Thursday 8th January 2004
I had been both looking forward and dreading this day. Whilst it marked the beginning of my week long skiing holiday (which is good), it also represented the day of my 30th birthday (definatley NOT good!).
To compensate, I had purposely arranged this date to commence the holiday with a mate of mine in the hope it would dull the horror of no longer being a 'twentysomething'.
Photo © T Silgrim
WW5593 MAN-GVA. 737-300 G-BYZJ (I think) "Pudsey Baby"
Scheduled Dep 15:55
Take off 15:55
Scheduled Arr 18:55 (local)
Actual arrival 18:31
Check-in was swift in T1 at Manchester. Four desks were open and the only other flight which was being dealt with concurrently was a later Prague flight.
Passed through security and awaited our aircraft to arrive.
At approximately 15:10 a Bmibaby flight arrrived at gate 2 at T1 which I figured would be the aircraft which we would be departing to Geneva on.
We began to board the aircraft at around 15:30 and I immediately noticed that there was a particularly low passenger load on this flight.
Our aircraft on the outbound flight was "Pudsey Baby", a 737-300, which I think was G-BYZJ (though I'm sure someone can confirm this!)
After boarding the aircraft and waiting for everyone else to board, I estimate that there were only around 50 people on the flight, which surprised me.
Pushback was almost 10 minutes early at 15:46 and we taxied towards the new runway at Manchester.
We then had one of the most leisurely takeoff's I've ever experienced. Good weather conditions, light load and long runway meant that the takeoff roll commenced before the pilot had even waited for the engine power to build up.
Once up in the air I was able to make some more judgements on Bmibaby. The aircraft was tidy and clean, seats and carpets were in good condition (not worn out). The cabin crew were very friendly and looked as though they were enjoying what they were doing.
The approach into Geneva was a little bumpy as we flew through a snowstorm on approach but this seemed to clear just before touchdown. We landed in Geneva at 18:31, almost 25 minutes prior to our scheduled arrival time.
Thursday 15th January
WW5594 GVA-MAN 737-300 G-ECAS "Golden Jubilee Baby"
Scheduled Dep 19:25
Scheduled Arr 20:25 (local)
Actual arrival 20:16
After a week on the piste (and THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS of continuous rain during the holiday which washed most of the snow away!) we headed back to Geneva airport for our return flight home.
The large departures screen indicated that desks 55-57 would be available to check-in though in reality, only desk 55 was open. This was not a problem as there was only one person in front of us in the queue. The lady at the checkin desk who was working for Swissport was very friendly and when we asked if the flight was running on time she said that it was actually slightly early!
We had a look around the shops and I dreamt of buying a TAG watch (but thankfully resisted!). We arrived at gate A3 early at around 18:40, with boarding due to commence at 18:55, our aircraft having already arrived at the gate from Manchester. When boadring was called, it was obvious that once again the passenger load was going to be very light.
Once everyone was on board I did a head count which didn't take very long as there were just 33 passengers on the flight. Whilst I liked not being crammed in and the having the feeling of space, this obvioulsy cannot be good for business for Bmibaby.
We pushed back early at 19:18 and during our taxi to the runway passed a couple of Swiss A320's and ARJ's along with a BA 767, Saudi Arabian 777, Royal Air Maroc 737-400, KLM Citihopper F70, SN Brussels ARJ and Iberia MD87.
Takeoff was swift into the night sky and we settled back for out flight. Due to the time of day I decided to buy a sandwich which cost £3. I asked for the vegetable wrap (as my mate had had this on the outbound flight the week before) but I was told they had none left which surprised me considering the small passenger load. I instead opted for the cheese and ham roll which was of quite a good standard and was probably good value compared to what I could have got for my money at Geneva airport.
Once again, the crew were very nice and friendly. Maybe the casual uniform they wear makes them more relaxed as they didn't try and pretend to be a cut above the 'live cargo' which the cabin crew of some airlines can try to be.
The descent into Manchester was very rough, lots of buffetting and going up and down, was one of the bumpiest descents I could remember having due to the weather being windy and in the middle of a heavy downpour. The crew dealt with it in their stride and we made quite a fast final approach and touchdown. Reverse thrust and braking was much more noticeable than a week previous when landing in Geneva. We arrived at our gate at 20:20, 5 minutes ahead of schedule.
This was the 3rd LCC I had flown, after Ryanair (many times) and Jet2. I have to say that out of the three they are in 2nd place behind Jet2, but not far behind. Bmibaby would without question get my business again as on my flights they had very friendly cabin crew, on-time departures/early arrivals and clean/good condition interiors. From a LCC point of view I would only choose Jet2 ahead of them as on my previous Jet2 flights the interiors were absolutely immaculate and had comfortable leather seats and they also fly from BA / EGNM), United Kingdom">LBA (which is much nearer for me that MAN) to the same destinations served by Bmibaby from MAN (with the exception of ORK). In fact I chose WW over LS on this occasion as the ticket price was lower at the time.
I booked the flights last October during a seat sale on their website and they cost just £30 return each incl taxes. Whilst I know that the weekend flights on this route will be full this winter, I hope that the weekday flights attract more customers as the ski season gets nearer to its peak. If it doesn't then I'm not sure whether it would be viable for WW to run this as a daily service next year as 50 pax on the outbound and 33 pax on the inbound cannot be good for business.
If you live near a destination served by Bmibaby (or even better, near their bases at EMA, CWL, MAN or MME), have never flown with them and aren't anti-LCC's then give them a try as they are certainly a very good outfit.