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#936303 by spacedog
27 Jun 2017, 16:26
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This is my first trip report in ages; I've been slacking, sorry!

We booked this trip in May (fairly last minute for us) as we got invited to join my husband's favourite band on tour for three of their dates (it's a weird life). We just booked cheap Premium Economy tickets; I don't need any more TP this year as I've already renewed Au, and with this trip and everything else we have planned, my OH will renew his as well by January. We live in Yorkshire so the drive to MAN is preferable to the slog to LHR. The only downside is that due to the timing of all the MAN flights, we usually get snarled up in rush hour traffic. Not so on this occasion; apart from a couple of delays, we managed to be at the airport in record time! Just before setting off, I realised with horror that I had neglected to book our parking in the short stay/multi story car park :( I'm usually so on the ball with stuff like this for all our work trips, but it completely slipped my mind. In the end, upon arrival we just went into the long stay car park which was fine, just not as convenient. The buses do go about every 10 minutes and we only had one suitcase between us as it was a short trip.

We arrived at the terminal about 3 hours before the flight and went to check in. I check in online but never print VS boarding passes now as there's no option to e-mail them to yourself any more, and my laptop isn't hooked up to a printer. At the check-in desks a lovely lady helped us and said that as we were both Au, she wanted to release bulkhead seats for us (we were in middle seats towards the back initially as the cabin was quite full by the time we booked). She checked with a supervisor and returned to advise us we had the seats. If you can believe it, despite flying in PE very frequently over the last 3-4 years, we've never had these seats before! So we were curious about the pros and cons. We were given our boarding passes with stickers for the priority lane, passes for the Escape lounge, and wished a pleasant flight.

As a general tip, we have found that without exception, the "priority" lane at MAN T2 is a total waste of time. Whenever we fly with VS the regular lane is usually dead and the priority lane is much slower because they send everyone with small children and wheelchairs etc. down that way. This time we just jumped onto the regular side and were through in minutes. After grabbing a couple of essentials in Boots, we went straight to the Escape lounge. Gold and J passengers now get complementary meals from the paid menu in the lounge, so I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast and he had eggs benedict. The food was delivered quickly and whilst it's definitely not CH standard, it fills you up. I had some cups of tea and we had a pleasant hour or so there. The lounge was actually quite peaceful despite a sign outside saying it was full, so they would only be letting in business class passengers (I guess no PP entry that morning).

We went downstairs as our gate was announced and waited for boarding. Everything ran very smoothly and we were the first in to the PE cabin. I wasn't sure about the bulkhead seats as I was worried about lack of storage due to no under seat storage, but as we were first on we had plenty of room for our carry on bags. The cabin was about two thirds full, and the three seats on the front row next to us were empty. I got a glass of sparkly stuff before take off because... why not? :D We actually both fell asleep during take off, and when we awoke a kind member of CC had left the two foot rests for us in the adjacent row :) Once we had those, the flight was supremely comfy! Having that extra space to spread out was fantastic and we definitely recommend it. It was the most comfortable PE flight we have ever done. Having complained in a previous thread that we never get Au recognition on board any more, on both our flights to and from Orlando last month the flight manager greeted us personally, and the same happened on this flight. She was very charming and said if there was anything she could do for us, just to let her know.

The flight was very smooth and we slept a lot on and off. The food wasn't great. I had the veggie option which was mushrooms with more mushrooms coated in mushroom sauce. Somewhere hiding in it were three sad mushroom gnocchi pieces. It was not delicious. My OH had the beef option and said it was decent, it was a little spicy so quite tasty. The dessert was nice, it was a chocolate brownie that was apparently served with cream according to the description, but there was no cream present! However, the starter salad weirdly had strawberries on it, which I retained for eating with the brownie instead ;)

All the CC were very friendly and efficient. Our trays were cleared promptly after meals and there was just a good vibe about the crew. A little while before landing we were served afternoon tea. I had the veggie sandwiches and my OH had the regular selection. Both were good, I just wish there was more of them and less of the cakes! We had two small cubes of cake, a chocolate torte and a lemon sponge, then the scone with clotted cream and jam. The scones were great!

