LBA-BFS-MAN-LHR-LBA... 4th April 2006

Profile picture for user PMN

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14 years 4 months

Posts: 5,530

Today I have another of those wonderful days of random flying for no particular reason. It’s 7:07am and I’m currently sat in departures at LBA, awaiting boarding of flight No. 1 of four I have today that will take me to Belfast City, Manchester and London Heathrow.

My first flight is with FlyBE on the Dash 8, adding a new airline, new aircraft and new airport to my list. Having seen the Q-400’s fly in and out of LBA and thinking they’re quite smart looking aircraft, I’m looking forward to my first experience of them. It’s also nice to have a day of flying that, much as I love them, doesn’t involve being on a 737 of some variety (although you’d never hear me complain about the good old and now sadly no more FR ‘200’s).

On arrival in departures (if that makes any sense) at LBA, I usually have a quick peek around the corner of gate 2, as it can sometimes offer good views of parked aircraft. What better way to be greeted than by a 752 in the morning light. The main thing that will make the difference between today being a good or not so good day is the weather. Although my connection at MAN is short, I have a reasonable amount of time at BFS and LHR, so should the weather be as bad as it was on a certain day in MAN last week I won’t be all too happy!

Anyway, I need food, so I’m going to head off and in search of the most expensive sausage and bacon sandwich ever to grace the face of our blue planet.

Hmm… It’s 8:23. We should be almost pushing back by now. Instead here I am still in the terminal with our departure delayed until approximately 9:35. Had my connection at BFS have been as tight as the one I have at MAN, my entire day would have been ruined, so I guess I should really be thankful it’s this flight that’s been delayed. Hopefully all from here will run smoothly!

Flight 1

Airline: FlyBE
Aircraft: Dash 8 Q-400
Registration: G-JECL
Route: LBA-BHD

Our flight departed from good old gate 5a, the same gate used by the Ryanair DUB flights that I’ve come to know quite well in the last few months. Once boarding was complete, we had a further 15 or so minute delay while the ground staff brought the paperwork to our plane. I was slightly disappointed the cabin crew failed to make an announcement informing us of the reason why our departure was delayed even further.

As this is my first flight on the Q-400, I should probably say a little about it. The simple fact this aircraft has its own staircase is almost a novelty for me (738’s aside). The main thing that struck me on entering the cabin was how bright and clean it was. The walls were actually pure white, as opposed to the slightly yellow hue many aircraft interiors acquire, no doubt a reminder of the days when smoking was the norm in the air (luckily they were days I never knew).

My seat was 6D, just in front of the propeller, which was, again a novelty as this is only my second flight on a turboprop aircraft. As we began our take-off roll I was surprised at the acceleration this little plane achieved. It seemed quicker than the average jet. Unfortunately I missed a superb opportunity to snap an aerial view of my home airport on departure. The relatively early rotation gave us a great overview of LBA.

Here are a few random shots from the flight. The first one was taken with my phone as we boarded.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/Propeller.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR4.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR2.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR6.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR3.jpg

Overall I had a pleasant experience with FlyBE. I’m not entirely certain the delays to our flight can be attributed to them or not, but nonetheless, the crew were very apologetic and we eventually arrived at our destination.

I’m now sat in the very small but pleasant departure lounge at BHD. Unfortunately with our flight being delayed it didn’t leave me much time to investigate around the airport and find good photography spots, so my BHD photos amount to nil. Our approach to the airport here was quite unsteady, and our little plane was feeling the effects of the wind, but the scenery was superb. It looks like there are many spots around here that would make ideal spotting spots, and I’m sure I’ll be booking flights back here again sometime soon. Next stop: Manchester, where I’m hoping to wander up to the level 13 car park and capture a few of the movements around there.

Flight 2

Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Dash 8 Q300
Registration: G-BRYW
Route: BHD-MAN

Today seems to have had its fair share of delays. Not only was my flight out of LBA delayed by over an hour, we were 20 minutes or so late departing BHD. For some odd reason I had it in mind my flight from MAN to LHR was at 15:00, so when I arrived at MAN at 14:30 I was, needless to say, a little worried about getting my connection. Luckily for me, I’m a little stupid, and my basic grasp of time is quite poor (at least in anything not related to music). My flight was actually at 15:30, so I easily made it.

