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#940533 by mitchja
05 Jan 2018, 22:00
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I tried to check-in online the previous evening. A message popped up saying I needed to contract reservations. I know exactly why that was - because VS didn’t take the payment for the Premium>Upper Class Miles upgrade I’d done a few weeks previously. After a lot of to and frowing, finally the fee was taken from my credit card VS used the excuse that the payment had failed previously as I’d given them the incorrect card number. Why VS made zero effort to contact me is anyone’s guess and also I’ve had this exact same excuse from them before? The whole process took about 25minutes as the agent kept going betweeen me and ticketing. Good job my mobile phone allowances includes calls from the US!!

I was then able to check-in online as normal.

Drove back to MIA and dropped my car off at Alamo around 17:00 and then made my way to the delight that is concourse F at Miami International airport ;-)

It’s basically a sh1thole - there really is no other way to describe it. Avoid at all costs and spend the absolute minimum time there you really have to. For an International airport it’s a complete and utter disgrace. You don’t even need to head inside to see what a mess it is. TBH, I spent most of my time there sat in the smoking area across the road from the departure concourse!

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You can see from the photo (taken from the smoking area) where the signage is missing above one of the entrances. The white structure above is the on-site hotel). VS use concourse F which is a little further to the left of where that photo was taken. I really really wish VS would move in with DL in their renovated concourse H.

Check-in for the VS6 opens at 17:40 even when VS operate the earlier VS117/118 flights and I remember from a previous time, they will not yet anyone check-in for the VS6 flight when check-in opens for the earlier VS118 flight.

I waited at the Upper Class desk line, but as someone was in front of me one of the agents working the Economy desks called me over which meant having to fight through several people to get to him and of course he didn’t have all the necessary priority bag tags or lounge stickers etc so had to keep running back and too between his counter and one of the other Upper Class counters. Not the best idea really.

Headed back outside for as long as I could. I did grab some food before going through security as well and I’d seriously recommend everyone does this as the lounge offering was utterly abysmal (more on that later).

Up to security. Hmmmmm , well for starters, you can forget about TSA-Pre in concourse F. It simply does does exist here. You get a ‘TSA priority’ service instead. I use the term priority very very loosely as well. You still have to queue up with everyone else, once you get to the initial agent checking your boarding pass and passport, you are then handed a blue ‘priority’ card to go though the same security as everyone else. The only concession you get is you get to keep your shoes on and you get a standard metal detector rather than a full body scanner....that's it, nothing else!!!! Lap-tops and tablets etc all have to be taken out of your bags in the normal way. The TSA staff, though whilst being polite where not particularly friendly. One of them kept shouting at everyone to NOT pass through the little gate before the initial passport check until they where called to do so, however, that was difficult as the line for the security where backing up anyway!! It was pretty chaotic TBH.

The Club America lounge - lol what can an say about that....not a great deal really . Whilst VS Upper Class pax now get to use the (I believe) recently renovated windowless ‘First Class’ section, there where the ‘First class’ service ends. The food offering consisted of a few stale looking sandwiches which looked like the had been left out for sometime as we’ll as a few bits of dry vegetables. The odd biscuit was also available. Not much else other than a coffee machine.

It was pretty full as well when I was there with very little spare seating. The lounge had absolutely no atmosphere what so ever and actually felt more like a dentist waiting room rather than an airport lounge. Even the TV wasn’t working. You could hear the mumbles from around you from other pax who knew better lounges and especially those flying VS having used the LHR Clubhouse first. A couple sat next to me where truly amazed at how bad it was here. The WiFi and mobile 4G/LTE service sucked as well in there just to ice the cake :D

Just to add to the ambiance of the lounge, there where no paper towels in the gents washroom either :-O

The flight was called around 20:50. The usual chaos around the gate 19 area with the priority line there but pretty well hidden on the left hand side of the gate. They where just boarding pax who needed extra time by the time I got to the gate and then Upper Class pax where then called to board.

I was welcomed onboard and made my way to my 12A seat. The aircraft was an A346 again (G-VRED). Again the seat and cabin appeared to be in good condition.

We had 311 pax this evening , 11 crew and 3 flight deck crew. We pushed back 10 minutes early at 21:30 and rotated at 21:50. This evenings flight would be a speedy 7hrs and 20 minutes as we where expecting tailwinds of approx 200mph.

