Flying To Orlando
Add about these bluetooth connectors so you can use your own personal headphones
Start The Holiday The Day Before
Our holiday officially starts the day before our flight. We always book a hotel near the airport the night before flying to Orlando. This reduces any chance of there being an issue driving to the airport on the day of the flight. It also takes a lot of stress out of the holiday preparations by leaving the house the day before.
There is nothing worse than getting up at 3am and having to head off to the airport on the day of the flight, hoping you haven’t forgotten anything. By staying at a hotel the night before, everyone gets a good nights sleep and everyone is happy. If something bad happens like forgetting passports or travel money, you will probably remember on your way to the hotel. This way you will have time to turn around and sort things out. If you are on your way to catch the flight, it’s a totally different matter.
The kids also love setting off the day before because the ‘airport hotel day’ is the first day our holiday. We usually take some sweets and pop for the hotel room and maybe a cheeky adult drink or two. Having a meal in the hotel bar is another great way to let those planning worries fade away.
Companies like Travelodge and Premier Inn tend to offer room sales at multiple points throughout the year. Other popular airport hotels are Holiday Inn, Hilton and Radisson Blue. Visit the links below to run your dates through their websites.
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Twilight Check-In at Gatwick
If you are flying with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick airport you can use the Twilight check-in service. Get rid of those bags and suitcases the night before your flight and have a more relaxing morning on flight day. The Twilight check-in is open from 5pm until 9pm the night before your flight and it is a free service. If you opt for this service, you only need to get to the airport an hour before your flight. If you have an early morning flight, this allows you to get an extra hour or two in bed.
One thing to remember is that you will not be able to take things like toothpaste and other liquids in your hand luggage the next day. Remember to leave items like this in your car on the morning of your flight.
v-room at Gatwick And Manchester
Before flying to Orlando, why not treat yourself to an airport lounge before the flight. If you have booked a Virgin Holiday and you are flying from Gatwick or Manchester airports, their v-room may be for you. Get away from the crowds and relax in the Virgin v-room lounge for up to 3 hours before your flight. The v-room costs £25 for ages 12+ and £15 for children aged 2 to 11. Some Virgin Holiday customers may get this lounge free with certain bookings. These prices were correct at time of writing.
You can feast on complimentary cakes and pastries, hot breakfast sandwiches or even request a full English ‘fry up’. There is also a large range of cereal and fresh fruit to choose from. On a past visit to Orlando I was invited to use the v-room at Gatwick airport. I’m not a big fan of the food on a Virgin Atlantic economy flight so I had to ‘fill the tank up’ before hand. The selection on offer impressed me and I made multiple visits to the hot counter. I ordered egg, sausage, bacon, beans and tomatoes and waited just a few minutes.
Kids will love it
Hot and cold drinks are also available along with video games for the kids, internet access and lots more to keep you and the kids relaxed and entertained. A kids-free area is a great way for the grown ups to chill out before the flight and there is usually a great view of the runway. Alcohol costs extra but as always, remember not to have too many alcoholic drinks before your flight. Remember you are driving when you land and you need to be sober.
Notice I say you ARE driving! I believe everyone must drive during an Orlando holiday, There is so much to see and Mr Brit’s Drivers Guide will learn you all you need to know.
Take your own in-flight entertainment
The in-flight entertainment systems on airplanes can be very unreliable. I have been on many flight where the whole system went down for the whole flight so nobody could watch anything. Download movies or TV programmes to your tablet before you travel to avoid 9 hours of boredom. Netflix allows you to download many movies and TV shows and so does BBC iPlayer etc.
Ignore the sales alerts
During my last flight to Orlando, an air stewardess paused the movie at least 6 times to advertise products. Every 20 minutes it was “sorry to disturb you but we have a deal on Maltesers and crisps coming round in a few minutes” then it was “sorry to disturb you again but we have some great duty free deals that you might be interested in” I looked around the cabin and people were miffed.
