Mansimon
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First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:36 am

I'm planning on going to Orlando this year in September and have just been scouting the travel agents looking for a good deal. The past few years I have always travelled with Virgin from Manchester on one of there old Jumbos.

This year however the travel agent has strongly advised me to think about going with First choice. Apparently they have got some new planes, and going off the pictures in the brochures the cabins look great.

I was wondering if anyone had been long haul with first choice and what was the experience like.
Also should I be worried about going across the pond on two engines (FC 767) rather than 4(Virgin 747-400)?
 
A321fly
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:43 am

Quote:
Also should I be worried about going across the pond on two engines (FC 767) rather than 4(Virgin 747-400)?

I shouldnt think so, twin engined planes use ETOPS so they are always a safe distance for a airport.
 
planesailing
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:45 am

First Choice do not have any new planes as far as I am aware. From reading their in flight magazine from March, they were talking about the cabins being refitted with new IFE and seats.

I wouldnt worry about the safety of a 2 engined plane against a 4 engined plane. If it wasnt safe, they wouldnt allow it. The 767 has been going across the pond for years!
 
GVBIG
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 7:22 am

The FCA a/c are ex Vietnam Airlines, so they are new to FCA, but not brand new a/c.
Depending on where your heading, but I've heard that MCO is a lot closer to the resort areas than SFB is, so I would go with VS on convenience alone.
Booked it, Packed it, f*cked off!
 
ohthedrama747
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 7:26 am

It doesn't take that long from Sanford to the main Orlando area. It's about an hours drive on the I4. Of course it's not the best when coming off of an 8 hour flight but it isn't a gruesome drive. I saw some of the cabin shots of the retrofitted aircraft on here and it looked excellent.

At the end of the day, go with what GVBIG said and do whatever's most conveinent.

G
 
jamman
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 7:30 am

Quoting Mansimon (Thread starter):
worried about going across the pond on two engines

I think the majority of Transatlantic flights from the UK are these days on 2 engines  Smile

The FCA 76's should be fine (unless one of them goes tech again!) and your right they do have nice cabins (from what i've seen)

Still if your used to traveling with Virgin and the price is right I would be more inclined to travel with them.
Phoning it in from a place with no phones.
 
Venezuela747
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:14 am

Isn't VS IFE systems amongst the best??? I am not sure if their old B747 are equipped with the newer model of IFE, Odyssey I believe, but I have heard it's top of the line......maybe some VS'ers can shesome light into my post
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jmc757
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:54 pm

V:PORT is the new Virgin IFE system, which is among the best in the sky. It's an on demand system, and as well as literally hundreds of hours of films etc it also has other quirky features like inter-plane quiz and seat-to-seat messaging. The bad news is that the system is mainly only on the Heathrow fleet at present and the chances of getting it on an Orlando route are very slim. That said, the other Virgin IFE systems are very good. Its worth noting that Virgin now use their own 747-400s on the MAN-MCO route, the old Air Atlanta 747-200s are gone.

First Choice have totally revamped their long haul service, and it now rivals Virgin and BA. They have totally refitted the 767. You may find this site useful http://www.firstchoice.co.uk/fc/promo39/. The biggest selling point is that the seat pitch in economy is 33" which is better than Virgin and BA's 31". You also get a very good entertainment system (detailed on the site). The system is not On Demand as standard but economy passengers can pay £5 to have it on-demand. It is On-Demand in Premier. There are some great shots of the new 767 interior on this thread : First Choice Airways B767 New Cabin Photos (by Crosswind Apr 9 2005 in Civil Aviation)

If it was up to me I'd go First Choice if they were similar price. I think Virgin are a great carrier, but you say you've flown with them a few times, so why not try out First Choice's new offering - it looks great!

[Edited 2005-08-09 13:54:37]
 
AIHTOURS
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Tue Aug 09, 2005 9:43 pm

I wouldn't hesitate going with First Choice personally.

As well as the 2 ex-Vietnam Aircraft BK and BL, there is First Choice 767 G-OOAN which has been with them since the Leisure International Airways aquisitition. The Aircraft was registered G-UKLH with Leisure.

AN operated last Weeks East Midlands Airport Long-Haul flights. There have only been some small gliches here.

I wouldn't hold back giving them a try.