It did get bumpy a few times during the flight with the seat-belt sign coming on and even the Captain coming on asking the crew to take their seats too! That is never a good sign, though it didn’t get that bad actually. I’ve had worse turbulence before.

I just had the soup to eat as I really didn’t fancy either chicken or beef, which seem to have been on the Upper Class menu for months now <sigh>

I didn’t really watch much on the IFE, though it did appear to work OK. Again USB charging blocks where handed out which convert the on-board Empower connection to USB.

The FSM was helping out with the on-board service and after she cleared my table, she came back and thanked me for being a regular flyer and turned down my bed for me.

One thing I always always do though when converting my seat into a bed is empty the arm rest pocket before pushing it down as I’ve had a previous incident where that would not pop back up and the crew had to litterly force it up using brute force. Same thing again with this one as it would not pop back up after I woke up!!

After getting changed into my own shorts and t-shirt (I don’t like the sleep suits) and after settling down, I managed a good few hours sleep and actually found the bed very comfortable this time. I woke just as breakfast was being served. I’d already filled in my breakfast order form so after getting changed it was all ready for me.

We where only about an hour away from LHR so it wasn’t long before the crew where securing the cabin for our arrival. We touched down a little after 10:00 so almost a full hour early.

I said my goodbyes to the crew and headed to immigration , which I’m thankful to say was deserted at the time of the morning. Those stupid machines wouldn’t let me through. The staff tried to tell me to take my glasses off.....I don’t think so, when my passport photograph has me wearing my glasses FFS. I was directed to be manually processsed where the agent told me that the machines where indeed pretty hopeless as they fail with many people.

Headed down to collect my bags and as was outside topping up my nicotine by 10:45.

All in all a good solid VS flight. MIA doesn’t get any better though >-( I’ve already decided if I do the same thing again this year which is looking like I will, I will most definitely avoid MIA now and fly to FLL this time as DL fly there from at least JFK )possibly others, not sure yet) so I could fly from MAN via JFK which would suit me much better.
#940544 by Sealink
06 Jan 2018, 03:37
Great TR.

We crossed mid air and the turbulence was pretty bad, but was reassured by captain a few times.

Arrival at Miami was not good. What an airport. Was telling my pal today that next time I'd go to Fort Lauderdale to avoid it.
#940547 by hiljil
06 Jan 2018, 08:45
Thank you for the TR. Glad the flight was enjoyable. Totally agree about MIA which is why, later in the year, I have a cunning plan (& for me a daring one :-O as it involves a connecting flight ....) to avoid it and the drive across Alligator Alley . :-D
#940559 by Traveller2
06 Jan 2018, 12:54
Sealink....from what I've read recently, Ft Lauderdale airport is not a lot better than MIA. It is not equipped for the large number of international flights that go there... apparently.

mitchja...if you think the lounge at MIA is bad, try sitting in the general departure lounge!!! Soul destroying doesn't even come close to describing it!!!
#940560 by Hev60
06 Jan 2018, 13:29
One word which sums up your Miami airport experience..... Horrendous >-(

We flew into that dump back in 2001. For starters it was the year of the uk's Foot & Mouth outbreak. At the airport there was a pretty basic but very condescending notice board saying 'Brits must walk through here with shoes on before allowing entry to Immigration Hall' and 'here' was a quite deep large tray full of very murking looking disinfectant!!!
I could understand their concerns but be professional about it.
However the entire place is a ****hole.
Thank goodness for the RSW airport when visitng that part of the gulf coast.
#940561 by mitchja
06 Jan 2018, 13:34
Traveller2 wrote:mitchja...if you think the lounge at MIA is bad, try sitting in the general departure lounge!!! Soul destroying doesn't even come close to describing it!!!


Yep, been there done that and got the T-Shirt!!! I did that back in early 2016 as I was flying Premium and was only Silver back then.

I skipped Miami last New Year but I will be using FLL for New Year 2018 once VS release flights, though I will probably book via DL as that does look to work out cheaper, hopefully I can catch the back-end of this current sale as well as it runs until Feb 8th which should allow me to book flights for late Dec/Early Jan 2019.
#940578 by Turquoise
06 Jan 2018, 19:45
Agreed, MIA is a horrible airport! Just about bearable to fly into, apart from the loooong walk to immigration and the queue for the ESTA booths. We flew into MIA last year but left through RSW which was a lovely local airport. Thoroughly recommended if you are doing an internal flight (we did RSW/EWR).
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