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AlBlue’s Blog

Macs, Modularity and More

Coding on a plane

2007

Sitting at the barCoding I recently had the opportunity to fly with Virgin Atlantic for the first time, and I have to say that out of all the business-class airlines that I've flown on, Virgin definitely provide the best quality service. For a start, they organised a car to pick me up from home (over 80 miles away from Heathrow) and take me back again; and although I had to move my return date, the car booking had automatically been moved too. The only downside is that as a (relatively) new airline, there's not as many routes as some of the more established carriers, but the route is improving all the time. If I had a choice on a route I needed to take between Virgin and another carrier, I'd choose them.

It's also the first time that I've been in an aircraft seat with an airbag. Because all the seats are angled sideways (as opposed to BA's front/rear facing pairs) there's an airbag in the belt which will be triggered if needed. It's a neat idea, like an automobile airbag, you wouldn't want to be in a situation to try it out ...

The other nice thing about Virgin is that there's a bar on board that you can sit at and chat with fellow passengers. It's much like the galleys of existing aircraft, except opened up a little to give a feeling of more space. There's not much more than 4 seats room, but it is enough to give a more relaxed atmosphere to the flight. You even get given a set of pyjamas to wear (which about half of the passengers seemed to take up) and by all accounts they're quite comfortable. The bed area is also very nice; the seat flips over to give a proper mattress (as opposed to other business class beds that have you sleeping on the seat in a fully reclined position). As a result, the bed is more comfortable and gives a little bit more space than others; including a neat wallet/glasses compartment that arises vertically from the bed and then depressed back down to give a secure storage whilst not getting in the way.

Lastly, the in-flight entertainment system seems pretty neat. You get to choose from a variety of different films, and start/stop them, so unlike other aircraft where there's a bank of VHS-C tapes sending the same stuff to everyone, you get to pause or rewind when you see something ludicrous on screen. In addition, there's in-flight power and Virgin supply Targus power adapters (which seem to be much nicer than the current Belkin? transformer that I have; incidentally, it doesn't work on BA's 747s). Not only that, but they have a suite of power adapters that allows the cord to be plugged directly into the laptop, without going through the power brick first. (Of course, when I get a new Apple Laptop, I'll be able to get the in-flight power adapter to do the same thing.) As a result, I was able to use the daytime journey to put together some code for Eclipse's Sort Members functionality, some of which made it to the 3.3M5 new and noteworthy.

It's also worth noting as a sideline that other business-class-only flights are starting to come together. For example, SilverJet have been advertising hard for return trips from Luton to New York, whilst MaxJet and EOS Airlines are doing the same route between Stanstead and New York. It looks like the days of some of the traditional carriers charging rip-off prices for their business class cabins now have some serious competition.