelings about Virgin Express. I have been on a Virgin Express flight only once, from Brussels to Barcelona and back. Here are some of my thought on this experience: the good things -the flights left exactly on time, there were no delays at all, which I think is exceptional in air travel. If you can believe what Virgin Express claim on their website, nearly 90 % of their flights depart in time, so that is quite a feat. -although the meal service was very basic and limited, we did get a tasty sandwich and a drink, which is perfectly acceptable on a 1 1/2 hour flight. the bad things -the price!!! Virgin Express CLAIMS to be a 'low cost' airline, but in my opinion that refers to the profit the company makes by saving on all kinds of things without lowering the one thing that could be an advantage for the customer: the fare. In fact, I found out I paid a bit more for this flight than the cheapest fare on a direct flight with Iberia (which does offer full meal service and more room on the plane). Virgin has a nice little text on their website explaining that they are a 'no fringe' airline and that they save on costs by giving only a very basic and limited service and I would be perfectly willing to accept this IF in return I got a (really) cheap fare. However, in my experience they are only cheap on certain routes (I believe flying Virgin from Brussels to Heathrow can be cheaper than taking the Eurostar train, for instance). -the seats on the plane. THANK GOD this was only a relatively short flight, otherwise I would have gone mad because the seat was incredibly narrow and there was no leg room at all. At one point I had to use the bathroom, it took quite a lot of time and effort just to get out of the row into the aisle, I can assure you. I can understand they want to fit as many people as possible onto the plane, but they have really exaggerated... - the staff: they were, to say the lea
st, not overly friendly on this occasion. It started at the check-in, where the check-in agent made a big fuss about the fact that we had not waited in the queue, even though when we arrived there was one person standing at each of the two check-in desks and no-one waiting in line! The crew on the plane did their job but a friendly smile was apparently too much to ask. They all had an arrogant and some of them a downright unfriendly look on their faces. Maybe Virgin saves on their wages as well?! -Not that this bothered me directly because I had booked a ticket with Virgin express, but due to some strange arrangement some Sabena flights (now SN Brussels Airlines flights) were/are operated by Virgin, among others the flights to BCN. I wonder how the service offered by Virgin is reconciled with the normal company profile of this airline, especially in business class (there was a curtain between economy and "business" but the seats and the meals were the same everywhere!)? Conclusion: I would fly this airline again if they offer me a REALLY cheap fare which makes up for the lack of service... Next time I fly to BCN it'll be on Iberia though!
I've just flown to and from Brussels using Virgin Express. The experience was certainly not earth shattering, but it wasn't that stressful either. I guess this is reflected in the price (a £26 deal). Before checking in I was a bit worried because they don't issue you with tickets (to save money apparently), you just get a reference number, but check in was smooth and unproblematic. The flight itself was fine. A standard flight, really, just enough leg room to be reasonably confortable for the hour. Inflight you get a cup of tea and biscuits. Everything else you pay for. My one complaint is that they pumped Geri Halliwell into the cabins before take off (her music that is). Coming back was more of a problem as the computer had broken down so there was a long queue at check in. I do not know if this is a regular occuerence but it was sorted reasonably quickly by the friendly staff. In conclusion : no frills flying fun. Staff are friendly. A good service for the price.
Exceeding expectations Virgin Express is the best of the low price airlines. It is based in Brussels, Belgium and is a separate airline from the more famous Virgin Atlantic. Booking is simple on a web-site whose clarity and speed is an example of how online booking should done. You can book only one way flights, so if you want, as I did, a return from Brussels to London then you book each leg as separate flights. Prices are clearly shown, and differ with less popular flights cheaper. On booking you are given a reference number, which you must quote when arriving at check in. At check in you are asked for your seating preference and given a boarding card. This was a major bonus for me as I heartily dislike the 'free seating' operated by some other discount airlines which leads to frantic scrambles onto the plane to bag seats, with the resulting separation of slower parties. The next highlight was the plane, which had comfortable leather seats that reminded me of the old 'all business class' British Midland. But the real surprise was after take off when smartly uniformed keen young cabin staff distributed complimentary biscuits and hot drinks served in a good-sized mug. I really appreciated that drink and not having to scrabble for the appropriate coins to pay for it. I wondered if the female cabin crew appreciated the word Virgin embroidered in large letters across the back of their uniform blouse. I flew four times between Brussels and London at the end of 2000, and was totally satisfied. They delivered more than I expected.
