Monday, 20 August 2012

Come fly with me!

© Saloca in Wonderland
Nov 2011

Does it really matter who we fly with?

Traveling from the UK, the flight to Orlando is rough 9+ hours, and that is after we’ve spent 3 hours in the airport to board the plane, and not forgetting the 1 – 3 hours it can take once we’re state side to clear customs and arrive at our hotel. In all, it is a long day!

© Saloca in Wonderland
June 2012
I have always said I would paddle across the ocean in a dingy if it got me to Walt Disney World but after our trip in June, I have started to re think those plans! We flew, for the first time with Monarch. I had heard mixed reviews but we got such a great deal, I didn’t think I could justify £300+ extra per person just to fly Virgin…and really, could it be that bad?

Apparently so!

Friends had flown with Monarch two years previous and had an awful time, including delays, kamikaze birds and a hotel in the middle of nowhere – I should have heeded their warnings! Of course, no planes are immune to technical difficulties, but apparently, those Monarch planes have a little Atlantic-crossing allergy! We go delayed for over 10 hours in June on the outbound trip! It was an awful start to the holiday, but as I said, these things happen. You know how you get talking to other delayed passengers. You grumble about how annoying it is, talk about past trips with other airlines etc…I was so surprised at how many of them said this had happened almost every time they have flew with Monarch on a long haul flight. The delay was not always as long, but a delay nonetheless. The consensus was if you chose them to fly to Europe you had no problems, it was crossing the Atlantic that caused the issues. Our plane had engine difficulties, so of course I was not happy to board until it was fixed, but I watched so many Virgin flights go out that day I could have cried knowing I would have been on one of them if I had paid that extra!

This is not a Monarch-bashing post and I know any flight with any other airline can be in the same position…so let us come away from that rant and look at something else!


© Saloca in Wonderland
Virgin IFE
Having flown Virgin several times, including on one of their newest planes in November, I have developed a soft spot for flying with them. That new in flight entertainment system is the real selling point to me, with so many films, tv shows and music to choose from, the flight could double in length and I wouldn’t have noticed! I do not sleep on flights so need to keep myself entertained for the duration. I always take my books, notepad, music etc but a film is just a nice way to sit back and relax. I suppose if I had an iPad or took my laptop, I could bring along my own films too. You do not get that seat back entertainment with Monarch; they are the no-frills airline of Trans Atlantic flights! Not having a seat back tv, I thought I’d really struggle to keep myself amused. They had odd ones dotted above in the aisle but watching would have given me a very sore neck! I was dreading the flight, thinking it would be so much longer with no IFE but surprisingly I was wrong! I got lost in a book for a while, perused some magazines, played some games, listened to music, had a chat with my boyfriend, I even managed to take a tiny nap! Of course, on the outbound flight you are excited and filled with anticipation so that really helps! Coming home however, tired, cranky and sat next to the demon child who could rival Damien – that was a much longer flight!


Flying in economy with both airlines, Monarchs seat pitch felt a little bigger but their chairs were not as comfortable. I like how the ‘wings’ fold in on the Virgin chairs to cradle your head. Both reclined around the same distance but the trays on the Monarch flight became useless if the chair in front reclined! You could play a good game of racing rolling pens down them though!


© Saloca in Wonderland
Side dish to main meal with Monarch (outbound)
I have to say, Monarch came up trumps on this one. I much preferred their food on the outbound flight compared with Virgins but the quality was not consistent on the inbound flight! I really dislike how they try to feed you less on an evening flight, not all of us fall asleep you know and traveling makes me hungry! Virgin is at least more consistent both ways (and you really cannot beat their ‘sausage and mash’ meal!).

We are always looking to save money somewhere to enjoy spending it elsewhere and cheaper flights mean you could splash out on an accommodation upgrade, additional trips, special souvenirs etc or just put the savings in the pot to go towards the next trip. I do the same thing, I understand all of that, but for me, getting there is all part of the holiday and I’d rather pay a little extra and have a more relaxed, enjoyable flight. For all I know my next flight with Virgin will be delayed over 24 hours and I will be made to eat my words (pass the ketchup!), but for now I am happy to pay that little bit extra.

Flight booking tips!

  1. Read reviews, lots of them. Get talking to people who have flown to the same destination with the airlines you are looking at and what was their experience. Consider looking through traveler forums too, like the ones over at Trip Advisor.
  2. Grab a bargain in the sale! The reason we can sometimes justify our flights is that we got such a good deal on them during a sale. Book mark the airlines home page and check often. Consider signing up for their mailing lists too and be the first to know about impending flash sales.
  3. Consider a DIY holiday. Look at the package price, then look at it component separately with different travel providers. Your accommodation could be much cheaper with one site and your flights cheaper with another.

It is not all about how you get there, it’s what you do when you get there that really makes each trip special – but a slightly nicer, more relaxed flight helps!

Is it important who you fly with?

Until next time,

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