Since Brussels became dead after the bankruptcy of Sabena, and after reading the great reports about ‘LHR Spotting trips’, me and Tom (forum member Turbotrent) decided that we would go on a two-day spotting trip to LHR.
After planning the date of the trip (5 and 6 september), we went to the site of Virgin Express, because I got a mail that they were offering promo tickets to LHR.
The 4th of August, we booked our tickets on TV5813 and TV5828, together with our hotel (Ibis Heathrow Hotel). Lucky enough, we could buy very cheap tickets on the flight to LHR (we only paid €17.22 for this flight!). Inbound to BRU was more expensive, but still cheap (€49). The only expensive part of the trip was the Ibis Heathrow hotel, which was 69.95£ for one night, + 4.95£ for breakfast (and this was the cheapest hotel around there!).
Day one: Thursday 05/09:
Airline: Virgin Express
Aircraft type: Boeing B737-3M8 OO-LTM
Scheduled departure time: 7.15am
Seat: 10A (Tom) and 10B (me)
Photo © Charles Falk
Photo © Charles Falk
I got up at 4.15am, to be on time at BRU for the flight of 7.15am. After a short breakfast, we (me and my dad) left Gent at 4.50am for a 45 minuts drive to the airport.
Me and Tom decided to meet under the orange aircraft in the departure hall of Brussels Airport. Me and my dad arrived at 5.30am, and we saw Tom very quickly (he was there already from 5am).
My dad went back to home, and me and Tom went to the VEX check-in counters. We only had hand luggage to avoid that we had to wait in LHR for our luggage. After a very quick check-in, we got our ticket and gate number. In spite of it that our seats were reserved (I reserved seat 11A and 11B, and VEX confirmed my seat reservation!), we got 19D and 19E. I told the check-in agent that our seats were reserved, and he made no problem to give us other seats. So we choose 10A and 10B (11A was already taken in).
Our gate was B31, a pity for Tom because he had never been into the new and excellent A-pier.
At that moment, it was already 5.15am, so we decided to go to the B-pier as fast as possible, because we expected the arrival of the 3 Birdy A333’s, and the Singapore Airlines B744. Once there, one Birdy was already parked, the others two came in very fast.
For the rest, not a lot of aircrafts were parked there. A Thomas Cook A320 (G-CVYE) and a SLR B734 (OO-SBM) were loading their pax for their flights to Turkey.
After we walked through the whole B-pier, it was already time for boarding (how fast the time can go on an airport ). At 7.15am, all pax were boarded and we were ready for push back. The load factor of this flight was 100%. After taxiing about 10 minuts, we got clearance for take off at 7.30am (before a SLR 737, and a VEX B737, and after an A320 of TCW and another 737 of VEX).
A rolling take off was made, and after about 20 seconds, we rotated from runway 25R for our 1h and 10minuts flight to LHR.
Soon after take off, the very friendly and helpful cabin crew told us that service would start very soon, and that we could see the complete list of beverages in the inflight magazine we could find in our seat. Unfortunately, no-one had one in his seat.
Only tea, coffee and water was free, for the rest you had to pay (for example, a coke of 15ml was one Euro). I ordered a cup of tea, and Tom ordered a coke. We also got a very small cake.
In flight, we were looking at all the info we got about LHR spotting, to make our final decision were we would go that day. We decided to go to the Hatton Cross spot on Thursday, and to go to the terrace on Friday.
After this, we already started our descent to LHR. The captain informed us about the weather at London Heathrow, and said ‘Thank you for flying with Virgin Express’.
15 minutes later, we touched down onto Runway 27R (7 minutes before scheduled arrival time). From the aircraft, we saw the Hatton Cross spot were we were going to spend our whole day.
From the aircraft, first things we saw were B777’s and B747’s (amazing if you are used to the Avro’s, B737’s and Embraers in Brussels! )
Those aircrafts were standing besides eachother: AA B772’s: N751AN, N756AM, N796AN. Were also parked there: MH B744 9M-MPH, VS A343 G-VAIR and CX B744 B-HOS.
Once in the terminal, we saw that our 737 was standing next to G-BIKT (BA B752), G-EUDC (BA A319) and… two B747’s of SA which were ZS-SAK, and not to forget, ZS-SAJ, which is their special painted B743:
Photo © Jonathan Simmons
Photo © Jonathan Simmons
We left the terminal, and went to Bus 285 (a free airport bus), which brought us to Hatton Cross station. There we proceeded to the BP gas station (were we bought some food and drinks), and went to the Hatton Cross spot.
There, we met forum member ‘Zoomer’, and had a very interesting conversation with him until 2.30pm, than he had to leave
I wrote all the regs down of all the aircrafts we saw landing at Hatton Cross from 9am to 2.45pm (than we went to the other spot, because they were going to switch from runway). I will not write the regs down, I will only give you the regs of some nice things we saw (some will be not special at all for some of you, but don’t forget that me and Tom were used to the airlines and aircrafts coming to BRU )
- N636UA: UA B772 ‘Star Alliance’ colours
- C-GGBK : AC B763
- C-FCRA: AC B744
- YR-BGG: Tarom B737-700
- 3B-STI: Mea A310
- SX-BEM: OA A300
- VT-ESO: Air India B744
- TF-FIV: FI B752
- EP-IAM: Iran Air B742
- 4R-ADC: Sri Lankan A343
- F-OGYV: SU A310
- VH-OJF : QF B744
- A6-SMR : Emirates B773
- G-MEDG and G-MEDF: British Meditterenan A321
- YU-ANF: JU B737
- 4X-AXH: LY B742
- PP-VRA: RG B772
- SU-GBX: MS B772
- JA8096 : AN B744
- 9K-AOB : KU B772
And of course all the 747’s, 777’s, A340’s,... of BA and VS.
At 2.45pm, it became time to go to the other spotting place, near the BD and BA maintenance facilities.
Firstly, we were sitting on the right side of the roundabout. But there we were moved away by security very fast. So we went to the other side of the roundabout, were we sat down for the rest of the day.
Again, we saw some nice aircrafts:
- B-HOS: CX B744
- JA8919 and JA8906: JL B744
- 9M-MPS: MH B744
- G-BOAF : BA Concorde
- CS-TMR : YES L1011
- A40-KF: GF A330
- A7-ACB: QR A332
- B-2467: Air China B744
- HZ-MIS: SV L1011
At 7pm, we decided to take the bus back to LHR, to go to our hotel, Ibis Heathrow Hotel. We went back to the Central Bus Station with Bus nr 285. When passing the maintenance facilities of BD and BA, we saw that a BA Concorde was ready to pass the road, and we were already on the bus
Once in the Central Bus Station, we took bus 111 to our hotel, were we arrived at 8pm.
After a queu while checking in, we were in our room at 8.30pm, satisfied of our nice spotting day
In the evening, we went to the Mc Donalds to eat something, before we went to bed.
This was the first part of our trip report. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Finally, I want to thank everybody who gave us helpful info about ‘spotting at Heathrow Airport’. Special thanks go to MD-11er, Peter Frei, Arsenal@LHR, BAPILOT2B, EGFF, and to the ones who participated in the topic I started about spotting in LHR. I hope I do not forget someone here…
And I also want to say thank you to Tom for the great spotter company he was during our trip We certainly have to do it over and over and over again, Tom!!