Most of you know you can get WiFi for free if you book direct on virgintrainseastcoast.com but if you have to book tickets through a different site for work or someone else bought your tickets it's possible you don't have a WiFi code. Add to that the fact that the new VTEC website is incomplete and is missing features such as bike reservations and catering vouchers there's a number of reasons why you might want to book elsewhere.
I first started regularly travelling GNER in 1999. They were the first operator on the East Coast Mainline to take over from British Rail and they were the company that gave me my love of rail travel and the appreciation of the East Coast Mainline offering a much more special service than you'd get elsewhere.
Even though I travelled exclusively in standard class at the time GNER still seemed special. It was the people who made (and still make) the service special.
The new Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) booking engine is now live. We pleaded with them not to release it until it was ready and key features were implemented but they decided to press ahead with it anyway. The previous WebTIS booking engine had its origins with GNER and is nearly 10 years old. Regular travellers along the east coast have come to rely on the functionality it provided.
Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) plan to replace the booking engine used on their website on 1st August 2017 replacing WebTIS which was launched back in 2007.
On 29th November 2007 the operator of the East Coast Mainline at the time, GNER, launched a brand new website and booking engine which was a significant improvement over other booking engines at the time which were all just based on thetrainline. The website didn't last long in GNER colours, National Express East Coast took over the franchise on 9th December so the site lasted under two weeks under the GNER brand.
When we had our first meeting with Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) marketing back in 2015 they explained that they wanted to make more use of technology to 'surprise and delight' there most frequent customers as well as offer occasional surprises to others. This has taken a few forms:
One of the new features of the beta Virgin Trains East Coast booking engine is the ability to purchase London Travelcard when your destination is London. If you're not familiar with public transport in London you might think this is a good idea and an useful convenience, but in reality you're being ripped off and also make things slower for others if using the station at peak times.
The new Virgin Trains East Coast booking engine (currently in beta) will bring back the ability to purchase mobile tickets (m-tickets), a feature removed from the old site after a number of problems with the old 'Ticket Wallet' app but now m-tickets have had their time and should be replaced by e-tickets which are much more flexible.
You most likely have heard of Santander Cycles although you may know then as Boris Bikes or even Barclays Bikes after the previous sponsor. They're probably the most well known on-demand cycle hire scheme in the UK although other cities are certainly catching up. The scheme is based around a network of docking stations in central London, you have to return the bikes to a free space in one of the docks when finished with them.
A recent Sunday Times article suggested that more and more people were flying 'ABBA' (anyone but BA). Never missing an opportunity Virgin Atlantic responded with an ABBA themed ad.