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#929740 by stuart_f
05 Dec 2016, 13:56
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At the last-minute work decided I needed to attend a conference in Orlando. Who can say no to a week of 28C when it’s turned so cold here?

My initial excitement soon faded when I opened Expertflyer to see J0 C0 D0 I0 Z0 W0 S0 H0 K0 Y9 B9 R9 L9 U9 M9 E0 Q0 X0 V0 N0 O0 as Bretty says, “once you’ve turned left you won’t want to go back” but needs must and there hasn’t been a whole lot of Y reviews on here recently so I thought I’d take one for the team.

Check-in was ‘interesting’ to say the least. The new booking system was throwing up some issues. The lady on the desk said that the old system allowed agents to override the warnings when you were doing something unusual but the new system simply refuses to process anything it doesn’t like. This proved to be a problem as my colleague and I wanted to enter the USA on diplomatic papers but the system insisted we couldn’t fly without an ESTA or Visa. I would like to apologise again to the poor family that picked the wrong queue and were stuck behind us at bag drop for the nearly 20 minutes it took to resolve.

Security was an absolute breeze and we headed to No 1 Traveller lounge to wait for boarding. The lounge was busy when we arrived but soon emptied and we had great seats to watch Ruby Tuesday taxy in.

Soon the flight was called and we trotted off to the gate where there was quite a queue for the final boarding pass check to enter the holding area. This caused confusion when it came time to actually board. An announcement had been made for a particular set of seats to board but that announcement was only heard by those inside the holding area, anyone who was in the corridor outside waiting for the boarding pass check only saw a line of people heading for the aircraft and, quite understandably, when they got through they joined in. This meant that Virgin’s carefully crafted boarding plan was broken within the first 2 minutes. Oh well…

On the jet bridge was a man handing out bottles of water and on arrival at my seat I found a pair of headphones, a pillow and a blanket. Quite a surprise for a day flight but very welcome nonetheless. Organised chaos continued around me as people with seats all over the aircraft arrived at random. I was quite glad for the delay this caused as it meant I could stream a bit more of the Formula 1 – I got all the way to lap 40 before the doors closed :D

Of particular note to those that like to travel at the front – nobody offered me any Gardet at all. A clear win for Economy over Upper!

Menu for the flight:
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The flight was almost totally full with 444 on board and 14 crew. There was an announcement apologising for a modified economy service as they were 1 crew member short. Shortly after take-off the first drinks service passed through offering wine, beer, spirits or a soft drink together with a small bag of pretzels.

Dinner service and second drinks service came together about 1h in.

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I saw from the menu there was only one starter and it was a salad (feel free to insert your own Club World joke here). I chose the chicken teriyaki for a main and this deserves special mention.

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I’m not sure which culinary wizard created this but they deserve to be employee of the month. The chicken was golden brown but oh-so-succulent, the sauce was rich and sticky and the vegetables still had a little bite to them. It was nothing short of utterly fantastic and without any exaggeration it was possibly the nicest tasting dish I’ve had in the air in any cabin. Virgin has been on Twitter promoting their tie up with Gu puddings and advertising that they would be on board from December. Well, clearly nobody told the catering team as we were served one in November. It was small but rich and delicious. After dinner, the trays were quickly cleared away and tea and coffee run followed soon after before letting the cabin settle down.

4 hours into the flight as we approached the coast of Newfoundland there was a very quiet mini ice cream (a Fab, hadn’t had one of those for years) and fruit juice run. There were plenty of people snoozing by this point and the crew took care to avoid waking them but for those still awake it was a very welcome mid-film snack.

About 2 hours before landing, somewhere east abeam Boston, afternoon tea was served.

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This included a delicious chocolate caramel thing from the grown up chocolate company. Why aren't these served in Upper? All I ever seem to find in the snack basket by the bar is hideous banana flavoured chocolate :( Another clear win for Economy over Upper here!

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50 mins before landing, a message flashed up on the IFE to use the bathroom if you needed it before the descent and to start packing up then about 20 mins before landing, just before top-of-drop mini packets of love hearts were handed out.

Sunset over Florida
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The queue at immigration was pretty lengthy by the time the back of economy arrived but with every gate manned (UK Border Force take note!) most of it had filtered through before the bags came onto the carousel.

I was really impressed with both the hard and soft product on the day flight. Well done Virgin - if the load factor is any indication they have a winner on their hands. If only they could fix that awful website…
Last edited by stuart_f on 05 Dec 2016, 22:02, edited 1 time in total.
#929749 by whiterose
05 Dec 2016, 17:00
Loved this Stuart, lots of detail, some photos and some great quirky comments. How did you contain your disappointment at the lack of ghastly Gardet? Gu desserts in Y and not in UC? Another bit of madness from VS. Glad to hear it was such a good flight and thanks for posting
#929753 by jfenney
05 Dec 2016, 17:54
Thanks for a in depth TR and photos, I too will be trying Economy on the way back from Antigua but managed upper deck :-D
#929754 by buns
05 Dec 2016, 18:09
Stuart

Grateful thanks for a very welcome TR .

A report from a "seasoned traveller - like you" ;-) will help many a new traveller who come to Site to prepare for that first journey to Orlando.

I am somewhat taken aback:

Firstly, that the product and service (even with a staff member down) was really quite good and that the treats are still there :-O

Secondly, I always thought you were Au - just shows how you can get things wrong 8-) - and would have been able to use the Clubhouse

Whilst I will never be able to get mrs Buns back to economy, I will always have it in mind should I decide to have a quick personal jaunt on VS metal (if the VS Website allows!!)

Thanks once again

buns
#929755 by stuart_f
05 Dec 2016, 19:27
Buns - I dropped to Ag - too many redemptions at the tail end of last year is hurting my rolling 13 month total.

jfenney - I managed to snag the upper deck for the way home. TR for that coming later tonight once I get the decorations sorted :D
#929805 by tomthumb
07 Dec 2016, 02:21
Cracking report which left a smile on my face and questioning why I fly UC !!!!
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