It never ceases to amaze me how often I jump on an aircraft operated by the likes of Ryanair and Easyjet, only to find them in much better condition than aircraft I’ve travelled on with airlines like BA and bmi. In this case, BA’s Q-300 is quite a contrast to the bright, shiny and less than 1 year old Q-400 I disembarked a few hours previous. After 9 years of hard work since its construction in 1997, it’s become worn and has obviously seen better days. This was probably the most uncomfortable flight I’ve ever had. As anyone who’s met me knows, I’m not the smallest guy on the planet. However, as I sat in my cosy little seat aboard this baby plane, an Irish guy sits next to me. A reasonable size comparison would be an American basketball player next to a smurf. He was a very pleasant guy, just huge, so I was confined to a space not much bigger than the average hamster cage. Nonetheless, as I had a window seat I just spent most of the flight leaned forward observing the world moving below us, so it wasn’t too bad.

I was surprised at how much smaller the Q300 is than the 400. It felt like a totally different aircraft, not just a smaller version. I still enjoyed the flight on this noisy little plane, and I certainly intend to fly it again.

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Profile picture for user PMN

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Flight 3

Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Registration: G-EUPP
Route: MAN-LHR

This is the second time I’ve flown this route. The previous time I was flying on to LIS, and both flights were on the good old faithful B752. This time I’m on the Scarebus 319, which feels almost like a widebody in comparison to the tiny Q-300. This flight confirmed the feeling I’ve had recently that the A32X series seem generally more comfortable than the 737’s. I can’t quite put my finger on it. The Airbus cabin just seems to be a more pleasant environment to be in than the 73’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 737’s, but I’m always happy to be on an Airbus, and in terms of my favourite all time aircraft to fly, Boeing still come out on top for me (with the 747 of course!)

BA were superb as usual, with efficient service an polite crew.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR1.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR.jpg

On arrival at LHR I set out randomly walking around trying to find a good photo spot. Not being familiar with LHR (the outside of it at least), I wasn’t too sure where to go, so I just went to the top level of the multi storey car park outside T2, from where I could see some taxi and takeoff movements.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR5.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR7.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR8.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR9.jpg

I almost expected to be moved on from here, but I stood happily for 45 minutes or so and didn’t see another person at all on the top level.

It was getting a bit chilly by this point, so I wandered round to T1 and checked in for my final flight of the day (using bmi self check in of course!)

I’m not quite sure what the deal is these days with the strange people in bright t.shirts barking orders at you as you pass through security at LHR, but they appear to speak ‘at’ you as opposed to ‘to’ you, which I found a little frustrating as I was the only person passing this particular girl at the time. It’s so nice to see people still wish to make the traveller feel welcome and wanted at airports.

Anyway, I was soon in the bmi domestic lounge, which offers superb views of taxi-ing aircraft. As I walked to the far end, I saw an aircraft tail through the window that looked distinctly 747-ish. When I reached the end, there she was. The Queen Of The Sky, temporarily at rest awaiting clearance for her next movement. I’m always stunned by this aircraft when I see it close up. It’s huge, powerful, weighs almost 400 tons at MTOW, yet it’s sleek, elegant, balanced, beautiful, and commands the greatest respect of those who observe her.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/More%20Stuff/747Tail.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR10.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR11.jpg

A few shots through the disappointingly dirty window…

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR12.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR15.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR16.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR18.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR17.jpg

At this point, in true PMN style, it was time to start drinking. I managed to find a seat near a power socket, and, more importantly, a bar, so I sat for an hour in my own little world of music and photos while enjoying the delights of Belgium’s greatest export (even though it’s probably brewed in London).

