shamrock350 From Ireland, joined Mar 2005, 6099 posts, RR: 15 Posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 5111 times:
It was the middle of Autumn and with nothing but Christmas to look forward too I decided to treat myself and try BD again. I was searching flybmi.com when I noticed they were offering very good fares to BSL which has a number of Christmas Markets which I thought would have be interesting to visit and Basel isn’t somewhere I’ve been before so the decision was made!
AIRLINE: BMI BRITISH MIDLAND INTERNATIONAL
ROUTE: LHR - BSL
FLIGHT: BD 161
AIRCRAFT: AIRBUS A319-131
I decided to catch a local bus to Heathrow that morning, it covers the route from Harrow Weald to Heathrow Central and costs £1.40 with an Oyster Card, from where I live it works out cheaper and quicker than catching the tube.
Wednesday 30th November was a day of public sector strikes in the UK, border agency staff and customs officers were on strike that day and there were warnings of possible 12 hour delays at Heathrow for arriving passengers. Departing flights wouldn’t be disrupted and I didn’t worry too much about my return that evening, if there were any issues I’d worry about them then. Heathrow T1 was typically quiet at time of the morning, a few groups of BAA customer service staff were being briefed for the day ahead and passengers seemed to hanging around waiting for check in to open.
I checked in at one of the self service machines and selected my seat and also printed my boarding pass for the return flight. I wasn’t going to hang around as there isn’t much available in the check in hall at T1, there’s a Costa and a restaurant upstairs but both are very overpriced and probably closed at time of the morning anyway!
New Aer Lingus check in desks, much better position and finally with a dedicated check in desk for Gold Circle members.
BMI, LH and OS Premium check in area.
Terminal 1 getting a bit festive, I lost count how many of these identical Christmas trees there were scattered around the airport.
Security was very quiet, no queues and the staff even managed to be polite instead of shouting at everyone. No need to remove shoes either which was good as I was wearing hi-top trainers, a nightmare to take off. Once through security there wasn’t much else to do but head to the gate, which appeared on the screens shortly after 06:30 but for the life of me, I can’t remember which gate it was now! Anyway, I didn’t think the flight would be too busy but when I arrived at the gate it was packed with hardly any seats left to sit down, maybe I wasn’t the only one to grab a cheap flight to Basel? After a few minutes it became apparent not everyone here was flying BD, they were passengers for LH to MUC and when that flight was called pretty much everyone stood up and began boarding, looks like it won’t be a busy flight to Basel after all.
The BD gate staff weren’t great to be honest, a few passengers approached the three ladies at the desk and asked whether they should start queuing (departure time was fast approaching) but were told to “just sit down”. One passenger didn’t like the answer she received when she asked a question and said, loud enough for everyone and the staff to hear, “don’t think she liked me interrupting her conversation, I’ll know better next time”. Awkward.
Shortly after that moment, boarding was called and all 40 or so of us formed a queue but the staff still failed to a raise a smile, muttering “thank you” as everyone walked past.
It was a completely different story on board, I was greeted by two flight attendants with big smiles and directed to my seat. The cabin is bright and clean while the brown leather seats make it look cosy and comfortable at the same time. Boarding was completed in just a few minutes, I had an entire row to myself and the five rows ahead of me remained free as well. After a quick welcome on board from the flight deck we were ready for push back and a short taxi to runway 27R.
The in-flight service consisted of a choice of drink and a hot breakfast wrap for economy passengers while I believe business passengers would be treated to full breakfast, lucky them! I asked for a cup of tea and an orange juice, the flight attendant said it was the last of the tea so might be a bit too strong for my taste and that she’d be happy to change it but the tea was lovely as it was. The breakfast tortilla was then handed out as the flight deck gave us an update on our progress and the weather in Basel, overcast with a few rain and sleet showers which would clear up later in the day.
The wrap was very tasty. Not entirely sure it’s what you’d call breakfast but better than the cold bacon roll that BA offered on a morning flight to FRA earlier in the year.
Plenty of leg room.
We then started our decent, the aircraft shuddered a bit as the spoiler were deployed and there were a few thuds as hit the clouds.
Despite the turbulence on the way down, the landing was perfect and I didn’t even feel the touch down.
I went straight to the bus stop for the short journey into Basel.
