MAN-LHR-MAN w/ bmi
BD589 Sat 24th July
DEP: 1435 (actual 1445)
ARR: 1535 (actual 1530)
I arrived at MAN at 8.30am for some spotting at the Southside, aircraft of note being Bulgarian Charter A320 and Tu-154, plus an RAF C-17 Globemaster which arrived on 24R, held on a taxiway for 10 minutes and then departed on 24L. I left at 10.30, thus missing all the US departures bar G-BNWH, which isn't particularly exciting. After a leisurely walk to my car, I drove to park it at the Ringway airpark in Carrington - 20 minutes from the airport! I then waited a further 10 minutes for a bus, arriving at the airport to check in at 11.30, and was 5th to check in. I noted that the seating arrangement was 2+3, meaning an F100 was on the cards - A first on this type for me! I selected seat 17F, right above the flaps. I visited the Spectator terrace on level 13 of the car park, and ate at the food court overlooking the domestic piers. I saw technicians trying to keep G-BRYZ's main door shut (luckily it wasn't flying anywhere!), and saw various aircraft movements, including TravelCityDirect and Air Atlanta Europe's 742's. To my horror, at 1.30, BD A320 G-MIDZ arrived, and I thought my chance of an F100 had gone out of the window. I joined the long queue for security - the domestic security channel was shut, so I had to go via the main T3 route. Once through, I noticed that the A320 on stand 18 was actually for the delayed BD587. However, again another A320 (G-MIDV) arrived! At this point I realised I should never have got my hopes up for travelling on an F100. However, as the A320 was taxiing, F100 G-BVJC landed - suddenly I was happy again! G-MIDV taxiied to T1, presumably operating a charter. G-BVJC taxiied to stand 17, and I went directly there.
After about 30 more minutes we boarded at 1415. We walked out of the terminal and onto the tarmac - it was great watching all the people in the restaurant area watching you as you board via the airstairs! I walked down the aisle to seat 17F, noting how small the F100 appeared comapred to the A320. I sat down next to quite a large woman, and noted that my window was filthy, and so I decided I would be wasting time and memory card if I took photos, though I regretted this decision flying over London! The captain came on and gave us brief details of the flight, and apologised for the delay citing ATC delays in the LHR area as the reason.
We pushed back on time, 10 minutes after G-MIDZ, and taxied to 24L - which was odd as normal runway use at MAN dictates that 24R should have been in use for both landings and departures at the time. We held at 24R and a travelcitydirect 742 arrived - was it the same as the one I saw earlier? I couldn't read off the registrations on either. We continued direct to 24L and lined up immediately. The takeoff was rather sprightly, and was done with no flaps. We followed the HON departure routing over BHX. In flight we were served a drink and a choice of biscuit or pretzels. I opted for biscuits and recieved some Walkers Scottish Shortbread, which was delicious. We descended, flying over several airfields, some closed and some open. We were routed directly onto the ILS over central London, with no hold, and I noticed all sorts - the Wembley stadium construction, a packed Lord's cricket ground and also a distant overview of LHR. We came down to land on 27R, very smoothly, and taxied to terminal one where we were disembarked onto busses. In the terminal, I saw a Korean 744 going around, and for an hour after this LHR was on single runway ops until about 1730. Apparantly there was some unidentified debris on the runway and the Korean 744 elected to go around - the debris had to be investigated by the AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Branch) before 27R could reopen.
BD 594 Sun 25th July
DEP: 2035 (on time)
ARR: 2135 (actual 2130)
I arrived at LHR 4 hours early after developing a paranoia of missing my flight due to traffic returning from FAB! As it happened, I needn't have bothered. Sadly I missed the Red Arrows and CX B744 displays also, though getting a close up of B-HOY landing at about 9am at FAB made up for the disappointment! I checked in, and chose to sit in 17F again - good choice as I was again right above the flaps.
For the 3 hours after going through security (I made a detour to Burger King ) I sat and watched the constant procession of aircraft. Aircraft of note were an Air Seychelles 767, and Eva Air Cargo MD-11, and East African 767 5Y-CCC. Also saw almost every BA and BD Airbus - some twice! Finally my flight was called, after two cups of Costa-lot coffee. I was boarding behind a large group of females, and so as you can imagine was waiting to sit down for a while as they re-arranged their possessions, organised who was swapping seats with who, re-re-arranged their posessions, placed their things in the overhead locker, got them out again and so on...
The doors finally shut, and we were pushed back once G-DBCB had passed us to taxi to 27L. The safety video was played, and we taxied to 27L, lining up behind a BA A320 and G-DBCB, and with a VS A340 and EK 777-300 beside us. We waited for those aircraft to depart as well as another BA A320, and a KLM B737 both from T4 to depart. We finally lined up after the EK 773 and held for 30 seconds before a good takeoff and early rotation giving good views of the traffic jams on the M25 (why I was paranoid about leaving FAB!) and the T5 construction, though the light was too bad for photos. We encountered some mild turbulence climbing through the clouds, but the cabin crew were up and about by this point serving food. We got a choice of a ham and mustard, or egg mayonnaise and spinach sandwhich. I opted for the egg, and admired the view, enjoying a decent sandwich! The drinks were also served rather hurriedly, I opted for another coffee (still had to drive home!) which I drank quickly as the rubbish was already being collected! We flew over EMA, and then the cloud cover increased, so I saw nothing else until we were below the cloud base. Once on the ILS for 24R, I saw the usual Manchester arrival sights - the Morrisons and B&Q warehouses, the M60, and the Airport Pub, and another well known Manchester sight - a downpour of rain. We made a smooth touchdown on 24R, and taxied to stand 18. As we were moving on stand, the group of females decided to get up once the plane stopped. However, we weren't actually on stand, so the aircraft moved and shrieks were heard as most of them fell back into their seats, accompanied by a stern announcement telling everyone to stay in their seats until the seatbelt signs were off. Once the seatbelt signs were off, everyone got up even though the airbridge wasn't attached for another 5 minutes or so! Once I eventually disembraked, I realised as I stepped off I'd left my bag in the overhead locker (D'oh!). I had to ask an FA to get it for me, as I wasn't allowed back on the plane for security reasons. I got my bag and called the car park company who said a bus would be along shortly. 45 minutes later (!) at 10.35 one arrived - and the 20 minutes ride to the car park began. I wasn't too pleased, as I was going to be late back, and was starting a new job the next morning! Though I was definately glad of the coffee's . I eventually made it home at 0005!
In summary, for £60, BD provide an excellent service! And I wasn't even on the cheapest fare!