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Bits: Virgin East Coast 50% off sale, HfP in the Daily Mail, a good Club Europe meal

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News in brief:

Virgin East Coast four day sale

Virgin East Coast is running a short sale until Thursday night.  The discount is apparently a full 50% on all sale tickets, although the deals cannot be combined with any railcards you hold.

The sale is valid for travel between 5th September and 4th November but excluding half term week of 21st to 30th October.

My very positive review of the new food offering in First Class on East Coast is here.  A review of the refurbished First Class lounge at Kings Cross will follow later this week.

HfP in the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail ran an online story yesterday about the recent cutbacks to the British Airways food and drink offering.  My recent articles on the topic were referenced as you can read here.

Similar stories have appeared elsewhere in recent days which cannot make pleasant reading for BA bosses.


An impressive meal in Club Europe

Ironically, at the same time as the Daily Mail was using my articles as the basis for a piece criticising BA cuts, I had one of my best Club Europe meals in a long time.

The picture above is a very decent cod and mash dish I got on the way down to Spain on Saturday.  I had no complaints at all.  There even a salad alternative for anyone who didn’t want a hot meal.  BA did well here.

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Comments (66)

  • Mark says:

    Just remember Virgin Trains East Coast has just announced a series of days of strike action so may be better avoided!

  • marcus says:

    OT, but does has anyone had issues with unauthorised spend on their curve card? I contacted curve and was told they are investigating it, but do I also need to contact my linked card issuer to claim on those charges?
    Currently nearly 2 weeks have passed, I have no new card and am not willing to activate this curve again as the details have been compromised.

    • Curve user says:

      @Marcus – I’ve had issues but have not need to contact my linked card’s provider. Despite the obvious inconvenience and unnerving real-time transactions flashing up on my phone as the card is being compromised, I’ve found Curve to very helpful. Worth checking closely the declaration you’re asked to email back, as in my case a number of disputed transactions were missed, as they appeared to be duplicates but were charged twice on my linked card. My fraudulent transactions took place in the third week in July; all charges have been refunded (by Curve) but like you I’m holding off reactivating …

  • Boris says:

    I’m tempted to try it for the menu.

    However 2 questions:

    – What are Virgin East Coast prices like generally? Are they as eyewatering as the West Coast?
    – Do they do First Class upgrades?

    Watch out for add-on charges. My most recent use of Virgin East Coast was booking an alternative route from Newark to Kings Cross when that bridge collapsed on the Midland Mainline near Leicester.

    On that occasion the ticket was £13.20 Advanced single booked at 7pm for a train at 10:30am the next day, but the charge to reserve a seat would be £27. We ddin’t reserve the seat as the train would be likely to get busy mainly from Grantham.

    • Genghis says:

      Advanced tickets are generally more expensive since Virgin got the franchise.

      Weekend upgrades are available

    • Andrew says:


      I’m confused by what you are saying. All VTEC advanced bookings include a seat reservation.

      If you already had an MML Booking, then during disruption you’d be accommodated on a reasonably equivalent VTEC service without additional cost.

  • Philip says:

    Rob, food looks really good. What route and what time of day were you flying?

    • Genghis says:

      I know those trains go 125mph but ‘flying’ is a bit far fetched.

      I was disappointed last week on Virgin West Coast. Took a 16.40 from Euston to Manchester in First Class and only got a wrap despite saying on National Rail that hot food served from 16.00.

  • Nick G says:

    I managed to book some tickets on VTEC after much searching at a reasonable hour. The 50% off is true if you want to travel on the 0550 train etc etc. Other than that it’s back to the usual rip off and I wouldn’t bother wasting any more time searching for the non existent sale fares

    • Lumma says:

      I booked kings cross to Sunderland for £26 in first class on the 8pm departure. (7pm was also available but required changing to a northern rail train at Newcastle where the 8pm is direct). There was also a 1pmish train for £33

      • cbw says:

        Virgin East Coast doesn’t go direct to Sunderland. What you’ve booked there is a Grand Central service, even if you used the Virgin website.

