Boeing 737-300, G-BZZI
(Note: this report also contains a description of Newquay Airport and a small section about Stansted.)
Having awoken at 0445, my father and I arrived at Newquay Airport, after an uneventual 1.5 hour car journey, at 0648.
I decided to take my father with me as a treat. Accordingly, I paid for him.
Located in North Cornwall (see the following links), about three miles from Newquay, the airport is also known as ‘RAF St. Mawgan’ (it’s military guise) and ‘Newquay Cornwall Airport’.
Location of Newquay within the UK
Location of Newquay within the South West
Location of Newquay within Cornwall
Location of RAF St. Mawgan in relation to the town itself
The terminal itself was, totally predictably, small, although bigger than Plymouth’s and, perhaps, about half the size of Exeter’s current terminal.
Location of Plymouth within the South West
Location of Exeter within the South West
Our early arrival was greeted by the arrival of a British Airways Citiexpress (BACX) Dash 8-300 (DH3; G-NVSA - as shown below), which arrived early (at 0651) after a short trip from Plymouth.
Photo © Gerry Hill
Check-in was, expectedly, very quick – less than five minutes – largely bcause few passengers were checking in. However, numerous people had already preceeded into the departure lounge, both for our flight and the Isles of Scilly-bound service.
Time had past extremely quickly, and the BACX machine was loaded with its London (Gatwick)-bound passengers and their luggage. It then departed at 0710.
Once we were in the departure lounge, we saw G-BIHO (as shown below), an Isles of Scilly Skybus (5Y) DHC-6 (DH6), in full colours. Unfortunately, we had seen this machine numerous times before, primarily at Exeter. On this occasion, like the others, it was going to the Isles of Scilly.
Photo © Paul Chandler
Interestingly and surprisingly, the terminal departure lounge, which seated perhaps 100 people, was spilt into two sections by a moveable strap. On the left-hand side were the Stansted-bound passengers; on the right-hand side were the 15 Skybus travellers.
Fascinatingly, those flying to the Isles of Scilly were shown their safety video actually within their section of the deparrture lounge, presumably because of the limited space within the DH6.
Unlike all the other lounges that I have been within, passengers’ luggage was carried through it to a waiting trailer. This does, at least, perhaps mean that cases and bags are not mishandled.
Whilst seated, G-CBML, another 5Y beast, taxied from the hanger (to the left of the terminal) in which it was parked to the active runway, before departing.
The aircraft, all white except for titles, then took-off at 0725, followed by an impressively – and startlingly – steep climb, because of its emptiness.
At 0742, the FR section of the lounge was completely full with sitting passengers, necessitating that some people had to stand up.
As the FR section full up with more and more people, the close of the check-in desk was, at 0746, announced. Bad luck for anyone who missed check-in before its closure.
Shortly thereafter, at 0748, G-BIHO started up, in a quiet burst of noise, and subsequently taxied to the active runway. Interestingly, the active departure runway (13) was the opposite to that used for arrivals.
It departed, at 0750, at a much less steep angle because of its large loaded.
I often thought to myself that the departure lounge needed to be much bigger in order to comfortably handle the many more passengers which now use the airport as a result of the relatively new twice-daily FR services. However, flights tend to take-off at different times and are operated, except for FR’s 733s, by relatively small aircraft. Good job too, or else it’d be worse – and like a cattle market!
It was now 0803, and FR9902, from Stansted, should have arrived 18 minutes ago – and our departure was planned for 0810.
Coincidentally, an announcement was made stating that, due to the late arrival of the inbound aircraft, we would now be departing at 0845. Not bad. This confirmed what I thought I heard around 40 minutes before: that the aircraft had not left Stansted.
As more passengers arrived, so the strap seperating the lounge was filled. Nevertheless, 10 to 20 people remained standing, unaware of the handful of vacant seats.
At 0813, I overheard on the radio of a member of staff that the craft was on approach. Eager eyes – of both passengers and staff – watched.
A minute thereafter, the ‘plane touched down, seemingly less quiet than the earlier DH3.
FR9903 was meant to be aboard a 738. However, it was in fact a 733 (G-BZZI) – a former Continental (CO) machine.
Photo © TZ Aviation
Expectedly, this aircraft was not in neither full FR colours nor titles. Indeed, it was a hybrid: it had half of CO’s globe on the left- and right-hand size, plus its full cheatline, but with FR titles only on its right.