Thanks,
AIHTOURS

[Edited 2005-08-09 14:43:31]
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richm
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 5:34 am

I went on an FCA A321 to Rhodes and back a few weeks ago. I found the seats to be VERY uncomfortable. I'm not sure whether or not they are the same on their 767's.
 
Demoose
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 5:56 am

FCA's 767's are totally different inside to their shorthaul a/c. They now rival the likes of British Airways and Virgin for longhaul. I was on the ramp at MAN yesterday around G-OOAN as it was undergoing light maintenance and their 767's look superb!

Mark
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by738
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:41 am

Quoting Demoose (Reply 10):
FCA's 767's are totally different inside to their shorthaul a/c

Arent some of the shorthaul aircraft (A321) equipped with premium seats ?
 
Ricci767
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:50 am

I went on one of their 767's to SFB from LGW 2 years ago when it was called Air2000, I must honestly say the seats were a bit cramped but I've heard that the new arrangment has fewer seats so much more room, I think they have done away with the 2-4-2 8 abreast seating and gone for 2-3-2 7 across so wider seats / aisles. Also I've been hearing good things about the new IFE. When I went on Air2000 the service was very good.

On the other hand I had a much better time on a VS 747-400 LGW-MCO last November, it was so roomy!! The service was outta this world! Plus the flight was shorter because the 747 could fly further away from land.

Also to consider is that with FCA you fly outta Gatwick North Terminal so thats good, better than the South Terminal with Virgin Atlantic. But VS fly to MCO is is the best airport I've been too except the strange baggage movements, you end up collecting your baggage two times. To be honest SFB absolutly sucks! Its so boring!! MCO has so much to do, shops, resturants... plus a great view of the aircraft from the monorail.

Anyway, I hope FCA 767's are good because I'm booked on them to go to SFB from LGW this November.
 
bh4007
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:36 pm

Yes, FCA'S seat pitch and cabins rival BA and VS but I don't think their customer service, cabin crew friendliness/efficiency,(food?) would come close to the latter airlines!
 
AIHTOURS
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:38 pm

Quoting Bh4007 (Reply 13):
but I don't think their customer service, cabin crew friendliness/efficiency,(food?) would come close to the latter airlines!

I think your asking for trouble there my friend. Comments based on facts and personal experiance is the key.  

[Edited 2005-08-10 12:39:21]
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GVBIG
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:45 pm

Quoting Bh4007 (Reply 13):
Yes, FCA'S seat pitch and cabins rival BA and VS but I don't think their customer service, cabin crew friendliness/efficiency,(food?) would come close to the latter airlines!

Cabin crew tend to be much better on charter airlines rather than scheduled airlines from my experiences. Always much happier and smiling.
Booked it, Packed it, f*cked off!
 
dc-10 levo
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:12 pm

I flew to Cuba on one of their newly refurbished 767s and they look and feel great. Apart from a 2hr delay takeoff from LGW and then a 22hr delay on the way back the flights were great. (Delay on the way back didn't bother us though - we had a free night in the hotel  Smile)

DC-10
 
ManchesterMAN
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:27 pm

The seats on the FCA flight will be MUCH better than on VS at 33" pitch. The new economy seats on VS, those fitted on V:Port aircraft have come in for a lot of criticism both for the lack of actual seat comfort and terrible leg room. Having experienced this first hand it ain't pretty. However I think the MAN 744 has the older (and more comfortable) seats so may not be as bad.

I would base my decision on these factors in this order:

1. Frequent flyer miles - VS wins as FCA is a charter airline hence no miles.
2. Price - you tell me
3. Cabin comfort - FCA
4. Departure / arrival times and airports i.e. SFB vs MCO - probably VS

I wouldn't limit myself to those 2 carriers though. CO and US have good connections to MCO from MAN and will probably be cheaper.

As for the engine thing go for a twin - there's nothing like living life on the edge  Wink Really though I didn't think anyone actually believed that VS "4 engines for long haul" crap.
Flown: A300,A319,A320,A321,A330,A340.A380,717,727,737,747,757,767,777,DC9,DC10,MD11,MD80,F100,F50,ERJ,E190,CRJ,BAe146,Da
 
bhxforever
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:32 am

Also, on VS im guessing the service is free, whereas on the charter you still have to pay for drinks?
 