Flight 4

Airline: bmi
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Registration: G-MIDR
Route: LHR-LBA

Despite only being 4 years old, the interior of this Airbus feels quite dated, although perhaps that was how bmi intended it to be. This flight was quite sad in a way. I counted 37 people heading skywards tonight on this Airbus, and though I have no idea what the loads are usually like on this flight, I really was surprised at how empty it was. The cabin crew were, as I’ve always experienced on bmi, very good, but I could almost sense their disappointment at such an empty flight, and that they were almost ‘putting on a brave face’, trying to conceal their feelings for the few passengers they had to look after.

A very smooth and relaxing flight with some great night time views of the ground through the clear skies.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR13.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y36/MMSR5/BHDMANLHR14.jpg

All in all it’s been a disappointing day for photography, but I’ve still enjoyed it. Now I’m going to attempt to make a plan of how I can fit five flights into one day!

Hope you enjoyed this report. Thanks for reading!

Paul

P.S. Please ignore Belfast International in the title!

Member for

14 years

Posts: 1,645

Wow, great stuff there! What an awesome night picture that is! :)

About the LHR T2 top level, are there any signs for it inside the terminal like there is at MAN? Also, you know how MAN has a viewing area at T3, the bit where the cafe is, does LHR have that? If so, where abouts?

And how long did you wait in the bmi domestic lounge?

Profile picture for user PMN

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14 years 4 months

Posts: 5,530

Wow, great stuff there! What an awesome night picture that is! :)

About the LHR T2 top level, are there any signs for it inside the terminal like there is at MAN? Also, you know how MAN has a viewing area at T3, the bit where the cafe is, does LHR have that? If so, where abouts?

And how long did you wait in the bmi domestic lounge?

I'm sure there will be signs for the car park, but it's very easy to find. It's directly outide T2.

As far as MAN café-type places are concerned, there are lots of areas airside like T3 at MAN, but I'm not too sure about landside. I don't recall seeing any.

I was waiting in the bmi lounge for probably two and a half hours. Most of that was spent taking end editing photos!

Paul

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14 years 2 months

Posts: 1,064

Wow great report there - and some decent pics to accompany it, pictures account for a 1000 words!!!

I have been dissapointed by Flybe lately, they used to be my favourite airline however I have been reading some unpleasent stuff about them lately, i.e. 52hr delays, 32hr delays and unpleasent flight crew and untidy cabins, wish they'd get this sorted.

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14 years 8 months

Posts: 841

What a great read :)
I have always fancied flying on those Flybe Dash-8's and after readind your report, I must try it :D

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15 years 9 months

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Superb report Paul, those BA744 shots truly are spectacular, can't wait to fly on one of um now!

P.S Shocking to see that long list in your sig gone!! :eek:

Profile picture for user philgatwick05

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14 years 6 months

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A great, well written report - and great photos to accompany it too! 37 pax LHR-LBA can't be good....but why the A320 then!

Profile picture for user LBARULES

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16 years 7 months

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Brilliant shots and report mate, just as I have come to expect :).

As I told you the other day, my bmi flight to LHR back in October had a similar number of pax in each direction, of course one was ok because the flight was on an ERJ!

When we booking a day down in LHR then? ;).

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Great report. Pity you didn't get more time around BHD.

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Brilliant report Paul I can't wait for my random flying for no particular reason days start :p

Not being rude or anything but can you tell me how much all the flights cost etc

just wanna know for when my random flying for no particular reason days start :D

James

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Brilliant report Paul I can't wait for my random flying for no particular reason days start :p

Not being rude or anything but can you tell me how much all the flights cost etc

just wanna know for when my random flying for no particular reason days start :D

James

Hi James,

I think the flights all in all cost around £110. Not too bad considering there were four of them!

Thanks for the comments guys, I'm glad it made interesting reading!

Paul

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Another fantastic report Paul, you wouldn't here me complaining about an empty flight :D :diablo: ;) .

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Great report there! :D

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Hi James,

I think the flights all in all cost around £110. Not too bad considering there were four of them!

Thanks for the comments guys, I'm glad it made interesting reading!

Paul

Wow :eek: thats cheap so cant wait for my random flying for no particular reason days start :D