Flight – London Gatwick Airport (EGKK/LGW) – Manchester Ringway (EGCC/MAN)
Flight Date – 16th July 2005
Airline – British Airways
Flight Number – BA2902
Scheduled Departure – 06.25/Actual Departure 06.34 (Gate Dep 06.23)
Scheduled Arrival – 07.20/Actual Arrival 07.08 (Gate Arr 07.14)
Aircraft B737-400 G-DOCH
After joining a.net in March 2005, I recognised that meeting up with fellow members on these ‘Meets’ happened quite regularly! Reading the ‘Mass MAN Meet’ thread, I thought it would a great way to fly upto the meet, and also meet some of the other a.netters! (Or a.nutters!)
After stating my interest, I started looking at fares from my local airport, Southampton. I could only visit for the Saturday, so naturally wanted the best fare.
My options were –
1) BA return
2) FlyBE outbound, BA inbound
However, BA wanted £225 for a day return!
BE/BA would have been £190…
So, I liased with Sam (A340600) who was flying BA from his local, and my ex-local, London Gatwick. Fares with BA were £62 when I booked, whereas Jet2 were £56. British Airways operate the LGW-MAN service 4 times daily on a Saturday, compared to Jet2’s thrice-daily service. Plus, you get fed on BA!
Travelling up with my Dad on the Friday night, I started to get really excited about tomorrow’s adventure! I was pretty tired too having just spent 18 hours on a sodding coach travelling back from the Swiss Alps with my college
Next morning, my 3 (!) alarms woke me up at 03.00… I quickly jumped in the shower, swigged down a coffee and left to catch the Fastway bus, a dedicated, efficient and swift service for LGW.
Arriving at LGW North at 04.00, I made my way up to Departures (funnily enough) to meet Sam. He had checked in online the previous day, but he accompanied me to Check-in, which was pretty deserted at this unearthly hour!
I was assigned 15F outbound, and 19A inbound tonight on the BA2913 service. We made our way through to Security Control, where I got searched (Of course, Sam walked straight through!)
Another Security checkpoint had been added because of the increased terrorism risk due to the events that had occurred in London just a week previous.
Sam and I walked through the terminal building, which was mainly full of sunseekers waiting to board their FCA/AEU flights to sunnier climbs!
However, London Gatwick at that time in the morning was very pleasant! The sun rising over the South Terminal was a great backdrop to the arrivals, mainly inbounds from TFS!
Spottings at LGW that morning included shedloads of BA 737’s (300/400/500), numerous BA/GB A32S’s, loads of ‘bucket and spade brigade’ A320’s/B757’s/B767’s etc! Also present was BA B757 G-CPEL which later did some internal services to Aberdeen and Glasgow.
At 06.10 our flight showed as boarding, and we made our way to Gate 55B, which is a ‘walkway’ off a main departure gate (55). This stand is known as 552, whereas 55A = Stand 551 etc…
B737-400 G-DOCH greeted us at the end of the jetty, and 8 minutes after boarding we pushed back. Captain ‘P’ and First Officer ‘J’ welcomed us onboard and introduced the 5 cabin crew, which seemed pretty high for the 17 fare-paying passengers onboard this morning!
A quick taxy to the holding point for 26L occurred. We lined up, and after a 25-second roll, powered into the Sussex Sky. We made a right hand turn and flew parallel to Runway 08R, following the Lambourne 4 Mike Standard Instrument Departure. Climbing above the clouds, we levelled off at around FL200 (didn’t catch the actual altitude )
Breakfast was served, which was bloody nice! It consisted of Scrambled Egg, Sausage, Tomato, Bacon and a separate portion of Bread, Butter and Jam. This was washed down with a cup of Water and a glass of chilled Orange Juice!