747luvr
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:56 am

I say go with VS to MCO, I flew them in March for that route, but there are obviously alot of flights to choose from into SFB. Enjoy your stay here in Orlando, its HOT and HUMID  cool 
 
jetdeltamsy
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Thu Aug 11, 2005 7:53 am

Quoting Mansimon (Thread starter):
This year however the travel agent has strongly advised me to think about going with First choice.

Better check your seat pitch...i imagine First really packs 'em in there.

Here's an idea....try Delta. The quick little connect at ATL, CVG or JFK is a breeze.

And besides, we need the business!
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
 
AIHTOURS
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:46 am

Quoting Jetdeltamsy (Reply 20):
Better check your seat pitch...i imagine First really packs 'em in there.

First Choice Long-Haul do not pack 'em in, on the 767s:

First Choice Economy (Star Class): 33", compared to British Airways 31".



First Choice Premium (Star Class Premier): 36"



Visit this First Choice Link for more information: http://www.firstchoice.co.uk/starclass/


Photos from First Choice
AIHTOURS
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sausageandmash
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:01 pm

Quoting Bh4007 (Reply 13):
Yes, FCA'S seat pitch and cabins rival BA and VS but I don't think their customer service, cabin crew friendliness/efficiency,(food?) would come close to the latter airlines!

1) Do you have evidence to back up your claim that FCA cabin crew are less efficient then VS or BA? In many cases you will find it is as good as, if not more so. And I do have evidence, as I am a member of FCA cabin crew and have flown with my colleagues at VS and BA and have not been overly impressed.

2) Do you have evidence to back up your claim that FCA cabin crew are less friendly then VS or BA? I find that our crew are much more friendly, up-for-a-laugh and jovial than many (many, not all) of BA or VS crew. We don't have the stuck-up attitude that can oftentimes prevail amongst the competition.

3)FCA's Star Class and Star Class Premier food has been especially created by a team of Executive Chefs, with advice given from a team of cabin crew who worked solely on designing the new inflight service product. It is, to be biased, rather nice. To give the example of what one would receive on an afternoon departure Orlando service (as the thread is about this flight):

Star Class Menu (Disney themed tray mat):

Tomato and Mozarella Salad
Choice of: Beef Stroganoff OR Roast Chicken Dinner
Hot Bread Roll
Crackers and Cheese
Lemon Berry Cheescake
Lily O'Brien's Chocolate

Star Class Premier Menu:

Pre-take-off fresh fruit and cocktail
Fanned melon salad
Green leaf salad with separate balsamic dressing
Choice of: Beef Bonne Femme, Chicken with Champagne and Asparagus Sauce, OR Cherry Tomato and Feta Cheese Pasta (Veg Choice) - all served individually by hand
Mature cheddar and crackers
Hot bread: corn top, granary or seeded
Chocolate Orange Bombe
Lily O'Brien's Chocolate Twin Pack

All Star Class Premier meals are on china with glasses for the complimentary drinks all flight.

Then a second service in both cabins prior to landing of a snack box containing sandwiches, muffins, biscuits, scones, cream and jam. Obviously the Star Class Premier cabin gets the extra fancy bits.

So, your point is????
Hello - it's me again
 
A321fly
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:12 am

Sausageandmash

Great come back.

I find FCA, MYT and TCX crews more efficient and generally friendly than the crews of VS and BA 100% of the time.
 
Mansimon
Topic Author
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:22 pm

The price difference is quite significant. I can go premium with First Choice for the same price as economy with Virgin. That why I was a bit worried about how cheap it was. Especially after hearing some not particular positive stories about TCD, who are also cheap to Orlando.
 
komododx
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:47 pm

An hours drive from SFB to the parks? Ahhh, so it's you Brits that are holding the traffic!  wink  Come on, you all know it can be done in 20, maybe 30, minutes.

Stefano  wave 
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jmc757
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RE: First Choice To Orlando

Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:08 pm

Quoting Mansimon (Reply 24):
I can go premium with First Choice for the same price as economy with Virgin.

Then go First Choice Premium! First Choice economy is as good as Virgin Economy, but if you can go First Choice Premium for the same price as VS Economy then surely theres no contest! For the 36" seat pitch alone! Take a look at the pics I linked to above, what do you think?

You will get free drinks all flight same as Virgin, on demand entertainment (better than Virgin's Orlando route), much better meal service (on china crockery!)

Don't be worried. First Choice are nothing Travel City! Like comparing a Mercedes SLK to a Ford Fiesta!