Flying Tartan Lassie


I remember the day it happened, the day I fell in love with Virgin Atlantic. It was a flight from London to Los Angeles – a busy flight, yet the cabin staff made it fun. Nothing was too much trouble and before we knew it we were half way across the world.
The return flight was even better. So, as you can imagine, when Virgin Atlantic announced their Little Red service from Edinburgh to Heathrow, I for one was chuffed.

Of course, as anyone who flown with Little Red knows, the route is actually operated by Aer Lingus on a wet lease – the Irish company provide the planes (with names like Tartan Lassie) and crews, which are then branded Virgin Atlantic.
The service is none the worse for that. Bizarrely, when I fly to Dublin now with Aer Lingus that service is operated by Aer Arann, but I diverse.
The great thing about having Virgin Atlantic fly from Edinburgh is that I can now book right through to New York, without having to change carrier. That’s got to be a good thing.

Anyway, here’s a wee column I recently wrote about Little Red’s inaugural weekend, complete with Love Hearts… and crisps!


Liam Rudden: Curtain up on Little Red

LOVE Hearts. Remember them? Tiny little packets of Love Hearts. That’s what the stewardess handed out as my Little Red flight began its descent into Edinburgh. A nice wee nod to the golden age of air travel, when the distribution of boiled sweets throughout the cabin ahead of take-off and landing was de rigueur.

Little Red, is the impressive new Edinburgh-London service from Virgin Atlantic – the ideal way to treat yourself to a theatre break. A short hop, in airline parlance, the 60-minute flight to Heathrow provided the perfect mode of travel for my trip to check out The Lamplighters at Chiswick’s Tabard and the following day, Quasimodo, at Islington’s King’s Head.

Both shows, in pub theatres that would be lucky to hold 90 people, restored my faith in what live theatre is capable of being. The Lamplighters, a whodunit-turned-supernatural-thriller by Edinburgh-born Godfather of Tartan Noir Glenn Chandler – well he did create Taggart – twisted and turned to deliciously unexpected resolution, while Lionel Bart’s Quasimodo, receiving its world premiere, demonstrated just how vital a production can be. The seven-strong cast brought a whole heap of love and potential to the project, which now needs an angel to put some money into it so that it can be developed further.

Of course, you could just as easily pop down to London to catch one of the big new West End shows, so many of which never venture north of the border, or when they do, it’s years later. Book for travel now and you’ll find prices from £107.97 for the return trip.
I’m sure there used to be a Love Heart imprinted with the words ‘Fly Me’. If there isn’t, there should. Maybe Richard Branson should get on to that.


First published on 10/04/2013 in the Edinburgh Evening News

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