Instead of taking the Stansted Express, as I usually do, I decided to save money and take the Bus. While the journey lasted twice as long, that allowed me to buy a return ticket for less than half the price, and even better: The ticket is valid for 6 months, instead of 1 month as it would be on the train.
And, as I had looked up the websites of the BAA and Go, the warning of roadworks caused me to be excesively careful in my time planning, so I arrived more than 3.5 hours before my flight. 3 hours before the flight, the check-in starts, so I spent half an hour walking around the terminal shopping area.
I was pretty much the first passenger to check in, and when I asked for seat 1A, that was available, and I got to sit there. Check-in was efficient, and I give Go credit for opening up two new counters when things started to get busy. Also, the Ryanair check-in was on the opposite side, and it looked like a real nightmare. The queues for Ryanair almost reached the Go-check in desks, and when I joined the Go queue, the two people ahead of me were facing me. After a few minutes I asked them whether they were actually in the queue. They said yes, but they had not decided which one yet - they were queueing for Ryanair, but the queue was so long it intertwined into the Go queues!
On check-in, I noticed the big signs behind the counters telling passengers NOT to use the train, which surprised me, as I previously always had to use it (or a replacement bus service). The reason, as it turned out, was that all international Go flights are handled through a separate little gate area, known as Gate 93. When I took the bus, I expected to be brought to the normal gate areas, but when we drove to that little island in the middle of nowhere, I was surprised. The tiny Go-area is a temporary-looking building, with a small cafe and bar, and little else. And: No views! At least none that could be photographed. So I spent three hours reading in the gate area.
Boarding commenced half an hour late, and passengers were repeatedly asked to hurry, as the plane was on a tight slot. I took my seat by the door and enjoyed the 2m legroom. When all passengers had boarded, something funny occurred: The despatcher, in a hurried attempt to be efficient, pressed the button to fold away the stairs into the plane. When the stairs were completely gone, he hung onto the bottom of the door with his hands, and jumped out. He was just about to let go entirely when the Stewardess came and, well, she was very annoyed. They argued for a few minutes - him hanging only by his fingers from the doorframe! Her problem was that legally, they are not allowed to close the door while no stairs are attached. If she pulls the door too hard, she might propel herself out instead of pulling the door in, and that would be hazardous. So after a few minutes of arguing, he dropped anyway and went away. The stewardess got the captain or co-pilot, who then pulled the door closed for her. At any rate, it was fun seeing those fingers at the bottom of the doorframe, hanging on to it, with his face in the middle talking (slightly exhaustedly). Very tempting to impersonate a typical movie-bad guy and step on them, as I sat directly by the door.
After this short delay, the plane quickly taxied to the runway and took off immediately. We followed a Ryanair B737-200. The weather was quite good, and I enjoyed the views of England and the Channel and Belgium immensely. I kept looking out of the window with my camera ready to shoot, waiting to see other planes, as this is usually a busy air corridor. I saw the first plane after about half an hour. It was very very far away, only a black dot against a cloud. But I had the impression it was getting closer. I browsed through the sky some more, and a few minutes later I saw that the plane was pretty close by now. It was a Lufthansa 737 or A320 - I am not entirely sure. It was a bit lower than us, but its course crossed directly underneth our flight, and the angle of crossing was fairly shallow, so I realized it was going to get a lot closer still. I prepared my camera and took 2 pics. When I removed the camera from my eyes, I saw how close it really was, just as it disappeared from view underneath us. I cursed myself for not having my zoom lens at hand. That was just as the captain announed we were crossing above Cologne
I watched the sky with renewed frenzy, and sure enough, less than 10 minutes later, another plane was visible. Unfortunately, we were flying through a very hazy sky then, almost a cloud, and so I could not see it for long before it was gone.
Then we started the descent, and it was getting dark anyway. We landed perfectly on time in Munich, and deboarding and luggage handling was quick as usual. All in all another good Go-experience, and another great flight across the busy air corridors of Europe
Hope you enjoyed the report