bmi: London Heathrow to Paris CDG (Return)

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19 years 9 months

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[FONT=Verdana]London Heathrow to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle BD173 - Saturday 18 June Aircraft: Airbus A319-100, G-DBCF Scheduled Departure: 0645hrs[/FONT] Actual Departure: 0730hrs (Approx) Scheduled Arrival: 0910hrs Actual Arrival: 0920hrs (Approx) I had flown two return flights with bmi before this one, but both of those were domestic and both were to the same destination - Glasgow. On both of these trips, I became more and more fond of this great airline, a member of the Star Alliance. I was keen to put their international flights to the test. I had originally booked an 0810hrs flight back in January with a scheduled 1025hrs arrival at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle, but in early March, bmi emailed me to say that the outbound flight had changed to 0645hrs. A day or two later, I received an email to say that my return flight was now going to leave at 2155hrs instead of the 2150hrs that I had booked for - a difference of 5 minutes. When holidaying in Thailand, bmi rang me to remind me once more of the changes. Great service, but this was just annoying. I had clicked the links in the emails that said, "Click here once you agree to these changes". But the lady that telephoned me apologised for the changes and explained that if I wanted, a complete cancellation was possible without any charges. I didn't want to cancel though. British Airways was a mere 80p more, but I was proud to be flying with bmi. Anyway, along came the 18 June and I woke at 0345hrs and shortly after 0430hrs, I hit the road for the airport, arriving 20 minutes later, just before 0500hrs at Terminal 1 - somewhere I have been a lot recently, so I was completely familiar with where to go. Check-in Zone A was where I needed to be. I have to admit, it was not looking how I had expected it to. That early in the morning, I expected it to be near enough dead, but I couldn't have been any more wrong! There were queues (and long ones, too) and just about every check-in desk in the terminal. The largest queues by far were at bmi's international check-in desks and there was no organisation whatsoever to the queue. It just flowed wildly all over the place and towards Aer Lingus check-in opposite. My E-Ticket and the fact that I had booked with a credit card meant I could pop my card into one of the many self check-in machines in the terminal and get myself on the flight. Since my last trip, the self check-in process had changed. The lead passenger would use their card and be able to check all the passengers on the booking in together - easy as that. Now that it is slightly more secure. The other passenger would have to insert a bank card, too, just so the machine could verify that the passenger was actually present. My travelling companion for this trip to Paris (Andy) was running a few minutes late and so, I had to hang around for him to arrive. He arrived 5 or 10 minutes later and we checked in using the self check-in. For some reason, nobody else seemed to be using them. They preferred the huge queues at the standard check-in desks! The whole process was very swift and the map of the Airbus A319 popped up in front of us. Only four or five seats were occupied, so the aircraft was our oyster. It didn't highlight which row was the exit row over the wing, so we took a guess at row 12 and took seat A and seat F, too. We later found out that row 9 was the exit row! With 90 minutes until departure, we went for a coffee. The airport shops were just opening, but we sat down for about an hour watching the movements out of the window, even catching the A330 of bmi departing for Mumbai plus another bmi aircraft, this time an ERJ, taxiing. Two aircraft I hadn't seen in the flesh until now. At about 0615hrs, we looked at the information screens and were told to gate 27. It seemed that one or two other flights were also departing from this gate, so it was confusing. Upon arrival, gate 27 was split into more gates. Our flight was to go from gate D. Boarding was already underway but it was relaxed, not a massive free-for-all, so we casually stroled up to the desk, presented our passports and boarding cards before walking down the jetty and onto the aircraft, an A319 registered G-DBCF, bmi's newest A319 in the fleet. The crew who greeted us were nothing special and not overly friendly. They took the usual look at our cards and then sent us down the aircraft to our seats. We were amongst the first to board. I took my seat next to the window in seat A and Andy had to disturb two chatty Canadian pensioners who occupied D and E so that he could get to F. Gradually, the aircraft filled up and we were welcomed on board and then the doors were closed. The Captain came on before pushback and explained that we would be late in departing. At the moment, we were only 5 minutes behind schedule, but he said that both Heathrow and Paris were busy. Paris couldn't accept us until