Our journey home from our wedding in Orlando, Florida took myself, Helen and 8 other members of our family from Orlando International Airport to Manchester Airport via Philadelphia with American Airlines. Booking and paying for a large group of people, slight adjustments in your flight path can quickly lead to thousands of pounds of savings. In this case, going via London Heathrow / Gatwick on the outbound flight and via Philly on the return flight saved us approximately £300 per person, £3,000 in total. Like anything, we weighed up the inconvenience vs the amount saved and in this case, the inconvenience was worth it considering we’d be saving £3,000 (circa £2,500 ones you’d accounted for transfers back in London and snacks in the airport during transfers).
This particular article is going to cover the first leg of our journey, Orlando International Airport to Philadelphia International Airport with American Airlines. We booked through British Airways as part of the return journey, however as BA and AA codeshare due to their One World Alliance we did the entire return flight on AA instead of BA.
Airline: American Airlines
Date: Wednesday 3rd April 2019
Depart: 14:18 (est 14:12)
Arrive: 16:13 (est 16:49)
Aircraft: Airbus A321-211
Seat: 33D & 33C
We arrived at check-in at around 11am having been dropped off by Disney’s Magical Express on the ground floor of the terminal. There is no dedicated flight check-in area. Instead, American Airlines has around 10 booths which are split between general check-in, first class, premium and alliance members check-in and bag drop. There’s also approximately 12 self-check in booths if you prefer that route.
As we’d not yet paid for baggage, had a connection and a large party we opted to wait in the economy line for standard check-in. This took approximately 5 minutes.
The cost at the airport was $60 per bag, this included the bag being checked all the way through to Manchester Airport. For more information on American Airlines baggage policy, we suggest visiting the American Airlines website.
Sadly, one of the four bags we checked in was over the 50lb weight limit. We were unable to use the remaining allowance from one of the other bags to subsidise this and therefore was required to re-pack the bag in order to avoid any additional charges. The staff were very accommodating about this and even labelled up all our bags so we could head straight to bag drop once re-packed, therefore, avoiding having to re-queue.
We repacked the overweight suitcase by moving some items (7lb worth as that’s what the suitcase was over by) into a personal item as between us we didn’t have the complete personal hand luggage allowance. This wasn’t ideal as we had to carry this additional 7lb bag of stuff with us around the airport and during the connection.
Ideally, we would have had space in one of the other suitcases to allow for some of the heavier items to be transferred into another bag. However, thanks to packing cubes this simply wasn’t the case. We’d used every available inch in all bags.
Boarding for the American Airlines flight from MCO to PHL began at 13:30 with those needing additional assistance as well as those in uniform. Closely followed by those in group 1, first-class passengers, business class passengers, and advantage gold passengers.
By the time they were boarding those in group 6 (around 15 minutes later), they were looking for passengers to voluntarily check-in their stroller bags due to a full flight. An by the time we came to board the aircraft in group 8 we were told it was compulsory that all our stroller bags were checked into the hold. The “good news” (depending on who you ask) about this was that these bags would then be transferred onto our next flight and could be collected along with the rest of our checked baggage upon arrival into Manchester.
I noticed during boarding that there were around 8 people marked as reserved on the large screen with the flight details. Therefore any available seats would be taken up by those on the waiting list which did indeed lead to this flight having every seat taken.
The first four rows of the cabin are for first class passengers. The remainder of the cabin is made up of economy seats, the cabin was basic and clean – everything you could need for a short-haul flight.
The flight from Orlando to Philidelphia was incredibly turbulent throughout. In fact, you saw many people turn a worrying shade of green throughout decent – myself and Helen included, which is incredibly rare for us.
While there was no seatback entertainment, complimentary entertainment was possible for those who travel with smartphones, tablets and laptops via the wifi on board.
The guide on how to access the onboard entertainment is easy to follow and is available in the seat pocket. It’s not something we tested access to on this flight.
Menu & Meals
Due to the flight being short haul there was no complimentary meal. There was however complimentary snacks and drinks which were served twice over the course of the flight. Firstly, around 45 minutes post take off, and again around 45 minutes prior to landing.
If you were in the market for a small meal, then larger snacks could be purchased onboard including wraps and sandwiches. The prices and details of which are highlighted below.
Comparing this flight directly with the short-haul British Airways flight we had just a couple of weeks ago. American Airlines wins hands down for two major reasons;
- The complimentary drinks and snacks service is much more comprehensive. With full-size cans of pop instead of those teeny, tiny 100ml cans.
- Despite no seatback entertainment system. Complimentary entertainment could be achieved on a tablet, smartphone or laptop device via the American Airlines website.
As always, we’d love to know what you think about short haul flights with American Airlines. Let us know in the comments below.