Apologies for the slight delay in posting the return TR - I always seem to be busy after returning from a holiday!
This is a Trip Report from the Upper Class cabin
Food & Drink
So after a delightful 3 weeks in Orlando (I shall overlook the unseasonably cold weather in the last week!) it was time to return home.
OLCI was done the night before - no problems here. I dislike the fact that you can't email the boarding pass to yourself as a PDF attachment anymore. It only comes through as a mobile phone type web page link. I must admit I am a bit old fashioned and haven't quite gone over to mobile boarding passes yet. No matter, in this instance I was going to Disney Springs to drop off my bags the next morning so would get a proper paper copy then.
Disney Springs was deserted around 0845 - I walked straight up with no queueing. The agent was perfectly pleasant and handed me my boarding pass and lounge invite. I note the fact that she explained a VS representative would escort us from the lounge to the gate (important for later dear readers).
I arrived at the airport around 3 hours before departure and made my way through security in around 10mins. The queue was fairly short but quite slow moving due to the usual confusions about what needs to be removed and not. I feel I deserve a brownie point here as I got it right first time (after several years of practise mind!).
The Sky Lounge was positively empty, a real delight! There were many, many seats to choose from. I had a very pleasant last couple of hours reading whilst enjoying a couple of drinks. The flight was called for boarding just under the hour to departure as expected. I went up to the reception desk to find the expected VS Rep missing...ummm..... I asked the front desk about this. "Oh no there isn't enough staff to do that...this isn't a Virgin Atlantic hub"! Still not sure if this was a one off due to staff shortages or whether this is now permanent.....it's a shame if the escort has now gone completely as it was useful to get through the crowds surrounding the gate.
Anyway I made my way down to the gate...went up to the Gate Agent...."No we are only boarding special assistance passengers at this time". I explained how boarding had been called in the lounge for Upper Class. No was still the answer so I rather sheepishly went back into the crowd for another couple of minutes before they did call Upper Class. People must have thought I was a right DYKWIA and I must admit I did find it a little embarassing - not the greatest experience to be honest.
Eventually I made it on board - I was really pleased to see this plane had a bar - yay!! I also noticed the brand new champers sat in the ice bucket for this trip. I got myself comfy and was warmly welcomed by the CC offering me a glass of said champagne. A great improvement on the Gardet for sure. I think this was the consensus of the cabin too as I noticed a few people going for refills and asking for the champagne as their post take off drink.
We pushed back ahead of time....great!! Then nothing....we had pushed back but no forwards motion....after several minutes the flight deck came on "we are having some problems getting number 4 engine to start". "We need engineers to fit a new part". At this point panic started to set in....how many hours delay is this going to be....will the crew have enough hours left today..??? However before I could think of a third question the captain went on to say that this part would be with us in around two (yes TWO) minutes time. I nearly burst out laughing as he apologised for the delay!! Suffice to say all 4 engines fired up around 5-10 minutes later and we were on our way!!
After an uneventful take off on (what I assume was) all 4 engines, the crew were released for service. Most of the dinner orders had been taken on the ground so not many left in the cabin to take. I did notice the FSM was very involved in our cabin throughout the dinner service.
For dinner I had the quinoa salad to start followed by the vegetarian main which was a paneer curry today. I have to say, I have had better. The salad was a mass of bitter leaves and the quinoa was far too salty. The curry wasn't the best I have had on a flight either but I did eat it. I was pretty full up by this point so skipped desert and went to make up my bed. No help was offered by the CC as they were still in the galley or PE so it's a good job I knew what I was doing! I think this is where the cutback in numbers is most noticeable as it's not that the CC are unhelpful, it's just they phsically can't be there because they are needed in PE (or in the galley)!
Anyway I had a very comfortable few hours of rest before rousing around 90 mins before landing. I made up my bed into a seat again (managed to get the seatbelt a bit stuck so it took me several minutes to get that unjammed - again no one was around to lend a hand)
The CC turned up soon after to do breakfast - I loved the fact that they came round the cabin with glasses of OJ before offering anything to eat. It's just what you need with the dry cabin air! I had a light brekkie of a croissant and some fruit which really hit the spot followed by a cuppa.
We landed still slightly ahead of time to find LGW shrouded by very low cloud. We were nearly wheels down before we broke through it! At least it wasn't too cold!
We disembarked quickly and then joined the queue for the dreaded e-gates at immigration. 10-15min wait here - however by the time I was through, the bags were just about coming off so pretty good really.
The experience on the ground at MCO was disappointing, hence the marking down of the ground crew. The flight itself was solid - not the best but not the worst. I agree with what others have said that the crew are doing the best they can but if the numbers aren't there, then of course the service will suffer slightly.
Thanks for reading!