I awoke to my clock radio blaring out at 3.30am, I got up, got dressed and made my final preparations for my holiday. The taxi pulled up to my house at 4.10am and I got to Gatwick’s North Terminal a few minutes later. As we were so early for our 6.25 departure, there were no queues, so we checked in and went through security with no hassle.
First Choice Airways/ Air 2000 AMM322C
Airbus A321 G-OOAI
Departure time (Scheduled/ Actual): 0625/0639 (GMT)
Arrival Time (Scheduled/ Actual): 0855/0915 (Local Time)
Photo © Andreas Stoeckl
Photo © Aaron Lupton
After buying loads of magazines in WHSmith we sat and had a coffee. Then our flight showed boarding gate 46 so we headed on the VERY long walk towards the gate. As we got nearer to 46 I noticed a huge number of FCA aircraft all parked up ready for their departures during the day. It was obvious that they had night stopped. These included G-OOBC and G-OOAP as well as AEU B737-700 G-STRD. I headed down the jet bridge and onto my first ever Airbus A321 G-OOAI.
Once inside I was very surprised. The seats were leather (well soft plastic but they were as comfy as leather). I couldn?t believe my luck when I found out that we had row 5. This row is behind the premium cabin and therefore has extra legroom. I sat in 5A and had a whole 2 windows to myself!!! My Dad?s over 6 ft and he had more room between his knees and the seat in front. From my window you could look back at the wing.
The Astraeus 737 next to us pushed back, but an Emirates A330 (A6-EAG) from Dubai soon took its place. We pushed back at 0629 already later than our scheduled takeoff and made a quick taxi out for a 26L departure. We turned straight onto the runway as it appeared we were one of the first departures and before even stopping the engines roared into life for a rolling takeoff.
I was slightly pushed back into my seat and we were lifted into the air at 0639 almost 15 minutes late. The takeoff was average, using little power and a lot of runway (but that didn?t matter, landing would make up for it).
The engine power was reduced and we climbed above the clouds. The A321 does make a strange noise on takeoff. I can?t quite describe it. Still in climb breakfast was served. This was barely 5 minutes into the flight. It consisted of Bacon, egg, sausage and tomato sauce on the side. A bread roll and butter was on the side and tea and coffee soon came round. It was delicious, especially the sausage.
We reached a cruise altitude of 27,000 feet (FL270). I hadn’t even finished and the cabin crew came round again with gifts. I must give them full marks. I never saw one of them laze around; they were always working hard and were very efficient. They were quite an old cabin crew that consisted of females only. They were very good.
Before I knew it we started our decent. After a slow decent we lined up for runway 09. We floated down and I then experienced one of the best landings of my life. We didn’t touch down for quite a while, floating over the runway. The runway at Grenoble is short enough for an A321 as it is so we had to stop quickly. Very quickly.
The moment the wheels hit the tarmac full thrust reversers were applied and the speed brakes went up. As soon as the front gear hit the ground we braked very, very hard. Everyone was thrown forward into their seats. I thought this was great and sat there smiling the entire time!!!
We taxied to the main apron where G-MIDY sat after her flight from MAN. We came to a halt and the doors were opened. I walked down the steps. Don’t you just love small airports? We were allowed to walk where we liked all over the apron into the terminal. I took a good look at G-OOAI, the plane that had just taken me on this brilliant flight.
The terminal building was smallish but very new and stylish. We passed through passport control, collected our bags and were on our way to the resort.
Overall, a great flight. The cabin crew were professional and efficient and the flight was great. The meal was delicious and the seats extremely comfy.
First Choice Airways/ Air 2000 AMM322D
Airbus A321 G-OOAI
Departure time (Scheduled/ Actual): 1010/1029 (Local Time)
Arrival Time (Scheduled/ Actual): 1045/1041 (GMT)
Photo © Nuno Silva - Madeira Spotters
Photo © Stephen Fox
After the 3 hour coach transfer we pulled up outside St. Geoirs Airport. I’d had a bit of sleep but was very tired. I could not believe the site that I saw when I entered departures. OK so GNB is a small airport but they need to be able to cope with these charters on Saturdays.
