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#929341 by buns
25 Nov 2016, 15:18
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
Well I have finally managed to catch up on things since returning from the sunny US of A to now turn my attention to writing my outbound TR :-D

I will subtitle this latest volume of the Chronicles of Buns and Continuing Voyage on VS to Utopia as "The Good, the bad and the downright disinterested"

A brief preamble (which now seems to be a regular occurrence for Mrs Buns and myself) of needing a break at fairly short notice and getting the best deal possible for the time available - all I will say is that is once we were firm in the knowledge we could get away, then we were able to relax. Readers will of course realise that this journey was taken prior to the Great Changeover of the VS IT system and thus any reference to checking in on line / ticketing and miles allocated should of course be taken as a fond memory :-P

On the morning of our flight, we were more than ready for the Tristar driver who arrived the customary 15 minutes early. The enterprising fellow was not short of years and I felt obliged to help loading the cases and then followed a rather slower journey to Gatwick than usual, but nevertheless we were dropped off at the Departure level, so just a simple walk to check in.

The Check in desks had moved from the usual A Zone at the South Terminal which had been boarded off (no doubt to prepare for the arrival of BA!) and in the cramped conditions, the check in process was peasant enough, but lack sparkle. Before proceeding up to the Clubhouse (via security) I had to visit the Trauma Centre (otherwise known as the Foreign Exchange). Now before all you gasp to say this is not the way to do it, I had pre-booked and so got a good rate against that shown on the display boards. That said, the disinterest of the staff there and the lack of a preprepared package (as has previously been the case) delayed matters somewhat.

Security was a breeze, however, due to the delays in transport and the ForEx, meant that our attempts to meet up with Sealink, were almost thwarted but al least a brief encounter in the Corridor as he left and we entered will continue to cement of relationship for the future ;-)

By now, you will all know of my love of the Gatwick Clubhouse, so it goes without saying this constitutes the "Good" portion of this TR. Warmly greeted by the staff, both Mrs Buns and I intended to make the most of our last visit to the most special of Clubhouses. In chatting to the staff, I was both encouraged to book a flight on the last day on the current Clubhouse and on the first of the new one!! (as much as I would like to, a physical impossibility). Whilst details of the new place are not yet available, one positive note will be the use of a larger kitchen than at present and when you consider what is produced in a kitchen that size that is akin to a railway carriage kitchen it makes the offerings all the more remarkable. I made sure that breakfast, shoeshine, spa treatment, second breakfast and of course the Redheads were savoured to the full during our four hour stay :blush:

Bidding our last farewell, we made our way to Gate 32 to board Ladybird and here starts the "Bad". The UC Cabin is now looking a little tired and I wonder if it would be able to last until 2019 when it is due to be replaced. Added to this was the distinct lack of padding in both Mrs Buns' and my seat - given the premium prices the 14 UC seat command, I do hope that VS address this sooner rather than later.

A full cabin with 15 of us - yes 15, there was a seven month old baby in our number - the usual drinks were handed out and thankfully a glass of prosecco was provided on request as an alternative to the foul Gardet. There then followed an hour delay whilst a technical issue was resolved. As I pondered how nice it would have been to have remained in the Clubhouse, I nodded off dreaming of those Redheads :D

Eventually we took off and started our way toward sunny Orlando. Service commenced and was efficient and drinks orders taken. I will not go the menu again as it has been published here on countless occasions, suffice to say that like Sealink, the soup was tomato.

Having the soup, seafood linguine and the cheese plate I maintained my usual intake of Gentlemen Jack and diet coke and thought it strange that it is not offered as part of the Duty Free magazine. i watched the Ab Fab film and found it engaging (unlike mrs Buns who was not impressed at all) and had a little wander around to note PE equally full but Economy with plenty of seats free.

Mrs Buns and i were not approached for afternoon tea and when we asked, the FSM replied "I thought everyone had been served" Plates were rustled up from PE and given we were likely to be two of the four Golds on board, it confirmed to me the lack lustre FSM matched my initial impression - the "downright disinterested" portion of the TR (with the added bonus that we had to get our own coats from the wardrobe when we landed).

