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Virgin Atlantic / terrible experience!

1 United Kingdom Review updated:

My husband Mr Malcolm Ronald Silk and myself are regular fliers with virgin as you will see if you check your records. We have always been so impressed with virgin that we both took out virgin credit cards and joined the flying club with promises that we would be able to use our points earned for upgrades. However on December 6th 2007 we had booked to fly out to Barbados from Gatwick Airport on VS29 and to return on the VS30 flight to Gatwick on the 4th January 2008. Despite numerous phone calls to yourselves requesting we upgrade to premium economy we were repeatedly told that we could not do this so far in advance. We tried again nearer the date only to be told that it was fully booked. We arrived at Gatwick Airport on the 5th of December to make use of your day before check in and to make sure we were at least in with a fighting chance of getting extra leg room seats. When we got to the early check in desk we managed to get the extra leg room seats however whilst this was being processed we over heard staff saying about all flights were going to be changed to Heathrow airport which was news to us. I asked the staff member dealing with our seating arrangements about this which she seamed rather surprised and said "haven't you been informed about this because you are in fact returning to Heathrow airport and that it should say it on your tickets". We produced all of our paper work and she agreed there had been a terrible error because someone had failed to notify us. This was not a good start to our holiday as we had arranged to stay over night at a nearby hotel and leave our car there for the duration of our holiday. We would never have agreed to fly with virgin from one airport and then back to another.

It was obvious that nothing could be resolved at this short notice so the girl arranged for some coach tickets to transfer us on our return from Heathrow back to Gatwick so we could pick our car up. Because we had requested extra leg room seats we were to go to the ticket desk the following morning and pay and pick up our new designated seat tickets. I was very upset by all this but thought we'll make the best of a bad job. The following morning we went to the ticket desk and I was explaining to the young lady on the desk about our dilemma, she then informed us that we could in fact upgrade to premium economy (so called full) great we said there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We asked if we could pay with our virgin flight club points to which we were told that we could if we paid another £230.00 and then 10,000 points each deducted from our flight club. I couldn't understand why the whole upgrade could not be taken from the points as we both have thousands of them. She was very nice but explained it was company policy. I think my husband by this time just wanted me to be happy so he paid it and we upgraded. After a couple of days in Barbados my husband checked his email which is, to find that an email from yourselves was sent out to us only ten minutes after we had left your day before check in counter informing us that our return flight had changed to Heathrow. On the 30th of December we filled in our check in and chill out forms and posted them in the virgin box as we were to fly on the 4th of January, on the special requests we wrote upgrade to premium economy if not extra leg room seats please. However we know from past experience that no one ever takes notice of the comments on the form. On the 4th of January we took our suit cases earlier than the designated time to Cocomos Beach club on the West Coast in Barbados so we could take advantage of the check in and chill out, we thought going early would again give us a fighting chance of extra leg room seats. Whilst we were waiting we were told by other virgin users that they had booked premium economy seats for the return journey whilst they were back in England, in fact one couple told us that virgin had actually rang them a few days before they left England and offered them the seats as they also had been told previously that they couldn't pr-book them. All these people had originally booked all their virgin flights after us. As you can imagine I was not happy at all again. When the virgin representative arrived with all the tickets I did not complain to her I just asked if there was any chance of us upgrading to premium economy if not then could we please have exit seats for the extra leg room. She then phoned the airport and said yes we could upgrade to premium economy. I asked her three times in front of other witnesses if she was sure they were premium economy seats and she said yes each time and informed us to pay and pick up the tickets from the ticketing area of virgin in the airport. Halleluya I thought at least we'll have a relaxing comfortable journey home I couldn't praise her enough. This was very short lived as when we got to the ticket desk we were informed that there were no premium economy seats for us as they had all been taken weeks before, my heart sank. Are you sure and explained all about that morning and how I had checked three times with the girl. They replied no definitely no upgrades for us and to add insult to injury there were now no extra leg room seats either which we new were available that morning because other people after us got them. I was now in tears but there was nothing we could do about it. I asked for the girls name who had supposedly booked us the seats that morning but no one new it but said that she was a new girl and must have been mistaken and given us the wrong information. Both my husband and I are very disappointed and feel that virgin have really treat us shabbily from start to finish. My biggest concern now is that we are due to fly to Palm Springs in America on the 29th of February and return on the 17th March with virgin, this time both flights are to and from Heathrow which I am not looking forward to all the hassle with virgin flights again.

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  • Ni
      20th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    My letter to Virgin. Based on my horrible, horrible experience:

    20th October 2010

    To Virgin Atlantic:

    Following my call to Virgin Atlantic Customer Service around 11:30pm tonight, I would like to log a formal complaint against an employee at your call centre called Michelle. I assume she is based out of a centre in or around India. Not only was she completely disrespectful, almost abusive, during our telephone conversation implying (explicitly) that she was doing me a favour by taking my call, but she also hung up on me when I asked to speak to her supervisor. I am outraged! It is my understanding that it has become popular amongst businesses to outsource services like call centres, but really some level of decency must be maintained.

    I am completely dismayed and feel shaken by the event. When I booked this ticket I went out of my way to select Virgin, knowing that although I was paying a higher cost I was also getting a better service. After realising I booked the incorrect date for my return trip I immediately called the FreePhone/Toll Free number and received not help, but a tirade. Is this how Virgin is training its staff? To yell at customers? Shocking!

    I would like to request that a formal investigation is launched and that this employee Michelle is terminated, or at the very least severely reprimanded and retrained. Michelle represented the Virgin brand very poorly, indeed, and I will think twice about booking with Virgin again lest I have to deal with someone like her; as a flight attendant her negligence could be lethal.

    Still my incorrect ticket remains unchanged and I am hesitant to call your FreePhone/Toll Free number again. Who would want to go back for a second round of abuse? No customer should have to take such treatment! Absolutely horrific. An abomination for the company and its stockholders. I just can't believe it. This is not the Virgin I have come to know and love.

    In the interest of full disclosure I am sending a copy of this letter to Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading. Other people must be protected from this type of indecency.

  • Em
      9th of Aug, 2011
    0 Votes
    Virgin Atlantic - They charged us almost $600 more to take seats on a flight four hours later that was 70% empty
    Virgin Atlantic
    United States

    This the tale of how Virgin Atlantic decided to make an extra $600 off of us when its staff knew we had no other option. Don’t risk your trip on this airline. This can easily happen to you.

    We were returning to the U.S. after a four-day visit to London. We were delayed leaving because I had been feeling ill that day. We arrived rushing as best we could, and were even held up by Virgin staff trying to sell a seat upgrade.

    By the time we arrived at the baggage check-in, it was 3:05 P.M. and our flight was leaving at 4 P.M. The agent took a few moments to review our documents, then asked someone else whether we could still put our bags on the flight. That person said no. Given that there were other passengers who were already at the check-in desk when we arrived who still were loading their bags, I know it was merely a Virgin policy to not allow us to load the bags and not any other restriction from the airport.

    What was the next and only option? They charged us almost $600 more to take seats on a flight four hours later that was 70% empty. It sent an unmistakable signal: Virgin enjoys sticking it to customers who had some bad fortune.

    Again, don’t risk a flight on this airline. It’s like the worst of the credit card companies or other shysters in the market – the second they can find a reason and know you have no alternative, they’ll unjustly suck as much money out of you as they can.

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