This was a quick trip back to Fort Lauderdale for me. I'd had it booked for several months and I had just picked a random date in Nov to fly. By shear good luck, the US boarders opened 2 days before I was due to travel .
This is a Trip Report from the Upper Class cabin
Food & Drink
I'd changed this from a previous Boston booking and because of the dates I originally booked I was able to take advantage of the fare change fee waiver of up to £350 (I think it was) for Upper Class bookings. With the Fort Lauderdale fare been on sale at the time I changed the booking it meant I had nothing extra to pay for this fare. This turned out to be a great deal IMHO as I'd ended up paying just under £1000 return which amazing for Fort Lauderdale flights
(In comparison, I'm flying there again for New Year and that cost me more than double that for the same return Upper Class flights!)
I'd booked direct with VS as I always do now. Originally my booking was MAN>ATL>FLL return but in September VS decided to cancel the MAN>ATL flights for Nov. I received absolutely ZERO notification from VS about this change. My online booking changed automatically to MAN>JFK but leaving the ATL>FLL legs as they were. My booking was like this for a couple of weeks as I was waiting to see if the DL legs would updated automatically; they didn't so in the end I called Flying Club and they where able to rebook the DL flights from/to JFK instead. It then took a further 10 days or so to get the booking re-ticketed.
All in all it was a mess and I wasn't impressed with the way VS had handled this flight cancellation / change. Flying via JFK meant I didn't get into FLL until after 22:00 (would have been around 19:30 if I had been able to fly via ATL) as DL currently only have 3 JFK>FLL flights a day. There used to be around 7.
It did mean though I'd get the JFK VS Clubhouse on the way back so all was pretty much forgiven
Anyway onto the flight.......
I arrived at MAN around 10:15am, parked in my usual T2 West multi-storey car park which as previously mentioned has a direct indoor link to T2 departures on level 3. T2 arrivals is a short walk outside back to that carpark unless you head back up to the departure level first.
VS check-in was a little busier than my previous flight in Sept but it was still efficient and quick. My negative COVID lateral flow test result was checked along with my double vax cert. I was asked if I had an ESTA and that I had completed the Attestation form. I had and I'd printed everything out including the online Attestation form completed page from the VS website. Just a couple of pax in front of me in the Upper Class line and I didn't have long to wait. Check-in was as per normal. Other than there now being perspex screens round the desks, everything is exactly the same as ever. The agent was very friendly and professional as usual at MAN.
For info, I booked a drive thru lateral flow test using Express Test again for this trip which was £50. Their nearest drive thru for me is at Burnley Turf Moor football club. The test result came back in under 40 minutes. For my day 2 return test I ordered a Chronomics home lateral flow test kit which was £24 but are now just £19 (as I've just ordered another one for when I return home from NAS in a few weeks).
Priority security was a little chaotic as firstly the automatic entry gates where not working and so everyone had to pass through the one and only staffed lane to enter security. Priority security wasn't partiality fast today. Only 1 lane in use and it was slow because as usual at MAN lots of pax don't know how to travel through security leaving liquids in bags so lots of bags needed manual / secondary searches which meant the queue was backing up back towards the entry area.
There was a fully staffed second security channel next to fast-track ONLY being used for airport staff (I saw 2 members of staff using this lane whilst in the queue), not even flight crew could use that lane as a bunch of VS cabin crew were in front of me but they only seemed to be able to use the same lane as non-staff for some reason? Common sense did eventually prevail and so after about 15 minutes they finally started letting everyone use the deserted second lane as well.
Once finally through security, it was up and onwards to the 1903 lounge, though of course not before having to negotiate what feels like an endless duty free store maze.
The main departure area is now a lot more furnished compared to when I was last here in September, with pretty much all the retail stores open now. No sign of a VS Clubhouse yet though. I think looking at the VS app terminal map which someone spotted on here, you do actually walk past what could well be the entrance to where the Clubhouse is going to be as you walk towards the 1903/Escape lounge area. There is currently a set of unmarked double doors on the left with small blacked out windows which seem to be in the right location
The new terminal T2 is bright and airy and much better than the old T2.
I was welcomed into the 1903 lounge. It was a little busier than last time I was here but still plenty of seats. Self service food and drinks which was the breakfast menu when I got there but switched to lunch later. The food was very good (both breakfast and lunch). Breakfast was the usual hot options; bacon, sausages, scrambled egg, baked beans etc with cooked to order toast along with cold continental & cereal options.