Virgin Express The airline Virgin Express is not exactly the same company as Virgin Atlantic, it is Virgin’s budget sector airline, that I think it is run by Sabena, the official Belgium carrier. This means that you cannot use your Virgin Atlantic Airmiles to buy tickets or use the frequent flyer program to speed up check in, basically they operate a similar service to EasyJet and Go. Last year I bought tickets for four people to Rome from their website, after surfing between EasyJet, Go, RyanAir, LastMinute.com, ebookers and a few others, I found they offered the cheapest prices. Considering that we were flying on a Bank Holiday weekend the overall price of the return fairs per passenger was £163 including tax. The cheapest tickets found anywhere else were £234 with RyanAir. This was a flight on a Saturday morning flying out of Heathrow, there was only one small problem and that was the fact that we had to change at Brussels, this is the case with the most of their flights (makes sense as the service is run by Sabena). However the website is plain and simple to find your way around, and includes a map showing all destinations that they fly to. Moreover the booking process is very swift and only takes 3-5 minutes to book your flight. Like EasyJet you must enter your start point, date including return date, number of people travelling and destination and the website will give a list of all possible flights and prices. From the UK most flights fly out of Heathrow, but some fly out of Gatwick. It is possible to fly direct to Shannon (Ireland), Copenhagen and Berlin from the UK, but to fly to any other destinations, that include Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Milan, Nice and Rome, then you must change at Brussels. This is the only obvious inconvenience. When you decide to go ahead with a transaction the website gives you a reference number to present at the ticket desk at your departure airport, there are no tickets involved. I found this
very convenient, but EasyJet I am told use exactly the same procedure. The only problems that could occur are those regarding security, but this is checked for, as you have to produce passports at the ticket desk. As for the departure flight, I found this very enjoyable, the flight from Heathrow included a mini Breakfast, consisting of a roll and coffee, it was just about edible. The actual airplane was quite comfortable, there was enough legroom considering it was cow class and the seats were all upholstered in leather. Also the staff were courteous and helpful. This was repeated in all the airplanes. The connection in Brussels was not a problem, we had to hang around Brussels airport for approximately one and a half hours, but this enabled us to shop in the duty free (although not really duty free when travelling in EU) and get a bite to eat. However on the return journey the plane was delayed by an hour and this caused problems in Brussels. It became a worry that we would miss the connection at Brussels. When we arrived in Belgium, we had to run around the airport, go through passport control, and the get to the plane to fly back to London. The joke was after having all this stress and running halfway around the terminal, we got back on the same plane again. It is now quite funny, but we were not amused at the time. Overall not the best of experiences, but to be fair to Virgin Express the price is very reasonable, and you must be prepared to accept potential problems if your journey includes a connection. Delays are not usually the fault of the airline, in this case it was bad weather in Brussels. If I require flights to Europe again, I will definitely check the prices on their website and possibly use them as a carrier if there are large price differences.
Virgin are an unusual airline. They seem to be somewhere between your bog standard, full frills airline, and the Easyjet era of no frills airlines. The prices, if booked 21 days in advance or more can be excellent value - I have flown to milan for £45 and to Berlin for just £25 before. The service does not reflect these low prices, however as hot drinks and bisuits are provided on all flights, and all aircraft have leather seating! Most of the network involves a change of plaes at Brussels Airport. This was, at one time easy - even enjoyable, but during the current rebuilidng of the airport is a bit more awkward. On flights to Barcelona and Milan/Rome, a light lunch is now provided free. The food is not great, but at those prices - who cares! The staff are also much nicer and seemingly better trained than at airlines like Easyjet, and there are more of them. I like the way that the mimium 20 min delay is now built into the timetable, so you always arrive on time! Virgin are making a huge loss, and you can see why - too many frills at a no frills price!