a little later than we were scheduled to be there and Heathrow needed our gate, so we would be pushing back and parking "in a remote corner of the airfield". So we did. We taxied to a bit of taxiway attached to runway 23/5 and waited. The Captain came back on and said we would be there for about 25 minutes, but we were welcome to leave our seats and use our mobile phones, something which surprised me. Out of my window, I watched as aircraft after aircraft departed from runway 27L. At 0725hrs, the seatbelt sign went back on and a few minutes later, we taxied to the runway and were immediately cleared for departure to Paris, a flight that would take somewhere in the region of 49 or 50 minutes according to the Captain. We lifted off quickly and started our climb to an unknown altitude. After a few minutes, the aircraft turned left towards the South of England and the Channel. Being such a clear day, the views were great. The weather was perfect and so, the climb was smooth. The seatbelt sign went off quicker than I had thought it would and the trollies quickly came out. Starting from the front, the crew handed out a choice of ham and cheese panini or a mushroom omlette, complete with a drink of your choice. The ham and cheese was very nice. Piping hot throughout and it reminded me of the usual tasty hot breakfast with which I was familiar on my last bmi flights. Our descent was under way almost as soon as the climb was complete and the crew started to collect in the rubbish, before making final preparations for landing. We eventually touched down nearly 15 minutes late at Charles-de-Gaulle. Not too bad considering we had to wait as long as we did at Heathrow. The flight was great and the small delay is no fault of bmi's.
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Part 2 [FONT=Verdana]Paris Charles-de-Gaulle to London Heathrow BD184 - Sunday 19 June Aircraft: Airbus A320-200, G-MIDP Scheduled Departure: 2155hrs[/FONT] Actual Departure: 0020hrs (Approx) Scheduled Arrival: 2200hrs Actual Arrival: 0001hrs (According to BAA) After a great weekend in Paris, it was time to head home. We had seen what it was we wanted to see and were in lots of pain after a bit of sun burn, so thought that we would try our luck with bmi and see if they would change our flight to an earlier one. At 1300hrs, we still had 9 hours until our flight but thought that they might let us change for nothing or for a small fee. A man working for a handling agent assisted us and said that we would need about €200 or €250. Not a great reply to my question. I wanted an exact amount and not a wild guess. So not wanting to waste money on changing the flight, we decided to try and check-in for the flight for which we were booked to be on. bmi has a check-in policy which states that check-in desks open 2.5 hours before departure. We were there 9 hours before departure. There were three bmi desks open and not a single person using them. CDG does not have self check-in machines which I was disappointed by. The airline has something crazy like 5 flights a day to Heathrow alone plus many others to other UK destinations, so two or three would be useful. To my surprise, we were allowed to check-in, possibly because we didn't have baggage to check in, so they didn't have to worry about storing any suitcases anywhere for the next few hours. We requested 2 window seats and were issued cards for seats 6F and 7F, one behind the other. We returned to the airport at about 1730hrs, still a long time before the flight, but were knackered and wanted some food and drink inside us after yet another scorching hot day. We went to the basement of the airport where we came across lots of snack bars and a McDonald's right at the end. After managing to kill a few hours, we waited for the flight to Heathrow to appear on the departure board and then decided to go and wait slightly closer to the gate. The grotty terminal is split into satellites and there are seven of them. Other bmi flights seemed to go from Satellite 3, and not to our amazement, ours was going from there as well, so we took a walk up, just as an ANA 747 was boarding and an Aer Lingus A320, too. We waited a little while longer and by 2130hrs, 25 minutes before we were due to go, there was no sign of our aircraft, so a delay was inevitable. We proceeded through security once the Aer Lingus flight had gone and sat at the gate area that had been used for it. A few minutes before we were due to take to the skies, an announcement was made by a very annoying lady who had been putting calls out all night. It seemed that for every call she put out, she pressed her lips right up close to the microphone so nobody could understand her. I managed to pick a few words out of what she was saying and figured out that we were going to be 40 minutes late. By about 2205hrs, the A320 (G-MIDP) taxied past at some speed and parked up at gate 32. By this time, all the passengers were herded into gate 32 and waited for boarding. There was no rush. Gate staff wandered around aimlessly and the aircraft had been emptied of its passengers