We started our descent at 06.53, having only been cruising for 10 minutes! We approached Manchester from the South, and after a series of turns, we broke through the clouds and were greeted with grey. Bloody grey, on which was predicted to be a nice day! Fields and lights came into view as the baby Boeing started to slow down…
We approached Runway 24R and touched down very prematurely at 07.08. Prematurely, in that we only used about 1/5 of the runway and exited abeam Terminal 3! We pulled onto Stand 41 at 07.14, and waited for the engines to cut. I was shocked at the amount of BACX ERJ-145’s here! Sam politely asked one of the F/A’s for a cockpit visit, who agreed and led us in. The flightcrew were two great blokes who happily answered questions, the F/O was probably only a few years older than us!
We departed the aircraft, made our way up the jetty but then couldn’t get out… Turns out the airport staff had thought all passengers had departed, and had locked the jetty doors! We eventually were let loose in ‘the gayest airport in existence’ and met Daniel and Dave…
The beginning of a great day…
Flight – Manchester Ringway (EGCC/MAN) - London Gatwick Airport (EGKK/LGW)
Flight Date – 16th July 2005
Airline – British Airways
Flight Number – BA2913
Scheduled Departure – 20.50/Actual Departure 20.48 (Gate Dep 20.43)
Scheduled Arrival – 21.45/Actual Arrival 21.22 (Gate Arr 21.26)
Aircraft B737-500 G-GFFH
After meeting many of the members of a.net, and having a generally amazing day, it was time to head back to the airport so I could catch my flight back home. Sam was due to fly back too, but changed his flight so he could stay overnight: D
Having previously checked in for the return, we arrived at Terminal 3 at around 19.30. A single check-in agent was visible, probably adequate considering I was on the last flight of the evening! I made my way through to Departures, got searched again! This time it was my belt buckle that triggered it off, which hadn’t triggered off the LGW sensor…!
No shops were open in Departures, so I made my way to the Toilets to drain off. As I arrived back, G-GFFH pulled onto Stand 43. A handful of passengers dribbled through every few minutes, including a rather nice girl travelling with her Dad
At 20.23, Boarding was called. A short queue gathered behind me at the Gate, as there seemed to be a problem swiping boarding cards. When my turn arrived, the agent re-assigned me 17A. I had been previously assigned 19A, but the aircraft had been changed from a –300 to a –500! I boarded ‘FH quickly and made my way through the –500 excitedly, my first time on a BA example. The two F/A’s at the rear of the aircraft were simply chatting to each other, but kindly acknowledged me. I sat down and was quite amazed at how dumpy the –500 is (never sat at the back before!).
The flightcrew again welcomed us onboard, a bit busier tonight, around 40% full. We pushed back 2 minutes early at 20.48, and followed an Emirates A330 A6-EAO to the active. At the end of 24R, I could see the Airport Pub, my home for today’s activities! We lined up around 25% down the runway, and immediately started our 29-second roll. We made a left hand turn to begin the CONGA Departure.
An egg mayonnaise sandwich was served, along with a Breakaway bar. I had a Coke from the drinks service as we levelled off at 20,000ft. The F/O informed us of our route tonight, which took us over Birmingham, towards Reading, over Oxfordshire and then towards Midhurst and Mayfield (Arrival routing) in Sussex and finally LGW.
After starting our descent at 21.02 (after cruising for 5 minutes!), we made our way towards the Midhurst VOR. I could see the lights of LGW, and we ran parallel to 08R over the town of Crawley. A few turns bought us stabilised on the ILS for 26L, the sunset glistening off the port wing. We touched down at 21.22 and made a very fast taxy to stand 57R at the North Terminal. I could visually see us cutting off corners on the Taxiways! I disembarked at 21.30 and 10 minutes later I was on the bus travelling back to the grandparents!
Overall, I couldn’t fault BA. With block to block times of 52 minutes and 43 minutes respectively, they’re service was certainly speedy. I had a great day at MAN, especially meeting some of the other members! Thanks everyone who attended for making my first meet so good, shame I had to leave really
Thanks for taking the time to read, much appreciated
*Sorry for the lack of photos too! *