After a great day exploring Basel and its Christmas markets it was time to return to the airport. I already had a return ticket not that it seemed to matter as on all the trams and busses I travelled on that day, nobody checked my ticket. I could have easily travelled for free all day, I guess I’m just used to London’s transport with barriers at every station, bus drivers ensuring everyone pays and ticket inspectors regularly checking everyone. Not that I would ever fare dodge, you’re using a service so pay for it!
shamrock350 From Ireland, joined Mar 2005, 6099 posts, RR: 15 Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 5073 times:
AIRLINE: BMI BRITISH MIDLAND INTERNATIONAL
ROUTE: BSL - LHR
FLIGHT: BD 168
AIRCRAFT: AIRBUS A320-232
With my boarding pass already printed and nothing else to do I went to the viewing deck, fair play to Basel for actually having a pretty good area to view aircraft before you even go through security. I can imagine a lot of people wave goodbye to relatives from here.
Things were quiet up there, not much activity and it was getting cold I decided to go through security. There was only about 15 people there but it seemed to take a very long time to go through, just two lanes available and one of those was a fast track lane.
I went to the gates which were completely deserted, it’s always eerie walking through a completely empty airport especially when it’s only the early evening! I sat down and looked out at the dark and lifeless apron.
The gate area started to get busier but it seemed BD was in for another light load on this flight, maybe 50 passengers this time.
Boarding was called in German, French and English and everyone boarded quickly. I heard two passengers told that their seat had been changed due to a change of aircraft, one of them wasn’t happy that he would be sitting row 8, a few rows back from where he was meant to be. The other gentleman didn’t seem to inconvenienced and laughed it off saying he should contact Watchdog, the BBC consumer awareness show.
The cabin crew waiting at the door were once again very friendly and smiling as everyone boarded. When entering the cabin I was pleased to see the aircraft was an A320 and this would be my first time seeing the new cabin in an A320, Business Class looks impressive and even economy looks great, BD have done an excellent job here.
I was seated in row 7, just behind the business cabin and at an exit row. Result! The two men who were moved were even more annoyed when they saw the business class cabin, assuming that’s where they were originally seated but were pleased with the extra legroom at row 8 and the emergency exit. Business Class remained empty and one of older flight attendants handed those in the exit seats an information card on the exit, I read through it and handed it back.
Once in the air the service began and hot wraps were handed out and drinks offered. I opted for a Coca Cola, I’ve cut out fizzy drinks as I used to drink so much of them but a little cup wouldn’t do any harm. Since cutting them out I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, nearly half a stone in less than month and that’s without any other changes or extra exercise, shocking how these drinks impact you’re body!
A tasty snack once again, perfect for the flight home.
The first officer announced we were passing Paris, and passengers on the left hand side would be able to see it. The rest of the flight was uneventful, we started our decent and south London was soon in view. We headed east before turning towards LHR in the west with views of the river Thames, the O2 Arena and London’s newest and tallest skyscraper, ‘The Shard’ which unfortunately was difficult to see once the aircraft had completed the turn.
Landing was perfect and a good 20 minutes ahead of schedule but the pilot informed us LHR had just switched to a single runway and we’d be waiting for 10 minutes for our stand to become available. In the end we were allocated another stand and the wait was only 5 minutes, the first officer returned and said there were no delays at customs and the entire day had seemed to go smoothly as far as he was aware.
I said goodbye to the crew and thanked them for the flight before catching the Heathrow Express to Paddington and then the short journey to Baker Street before catching the tube home to Harrow.
In conclusion BD were excellent, the service on these European routes is spot on and I couldn’t fault the cabin crew. The aircraft are immaculate and the cabins are really comfortable, the future of the airline is still very much unknown but I’m sure about one thing, it would be a huge shame and a waste to lose their fantastic crew, interesting routes and excellent service.
shamrock350 From Ireland, joined Mar 2005, 6099 posts, RR: 15 Reply 5, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2886 times:
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 2): Nice trip report! Thanks for sharing! Looks like you had a good time in BSL. Also the new midhaul config on the return leg looks comfortable!
Thanks Marc. Yes, the new midhaul cabins are very comfortable, I think they've done a brilliant job with them. The fact these midhaul configs often get placed on shorter European hops is a plus as well.
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 3): I always wanted to fly BMI. Never had the opportunity. For me it's an exotic airline.
I wanted to get at least one flight with them before the end of the year, the future of BD is very uncertain but I had such a nice experience with them of this occasion that I've just booked a special business class fare to Nice for early January.
Quoting DALelite (Reply 4): Its always great to read a TR about my hometown. Thanks for posting! Next time you come to Basel drop a line.
I fell in love with Switzerland on my trip to Zurich during the summer, it was beautiful and felt like such a world away from my home in London, Basel was no different and it definitely won't be my last visit!