One of the benefits of being delayed on take off was that the Immigration Hall was empty and therefore we were through in no time and picked up our cases (which had already been removed from the carousel by the time we got there) and were on our way to our Hotel at the Florida Mall within 45 minutes of landing.

All in all a stellar experience in the Clubhouse marred by an indifferent FSM

Oh, the baby you ask?? An absolute dream, both mum and dad kept her occupied the entire flight and she seemed to enjoy the whole experience - hope mum and dad realise that they have now set the standard for future travel!!

Thanks for reading

#929343 by hiljil
25 Nov 2016, 15:39
Thank you for a most enjoyable read. Sorry to hear the seat lacked padding - quite an important point on a nine hour plus flight. Also, the lack of an engaging FSM. But, at least the good outweighed the bad and I hope you had a most pleasant stay in Orlando.
#929356 by tomthumb
25 Nov 2016, 18:52
Thank you for the TR - sorry to hear about the FSM and seating - for a premium product they do need to get their act together.
Will get my last look at the Clubhouse next week :cool:
#929358 by whiterose
25 Nov 2016, 18:58
Super TR as usual Buns, thank you. Sad that the flight was less than stellar after the brilliant experience in LGW CH. Why are VS now failing so badly on vital aspects such as seat comfort, afternoon tea, FSM attention.

Ghastly Gardet! You don't suppose they'll dumb down the CH offering instead of upping the cabin offering do you? Heaven forbid.

I did smile at the typo - peasant check-in. Loved it and yes I know I'm being a pain but it was funny.
#929362 by pjh
25 Nov 2016, 19:09
Thanks for the TR. I hope the return flight was a better experience.

whiterose wrote:Ghastly Gardet! You don't suppose they'll dumb down the CH offering instead of upping the cabin offering do you? Heaven forbid.

Nooooo. Don't give them ideas. If they do, we'll know who to blame. :)
#929364 by Hev60
25 Nov 2016, 19:18
Great trip report with plenty of really funny comments but equally some concerns ie the UC cabin seats on the 747 and the apathy of the FSM.

Shame to learn the UC checkin desk at Gatwick has gone - I have always been really impressed with that area and fingers crossed it gets resurrected in the North terminal January 2017.

Time to plan next trip back to the Sunshine State then! - however might be hard sorting out your usual 'last minute' arrangements. The new website requires considerable time & patience :D
#929367 by Sealink
25 Nov 2016, 19:47
Thanks for a lovely trip report.

The welcome from the clubhouse staff was lovely. And it was nice to briefly catch up!

When is the last day again?
#929369 by marshy11
25 Nov 2016, 19:53
When I read TR's with bad service I always have to go back to the top of the page to remind myself if it was outward or return. So sad when it's a return, doubly sad when it's an outbound in my opinion.

Thank goodness the CH saved the day. It's not good enough though, not at all.
#929370 by buns
25 Nov 2016, 19:59
Thanks for the comments

Thanks for the TR. I hope the return flight was a better experience.

whiterose wrote:
Ghastly Gardet! You don't suppose they'll dumb down the CH offering instead of upping the cabin offering do you? Heaven forbid.

Nooooo. Don't give them ideas. If they do, we'll know who to blame. :)

Me too - no sign of the ghastly Gardet stuff in the Clubhouse thankfully. If VS are so keen to save pennies then they ought to pop down to Sainsburys (or Tesco for that matter who have a simialr deal) where Lanson in a third cheaper.

As to the cabin and service, i would normally be tempted to write to Crawley Towers but if they cannot acknowledge they currently have severe IT problems on the FC front, then they are hardly going to admit the 747s need sorting ought.

Get a grip Mr Kreeger

#929371 by buns
25 Nov 2016, 20:07
Sealink wrote:
When is the last day again?

Aledegly the move to the North Terminal takes place on 25th January 2017, so last day ought to be 24 January, so fingers crossed.

Might be tempted to book a flight for the first day 8-)

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