I was invited by Virgin Atlantic Airlines to travel with them to London and then on to Edinburgh.before lockdown.
Flying SAFAIR from Cape Town to Johannesburg OR Tambo.
Check-in was efficient and smooth.
SAFAIR have a Priority Boarding option that one purchases with the ticket and it works well. Blue leather seats and more than enough legroom. With Covid Level 1 there is no food to purchase option offered.
Under normal circumstances SAFAIR accept the correct amount of cash or cc card / debit card onboard for food and drinks. It costs R90 if you would like to wrap your bag before checkin.
On arrival at OR Tambo, I proceeded to International Departures - it is a quite a long and confusing walk with many food outlets spilling into the walkway.
VIRGIN ATLANTIC : Johannesburg / London Heathrow
Efficient check in and the staff friendly and professional.
I was taken to the Lounge just after Immigration on the Upper Level.
Service was good with a large variety to eat and drink.
I travelled Premium Economy which is the class between Business and Economy.
I was lucky enough to be seated on seat 21 A which is a bulkhead seat.
One is given a foot rest after take off.
Pre flight drinks offered.
Seat is quite big and I enjoyed the space.
Virgin no longer offer Beef on any of their flights and offered Pork instead
This went down surprisingly well with most people accepting the Pork option.
There was Pasta as well as a Chicken dish.
Tea or Hot Chocolate
Blueberry waffles for breakfast with honey and yoghurt was a treat along with tea or coffee.
The little roll of sweets you are given before landing is also a nice touch.
Virgin does not offer sleep socks but an eye mask / toothbrush / toothpaste and ear plugs.-
I landed 25 minutes early and made the mad dash to Immigration.
There are no landing cards to fill in anymore. The system has changed since I was there in September 2019.
Most passport holders go with UK Passport holders in the left Q and Other Passports in the right Q.
South African passport holders are now grouped with passport holders like Somalia / Ethiopia / Korea / China / Bangladesh.
.After we collected our bags we had to go from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2.
About a 10 to 12 minute walk.
I had a tour of the Virgin Arrivals lounge with their 18 showers and it was very busy.
There are ladies on hand to press suits and sew on any missing buttons.
FLYBE - LONDON HEATHROW to EDINBURGH
They fly a Dash 8 and checked luggage is 20 kgs - they are extremely strict and excess is GBP35.00 per kilo. No excuses.
Hand luggage needs to be a certain size and if not - into the hold GBP35.00
The Aircraft is tiny with a 2 - 2 configuration and once you are on board you can see why they are so strict with hand luggage.
Food to buy on the Aircraft - service was good. GBP2.50 for coffee.
FLYBE will become VIRGIN CONNECT and will be revamped.
Flight was 1 hour 50
Edinburgh Airport is a haphazard of passages and walkways through restaurants and shops.
It was 9 degrees when we landed so it was quite warm for Scottish standards.
I transferred to the Novotel Edinburgh Park Hotel which is quite close to the Airport.
This is a business hotel with a Krispy Kreme opposite so all good.
I took the tram from the hotel and 10 minutes later was in Princes Street, the City Centre.
GBP1.70 one way,
The train passes Murrayfield Rugby Stadium so the hotel is a good place for anyone coming to watch Rugby.
You don't need to be in the City Centre at all.
Edinburgh is not an expensive city and I found food and drink to be quite reasonable.
I did a Hop on Hop Off Tour with Bright Bus Tours to get an overview of the City which is quite compact.But there are lots of building sites so expanpansion is on the cards. Edinburgh Castle offers great views of the City.
The whisky tour just down from the castle was very interesting - gave a general overview of Scottish Whisky with an interactive tour similar to the tours at Madame Tussauds. I also went with the Majestic Tour bus and did a Tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia which was lovely. I had a little spare time to shop and of course PRIMARK is a hit with South Africans no matter the rate of exchange !!
FLYBE : EDINBURGH TO LONDON HEATHROW.
I transferred back to Edinburgh Airport but it was easily accessible from the city by Tram for GBP1.70 and the hotel was only one stop by tram.
The fight back to London was the same and I look forward to the changes that VIRGIN will make to the Airline. Collected luggage Terminal 2 and transferred to Terminal 3 and checked in. I went on a tour of the Virgin Lounge. VERY POSH....service amazing and of course I had the SALMON.
On the return flight to Johannesburg I had the same Premium Economy class seat and enjoyed every minute of the flight. Once again Pork was on offer and well received. The little black salt and pepper aeroplane shakers are too cute.
I landed at OR Tambo 20 minutes early and collected luggage and cleared immigration. Walked Domestic departure to British Airways check in at Terminal B for the flight to Cape Town. On the ball - excellent check in.
Representative in charge directing clients to counters. Priority check in at the gate enforced. No pushing in, Hand luggage is checked and if they are not happy it gets tagged there and then to the hold. Service on board is excellent.
Under normal conditions a vegetarian option is also offered for lunch. Adequate leg room. Flight arrived on time. Happily my luggage was not tampered with as it costs GBP13.00 to wrap your bag at Heathrow. I have a URWORLD Sim Card that I use for International trips - I loaded R 200.00 on it and it was more than enough to see me through the week.