Okay,I wasn't suppose to fly BA to London LGW but for one reason their relatively cheap fares convinced me to take BA instead of easyJet (although easyJet was still EUR 30 cheaper). Add to this my first Avro RJ100 flight plus an additional 3 hours in LGW and my choice was made, I take BA. However, if you're three hours earlier in LGW that means that I had to get up three hours earlier than I would have if I would have flown EZY. Thus at 4.15am on August 24th my alarm went off and I had to get out of my bed (really too early for a Saturday morning).
I arrived at AMS a couple of minutes before 06.00am to check in. I proceeded to the BA check-in desk and discovered that Saturday morning is not a very popular time to depart. I checked in for AMS-LGW and was asked very friendly if I would like to check in for my return flight. I waited a moment to think about this. I've seen the previous day that my return flight was almost full (only two seats left) and I could gamble on being bumped at LGW and thus receiving the denied boarding fees plus a hotel, However, I suddenly decided that I wouldn't be so lucky and thus accepted the offer for return check-in.
After check in I did some early morning spotting around AMS. Just like when I traveled to London Stansted I walked around the B-pier and just like on my previous trip it was very quiet in the terminal. After noted down all the overnighters I proceeded to the D-pier and watched the aircrafts arriving at AMS. Boarding was to start at 06.45 but when I looked at 06.45 nothing was happening.
At 06.50 boarding finally started. Probably because BA is seemed as a likely target for terrorist they had an additional random not security screening (meaning you were selected not to be checked again)before boarding). Fortunately I was selected for the random selection and thus didn't have to be searched a second time (only a few were allowed to walk without being inspected a second time and I was one of the 'lucky' ones).
Flight : BA8110
Aircraft: Avro RJ100
flying time: 43 minutes
sched dep: 07.00 am
actual dep: 07.05 am
sched arr: 07.20 am
actual arr: 06.55 am
Loadfactor: 37/110 (C4/24, Y33/86)
I counted 37 people boarding my flight (I was one of the last ones on board). Rows 1-4 were C-class and the rest Y-class. Unlike my previous flight (KLMuk to STN) all passengers were seated throughout the cabin and not on only the first few rows.
Given the late boarding I was surprised the aircraft closed the door at 07.00 sharp. Immediately after they closed the door the cabin staff introduced themselves (I can recall the one of the f/a was called Mandy) and started the usual safety demonstrations. After the safety demonstration in English they ran a tape for the welcome and safety demonstration in Dutch. Not long after the safety demonstration (07.05) we were pushed back from our gate and headed towards 01L-19R for a departure on 01L. At around 07.10 the aircraft turned onto 01L and immediately started to increase power (something you, unfortunately, can hear very good if you sit next to the engines) and the aircraft took only a few minutes later off.
After take the aircraft made a left turn (like they always do) and soon the aircraft was on cruising altitude (21,000 feet). The f/a's started to hand out the "all day deli" bags (very very very very delicious!!!!!!!!) and coffee or thea. During breakfast the pilot informed the passengers on the route and expected arrival time in LGW. Not long thereafter we arrived at the UK coast and headed south along the coastline. In the mean time I was still enjoying the great food I received (never had such a good inflight meal in Europe) and my (free0 coffee (this beats EZY anytime).
Unfortunately flying to LGW doesn't take long and after we passed Rochester we were informed by someone from the flight deck that " due to unexpected good weather" we would land earlier than anticipated. Thus around 06.40 the aircraft commenced final descend and at 06.55 touched down on runway 26-8. The aircraft taxied towards the west park and parked next to an Airtours 757.
After the bus arrived at the North Terminal I immediately went to the South Terminal for some spotting. I first wondered around the terminal to see which flight would leave when and then went to the car park because I thought the spectator terrace wouldn't open until 09.00 (my mistake) However at 08.30 i decided to take a look and discovered the terrace had been open from 07.00. I stayed the entire day until 18.00 (that's the benefit of return check in) on the terrace watching aircrafts, and making photographs. Nice airport
At 18.00 I decided to go back to the North Terminal as my flight would leave at 19.25. When I was back in the North terminal I immediately went through security and discovered that just like in London STN they don't have any passport control unpon leaving the UK (they probably don't care who leaves the country) as i didn't have to show my passport anywhere.
The North terminal is, like most of the other terminals, designed to get the most money out of you as they can. You have to wait in the lounge and you're surrounded by shops and restaurants/pubs where you pay idiotic high prices for meals and drinks. Given the fact that I would receive again a deli all day bag on my return flight I decided not to buy anything. Unfortunately I didn't counted on a 1 hour delay (strangely this was never announced, I knew of the delay only by looking at the monitors). Given the fact that I discovered some very nice and comfortable seats in the terminal and wouldn't want to give them up I decided to stay in the seats and enjoy the aircraft movements.
Around 19.50 it was time to go to the gate where our aircraft for the return flight was already waiting.
Aircraft: Avro RJ100
flying time: 41 minutes
sched dep: 19.25
actual dep: 20.30
sched arr: 21.45
actual arr: 22.18
Loadfactor: approx 100/110 (C14/18, Y86/92)
Boarding started at 20.00 and due to the high loadfactor they boarded by rows. Given that I had seat 4F I had to wait to board the aircraft as one of the last passengers. Unlike AMS, Avro's at LGW don't get connected to the gate (why???). You have to walk down and on tarmac until you reach the aircraft. They shut the doors the moment the last passenger boarded the aircraft. Unlike on my flight to AMS they didn't have a curtain between C and Y class, however you knew who flew business class as they received newspapers and a different meal. The aircraft was pushed backed at 20.30 and taxied towards runway 26-8. Just as we taxied to runway 26-8 I noticed an Air Gabon 747 which arrived from Libreville. Our aircraft turned on runway 26-8 just after the Air Holland 757 9which usually does the LGW-Libreville flight) arrived also at LGW (saw the aircraft had just left the runway when the aircraft left LGW). Take off was followed by a 360 degrees turn. This meant that I got a very beautiful sight over the airport by night and I saw an aircraft landing at LGW (very funny thing to see).
As soon as we were on cruising altitude (23,000 feet) the f/a's (this time mostly men) started to hand out the deli all day bags with again a very delicious deli. The f/a's gave all the passengers something to drink. In the mean time the passengers received some information about the routing, cruising altitude and weather in AMS from the flight deck (flying time just 41 minutes).
After 'dinner' the aircraft started its descend into AMS. We arrived on the Dutch coastline at Noordwijk and commenced a very common arrival on 06-24. We encountered some mild turbulence during approach but nothing really special. At 22.18 the aircraft touched down at AMS and we immediately received the news that we would go to gate D14 (the usual gate for the early morning LGW flight). Weather in AMS was bad. When the aircraft arrived at the gate the person responsible for the docking system wasn't there and we had to wait a few minutes. However, not only the person responsible for the docking system forgot the flight. The gate agent who should have been at the gate to connect the bridge wasn't there either and this meant we had to wait again a few minutes before everybody could leave the aircraft.
First I would like to thank the crews of BA8110 and BA8121 for the very good flights. The flight deck crew was very informative and the cabin crew was very friendly and efficient. They've changed my perception about BA. Moreover I must admit that the extra EUR I've paid BA for the flights was worth every eurocent. Although I'm a big easyJet fan I must say that if you get up at 04.15 it's very refreshing to know you can get very good coffee and something to eat onboard. One thing for sure, I'll fly BA again if the price difference is reasonable (and given the fact that it's becoming much more difficult to fly cheap on easyJet I will probably opt to fly on BA more often).