You may need a bluetooth dongle
Take your own entertainment and you can ignore these annoying interruptions. One thing to note if you bring your own wireless headphones is they may not connect to the entertainment system. Most airline entertainment systems do not offer bluetooth connections to headphones.
You can buy a small device that fits into the airlines double-pronged audio slot. This device then transmits the audio via bluetooth to your headphones. You can buy a two-pronged one or by a single prong with an adapter. These adapters are also required to connect a non wireless headset to an airline TV screen. Here are some examples. I may make a small commission if you buy anything from these Amazon links. This helps the guide stay free of charge.
The one pronged FirstE device is cheaper and will be useful in more situations.
Stock up and fill up before the airport
Flying to Orlando on an empty stomach can get the holiday off to a bad start. I have been served some disgusting meals on flights in the early years but things have improved recently. The choice still isn’t great so if you are a fussy eater, try to pack some ’emergency’ munchies. You have to get through security before you can buy sandwiches and drink so don’t take it to the airport with you.
Regular flyers will already be aware that everything is going to cost you a lot more once you are in the airport. Buy your chocolate and crisps before you set off for the airport because you will pay double the price. Remember not to pack drinks or any other liquids as these items are not allowed through security.
Take a photo of your cars mileage…
…before flying to Orlando. Some less reputable airport car parks have featured on Watchdog after complaints from customers. Customers cars have been used by staff for a fortnight while the car owner was away on holiday. You wouldn’t want an extra few hundred miles on your clock so video or photograph your mileage.
Flying to Orlando with young children
Flying to Orlando with young children will probably cause you some concerns even before flight day arrives. If you have young children with you on a flight that are lets say… in the age range of 1 to 4 years old. They are really quiet, never bother anyone, never moan, will happily sit still for 9 hours, you are the minority. For the rest of us, here are a few stress saving tips to keep your nippers happy during the flight….
These tips may cost you a few quid but worth every penny. If your child likes books and colouring books, take lots of them and try to take new books that they have not seen before. This will keep their attention for longer and they will be more excited to use them. Buy some of their favourite snacks in the airport after security. The meals are not really toddler friendly so if they are hungry they will get louder and louder. When Little Brit was younger, we would buy him a small box of Lego and only give it to him on the plane. This £8 treat kept him busy for half of the flight. Doing something like this could make the flight to Orlando a pleasurable experience instead of a dreaded one.
Take some Tech with you
If you have a tablet computer, download some learning games for your little ones. You could also download some of their favourite cartoons from Netflix or a similar platform. Your child might not be too interested in watching the in-flight cartoon selection. Take two sets of headphones and make sure you have a headphone Y-splitter so you can connect 2 headphones to one device. This way you can check the volume and help with any new learning games you may have installed.
Take a comfort blanket and their favourite cuddly toy to help them relax. If you have 2 children that usually like to wind each other up, don’t let them sit together. My last tip, as long as you are Posh & Becks is – just buy out the whole first class cabin and have it all to yourselves and then you won’t need to worry if the kids are playing up.
Avoid the airport luggage carriers.
After flying to Orlando you still need to keep your wits about you. Try not to be fleeced by people hanging around in the airport asking if they can carry your bags. They can spot first time UK travellers a mile off. They may say “are you looking for Virgin, Sir” and you think they are your rep. If they do not have a red suit on or a Virgin badge, they are nothing to do with Virgin. They see your Virgin luggage tag hanging down from your suitcase and they want to charge you for transporting your cases. As with all situations like this, say “no thanks” and look somewhere else avoiding eye contact. Some of these types of people can be very persistent.
Make a claim if your flight is 3 hours late
In March 2019 I successfully made a claim against an airline for a delayed flight from the USA. Read my Delayed Flight Compensation page to find out what you need to do if your flight is delayed by at least three hours.
Things to check before you leave!
Just as the wheels lift off the runway, you will most likely have this thought:
“I’ve left something at the house aaaggghhhhh”
Print or edit Mr Brit’s Orlando Check List and make sure that you check everything off your list before you step out of that front door.