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Old 11-01-2009, 04:33 PM   #1
dolphingirl47
I will post my goodies once I am back
I have always been too worried to use the pillowcase
 
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 27,822

Of Mice, Dolphins and Other Wildlife

Day 1 and 2

I still had to work half a day on the day my holiday officially started. Fortunately it was an admin day. I finished work at lunchtime and took a taxi to the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Manchester Airport. I had booked a Club Room. DH had to work a full day.

When I arrived at the hotel, they did not have a Club Room ready yet. I did not really expect it to be ready as I had arrived before the official check in time. They issued me a key card for the Club Lounge and stored my luggage for me. I was quite happy about this arrangement. They told me to give them 30 minutes and I headed to the Club Lounge to have a J2O and check my emails.

As promised, 30 minutes later the room was ready and they even delivered the luggage for me. I had got a digital Camcorder for DH for his birthday. It was a little risky trying to charge it and set it up at home as there is never any telling when he will come home. So I got this all done at the hotel. Then I headed down to the Club Lounge again. They do have free high-speed internet at the Club Lounge, but no printer. I checked with the people in the business centre how much they use for internet access and printing and they said that this was all part of the service for Club Room guests. So I was even able to do my online check in. For most of the afternoon, I had the Club Lounge to myself. I spent some time catching up with various things on the internet and reading.

Fortunately the camcorder was charged, set up and packed again long before DH arrived at the hotel. They have a great oriental restaurant at the hotel and we had dinner there. After dinner, we had an early night.

The next morning we had a relatively early start. When I did the online check in, there was a message that the flight was overbooked and that they are looking for volunteers to go on an alternative flight. So we wanted to get there as check in opened. We also had breakfast included so we got up a bit earlier to have breakfast first. During the week, they serve a continental breakfast in the Club Lounge, which suited us fine.

When we went to reception to check out, there was a huge line waiting for the shuttle so we decided to walk. It is not far, but includes a short stretch through some undergrowth. I had two suitcases so that was somewhat interesting. Still, we made it across to the airport much quicker than we would have done by shuttle.

We fly to the USA quite regularly and have done so with a number of airlines. Normally there are never any problems with the check in process. We have flown with Delta once before in 2006 and on that occasion I got the Spanish Inquisition. Before I was even allowed anywhere near the check in desk, I was asked why I was flying from the UK, what I was doing there, how long I had lived in the UK and what I was doing for a living. This had never happened before and had not happened again … until this time. I got the same again and was also asked for a form of secondary identification. When I asked her what the problem was, she said that she could not tell me as it was a question of national security, but that there was no problem and nothing to worry about.

Eventually we did make it to the check in. We asked if they were still looking for volunteers and the check in agent said that they did as they were 3 overbooked and wanted to transfer people to the New York JFK flight. We did not want to do this as we had a horrible experience when we transferred at JFK in 2006 which caused us to miss our connection and a long wait for the next flight.

After this everything went smoothly. We were checked in. Lines at security were long, but moved quite quickly and soon we were in the departure lounge. DH nearly gave me a heart attack when he decided to check if there were any good deals available on digital camcorders. Fortunately I could truthfully say that I had seen better deals elsewhere.

He settled down somewhere where he had a good view over the fore field, but I went off to do some (window)-shopping. Once I had enough of this, I settled down with my book. We had just decided to get a coffee and sat down, when I realised that the gate had changed and that we were supposed to go to the gate. This was still well over an hour before we were supposed to depart. So we took our coffee and started to head in the right direction. They had to park the aircraft off stand and that was the reason for the early boarding call as we had to take a bus to the aircraft.

What really surprised me was that there was not a single child in the gate area. Normally whenever we are flying to Orlando, there are lots of kids. Even when we went via New York, there were plenty of kids, but on this occasion, there was not a child in sight.

The next surprise came when we got on the plane. In 2006 when we flew with Delta, they just had overhead TV screens. Knowing that and that this is common with American carriers, I brought plenty to read. I was very surprised to find seatback TVs on the plane. Not only that, but they were state of the art touch screen with a choice of about 20 different movies plus TV programmes, audio and a good selection of games. I never got as far as the movies. I was busy enough with the moving map and the games.

The flight was pleasant. I have flown with a number of airlines and I work for an airline myself. The in flight service that Delta provides is the best I have experienced. As airline food goes, the dinner was quite nice. About two hours prior to arrival into Atlanta, they served pizza, which I thought was a nice touch. They also regularly came through the cabin with water and juice.

We actually touched down at Atlanta about 40 minutes ahead of schedule. However, due to the size of the airport and how busy it is, by the time we arrived at an available gate, we were exactly on schedule. I started to get a little nervous. We had originally had 2 hours for the transit and due a slight schedule change, this had been reduced to 1 hour 55 minutes. I was a little worried that we would not have enough time to clear all the formalities. There was no need to worry. The walk from the gate to the immigration hall was a fair way. As soon as we entered the immigration hall and had entered the line, staff were checking that the visa waiver forms had been filled in correctly. So everybody who went up to the desk had their paperwork in order. At the front of the line was another member of staff who spread people equally over all available positions. DH had no problems at all, but my passport caused a little interest again. After a lot of mumbling and shaking of head, I was asked for the photo and the fingerprints and all documents were stamped and we were on our way. There was a minimal wait for our luggage. Customs just took the form of us and waived us through. Straight after the customs check, we put our cases onto a conveyer belt and then we cleared security. Again, this was highly efficient. Once we cleared security, we checked the screens for our departure gate. Originally the connecting flight was supposed to depart from the same terminal, but that had been changed. So we got on the little train and we had to stay on it for 3 stops. Once we got to the right terminal, everything was signposted very clearly. It took us exactly one hour from getting off the aircraft until we arrived at the new gate. We were both very impressed with this.

The only drawback of the terminal where our next flight departed from was that there was no Starbucks. I had rather hoped to get my first Green Tea Frappuccino there and then. Still, it was just nice to stand up and stretch our legs. Soon they started to board our flight. The flight was very full and they had a little trouble finding space for all the hand luggage. Once everybody was seated and all hand luggage stowed, the aircraft doors where closed. We had to wait a while until we were allowed to push away from the stand and then we spent a while in line on the taxi way. When we were finally cleared for take off and were on the run way, I turned around and there was a staggering amount of aircraft lined up awaiting their turn to take off.

The flight to Orlando was eventless. It took exactly one hour and somehow they even managed to serve drinks and nuts during this short flight. Arriving in Orlando as a domestic passenger was bliss. We got straight on the little train and went to the baggage hall to pick up our luggage. It took a little while to arrive and I wish I had taken up DH on the offer to get my Frappuccino there. Eventually I had all of our luggage and I called the hotel for the shuttle.

We had to wait about 15 minutes, but I was soaking up the warmth like a sponge and it was nice to see all the Disney Magical Express and Disney Cruise Line buses go past. Once we got to the hotel, check in was very smooth and we were soon in our room. We had a room with a balcony overlooking the impressive atrium. By that time it was about 8 PM EST and according to our body clocks 1 AM. I was getting ready for bed, but then DH said that he was going to get something to eat. So I decided to join him. We ended up going to Chilis, which was just on the other side of the road. DH had his first steak and I just had a burger, which was nice as well. We both had our first Margarita. Once we had finished our dinner and headed back to the hotel, we fell into bed and fell asleep straight away.
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