Florida Travel Day - Manchester to Orlando International Airport flying with Virgin Atlantic

We were up bright and early as always but I must admit it was ideal just being able to walk straight out of the hotel into the terminal and not worrying about traffic. As we walked down the Skylink walkway we noticed a humongous queue and I thought 'ooh dear here we go, here's the security line everyone's been talking about' - luckily for us it wasn't, it was the TUI queue. On this occasion the baggage belt had malfunctioned meaning they couldn't check bags in as normal; thankfully Virgin was much quieter so we checked in and off we went to security.

We did pay £5 for the security fast track but it wasn't open so we still had to queue as normal; it took around 45 minutes but the staff were very aware of potential passengers who would miss departures so they kept coming round to ask about departure times which I thought was efficient given the circumstances. 

We went up to Amber Ale House for some breakfast - I had a cooked breakfast (which was underwhelming tbh) and Kev had overnight oats. It was at this point I could see Kev was getting increasingly anxious about the flight. He had never flown long haul before and had only flown twice before so he was really, really worried about it. 

He didn't eat much and requested some time outside so we went out into the smoking area (the only airside outdoor area). I was at a loss to know what to say to him to put his mind at rest because I know what it's like to have a horrendous phobia (I have one about the dentist) but I tried to explain how it would all be worth it in the end. 

About 1.5 hrs of back and forth conversation later Kev suddenly said 'I can't, I can't do it, you're going to have to go on your own'. I tried to reason with him and encourage him to at least look on the plane but he was having none of it so we went to find someone to see what we needed to do as I knew he couldn't exit the terminal on his own; he'd have to be escorted out. 

We were told to go to the Virgin check-in desk where they were getting ready to board and I explained our situation. By this point we were both in tears, the lady said we had to get his bag off which was a slight issue as half my stuff was in there so we would have to repack before putting it back on but she said just hang on a minute let me see if there's any cabin crew available. 

Ade, the cabin manager, came off and literally laid on the floor in front of kev who was sat on a seat and talked him through everything that was worrying. After about 10-15 mins of chatting he invited us to board the plane first to have a look with no obligation to stay on. When we got on he said we could sit wherever there was a space, we were already in premium and decided to keep our original seats as it was the back 2 near the bulk head. Ade also said we could get up and go to the upper class bar whenever as long as the seatbelt sign wasn't on. I feel like at this point Kev pushed himself to stay on the plane; obviously premium is a bit more spacious and there IFE etc. so we sat down and belted up.

After about 20 mins we were ready for take off and as the plane pushed back I cried tears of relief that he had actually got on the plane with me; I'd prepared myself to go alone but obviously it wasn't what I wanted to do at all. The flight was pretty smooth; the food was ok (I had paneer curry which lacked paneer haha) and the IFE was also ok. I started to watch Boiling Point - all the while keeping an eye on kev who didn't eat anything but I encouraged him to keep drinking water. 

About 2.5 hrs into the flight he had a bit of a wobble; the beginnings of a panic attack. So we stood up and went to the upper class bar. I gave him a cuddle and reassured him that he was going to be ok; another lovely member of cabin crew came to help too and got us chatting about something else which really helped. After about 30 minutes he was ready to go back to our seat. 

We had our own personal watch party watching Kingsman and then the afternoon tea came which was lovely; some little sandwiches and a scone. Again, Kev didn't eat a thing but still kept drinking water. After that we got the ipad out and watched Sex and the City 2 the movie; although it's not really Kev's cup of tea I think it was familiar for him because I watch it over and over at home. I do think watching movies 'together' really helped to calm him and keep his mind off the flight. 

By the time we'd finished watching the ipad we were starting to descend. I was so proud of Kev for facing his fear and getting on the plane - I knew it would all be worth it in the end. Ade brought us over a bottle of champagne as a congratulations for Kev completing his first long haul flight which I thought was so lovely - the whole Virgin crew were absolutely amazing! 

When we landed at MCO I had another little quiet cry in the walkway to the terminal; the smell and familiar surroundings just made me realise that I'd finally made it back after 5 years. Security was an absolute breeze - no queues and we had a short wait for the bags. Then it was off on to the monorail into arrivals to wait for our friends Daniel and Jacob to kindly pick us up. 

We arrived at our hotel the Wyndham Orlando Resort iDrive at around 5pm. I have to say I was quite underwhelmed by the room; it was tired and in need of an update but it was fine - it was a bed. We decided to go over to Giordanos for some food which was absolutely amazing (we had the sharer starter and shared a classic chicago deep dish pizza) and made our way back to the hotel for another early night ready for our first park day in Hollywood Studios!

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