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#938280 by Amo
10 Sep 2017, 13:05
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
Greetings all. It's a damp, slightly breezy morning here in the Kissimmee area. I will be remaining pretty much inside until Irma passes through and the conditions are safe again, perfect time to write my outbound TR.

This was a sort of last minute trip, well I say last minute, I booked it a month before travel which for me is last minute! I was in need of a short holiday so decided to book an economy reward flight to MCO for just over a week. This would be my first time travelling in Y for several years, I was intrigued to see how it had changed, and more importantly the difference in cost for the flight compared to PE (UC was ruled out fairly quickly!) paid for my park tickets and some food.

I had booked my seat 14 days before, taking advantage of my silver status, I had gone for 79C in the bubble but looking at the seat map had guessed this would be a pretty quiet flight.

I was aware about a week before about the threat of Irma to Florida. I knew the track was quite uncertain but that, statistically, central Florida escapes the worse of storms (I believe there is a running joke about the Disney effect!). I also knew my resort complex had sturdy buildings and would be perfectly safe even for a direct hit. I had a backup plan as my sister lives in Gainesville (but was coming to visit me) so we could always go back up there if that looked to be a safer option. We finished our preparations shortly after I arrived and are well stocked up on food/water and supplies so set for the duration.

So 24 hours before I did OLCI - seat was confirmed as was SEQ 1. I didn't stay the night before at Gatwick as is my usual routine so went up on the bus the next morning (plenty of time to do that for a 1300 departure). Check in area was pretty much dead. Actually a lot of people had turned up at the airport trying to cancel their flights to MCO as they couldn't get through on the phone. I had booked the MyLounge at LGW as somewhere to wait - it was only £12. It's no clubhouse by any means but it was fairly quiet and the tea was nice!

I went to the gate area as the flight was called. We walked straight onto the plane. Jersey Girl. It was empty, even more than I thought with the last minute cancellations. I believe there were only 130 odd people on board which is the lightest load I have ever seen. The bubble was quite packed, certainly in economy. The CC were friendly and welcoming.

We pushed back about 15mins early but had to wait around a bit for a slot to take off. We were airbourne on time with an estimated flight duration of 8 hours 30min. After the seat belt sign had been turned off, I thought about investigating downstairs properly to see if there was an opportunity to move. I asked the ever helpful CC beforehand as I had booked a veggie meal and so didn't want them to wonder where I was! It was no problem at all, just pop back up and let them know where I had moved to. I went downstairs to find the entire front cabin of Y empty so picked row 27 on the left hand side. I had an empty row in front of me and 2 empty rows behind me - yep that would do nicely! I nipped back upstairs to inform them CC of my new location and then settled back down for the duration.

Drinks and meal service was pretty quick after take off. The CC were in a great mood, clearly enjoying the quiet flight. Lots of banter about the light load "Let me know if you need me to jump in and help won't you?!". My pre-ordered meal found me, it was a gnocchi with vegetables and olives. Perfectly acceptable. The pudding was a toffee mousse which was also very yummy. Cheese and biscuits too! Yes the (small) bottle of water is now served with dinner and not as you board. I was having a dry flight so didn't partake in the wine. Although I notice you now get your own individual bottle which seems very nice.

The IFE was great. I think they have updated the system slightly as the screen seemed more like a tablet (hard screen rather than one you can press in slightly if you know what I mean). The touchscreen in particular was more sensitive and the picture was a better quality. I enjoyed watching Guardians of the Galaxy and surprisingly the new Baywatch movie which I found to be excellent - perfect, leave your brain at the door, in-flight movie!

Water and juice runs were very frequent throughout the flight and the ice cream appeared a few hours in too - I think it's a real shame that they have removed that completely from UC.

Afternoon tea was served about 90min before landing. I had a very nice hummus and veggie wrap along with crisps, chocolate and a couple of mints for landing. This was a very satisfying meal, and a lot bigger than the last time I flew in Y (I seem to remember two finger sandwiches and a cake!)

I knew the winds would ave gone N'ly by the time we came in so was expecting landing from the south along with the never ending taxi to the main terminal. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. It was quite a hard landing too, we came through some showers near the airport and I think we may have hit some gusts just as we were about to touchdown. The light load probably didn't help. Anyway, safely down we began our trek back to the terminal. I must point out that everyone had to return to their original seats for landing.

We were let off the plane very promptly and I was directed into a room to use the automated machines. I then took my slip back to the main immigration hall and got my passport stamped. This process took less than 10min - wow quickest experience ever! Of course the luggage wasn't quite as quick. Despite my luggage having some PE tags on them (Silver gets PE check in). I don't know if they went into the system as that, as they seemed to come out after and in the economy section. I still only had to wait 20mins or so, so really not an issue! I was in my hire car within an hour of the plane touching down which when you consider the long taxi to the gate, is extremely quick!

Overall this was an excellent flight and really has changed my perspective on the economy product. PE seems to be going downhill but economy has more perks than it did before. I know the empty plane and a row to yourself is always going to be a luxury but to be honest, I think I would have been just as happy if I had stayed upstairs in my original seat. I will certainly consider booking an economy reward flight in the future as a way to use some miles and get a cheap holiday. Having said that, my next trip is in Upper as I took advantage of the sale one way and an upgrade the other!

Thanks for reading!
#938281 by SlimpyJones
10 Sep 2017, 13:24
Thanks for the TR! You were clearly one of a few braves souls headed to Orlando :) Nice to see reports on the Economy product every now and then, we don't get too many round these parts.

Enjoy your time and hope you avoid the worst.
#938352 by Amo
12 Sep 2017, 21:41
We made it through Irma safely. Our resort was without power for 24 hours afterwards but fortunately it came back on last night . It doesn't look like this area got too much damage at first glance which is fortunate considering the eye wasll went right over us. (Disneyworld somehow looks as perfectly manicured as ever today - I don't understand how that's possible - our bedding plants don't look that good after a nice summer?!)

Thinking of all those who weren't as fortunate - I am thankful that I have a home to go back to in the UK. It seems like VS are now back on track schedule wise sending out the 3 747's today. I think they have done well. Top marks for getting those planes out on Saturday too before the airport shut.
#938355 by buns
13 Sep 2017, 05:50

Thanks for an interesting TR

As for PE going downhill, I am surprised VS seems to be complacent when Norwegian and Thompson are nipping at their heels. I suppose they are measuring themselves against BA and that may not be a good strategy ;-)

Glad you got through the Storm OK

#938392 by tomthumb
13 Sep 2017, 19:58
Many thanks for a great trip report from economy
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