quite a while before now, so I couldn't work out why boarding hadn't started. At about 2240hrs, the aircraft was running 45 minutes late and boarding began. The flight was totally full this time around and there wasn't a single free seat that I could see in the economy cabin. The doors were closed and we were welcomed on board by the Purser. The jetty was pulled away and the television screens came down from the ceiling. We were shown the safety video which lasted a few minutes. Once that had finished, the cabin lights went off and the crew disappeared. But whereas you would normally be turning onto the runway at this point, we weren't. In fact, we were still sat at the gate in darkness, but nobody knew why. Eventually, the Captain spoke to us and explained another problem, something that would delay us even further! Unfortunately, the navigation system had developed a fault and the aircraft could not fly without it - obviously. He said that help was on the way and apologised and also said we could use our mobile phones again. So the lights popped back on and we waited. A little while later, a British Airways Engineering van pulled up to the aircraft and a man boarded the aircraft and entered the flight deck. By now, it had easily been 15 or 20 minutes and we had heard no more. The Captain then came into the cabin and spoke to us yet again. The problem was being 'looked at' but it would be 25 or 30 minutes before the system would even stand a chance of being returned to its original working order. Even so, there was no guarantee that it would be working tonight, so if the worst came to the worst... you can figure the rest out. We would spend another night in Paris at the expense of bmi. Well, 50 minutes or so had easily gone by. The crew had served everyone a glass of water and then realised that it wasn't looking too good, so they served us our snack - a soft roll containing egg mayonnaise and ham or a roll containing spicy bean and vegetable. Both were very nice. Just after midnight and just after we had been handed our food, the Captain came on again and announced that the problem had been sorted and we were ready to go again. The seatbelt sign went on and the crew practically snatched food out of people's hands so we could get going again. The seatbelt sign went on, phones had to be switched off and the door was closed again. The engines were started whilst we were still parked at the gate and for a minute or two, nothing happened. Then, the aircraft made a sharp, slow turn to the right. It didn't push back. It taxied fairly quickly to the runway for departure and the landing lights (??) were switched on long before reaching it. Full-throttle was applied as the aircraft turned onto the runway and we sped down the runway, taking quite some time to get airborne. To be expected, considering this was such a full flight. The cabin lights had not been dimmed again, so we took off with a completely lit cabin. The aircraft climbed to 24,000ft and we were told that the flight would last 45 minutes. The views from our cruising altitude were great, especially over the Channel, seeing the lights of Northern France to one side and the lights of the English South Coast on the other side. In the cabin, a round of drinks were served. Because we had already eaten, that was all we going to get for this short flight to London. The seatbelt sign popped on again and our descent into Heathrow was under way. Before we knew it, the Captain was pointing out the nicely lit Heathrow Airport to our right and there were plenty of aircraft moving, even so late at night - all operating with severe delays - with Heathrow Airport to blame for them (according to our Pilot). We flew a little while longer and then made a 180-degree turn to the right, landing today on runway 9L. We touched down at 00.01hrs. We departed 2 hours and 30 minutes late but only landed 2 hours late at Heathrow, so made up a good half hour. Exiting runway 9L to the right, we were just about at Terminal 1 and were disembarking the aircraft very quickly. The trip through Heathrow was also just as easy.

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14 years 11 months

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Great report. Shame you had a delay coming back but it seems like bmi did have good customer service
Profile picture for user LBARULES

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16 years 5 months

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Excellent report as usual for you :).
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15 years 7 months

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Sorry to hear about your selay Michael, but thats one hell of a report ;)
Profile picture for user SHAMROCK321

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15 years 8 months

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Absoulutley brillaint report just the way I like them. I had a similar delay last March which was origianlly caused by awful weather in the London area and once on board we were told we had a technical problem.