After 5 wonderful days back in Fort Lauderdale (sunshine, the beach and temps ~29'C every day) it was time to head home.
This is a Trip Report from the Upper Class cabin
Food & Drink
I had submitted my online UK Immigration passenger locator form (PLF) as early as I could and already booked my day 2 return lateral flow test. You need the day 2 test code to fill in and complete the PLF. You also scan your vax cert QR codes. It seems a little easier this time compared to coming home from BGI. No seat number required now either. It did ask for that when I returned from BGI? Again the hotel kindly printed this out for me (it's 4 pages long).
I was not able to complete online check-in for the flight(s) home. The DL app and website kept throwing up a message saying I needed to see an agent at the airport. I guess this was because of the new UK COVID-19 checks?
I flew FLL>JFK on DL which was good. There's now a new DL Sky Club lounge at FLL which is leaps and bounds above the old windowless one that used to be there. It's on the upper level in T2 departures. There's still a little bit of construction in T2 but it doesn't impact you in any major anyway.
The DL flight arrived into JFK T4 at the B gates so now need to change terminals but still a fair trek to the VS Clubhouse in the A gate section of T4. I was very warmly welcomed by the Clubhouse staff. I was asked if I had done all the flying to the UK checks. As I said I'd flown up from FLL they asked to see all the paperwork again (even though I'd already shown this at DL check-in at FLL AND whilst boarding the DL flight at FLL). Passenger locator form & COVID vax cert.
They also replaced my DL issued boarding pass with a VS one and I was finding a seat in no time at all. Everything still pretty much the same here. There is now QR codes on the tables so you can order food and drinks by scanning these QR codes. Table service with menus is still in full operation so you can either use the QR codes and just order the old fashioned way by speaking to the wait staff. The where all very friendly and cheerful as usual.
The spa/ hair salon has now gone unfortunately as per the LHR Clubhouse. Everything else is still exactly the same as it always was even now the lounge managed by Plaza Premium Group.
I had about 5 hour to wait between my flights but there are far far worse places to wait for 5 hours! There where a couple of other airlines using the JFK Clubhouse. SQ again and El Al from what I saw.
The VS138 to LHR departed first, followed by the El Al flight. Next was the VS128 to MAN followed by an SQ flight and 2 more LHR flights today.
I used one of the showers whilst there and had lunch (spicy chicken wings) and dinner (meat free burger) with a few cups of tea in-between. Just one glass of Champagne as I was driving home once I arrived back to MAN. I don't drink much anyway and even less so when I'm flying.
The VS128 flight was called around 19:35 for a 20:20 departure. Departure was from the B gates (as the MAN flight always is) so it's a 10-15 minute walk to gate B26.
Priority boarding was working well at the gate (even though everything is labeled as Delta at the gate area). PPE packs where handed to you as you scanned your boarding passes. VS not using facial recognition for automatic boarding as DL do for International flights now. I wonder if VS will start using this at some point?
I was once again very warmly welcomed on board. Within minutes of me settling in, the FSM came and said hello, again introducing himself and thanking me for being a Flying Club Gold member. Shortly after that the CSS looking after Upper Class also came and introduced themselves to me. They offered to take my meal order to make sure I got my first choice. I tend not to eat on board the shorter East coast US flights home so I politely declined. I was asked if I would like waking for breakfast, which I did and I had also a duty free request. As soon as the seat belt sign was turned off, the CSS would come and make me bed for me which they absolutely did
Being out of practise travelling, I'd completely forgotten to pack my shorts and t-shift for sleeping in my carry-on so I asked for a sleep suit which was handed to me. The crews no longer seem to mention sleep suits on flight home now (the flight back from BGI is September was the same) but they are still there if you want one.
Aircraft was G-VNEW Birthday Girl (VS's first B789). Only around 159 pax on this evenings flight. Approx 10 empty seats in Upper Class and Premium didn't look full either. The crew did say though that the return flights back to the UK where slowly ramping up to more normal pax numbers again now.
We pushed back on time at 20:19. It would be a very quick 5hrs 44 min flight home this evening. Whilst the CSS made my bed, I got changed and with the help of my Bose SleepBuds I was asleep in no time at all.
Whilst I didn't eat anything on this flight here is the menu:
SERVED SHORTLY AFTER TAKE OFF
Starters (choice of)
Crab rillette with sumac, pickled cucumber, celery and cherry tomatoes
Buratta, roasted tomatoes and butternut squash with a balsamic and maple glaze (v)
Mains (choice of)
Miso roasted chicken and soba noodles with sautéed asian
vegetables, oyster mushroom with a coriander and ginger teriyaki glaze
Tikka spiced seared salmon, black rice, roasted cumin cauliflower, cucumber and tomato raita, red onion and coriander salad with cherry tomatoes
Smoked Gouda mac and cheese, with roasted winter vegetable, sautéed kale and caramelised pearl onions (v)
Desserts (choice of)
Triple chocolate mousse with a raspberry coulis
Brie, Cheddar and blue cheese with a slice of quince,
grapes and crackers
If you want to get as much sleep as possible, why not try our supper express service. Quick hot bite, then sleep
Tomato chipotle soup, served with a rustic grilled cheese sandwich (v)
SERVED 90 MINUTES BEFORE LANDING
Served with sliced fresh fruit with lime and chilli
Mains (choice of)
Banana bread pudding, caramelised banana with strawberry compote and Greek yoghurt infused with lemon zest (V)
Full English breakfast with grilled pork sausage, streaky bacon, scrambled egg, sautéed button mushrooms, potato rosti and baked beans
Vegan three potato hash, peppers and onions with scrambled "egg and chorizo" (ve)
Sides (choice of)
Chia seed bowl with coconut milk, mango compote.
strawberries and coconut flakes
I was woken for breakfast about an hour before landing. I just had some fruit and a croissant with a mug of tea. I paid for my duty free which was delivered to my seat as requested.
After breakfast I freshened up and before long the cabin was being secured for out arrival in MAN. Again thanked and said goodbye to the crew. We arrived Into the 20x gates again, I didn't notice which one though. Short walk to a deserted immigration hall again. It was the same when I arrived from BGI. The automatic gates didn't work for me (again). I don't know why but they often don't. I *think* it may be because my photo page on my passport is getting creased and folded and sometimes the passport scanners don't read it properly if that page is not quite seated properly. Anyway straight to a staffed desk and all they asked me was where was I born and where had I been. That was it. Down to luggage collection which did take too long. A short walk back to the West multi-storey carpark and the drive back home. I live less then an hour's drive from MAN and its a nice easy drive to/from MAN for me.
Another fantastic VS flight with amazing MAN based VS crew. You can really tell the crew and genuinely enthusiastic about flying again
Here's hoping my VS flight from/to LHR will be the same in 2 weeks!