Firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone on this board who helped me with getting this holiday booked, I am really appreciative
This is a Trip Report from the Upper Class cabin
Food & Drink
Every few years, my parents, my brother, my husband and I go on a big family holiday. I think they thought that once I was in my 30s they would be rid of me, but they were wrong! This year we decided to go back to Disneyworld, and this would be my husband’s first time. Now, when I think of my husband, I don’t necessarily think ‘Disney fanatic’, so I knew this was going to be a testing trip for him, but knowing the way that we do Disney (parks in the morning, lunch, back to the hotel for relaxation time, then lots of drinks and foods), I figured he would survive.
So first things first, we needed to book a hotel. We had left it quite late to book, and our usual choice of the Polynesian was all booked up, so we opted for the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. We booked 3 lagoon view rooms, and were really looking forward to trying a different resort (albeit a little apprehensive having always been to the Polynesian and enjoying the laid back atmosphere (well, as laid back as Disney can be)).
We managed to get MAN – MCO out on the 747, but the problem came with the return flight. There were no J seats available on any direct MCO – MAN flight, and the only option available was connecting via Atlanta. As I was given the task of booking the flights, I have to admit to finding this a bit daunting! We have never done connecting flights, and I have a little bit of pre-flight anxiety, so this sounded a bit of a disaster waiting to happen. Luckily, some people on this board were able to give me some excellent advice and we were able to do the whole thing with ease. VS gave me three options of flights out of MCO, one arriving three hours prior to the ATL-MCO flight, one 2 hours, and one only 57 minutes! Well the latter was enough to give me palpitations even four months in advance, so to be on the safe side and to keep my nerves at bay, I booked the three hour connection (which ended up changing to 3 hours 12 minutes). The negative aspect to this is that we would be on an A330-300, and unfortunately not one that had been refurbished, although the seat map originally showed me the 1-1-1 layout. I had prior knowledge, thanks to this board, that the ‘dream suite’ was in fact not a dream at all, so this wasn’t ideal, and also a lot of the seats had already been pre-selected, so we chose 3 window seats but unfortunately had to choose 2 middle seats. As I expected, at some point, the seat map changed back to 1-2-1, and lo and behold, for no apparent reason, they moved my mom right over to the other side of the cabin! No idea why, because the seat I had selected for her previously still existed, but luckily I had been warned of this and was able to move her back across so she wasn’t on her lonesome.
So everything was set, and everyone was very excited (well, most of us!)
We got a minibus to Manchester Radisson Blu airport hotel the night before the flight. The drive was pretty easy over the Snake Pass, and we were soon seated at the bar awaiting my brother’s arrival from Stoke. We had a really nice meal and then went to bed nice and early in preparation for the 7am start. We had attempted to check in online 24 hours before, but it wouldn’t let my dad or brother check in online and said they needed to check in at the airport. This sounded a bit worrying, and I suggested that me, mom and my husband were off to Disney, but maybe not them…after a bit of internet research and a phone call to VS, we ascertained that it was likely that they would be targeted for extra security checks, and this turned out to be the case.
At 8am, we went over to T2 to check in for the flight and drop bags off, and that was all very well handled and quick. Security was pretty easy and not too busy, which was surprising giving it was the Easter holidays. We made our way to the Escape Lounge, and whilst I was expecting it to be very basic and not at all like the LHR clubhouse, it actually wasn’t that bad! Prosecco is now included free of charge for VS Upper Class pax, as well as all breakfast items. We had a few glasses of prosecco and a bacon sandwich, and settled down for an hour or so. It is a basic lounge, but it did the trick and wasn’t too crowded.
When the screen displayed ‘Go to Gate’, that’s what we did, and almost as soon as we arrived they started boarding families with small children, followed by Upper Class pax.
We were greeted at the door and sent down to the nose of the plane. As we walked past the bar I could see the champagne glasses all set up ready for our pre-flight drink, although they weren’t in the saucers as they were last time (not that they really fit on the little drinks table). We were seated in 7AK, 8AK and 9K. I was absolutely ecstatic to see that there were individual air blowers on each set, because I constantly find that flights are far too hot. However, on this flight, I needn’t have worried as they kept the temperature very pleasant.
