Sunday, November 13, 2005

Two Thumbs Up for Virgin Atlantic

I was a first time flyer on Virgin Atlantic on Saturday night, November 12, from Hong Kong to London. For the first time for myself, I arrived at the airport without my passport, only an hour and 45 minutes before the plane was scheduled to leave.

First of all, may I say that with the advent of the electronic air ticket and ticketless travel, you don’t have to remember to “bring your airline ticket” anymore because there is none. So, I would blame my forgetfulness on the fact that without an air ticket, I tend to forget to bring my passport either. I don’t know if it holds true for anyone else.

So, would I have to pay extra and leave the next day (night) instead? I was fortunate that I have found a group of very helpful ground crew from Virgin. The lady in charge of the check-in counter suggested – at 10:55pm – that if I wanted, I could try to rush home (no one was at home to help bring the passport to the airport for me) and get it and back by 11:00pm. I live on Conduit Road, and I knew it was an almost impossible task, but I thought, I must give it a shot!

I hopped on the first taxi I could in the stand, and I was lucky to get a great – fast and safe – driver who managed to drive me back and forth the airport and Mid-Levels in record time. I remembered we left the airport at 10:03pm, and we reached my home at 10:30pm, and we started off again around 10:40pm to the airport after I fetched my passport from my apartment, and arrived around 11:10pm.

The Virgin crew called me while I was looking at the clock in the taxi and thinking, could I make it or not – and reassured me that I could make it. By the time I reached the departure floor of the airport, Mr Lai of the Virgin ground crew was waiting to personally take me in to the departing gate. Fortunately, boarding was only then just started, and Mr Lai even kindly and most considerately offered to me slow down and take a breather as “we had time.” He even helped me sign up to Virgin’s frequent traveler’s plan.

Such was the kind of “beyond expectations” type of service that I never thought an airline would give. Imagine the anxiety for a traveler without a passport at the airport an hour and a half before departure. The help they offered meant the world for me and saved my whole trip from being ruined from the start.

Small things can mean a lot. It was my first time flying on Virgin Atlantic, but even before my flight started I have already been sold on their exceptional service level. The on-board service was also among the best business class services I have had on any airlines. Although I did not get the massage treatment I signed up for – like for most people, that really doesn’t matter anymore.

Thank you, especially the ground crew of Virgin Atlantic in Hong Kong. You deserve my big thank you.


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