It appeared, from the number of passengers disembarking, to be quite full. Unsurprising, really.
The flight began to board at 0822, a mere – and extremely impressive – 8 or 9 minutes after it landed!
I boarded at 0825 and decided to get row 26a (the last row) – right next to the window. How I love window seats!
G-BZZI’s seats were dark purple with swirls in a lighter purple. Its trays were grey. Its row stickers were in florescent green (!).
The captain (Graham Poppham) gave a brief talk. He stated that the reason for the delay was that three passengers at Stansted failed to reach the gate, so their luggage needed to be removed. In addition, he said that we will be cruising, during this 50 minute flight, at 21,000. I believe that this was the lowest height, in a jet, that I have ever cruised at!
The engines started at 0840, during which the safety briefing was given.
The flaps were set for departure and, at 0842, we began taxiing, during which we passed the hanger (containing a bizjet and a helicopter). In addition, we passed a Skydrift EMB-110 (G-TABS).
Upon entering the runway, we then taxied down it to turnaround at the bottom. Its width was amazing! But then again, as RAF St. Mawgan, nimrods and suchlike used it.
We began our take-off roll at 0847, and rotated shortly thereafter.
Our initial climb seemed slow, but it was over beautiful Cornish countryside and we could see the sea (the north coast).
Mysteriously, a light-brown bug became stuck between the two window panels. Any idea how? Perhaps during construction?
During our climb, all that was visible were thousands of fields and the sea (north coast), indicative of Cornwall’s and Devon’s two major juxtapositions.
At around 0858, the south coast, appearing turquoise, and the north coast, appearing grey because of its distance, were concurrently visable.
I said to my father: “I wonder where our home is.” I said this because we live in North Devon, to the far south of which we were flying.
The first officer gave us an update of our flight. We were cruising at 25,000 and our ground speed was 470mph. Our routing would take us west over Bournemouth (BOH) and then overhead of Southampton (SOU). He said Stansted had a light wind and good visibility.
At 0908, we could see BOH (the actual airport).
A minute or two later, we were virtually over SOU (the actual airport), from which we have flown before.
At 0915, we were informed that we had 10 minutes to go before landing.
A few seconds later, we were overflying London (Heathrow), of which we had a complete – and amazing – view. The arrivals were using 09L and the departures 09R. There was one aircraft on finals, whilst a green aircraft, probably an EI 321, was vacating. Furthermore, one aircraft was rolling whilst nine were awaiting departure. Absolutely superb!
The descent seemed unbelievably quick, during which we overflew houses all methodically arranged in patterns and lines.
At 0923, our gear was released, our flaps extended and our speed reduced. The mandatory ‘cabin crew, seats for landing’ was said.
We touched down on 05 at 0925, 10 minutes after initial descent and totally ontime. Made up the time, eh?
We were on our stand (43L), with our engines off, at 0930.
In just two minutes, we had disembarked via the rear (left) door and entered the terminal. Impressive, hey?
Being aviation enthusiasts, we stopped numerous times to watch the aircraft although it was very quiet.
We expected to be able to stay airside for the entire day (as we have done previously), before rechecking-in for our evening flight. However, unfortunately this did not happen: we progressed too far and had to show our boarding tickets for a flight from Stansted, which, of course, we did not yet have. Consequently, we had no option but to proceed through arrivals until we were airside.
We knew, having been to and flown from Stansted a couple of times, that the views from landside were virtually non-existent.
So there we were in the terminal with nothing to watch.
Not wanting to wait in the terminal doing very little for 10 hours, we decided to catch a coach to London (Heathrow) – but at a cost. How much do you think that two return ticket for two adults cost? Go on, have a guess! No? OK, I’ll tell you. It cost £48 – yes, £48! Dear me. Oh well, at least we got to watch plenty of aircraft.
I will not write about LHR, so I’ll resume from when we check-in for our evening flight back to Newquay.
Ryanair (FR) flight 9904: London (Stansted) to Newquay
Boeing 737-300, G-BZZG
Our coach from LHR to Stansted was quite late, which resulted in us seriously panicking, because we thought that we might miss check-in. Fortunately, our coach driver obviously wanted to make up the delay, so went on the motorway instead of through the backroads. Consequently, we arrived at 1900 – 25 minutes before check-in closed. Lucky!
Check-in was, like at Newquay, extremely brief, perhaps a minute or two. The reason was the distinct lack of passengers.