i had to fly with virgin express last year and had a very bad time with then i took four kids with me and had no help at all the food on there is very poor that my kids could not eat it we had to pay 50p for a little cup of cola witch was virgin own brand or there was tea or coffe for free and with one of the kids only being seven a hot cup of tea is not very good
I've flewn on Virgin Express Several times, and several times I haven't been very happy by the time I reached my destination. I usually fly business class and reserve a window seat, quite often it's seat 1a which is great as you get more leg room, this is not something I would normally get excited at as at 5ft 1 I've usually got adequate leg room but on virgins planes I usually have about 1 inch between my knees and the seat in front. This means that you end up with the poor tall person next to you's knees in your face! But on one occassion I was told when checking in that I would have to have a centre row seat as there were no aisle or windows seats left, of course I pointed out my reserved seat, to be told I didn't have one. I was told if I wanted to complain I could go over to the Virgin Express desk, so I did and was told that the aircraft type had been changed since I'd made my booking and there was no seat 1a on the plane, he did however confirm that I did have a reserved seat. Ok I accept mistakes happen but once on the flight I realised it wasn't the only mistake that happened that day. As well as the normal 20 minute delay (don't worry they've already incorporated this into the flight time so you do normally arrive on time) I found that people had been allowed to bring on too much hand luggage (they probably knew Virgins track record with luggage), so much that they had to store it in the toilet during take off, economy class was free seating although people had been allocated seat numbers which lead to pushing, shoving and arguing, and the two business men either side of me were both given very wide complimentary newspapers which due to the seats been rather narrow ment I ended up with 2 elbows in my face! The free seating arrangement happens quite often and always causes chaos as people travelling individually all choose an empty row to sit in then a group of people arrive and want to sit together, th
en people start asking people to move, some will, some won't either way it holds the whole plane up. In summary, I used to hate travelling with them but now I just look at it this way I know it's not the height of luxury and you get what you pay for, I get to my destination and back, that's what I pay for. I don't want to pay twice the price so someone can direct me to my seat.
I have taken Virgin Express a couple of times to Rome Fiumicino. It's a cheap flight and easily booked from the website and seems to be more flexible regarding timings and prices than some of the other budget airlines. As for the actual flights, well, they codeshare with Sabena and it is all quite efficient except once when I went they cancelled the first flight from London to Brussels and I arrived in Rome about 6 hours late.. with my luggage arriving a day later as it had been in Brussels. One of my friends had exactly the same thing happen on a different occasion also flying from Gatwick to Rome via Brussels. Once might be unlucky, but twice seems to be a little more worrying. Just make sure you label your bags well! I would travel with them again probably though, just for the ease of booking, and the fact you can fly from Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick. The actual journey time is longer but at least you can pick up some nice chocolates in Brussels airport while waiting for a connection!
I've flown Virgin Express several times now out of Stansted to Berlin. On the whole the service has been pretty good. Purchasing tickets is very quick and easy on the phone with little waiting time. Check in is quick too and with no tickets it's all very straight forward. Staff tend to be friendly and a bit more fun and personal than some of the other budget airlines. The planes are a little on the old side but comfortable enough for short hops but take something to read as the only inflight entertainment comes from watching the back of the grey leather seats!! Not that interesting! Because both Stansted and the Berlin airport they serve are relatively small delays getting trough the airport are always short. Problems do occur often at the outbound Stanstead side though because the plane comes from Shannon and seems to be always slighly delayed leaving. I guess that must be common and is built into the shedule as we always seem to get to Berlin kind of on time even with the delay. You have to pay an exhorbetent amount for tiny tins of soft drinks (come on Mr Branson at least give us 1/3 litre cans not those one gulp things) although Tea and Coffee are free. Sometimes you get a snack, smometimes you don't. I think Virgin could do with selling decent food like Go do. People will pay for a decent sandwich. If you are travellling on business then the fligt leaves a little early to return to the UK (1815) leaving you only 5-6 hours on the ground which is a bit tight (especially if there is a dealy outbound) so a later return would be helpful. All in all though the service is very friendly and efficient and most of all user friendly. The pricing is very competitive and fare availability is good.