3 Check in Desks were given to the BMI flight to MAN, 3 for the AMM/FCA BHX flight and 3 for ours to “Londres LGW”. OK so you’ve got a good 2 hours til departure and we joined the queue. Well time passed, they started calling our flight and we had barely moved. Final calls came up, still queuing. Finally over 1 and a half hours after we joined the queue we checked in. that wasn’t the worst. Out of the three desks given to our flight 2 of them decided to pack up. (luckily we were in the one that didn’t ).
We proceeded through to the security and into the departure lounge which looked like a big version of my Nan’s conservatory . There were a lot of toilets in arrivals but in departures, there were just two toilets in the men’s to cope with 3 flights !!!. Some men had been queuing another half hour just to go to the loo.
Although all this the airport was very clean and VERY new. Does anyone know how old and when it was built??? There was one gate and our flight was the first to leave so we QUEUED again , not so long this time. I had spent so long in QUEUES that I had missed the BMI departure and didn’t get the reg.
I strolled out onto the apron and headed towards our aircraft. An Air France ATR-72 (F-GKPD) had just arrived and was de-boarding. To my disappointment but no surprise, G-OOAI once again, was sat there in the rain. It was much nicer when we arrived the week before, really sunny and hot.
I walked up the steps and onto the Airbus A321. I was so pleased to find out we were in row 5 again which meant more legroom. This time I was sat in F not A which meant I still had the window but on the opposite side.
The engines started and once again the screens flipped down to show us the safety video. It’s amazing how many people completely ignore this. My parents couldn’t be bothered and carried on filling in their questionnaires on the holiday and my sister read her “Sugar” magazine. This was pretty much the same with all the passengers. I paid some attention but spent most of it looking out of my 2 windows !!!
We taxied out for a 09 departure and once again I had the pleasure of a rolling takeoff. However this was a lot more impressive than at LGW because the pilots didn?t have as much runway to use. I was thrown to the back of my seat and at 1029 (French Time) I was in the air once more.
As before the cabin crew were extremely quick. This time we had two males and the cabin crew were very young. Despite this they were just as efficient as on the way and brunch was given out very soon after takeoff. This consisted of a ?Bacon and Tomato butty?, a chocolate chip muffin and some orange juice.
To my surprise the TV screens flipped down once more. We were shown an extreme ski video followed by a number of music videos. We had Beyonce with ?Crazy in love?, Justin Timberlake with ?Senorita? and many others. It was great .
This time we cruised at 32,000 feet (FL320), which, as the Captain explained is about 5 miles high, at speed of just over 500mph.
We started our descent at 10.19 (English Time) and experienced some light turbulence as we floated through the clouds and soon we were passing over the M23 and the field that guys like me and Justin like to spot in.
We touched down lightly on 26L and thrust reversers and speed brakes were used again. We taxied across 08L/26R on our way to the gate. We passed tower and headed for the North Terminal.
The aircraft rolled onto gate 48 and stopped gently. There was the usual hustle of passengers rushing to get off. I wasn’t as I planned to talk to the pilots.
I left my seat and kindly asked a stewardess if I could go into the cockpit to take a photo. She entered a code into a pad and the cockpit door swung open. She went in and then returned saying it was fine .
I was so happy. I walked in and the pilots were sitting there waiting for me and completing their final checks. I talked to them for a short while about the flight and the aircraft. It was great . Then I asked if I could take some photos, he said sure and I took these:
I left the cockpit and there were still a few passengers leaving the aircraft. I said thank you to all the crew and left the aircraft and onto the jet bridge where my family were waiting. That put the icing on the cake to a great trip. Thank you Air2000/ First Choice. I deeply recommend them if you?re choosing a travel company.
Comments are wecome
[Edited 2004-03-08 12:17:39]
[Edited 2004-03-08 12:40:15]