#939247 by Fuzzy14
23 Oct 2017, 13:09
Family of 5 off to the House of Mouse

Picking up from the previous trip report, we didn’t fancy getting the 0630 flight to Gatwick so we flew down the night before, landing late and headed to the Premier Inn. This is a delayed holiday from June, and flying to Tampa as we got it at a bargain price and heard good things about the route. Our flight was at 1150 but as Glasgow had checked our luggage through we were able to let the kids sleep until 0830 before getting up and having an excellent breakfast in the hotel. 2 adults and 3 kids fed for £22. The hotel staff were great with the kids (not just ours) handing out balloons and keeping them happy (we had to hand the balloons back as can’t take them on a plane!) It was almost 1030 by the time we jumped onto the monorail back to the South terminal, went straight through a quiet security, didn’t bother with the shops and by the time we walked to the round annex it was only a 10-minute wait before boarding commenced. I had the SSSS on my boarding pass so got selected for additional screening.

Boarding commenced at 1120, I was hoping it would be a quiet flight. We hadn’t pre-booked seats and there was plenty spare when online check-in opened so I moved us from the front towards the rear hoping for some adjacent empty seats to spread out. This wasn’t to be as the plane was already pretty full by the time we got on. The 777 is (for now) 3-3-3 arrangement so we went two front AB- three behind ABC with two window seats but had random stranger in the C seat. I’d last flown in a Gatwick 777 in 2014, it was old and tatty then and they haven’t done anything about it since. It wasn’t in that bad a condition just in dire need of the forthcoming refurbished over the winter with new IFE and 3-4-3 seating arrangement. I’ve flown Emirates 3-4-3 and it’s not a problem so the refurb can’t come quick enough.

Surprisingly for a Friday at Gatwick, the flight took off on time on runway 27 and we were soon heading across the Atlantic.

IFE
Decent selection of films, TV programs kids found enough to keep them entertained for a few hours. I watched Curb Your Enthusiasm and had to apologise for laughing too much, followed by Churchill. Games are poor. Systems do seem rather state of the ark with small screens and no USB charging facilities.

Dinner
I pre-booked children’s meals online for the younger two, it took a few attempts after it hit me with errors or just changing on its own accord. Based on previous experience of the children’s meals being poor quality, and these were no better, macaroni and cheese, carton of Ribena, dried fruit. The youngest ate some of his and the middle one ate my sausage and mash instead. By mid-flight they had already ran out of beer, wine, gin and Diet Coke.

Cabin Crew
Busy flight but the crew were good, one in particular was very chatty.

Flight was due to land at Tampa 1625 local time, it made it down at 1600. Our first time in Tampa Airport so we disembarked (debarked?) the plane into a familiar looking but different customs hall. Being virtually last off the plane there was a 30-minute queue for the electronic gates, which then gave me a large X so we then had to queue for another 20 minutes to speak to a TSA agent who was nice enough. I was unable to pre-register with Avis to skip the counter (it didn’t like my booking ref) so then had to queue for 40 minutes. Avis hit me with the usual BS about British Airways not giving any breakdown cover in their ‘all inclusive’ cover so got scammed for another $80 at the counter. It would also appear that when BA changed my booking back in April they flubbed the booking and downgraded my larger SUV to a smaller category of SUV (mid-size). Avis wanted a fortune for an upgrade, which I declined however it meant the car wasn’t particularly comfortable on the journeys to/from the airport but was fine for the rest of the holiday. We didn’t leave the airport until 1830, and after an eventful stop for some food didn’t reach Disney’s Boardwalk Villas until 2030 (1.30am body clock time) - later than I hoped. Ready for our beds but managed a quick walk about the boardwalk beforehand.

Overall satisfied with the Tampa Airport experience, it’s not smaller or quieter than MCO and the car rental arrangements aren’t as good. Overnight at Gatwick went without a hitch. Might get an afternoon flight down to Gatwick next time to enjoy it more as it felt a bit of a rush.

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