We really treated ourselves for our summer holiday this year, and decided to go and do Orlando, Florida. I’ll be doing loads of reviews of the various places we visited, but for today I’ll be concentrating on the airline.
For some reason, after booking the holiday, I had in my head that we were flying with Thomson. This was great – they seemed to have good reviews and on Kirstie and Phil’s Vacation Vacation Vacation, although they had the smallest leg room for short flights, they had the biggest for long haul flights. Great. Then I realised my mistake and I hadn’t paid any attention to Monarch. Reviews online were a 50/50 split between good and bad, however we were reassured by the reviews on The Dibb, which were nearly all good.
I will digress briefly to explain about The Dibb. It is a wonderful website Chris found and is specifically for British travellers to Florida – mainly Disney World. It is packed full of really useful information, advice and holiday diaries, and made essential reading for the trip. If you are going, I really recommend you sign up so you can participate on the forums. No doubt I will refer to it throughout all my holiday reviews.
Anyway, if you are booked with Monarch, I can put your mind at rest. It was absolutely fine. There was easily sufficient leg room, the staff and cabin crew were all friendly and we had no problems at all. The food was even tasty! (Sorry, I can’t remember exactly what we had, but it was a cooked meal and a cold breakfast both ways.)
The flight itself goes from Gatwick to Sanford. The Drive from Sanford to the Disney area takes about an hour and be warned, you travel on several toll roads that are cash only – so make sure you don’t go with only travellers’ cheques. I think (but I’m not certain) that Virgin flights take you to Orlando International, which is only about half an hour away.
There is one, potentially major problem that you need to be aware of. There is very little in-flight entertainment. Bear in mind it is a 10 hour flight there and 8 hours back, that is a lot of time! You don’t have your own screen on the seat in front, there are screens dotted along the middle section that drop down from the ceiling. I would highly recommend you try and choose seats in the middle section for a better view. There were 2 films shown – one for kids – and a couple of entertainment programmes. That is not enough if you have kids that are easily bored.
The journey home was an absolute nightmare because I was stuck next to an 11 year old boy who was bored the whole time and fidgeted like you wouldn’t believe – at one point his leg was practically right across me. The only time he was reasonably still was when the film was on. So please; for the sake of other passengers – buy your fidgety kids an i-pad so they can watch films the whole journey!
Oh something else to note while I think of it. Although there is plenty to wonder round in Gatwick prior to leaving; the return journey is not half as good. There is duty free jewellery and a WH Smiths type place and that’s about it. And whatever you do, don’t do like we did and eat at the airport. It literally cost four times as much as anywhere else in America. A bottle of tap water cost £2.50! It was utterly shocking and the food wasn’t that nice either. You’ve been warned!