When we landed in SFO we were off the plane very quickly and went straight for immigration. The queue for the automatic machines moved fast, but then the actual line for seeing an officer was quite slow and we waited about 25 minutes with a child throwing a tantrum a few places in front as our only entertainment ;) When it was our turn, the officer was really very friendly and seemed happier to chat rather than ask questions! We were through in about a minute where our bag had already been pulled from the carousel and was already waiting for us. We hopped in a taxi and were on our way to our hotel in Sausalito within about five minutes. Overall a really great flight. I'll update with details of the return journey later tonight.
#936306 by SlimpyJones
27 Jun 2017, 17:21
Thanks very much for the TR spacedog! Always nice to have ones for excursions out of Manchester. 2/3rds full in PE suggests MAN-SFO is doing fairly well, did you happen to see or hear about the rest of the plane?

Hope you enjoyed/enjoy the trip! :)
#936307 by Hev60
27 Jun 2017, 17:37
Interesting trip report feedback. PE sounded okay and encouraging as that's our form of travel for the next few flights! Personally I hate all airline food which ever class I have travelled in over the years.

Hope you enjoyed Sausalito. We walked to the town from San Francisco back in March. Long walk over the Bridge, then along cliff tops and finally down into the town. It poured with rain all the way but we found shelter in the local fish & chip cafe along but the harbour - beats plane food.

Enjoy your trip.
#936309 by hiljil
27 Jun 2017, 17:39
Thank you for the TR. Glad you had a good flight in PE.

Hope you enjoyed your trip too.
#936313 by Traveller2
27 Jun 2017, 19:13
We flew LGW to BGI and back recently on an A330, both legs in the first row of seats in PE. The legroom was great and the foot rests made it even more comfortable. We found the food to be really good both ways and especially enjoyed the afternoon tea on the outbound. I would recommend these seats to anyone. In my humble opinion, PE is much more than "okay". I have been lucky enough to also travel quite a few times in Upper but would still happily pay less and sit in PE.
#936314 by buns
27 Jun 2017, 20:30
Spacedog

Thanks for the TR!!

Yours is a common comment about the MAN Priority security line - the same could once have been said about Gatwick a few years back where they had a similar arrangement before they upgraded things and had an entirely seperate lane of families etc.

Thanks for the heads up on the on-board food. We have made a last minute booking for late July, so I imagine we wil be faced with the same menu.

Hope the Band was a success!!

buns
#936316 by spacedog
27 Jun 2017, 23:36
SlimpyJones, to my shame I was not listening very well to the announcement about the load on the plane, but I believe it was over 200. My OH thinks around 230? I really hope the route does well as it's extremely useful for us for both business and leisure! The trip was fantastic, thank you.

Hev60, like you we are big fans of PE and find it very comfortable! Your walk in San Francisco sounds amazing, and I believe we went to the same Fish & Chip place as it was right next door to our hotel :) I had grilled cod with courgette fries, and my OH had beef tacos.

hiljil, thank you so much, we had a lovely time. I can't wait to go back to SF!

Traveller2, we love PE, too. Most of our travel is done in PE, then we occasionally use miles to upgrade or buy UC flights. But we're always really happy with the overall PE product--very comfortable and a massive improvement on Y which always leaves me with sinister aches and pains after a longhaul flight. I haven't flown Y longhaul for three years!!

buns, it's interesting to hear that others have the same comment regarding the priority line at MAN, honestly every time we have been through we've had this issue. It usually takes so much longer so is a pointless exercise. I hope they might work on it in future.

Re: the food, my OH had a beef chilli with rice which he liked. The chicken dish was just chicken with mashed potatoes if we recall correctly. Then my spectacularly mushroomy vegetarian dish... :)

Thanks so much for reading, everyone :)
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