        • Lumma says:

          No it’s not. The 8pm departure goes directly to Sunderland after Newcastle. There’s 1 VTEC train each day to and from Sunderland. The other direction is really early in the morning.

  • Nick Haley says:

    Well I had (finally, after excitement caused by this site) the Cream Tea in CE on the flight to TXL on Friday (3:30pm). Cold Seranno ham salad on the return (Sunday, 7:15pm). A hot option would be nice.

    • Mr Dee says:

      That is a bit unlucky to only have a cold option if in CE at night, I definitely prefer the evening meal over the Cream Tea every time as it can be quite filling.

  • MarkC62 says:

    Good to hear the CE meal was good – we’ve also had good CE food on trips to Spain this year. However, whilst I can’t say the food was terrible on our CE trips to other parts of Europe this year, I can’t work out what BA is doing with the £20m which they announced, earlier this year, they were going to invest in improving their catering. Perhaps they reversed the decision? Anybody know? I’m starting to think that I should take some Pret sarnies on board our CW flight to MCO in November to supplement the food offering if they cut back any more!

    • Lady London says:

      Plane Food in T5 at Heathrow does very nice on plane picnic menus for a reasonable amount.
      If I’m ever flying in to Europe from there at a flight covering lunch or dinner time even in CE, my plan is to either take a baguette and some of my other faves from Pret, or to get a picnic box from Plane Food. Actually they’d both cost in the same region of pricing.

      If BA wants to switch to charging for on-board food on shorthaul that would be fine for me. But I’d expect better quality than I think BA will offer, given the constant descent downwards in BA’s offering. And their timetable of cuts seems to be shortening – wasn’t this announcement only three weeks from the previous ‘we’re taking something away from you that we used to give free’ announcement?

      • Gavin says:

        4:45 long flight back from Larnaca in Euro Traveller last night at 7:30pm. One bar run only, dismal cold sandwich, disinterested crew. I would have been very unhappy if I had paid for club which went to row 15 of the 767 as the crew didn’t bother pulling the curtain across so us plebs in Euro Traveller had ‘the right to roam’ into their part of the plane.

        • Genghis says:

          Even pulling the curtain over doesn’t stop the plebs going to the loo at the front

        • harry says:

          Rare that you get 2 bar runs in Europe these days? (Genuine question. Our regular flight is never as long as 2:30 so I couldn’t comment on 4 hr flights).

          But 1 bar run is reasonable AFAIAC.

          The crew never seem that bothered about me getting 2 refills – same for the kids – provided you are not an arse with the flight attendant buzzer.

          Just amble up the back, ask politely for your drink, exchange a few amusing words & head back to your seat. Service with a smile.

          • Gavin says:

            Larnaca based on my 18 flights there and back this year has always had 2 bar runs in ET. Crew were disengaged. Probably because they had to eat the vile sandwiches we had (they don’t seem to have hot food anymore either!)

            Had to drive back home so wasn’t bothered about getting on the sauce, but I did think drinks should have been proactively offered.

          • harry says:

            I see. I don’t think it would bother very many Europeans to only get 1 drink, even if the flight is 4 hrs.

            So if this is another cut, nae problemo from me, let’s get the fares down.

            Provided if you’re thirsty you can still amble down the back etc.

          • Brian W says:

            + 1 on the amble up to the galley and smile tactic.

            On our MCO trip last month I was invited to start helping myself from the wine drawer at the galley after a few ’rounds’ and once the masses had settled down to their after lunch movie and headphones time. A smile and a thanks goes a long way with a younger crew when coupled with “I thought I’d come to you rather than pester you constantly pressing the button” and often allows you to ‘fill your boots’. OH wasnt impressed once her film finished mind you…..just as well she was added as an additional driver on the car.

            Ive had similar experiences on flights to Malaga and Gibralter last year where BA crew were happy to serve when you go to them after the main service. If you are pleasant and helpful they will respond in a similar way.

  • Koshka says:

    I got an upgrade on the Stockholm – London route last week and was prepared for a tiny salad after my previous upgrade 2-3 years ago (the wrap in Economy was more impressive back then). The hot prawn pasta dish was a very pleasant surprise.

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