Saturday 29th January 2005
Depart: 0710 (Actual 0715)
Arrive: 0930 (On time)
I got this day trip as an 18th birthday in October. It turned out that the date was shared with my dads birthday, but as you cannot change dates on U2 (without a fee!), he had to live without me for a day!
My phone started beeping and rattling my bedside table at 3.30am - I got up easily, which suprised me as I had had barely 5 hours sleep, no thanks to my brother who decided to play darts with his friend in his room, next to mine.
I made myself a mug of tea and some pop-tarts, fed my rabbit and performed the usual morning hygiene routine. I said goodbye to my parents, and left the house at 3.50 for the drive to Liverpool. The drive was uneventful. the M6 was dead at that time in the morning (I was only overtaken by one vehicle on the entire journey!), and so apart from a blonde moment where I nearly joined the M62 in the Manchester direction, I arived at Liverpool John Lennon airport at about 5am, and parked in the 'Imagine' (geddit?) car park. The transfer to the terminal was swift, and so I was soon queueing for check-in. The queue moved quickly, and I was checked in quickly. I recieved sequence number 33, group B.
Liverpool is a little lacking landside, so I moved through to departures, buying a magazine at WHSmith. Most shops were closed, so I moved through security which was a breeze, and got myself a coffee from Starbucks, before moving to the gate, number 13. The gate was clearly an FR gate, as it had a large 'thankyou for flying Ryanair' sign next to it. I arrived early, so seating was available. I sat down, put on my MP3 player and read my magazine. At about 6.30 I became aware of a huge queue forming behind me - due to the lack of seating people started to crowd around the gate. At 7am the flight was called. Thankfully boarding procedure was adhered to, so I got on board early despite the large crowd of people trying to board in the 1-30 zone. We walked to the aircraft, parked on stand 1, in front of a VLM F50 which was starting up. I boarded the aircraft at the front steps, and moved to my seat, 16A which gave a good view of the wing and flaps.
The flight looked about 80-90% full, so boarding took a while. Once everyone was boarded the captain came on and told us a little about the weather in Amsterdam (1ºC, cloudy) and explained that the baggage handlers just had a few more items of luggage to load, and then we'd be away.
We pushed at 0715, and taxied to runway 09, past the new East apron, and GA apron. With no aircraft in front of us, or behind us, we lined up immediately and after a brief pause commenced the roll. The takeoff was powerful, and we were soon airborned and climbing. The easyKiosk was rolled out, though I didn't buy anything. The day was overcast so I saw nothing until over the North Sea. Our Captain spoke over the PA system, informing us we were over the north Norfolk coast at FL290. We commenced descent soon after, while duty free was being served.
As we descended lower, I could see the weather at AMS wasn't looking too good - foggy and overcast. We had to climb to intercept the ILS, before making a bounced landing on 06 - the Kaagbaan. We passed the cargo ramp on the rollout (containing a Kalitta 747-200, KLM 744F, Emirates SkyCargo 744F) and the Cityhopper stands which contained 4 rows of perfectly aligned F50s,70s and 100s.
We arrived at stand D6, parked next to a SkyEurope 735 with the U2 flight from STN on our right. The disembarkation was the most orderly I have ever experienced, with everyone waiting for the rows ahead to move, something I have never seen work so well before!
I continued to the arrivals hall. Passport control was simple - no queue at all - and so I was out in minutes. I met up with mikec, who had arrived 20 minutes earlier on the STN flight. We went to pick up our hire car for the day (An Opel Corsa 1.4 twinport with just 800km on the clock ), and drove to the Kaagbaan.
Saturday 29th January 2005
Depart: 2200 (Actual 2150)
Arrive: 2225 (2215)
After a day spent at the Kaagbaam and Polderbaan (thanks to MauriceB and Erwin for meeting us!), under cloud for the most part (bar a nice period at lunchtime), we returned to the terminal. We returned the car and both checked in for our flights. I got sequence number 12 this time round.
We grabbed a meal at Burger King and killed some time around the Schipol Plaza (incidentally, can anyone inform me why the urinals all have flies painted in them?!?), before proceeding through security (once again, deserted) at about 9pm. We spent some time in the duty free area, and moved to our gates, D8 (LPL) and D10 (STN), where our flights would depart within 10 minutes of one another. A gate change for my flight was announced (D8 to D12), and we proceeded to the gates. The STN flight had already commenced pre-boarding using the ridiculous system in use at AMS, so I said goodbye to Mike and moved to my own gate, going through the second security screening (why?!). The LTN flight was still parked at the gate, so naturally everyone was crowded round as usual with low cost flights! Once the flight arrived pre-boarding was announced for those with early sequence numbers. An argument broke out as one lady with a low number barged through the rest of us to move to the front - several other high sequence numbers taking offence. We had the last laugh though as she left her husband behind - who had the tickets, and refused to join her at the front. There was a brief holdup as a LTN bound passenger arrived at the gate to find he had missed his flight, thus keeping the ticket collector busy.
We got through the first check to find the boarding door shut. After a further 5 minutes this was opened, only to find another set of doors keeping us back! Eventually, these too were opened, and we finally boarded. I chose seat 16F this time around. Once everyone had boarded (bar one stag party member who was deemed too drunk!), we pushed back onto the opposite taxiway to allow the STN flight past. We then followed it to the Polderbaan, the last 2 scheduled flights out of AMS for the day. Quite why they gave us that runway is beyond me as there were several other vacant runways! I kept seeing the STN flight (G-IGOM) ahead of us on the long taxi. It took off, and we performed another poweful, rolling, takeoff behind it. The easyKiosk once again came round, though I was asleep for most of this flight. I woke up to the captain announcing descent, and the announcement that the duty free was closed. We descended through the clouds, catching glimpses of England where they broke. We finally dropped below the cloud on the ILS for 09, flying over Runcorn and the Mersey. We made another bounced landing, and came off at the last taxiway, before taxiing to the terminal, which was dead. Absolutely no other passenger flights were in at the time, nor were there any nightstopping U2 flights (they all arrived later). The only passenger a/c was a VLM F50 parked remotely.
Once again we disembraked in an orderly fashion, and I was through security and customs very quickly. I drove back home on the quiet M6 after an excellent day.
Overall I enjoyed both my easyJet flights. Both crews were friendly, the flight deck kept us updated on both, and they were also punctual. The only negative was the number of pissed Scousers on the return, who were shouting throughout the flight. Apart from that, I was impressed.
Check back next week for my next report - BLK-STN-HAJ and return with FR and Air Berlin!