Getting to Florida
There are many flights to Orlando andThere are quite a few airlines offering many flights to Orlando and other parts of Florida every day. Some are charter airlines while others are scheduled flights by UK & US airlines. The average flying time from the UK with non-stop airlines is around 9 hrs. The return trip is generally quicker taking around 8 hrs, due to the high tail winds produced by the jet stream that flows predominately west to east.
Typically the US Airlines don’t fly non-stop to Florida. They use hubs in some of the eastern states, for example, Delta airlines fly into Atlanta GA, American may use New York and US Airways would use Charlotte NC, where all passengers change planes and head off to different locations. Consequently the traveling time on a US Airline flight is longer.
BA, Thomas Cook & Virgin Atlantic all fly non-stop to Orlando International Airport (MCO) whereas charter flights such as Thompson and Monarch (Soon to stop) fly into Sanford (SFB) situated some 40 minutes’ drive from Orlando. Some people don’t mind arriving at Sanford while others, me included, prefer to arrive at MCO. Charter flights also tend to cram more people in at the expense of leg room, although this is not always the case. Most airlines charge now to pre-book seats. Some will also upgrade you to more legroom for a fee.
Drinks and other incidentals such as headphones can be charged for by some airlines on charters, although Thomson has just announced that drinks will be free on their Florida flights. Most have seat back entertainment although not all, especially the US airlines. On Virgin Atlantic, headphones are free as is everything else on-board apart from duty free goods. There are seat back TV’s on board, featuring over 50 film channels along with lots of general entertainment channels and a kids channel, including Disney. There is a sky map and a games selection. It all boils down to choice. Bargains to be had at certain times of the year and it pays to keep checking sites like Skyscanner or Net Flights as this sort of site amalgamate all the other flight wholesalers’ prices so you can see at a glance the best deals around.
Some travellers say that immigration and car hire collection is quicker at Sanford than at OIA. When you arrive at MCO you must first go through immigration, you will have already completed your ESTA application prior to leaving your country and so although this does not guarantee your entry to the US you have been approved to fly to the US and so it should be a straightforward experience. If you have visited in the last year or so, you may be able to use the machines where you answer the questions and have you passport scanned and index finger print taken. Children do not have to have the fingerprint done. Once you have used the machines, it’s just a matter of going to an immigration officer to stamp your passports and customs form.
If you have never been before or not for some time, you have to queue for an immigration officer and you will have your index finger scanned and your picture taken. The people working in immigration can be quite strict and do have a lot of power. They can refuse you entry if they so desire. Once through immigration you collect your luggage from the carousel and take it over to customs at the other side of the hall, taking with you the white customs declaration you completed on the aircraft. This is not so bad, they take a few at random to go through the x-ray machines. You are not allowed to take any animal products or fruit or vegetables into the US. Once you have gone through Customs you then place your bags onto another conveyor belt which takes them over to the main terminal or you can take them with you onto the monorail and head for arrivals. If you put your cases on the conveyor belt they will appear in the main terminal where you pick up your luggage once again. Finally you are free to go down to the car hire garages and collect your car if you are having one. Or alternatively meet your airport transfer to get you to your accommodation.
We will try to cover this information in better detail later in the guide