We instantly passed through security and into the departure lounge.
Our gate was 87, at which many Newquay-bound passengers were seemingly patiently waiting.
At 1924, about 95% of all the passengers stood up and formed an orderly line awaiting boarding. But this was strange: it was 40 minutes until departure! Nevertheless, it was true: we were indeed boarding.
We did, at 1934, board the aircraft via the rear steps (after all, it was a longer walk to the back!).
Despite about three-quarters of the total passengers boarding before us, we managed to get a window seat – and guess who had it?
The aircraft, G-BZZG (as shown below), was, like G-BZZI, an ex. CO machine. But unlike earlier, this beast was all white (bar CO’s cheatline and a few barely noticeable bits of its former globe on its tail), with titles (minus half of the ‘r’ of ‘air’).
Photo © Mark Remmel
Photo © Europix
Both -BZZG and -BZZI
Photo © TZ Aviation
The seats were, once again, of the same colour and style. Indeed, everything was indentical.
This time, however, we boarded whilst refuelling. Accordingly, one of the flight attendants (a nice-sounding Irish lass) frequently told us not to buckle our straps and to find a seat quickly.
Whilst seated, at 14a and b, the captain, Jonathan Thompson, gave us some details of our flight: we would be cruising at 22,000 feet and it would take us 45 minutes In addition, he said that we should be departing from Stansted early and that the flight would be “nice and smooth.” So far, so good.
We were told that refuelling was complete and thus we were able to buckle our seats in preparation for departure.
At 1952, we did, surprisingly, begin our pushback – and we were not scheduled to depart until 2005! We were both glad that we were indeed able to depart early, for we were both very tired.
Taxing began at 1955, just as we realised that the mother in the row in front of us was breast feeding her baby.
During taxing, we saw a Transavia (Basiq Air) 73G and a Germania 320.
With our cabin lights dimmed, we took off from 23 (we landed on the opposite way earlier) at 1958 without stopping. No time-wasting, but rather an extremely efficient operation. That is what I like to see.
After a minute or two, we took a very long – and sharp – right, before turning left – again sharply.
The sunset was unbelievably amazing and beautiful: it was dark blue; turquoise; light green; light orange; light red; and dark red – in that order. Superb.
It continued to feel as though we were barely climbing, but, of course, we were.
After a while, and after several more sharp turns, the cabin lights were turned back on.
Guess what? Come on, you have to do better this time! The passengers in 14c and 14d ordered two sandwiches – and they were £4 each. £8 for two! I would not pay that if I were a millionnaire! They were just £1.99 less than what I paid for this sector (excluding taxes)!
What amazed me most was, for a jet, the relatively low altitude: 22,000 feet. I had never experienced this altitude in a jet before (the outbound flight was at 25,000 feet).
As the lady in 14c knocked back her absurdly expensive red wine, the incalcuable lights below us vanished to reveal pure darkness, except for the light on the end of our wing. Just remind me why I wanted the window seat!?
At 2023, the first officer stated that we would arrive about 20 minutes before schedule, thus about 2050. Even better!
At about 2025, we began our descent into Newquay.
Shortly thereafter, one of the pilots said that we had 15 minutes until touchdown. At this rate, we would be on the ground between 2040 and 2045.
Our descent into Newquay felt slow, although, at 2035, our cabin lights were dimmed. At this point, whilst looking the window, it was clear that final approach would come very soon.
Sure enough, our flaps were deploid, our exterior lights were turned on, our speed was reduced, and our gear was extended – this was final approach! The lack of lights below us suggested that we were approaching from over the sea, the opposite way to which we departed in the morning.
At 2047, we arrived, using 13, into Newquay – about 27 minutes early.
Our roll took us past the small passenger terminal and the hanger (both on our right), which proved that we approached from over the sea.
The way we landed necessitated a long taxi to our stand, during which we crossed the runway at the hold of 13.
We were on our stand, with our engines off, at 2053.
Without hesitation, we were off the aircraft, through the terminal and, at 2103, out of the terminal.
We arrived home at about 2300, which marked the end to an extremely tiring and quite long – but nevertheless good – day.
My thoughts on FR
FR delivered, as expected, a service that was professional, punctual, highly – and impressively – efficient, comfortable and good. Accordingly, I would definitely fly them again.
One point – do FR flight attendants always collect passenger boarding cards within the terminal prior to walking to the aircraft? I ask this because ours did both on FR9903 and FR9904.