VS27 3 March Flight and MCO GE arrival Info
This is a Trip Report from the Premium Economy cabin
Food & Drink
I have added a little more information - on our arrival at MCO and our subsequent activities - to a rather brief trip report.
Had a really good flight on the VS 27 yesterday (Tuesday 3 March). Boarding began around 0915 and we were offered prosecco and fruit juice as soon as we sat down. Left from gate 568, pushing back at 1022 and then spending a while waiting for our slot. Wheels up finally at 1049 (scheduled departure 1010). We were in PE 17A and 17C. Comfortable enough and would have been even better if the pair in front of us hadn't reclined their seats on several occasions. I wasn't sure of the name of the aircraft, so asked the first office when he was walking by. He looked slightly embarrassed and said he wasn't sure, but would find out for me. Mrs SR was adamant that it was Ruby Tuesday and this was subsequently confirmed. Flight time was expected to be nine hours and five minutes; and eta Orlando ranged from 1430 - 1450.
Smooth take off and once we were up above the clouds and the seat-belts light switched off the cabin crew began their work. Drinks offered about 40 minutes into the flight; and lunch arrived about an hour or so later
Excellent in-flight service from cabin crew headed by flight service manager Ricardo, who really was everything you could expect, and want, from an FSM. Really couldn’t fault him or his team. Probably one of the smoothest flights ever. Food very good. Mrs SR has an allergy to mushrooms and we often have problems determining whether a meal contains them. On this occasion Ricardo very kindly located a macaroni cheese option, which was not on the menu, and with which she was delighted. He also came up with a cup of green tea for her. I had the stir fried pork which was good. Other options were Karai Chicken Curry and Vegan Cottage Pie.
Flight had 377 passengers and 13 crew. 'Vera' in flight entertainment system worked well and following a couple of hours snooze I watched two and a half episodes of the TV series Condor. Very good. I think I had read the book on which it is based, and I can certainly recall the Robert Redford film. Unfortunately the news option wasn't working, but otherwise all the programmes seemed to be available. Mrs SR has the sky map scrolling throughout the flight while she reads, snoozes or does crosswords.
Ninety minutes out from MCO we had the 'Mile High Tea' served. We both went for the smoked salmon option which was very acceptable. The alternative was mozzarella with green pesto, tomato and rocket.
We made up the time lost and touched down at MCO pretty much on schedule, 1450, arriving at the gate around ten minutes later. Exited the aircraft just after 1500. A very orderly exit thanks to Ricardo who was at the air bridge to bid farewell to all the passengers. Not sure of the gate number, but it was the shortest walk ever (barely four minutes) to the arrivals area, which was virtually deserted.
We were directed left to the Global Entry machines. There are about eight of them, but the two farthest from the entrance were out of order. There were a number of problems with the machines for us, and other visitors were also having similar difficulties going by the raised voices and adverse comments. Mrs South Roma had to make several attempts to get her photograph taken and, although her fingerprints and passport cleared OK, she still got the dreaded ‘X’ on her readout. The cameras above the screens need to be angled to get the best picture, but clearly many of them appeared to be jammed or very stiff to move. I eventually manhandled our camera to get a reasonable picture and carried out the full process with no more problems. My print out came through fine and we made our way to the line with only two people ahead of us. By this time the hall was beginning to fill up – the VA Manchester flight had arrived.
We were called forward after a couple of minutes (GE gets priority over regular arrivals) and the IO took one look at Mrs SR’s print out and used his camera to correct the photograph. He glanced at my print out, stamped our passports, asked for the address where we are staying (the only question) and welcomed us to the USA. We were through in just about a minute. Remarkably the luggage was already on the carousel when we arrived there and after stacking our four cases (Mrs SR doesn’t do travelling light) on a trolley we made our way past one policeman and one customs officer – both of whom virtually ignored us. Cases were taken from us and we made our way up the escalator to the shuttle, which deposited us into a moderately busy main terminal.
Mrs SR waited at carousel 8A while I went in search of the Visitor Toll Pass booth which I found to be manned by a very nice lady with the incredible name of ‘Kosmic’. Yes, really. It was the second time we have used the VTP system so I didn’t need too much instruction before presenting my driving licence and credit card and collecting the customer pack.
Arriving at the Alamo garage I was greeted by Eduardo who checked the barcode on my printed ‘skip the counter’ sheet and accompanied me to the Intermediate SUV line – which was full of mini vans!!! Which I did not want, at all. He kindly upgraded me to a standard SUV and I selected a Dodge Journey Crossroads with Virginia plates which, although larger than we really need for just the two of us, is very comfortable and fully loaded.
Eduardo told me it was a fairly quiet day in terms of rentals, but the previous day had been ‘crazy’. They (Alamo) had processed more than 2,000 vehicles in 24 hours!
I can usually find a vacant trolley somewhere in the garage without having to ‘buy’ from the rack, but couldn’t see one anywhere. However, the very helpful Eduardo magicked up one from somewhere and I made my way back to carousel 8A, by which time the cases had come through and we were able to return to the car and load up.
Having hooked the VTP tag to the rear-view mirror we made our way to the exit and presented documentation, driving licences and credit card to a rather sullen operative, who processed us fairly speedily. I checked that there was nothing further to pay – we had the 'return empty' fuel package – and we departed the garage. Time was just on 1600. An hour from departing the aircraft despite having to make use of carousel 8A. One of the best times we have ever made in all the years we have been visiting Florida.
Traffic fairly reasonable on the 417 and we came off at Celebration (I wanted to avoid the I-4) and joined the 192, west bound. Traffic fairly heavy but all moving quite well. I turned south on Westside and then east at the college/university, taking the back roads (which were as expected, very quiet) to Champion’s Gate. We called in to the Publix and stocked up on initial provisions, before making our way to the home we are renting at Sunridge Woods, off the Ronald Reagan, arriving there at 1800.
A good night’s sleep, but I am still feeling very weary after such a long day yesterday. I think it’s an age thing! But the weather is marvellous and I now have at least a couple of weeks to get myself together.
All in all a good trip. The only problem really was the Global Entry machines, so any GE travellers expecting to use them should be prepared to perhaps fiddle with the cameras above the screens. They pivot up and down on a very basic bracket, and the rectangle on the screen shows exactly what is being photographed. The touch screens appeared to operate well enough and the on-screen instructions were fairly clear. Passports, face down, slide into a slot to the left below the screen. On the right is the fingerprint screen which usefully indicates if any of your four fingers (not thumb) is not registering correctly, allowing you to add extra pressure. Hope this is useful for anyone travelling in the near future.