A brief report.
Thursday 28th November
LTN - MAD
Scheduled - Actual
0640 - 0640
Scheduled - Actual
1005 - 1001
G - EZYJS
Total elapsed time : 2:21
Arrived Luton at 0530, proceeded directly to the relevant check-in desks; two desks were dedicated to the 501 flight to "Madrid (Barajas)". Queue was only about 4 persons long at this stage, so arrived at front of desk in about 5 minutes.
easyjet flights to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Nice were also being checked-in at this time, plus a Britannia flight to Las Palmas. Check-in staff (all ground-staff employed by easyjet) were efficient and courteous. Passport was quickly checked, and b.card (of the paper, disposable type) was delivered into my hand. It had number 69 on it.
Let me explain how this works, for those not familiar. easyjet, like some other airlines operates a boarding system whereby each passenger is given a distinctly numbered boarding card, dependent upon how late or early he/she has checked-in. With easyjet, numbers are grouped from 1-30, 31-60, 61-90 and "remaining passengers". As you will have guessed, I was fairly late to check-in, as I was "69".
easyjet insists on all passengers being at the relevant gate 30 minutes prior to departure - in my case, this meant being at gate 16 by 0610. After a horrible coffee, it was time to walk at a leisurely pace along the convoluted route to this gate 16.....after security/screening it was walk down this corridor.......up these stairs........along another corridor...........down these stairs..........round the corner, and finally to the glass doors which made up gate 16.
Four parallel lines formed, separated by cordons, and according of course, to those 4 groups, 1-30 etc. etc.
The lines moved rather quickly, and my b.card and passport were checked one last time before walking out into the dark, damp ramp towards our aircraft.
I decided to board through the rear stairs. Being so late to check-in (or after a lot of other people), meant boarding after a lot of people too, so I thought my chances of a window seat were pretty slim. But no, there was a window seat waiting for me at row 17, just aft of the middle part of the wing, right side.
The aircraft was pretty full, let me tell you. Only a few seats remained. Looks like we were going to be departing nicely on-time, as all pax were in after a fairly short time. At 0638 we were prepped and ready to go. Captain said a quick hello, confirmed we were all set, mentioned today´s cruise level (39k feet) and expected our flight time to be around 2 hours 16 minutes.
Push-back was right on-time at 0640, just like a German train service.
Manual safety demo was carried out by the orange crew, as usual, not many people were interested.
A leisurely taxi was made to r/w 26, and at one stage I wondered why our strobe lights were already on. I then realised we had entered the runway and were taxying along it to the 26 threshold. Once there, we did a 360 turn on the turning pan to line up. Slowed down a little while the thrust was increased. Just after the roar, we started speeding down 26, still dark outside.
I felt a little more power this time round, I don´t know if this is anything to do with the fact that I am usually flying Ryanair´s slightly larger -800 ? Take-off was powerful and quite short; rotation was followed by a steep climb, and we sped past the yellow lights of Luton down below.
We were enveloped by a little mist early in the climb, then some patchy cloud, but it was mostly a cloudless sky. Gentle turn to the left, and we were soon heading south for Madrid.
Seat-belt signs were soon off, and riding conditions were pretty smooth all along. Cabin lights remained off for a while, as most pax tried to catch a little extra sleep before the sun rose and started shining light through the cabin walls.
Later, with the sun up, and cabin lights back on, the food and beverage service began. Proved quite a hit with the pax, many were stopping the crew as they came along - sandwiches, coffee and tea were popular....perhaps because of the time of the flight ?
Unlike buzz or Go, easyjet do not offer cafetiere coffee, so I elected not to waste GBP1.50 on coffee-flavoured water courtesy of Nescafe.
Most of Europe was clouded over, so no sight-seeing today. The blanket of cloud did disperse over Northern Spain to uncover some snow-covered mountains which I´m guessing where the Picos de Europa, I don´t think our route took us over the Pyrenees.
After 1 hour 47 minutes, the roar from the engines became much more muffled, and that sinking sensation soon started. Our Greek FO soon came on to confirm we were beginning our descent into Madrid. He also elected to inform us that the weather in Madrid was nothing to celebrate; we could expect intermittent showers, mist and 11 degrees centigrade. About right for this time of year, what does one expect in winter anyway?
The approach involved passing through some layers of raincloud, so it became a little bumpy, and water started streaming over the windows as we bounced along on base leg, with the spoilers popping out now and then. Madrid was to our lower right.
After 10 minutes of the downwind leg, we made a sharp left turn to back-track up to the airport and begin final approach.
The landing itself was nice and gentle, reverse thrust was applied quite late, we seemed to roll along the wet runway for a while before the crew decided they would use reverse thrust. We kicked up a little spray as the sun shone through the clouds.
Usual mixture of aircraft at MAD - Iberia aircraft of all shapes and sizes, two Contitnental aircraft, what looked like a rather long 767 and a 777, plus a US Airways 762. Saw a Thai tail, couldn´t see the aircraft though. Spanair MD-80s, Air Nostrum CRJs. And the usual Latin American lot.
Parked up next to KLM 734, PH-BTC.
To my surprise we had an airbridge. I thought LCCs avoided using these facilities to save money? Oh well, I´m not complaining.
The end. (of a slightly rushed report, and I am sorry, but there are things to do here in Madrid )...
Conclusion : Friendly and efficient staff on the ground and in the air. Spotless aircraft, and all very punctual. Considering this was a free flight (obtained via a newspaper promotion), I was very satisfied.
I´m recommending easyjet. Added bonus is that they use the major airports.