Flying Indirect to Florida - Delta Airlines - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Up until our trip to Florida in December 2005, we had always flown there direct, so it was with a little trepidation that we drove to Manchester airport for our flight with Delta Airlines to Orlando Airport, via Atlanta. Family consisted of me and hubby, and two boys, 7 and 11.
We knew we had an hour and fifty minutes to get through immigration at Atlanta, collect our baggage, drop it off again for the next flight, and change terminals to catch the next plane. It did not seem to be a lot of time, but we had been assured that this is usually not a problem (and we had checked that there were some later flights leaving Atlanta for Orlando after our scheduled one, in case of any unforeseen delays).
We arrived nice and early at Manchester airport, even before the Delta check-in had opened and the check-in process was very easy (even though the boys disappeared to the rest rooms just as the check-in desks opened for business!!) . Even better was the fact that the Delta flight boarded and took off right on schedule (something that had not been the case with our previous 4 Virgin flights!).
We were pleasantly surprised at the amount of legroom on the planes – definitely more roomy than Virgin and because the seats did not have seatback TV’s, the angle and height of the seats seemed better. The kids were a little disappointed at first about the lack of seatback TV’s, but we had known about this in advance and the kids had brought portable DVD players and their early Christmas presents – Nintendo DS’s, so this was not a problem. We adults were quite happy with watching the movies on the various screens situated overhead around the planes – headphones were free, with a choice of music channels also.
Everything, apart from alcohol, is free on the first leg of the flight, and you can keep the headphones to use on the second (domestic) leg of the journey. The food was reasonable, and kids meals could be booked in advance (although we had not done this).
The real bonus on this flight were the cabin crew. A little more ‘mature’ than other airline staff that we had experienced (there was an announcement part way through the journey that this was the last flight for one crew member, who was retiring after 40 years with the company!). They were absolutely brilliant, even taking time to chat to the kids when they were not handing out food, drinks and duty free’s, or sorting out people’s queries, and everything was done with a smile. There was a real ‘family’ atmosphere and the flight was a pleasure. Just before we were due to land, there was a very informative announcement, going over the procedures to be followed for those of us transferring to other flights.
The part that we were not looking forward to had arrived. We disembarked very quickly, and crew were on hand to guide people to the right place. This part passed in a blur – can’t quite remember whether we went through immigration then found our luggage, or vice versa, but everything went smoothly – no holdups through immigration and our luggage was going round the carousel when we got there. Just a matter of collecting the luggage and being shown to the right area to drop it off again. Watching the luggage slipping out of sight, we hoped we would see it again in Orlando ……….
Then we found the train which runs between the five terminals, and after a quick ride, made our way to the our gate for the internal part of the flight. It was only 50 minutes from stepping off the plane in Atlanta to sitting waiting for the next and shortest leg of the journey.
There was a little delay in boarding the plane for the 90 minute flight to Orlando, and we took off about 30 minutes late, but the flight only took 60 minutes, so we landed right on time! Smaller plane, domestic leg, no movie, but a couple of US sitcoms screened, and a soft drink available, the flight was over very quickly. The best part of all was that on arrival in Orlando there was no immigration to go through, so straight off the plane and away to collect luggage and hire car. Even better news, our luggage made it to Orlando too!
The return trip was just as straightforward – flight took off on time, luggage was transferred direct onto the second plane, and no immigration as it was classed as an internal flight. We had time to wander round the many shops dotted around the terminals and do a bit of duty free shopping (not allowed to do this in Orlando on return trip, had to wait until Atlanta) before boarding the plane for the flight to Manchester. Again the flight took off on time (could not believe our luck) and had another great set of cabin crew. As we had not ordered a kids meal beforehand, we did ask on check-in whether this was possible and the girl said she would request it but it might not be available. And sure enough, one had been reserved in our son’s name. Being a night flight, the kids slept though most of the flight and we arrived early in Manchester. And to round off the holiday, once through immigration, we arrived at the carousel and our luggage was one of the first off the plane. Bliss!
This article should be headed up ‘In Praise of Delta’ because we could not fault the journey, planes or the staff. Even though an indirect flight adds longer onto the journey, it was one of the best flights we have had and would not hesitate to fly Delta again, especially as it cost half the price of a direct flight with the well known carrriers!
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