Lunch was very good as it was pieces of steak with a potato/veg baked side. You could still have toast so could be a steak sandwich etc if you wanted.
There where 3 VS departures from MAN that day (MCO, ISB and JFK). The MCO flight had already gone and the ISB flight was boarding by the time I got to the lounge. SQ was again also using the 1903 lounge. Still not sure if any other airlines are using this lounge.
There are announcements made in the lounge for flight departures. The VS127 departure was called around 12:15. We where departing from gate 206 was again was the old T2 gates so it's roughly a 10-15 minute walk to those gates.
Priority boarding was working well and they had just called Upper Class to start boarding as I reached the gate area. I was again very warmly welcomed onboard and directly to 9K.
The aircraft was G-VWOO Leading Lady
Pre-departure drinks offered. Menus and PPE packs where on the seat again.
SERVED SHORTLY AFTER TAKE OFF
Starters (choice of)
Pear waldorf salad, baby pear, toasted sunflower seeds and loverage leaves (V)
Smoked duck breast, fennel and dill salad, Seville orange marmalade and crostini
Mains (choice of)
Braised pork cheek, cauliflower purée, potato fondant, kale and red wine jus
Roasted fillet of trout, chickpea masala, Gujarati green beans, red pepper pakoras and creamy curry sauce
Vegan spiced cauliflower, spinach and lentil pastry pie, sautéed Lyonnaise potatoes, garden vegetables and herb gravy (ve)
Desserts (choice of)
Lemon and coconut dome, coconut cream and freeze dried raspberries
Cheese plate Wensleydale with cranberry, cheddar, chutney, grapes and crostini
EXTRA BITES (choice of)
SERVED 90 MINUTES BEFORE LANDING
Mile High Tea (v) by Eric Lanlard
Mozzarella, artichoke and lemon basil mayonnaise in a mini malted roll and harissa chickpea and red pepper wrap
Scone, clotted cream and strawberry jam
Patisserie Lemon posset éclair, passionfruit tart and blackberry and bay macaron
Buttermilk chicken burger, red cabbage slaw and crisps
Mediterranean mezze Kuku sabzi, baby artichoke, sundried tomato, lemon zest marinated olives, with a tabbouleh &
pomegranate salad (V)
It was a full flight today as you can imagine. We pushed back a little late at 13:43 but due to a good tail wind we actually lane on time at JFK.
After take-off the FSM came and said hello, introduced themselves to me. Thanked me for being a Flying Club Gold member etc. This is one of the reasons why I keep flying VS. It truly does make you feel like a valued passenger every time this happens and so far for VS this year it's 4 out of 4. Every single flight so far from / to MAN without fail
I picked the pork for lunch followed by the lemon and coconut dome was was all very tasty.
I watched a few films on the IFE, had a quick drink at the bar (that didn't seem to get used much at all on this flight for some reason).
The Afternoon Tea serve was was offered around 90 minutes before landing. I had the chicken burger which was also good.
Most passengers that I saw in Upper Class again complied with the on-board mask wearing policy.
One thing the crew did point out was that for all none-Global Entry arriving passengers JFK no longer requires those green customs forms any more as its all done electronically now. Apparently most US airports no longer require a physical green customs form now either. If you have Global Entry you have never needed to complete a green customs form.
We landed pretty much on time at JFK. I thanked and said goodbye to the crew. The Global Entry arrival area was empty and I was through in minutes. Luggage started coming off after about 10 minutes. DL have a connecting flight bag drop area directly to the left as you exit though customs to the arrivals area at JFK. You then head upstairs and go though normal T4 security even if you are flying DL from T2 (which I was) as there is a bus running between T4 and T2.
JFK T2 is still as grim as ever and the DL SkyClub lounge isn't much better either. I had around 2.5hrs to wait for my next DL1627 flight to FLL.
I thought about seeing if I could use the VS Clubhouse in T4 but I didn't bother in the end. Another option now as well as the T4 DL Sky Club lounge is the AmEx Centurion lounge which is also in T4 if you are a AmEx Platinum or Centurion chargecard customer.
The process for arriving into the USA and connecting onto onward flights is exactly the same as its always been.
All in all though, another fantastic flight with VS.
...only another 2 weeks until I head to NAS for a week. I'm making up for those lost VS flights over the last 19 months or so!!