A member of cabin crew came out with a tray of champagnes, juice and water, and offered them out. The amenity kit was already at the seat, as well as the menu.
It was clear that the gentleman sat behind me was a frequent flyer as he was welcomed back, and was greeted by the Cabin Manager. If I was a frequent flyer, I would be very pleased with the service I received, however as a non-frequent flyer it did not feel as though the gentleman received too much preferential treatment at the detriment to others in the cabin, so I thought this was handled very well.
Take-off was just about on time, and very smooth, and as soon as we were up drinks orders were taken. I opted for more of the champagne, and this was brought with crisps. We then put our orders in for dinner, and I have to say that it was a bit disheartening that they ran out of various options very early on. I opted for the chicken kebabs, followed by more chicken, but my brother, who was in row 9K (so 4 rows back) was not able to have his first choice of the chicken kebabs. The CC member explained that he could have anything from the ‘light bites’ section, so he opted for the smoked salmon blinis. The couple behind him were not given either of their first choices for starter and main, which was disappointing. The member of CC offered my brother and the other people in the cabin flying miles, which I imagine is useful if you fly often, but in reality not for my brother. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the attempt at service recovery there and then.
Quite soon into the flight lunch was served. The service felt quite rushed to be honest, but was enjoyable.
I drank the white burgundy which was actually very nice, accompanied by plenty of water so as to avoid dehydration!
It was then time for dessert, and I ordered the sticky toffee pudding, however they had run out of that, so I said I would have the key lime pie, but lo and behold they had run out of that also, which must mean that there were not enough desserts in general loaded for the cabin. The CC were excellent though, and very apologetic, and I said I was fine to just have some cheese, however they turned up unexpectedly with three huge pieces of cheesecake which I imagine came from Premium Economy, and they had dressed it up nice. Actually, it was too much dessert in the end, but much appreciated.
Following this the cheese trolley came around and I had some of the cheese (except anything blue) and a glass of port.
Following lunch, I went and sat with my mom on her ottoman and chatted with her and my husband whilst enjoying a couple of glasses of wine, and we were quickly joined by the frequent flyer who was sat behind me, who was such good fun and a really nice man. My dad and brother propped up the bar (I think they were originally having a coffee…that didn’t last long). After a few drinks I decided to get the bed set up and watch a film and hopefully have a little nap. I also noticed we were having a race with a couple of other planes, I hadn’t noticed this before, so I wondered if it was ‘Neil’, the 787 Thomas Cook plane that took off just before us. I asked the Cabin Manager who rang the Captain to find out, which I wasn’t expecting and hope it didn’t disturb them too much, and it turned out that that was an AA plane but we would be taking over Thomas Cook shortly! See you later Neil.
I managed a couple of hours’ nap, and then they came around the cabin asking if anyone would like anything off the light bites section, and I opted for the chicken tikka, but minus the rice as I cannot stand coriander. I have to say it was delicious! I really enjoyed it, and accompanied it with a little bit of champagne because why not? This was about two hours before we landed into Orlando, so following the snack I went and freshened up before we started our descent. The flight was very smooth, the seatbelt sign didn’t need to come on at all, and the flight time was around 8 hours 30 minutes. We landed into Orlando, and my god, security was awful! So so slow, it must have taken us around an hour and a half to get through security and into the baggage claim area, which is not ideal when you have just been on a long flight and you just want to get to the destination. Plus, then we had the fun of trying to find our driver, who was not where he said he would be. We found him eventually and were then off to the Grand Floridian.
Overall the flight was excellent. The Cabin Crew were ever present in the cabin, friendly without being overbearing, and helpful. The inflight entertainment system is showing its age and the sound quality was quite poor, but I barely used it other than a film that I slept through and the flight map. The food was very good, but I do think it was poor that barely anyone got their first choice, and they entirely ran out of dessert, albeit this was dealt with very well.