(Warning - very detailed!!)
Manchester - Washington Dulles
Saturday 13th March 2004
Flight No:- BD701
scheduled Dep Time:- 1225
Actual Dep Time (from Gate):- 1228
Scheduled arrival time into Dulles:- 1535
Actual Landing time:- 1500
Actual Arrival at Gate time:- 1505
I arrived into Manchester Airport (MAN
/EGCC) by train just after 10am on the Saturday morning. The train station at the airport is centrally located, with walkways connecting the terminals, making it easy to get from the train to the plane. I took the short walk to terminal 1 and was immediately faced by a huge Q for the Washington flight:-(
I soon realized it wasn't the check in queue that was long but the 'pre check-in security screen' that was the problem - there were only 2 guys to question 200+ pax!!
Anyway, I approached the desk and was immediately recognized by the security agent (I have done this flight a few times before) who took my passport and ticket from me. "Hey, Mr Brompton how are you?, you going on another weekend trip?" he asked. "Yes, you bet, Washington again" I replied. "I guess your pretty high up on the miles now yes?" he asked. "just over 109,000 now, and im Star Alliance Gold now too" I said, grinning. He then gave me the all clear to check in and personally walked me to the business class check in desk and told me to enjoy my flight. Note, I was flying economy.
I handed over my passport, ticket and FF
card to the agent who promptly checked me in then apologized that there were no window seats available for the flight (my preference) but offered me an aisle seat instead, which I happily took. After asking me a few questions (ironically, the same id been asked at the screening earlier!) I was handed back my documents plus an invite to the 'Globeground Business Lounge' on the upper floor of the terminal.
I passed through security with no problems, went upstairs to the lounge and handed over my invite. The nice lady behind the counter told that if there was anything I needed I should just ask. I passed away the time playing on my laptop and talking on my cell fone as well as drinking and eating as much as I liked!! I also bumped into a member of the Irish pop group 'Westlife' and got his autograph (for my girlfriend of course). He then left and went to board the Aer Lingus B737 to Dublin that was packed at one of the gates in front of the lounge.
At 1120, my flight - BD701 - was called and I slowly walked to gate 29 to find the usual Airbus A330 waiting to take me across the pond. The aircraft today was G-WWBM and looked sparkling clean in the morning sun. Boarding was started at 1140 and I was the 4th person to board (my FF
status gets me priority boarding). Greeted by a lovely flight attendant, I was directed to my seat, (26D - just behind the left wing). Taking my seat after I stowed my luggage overhead, I was then offered an orange juice.
While other passengers boarded I had a look in my seat pocket to find the usual 'comfort kit' along with a few magazines and the 'Voyager' entertainment guide. The seats in economy are comfortable and include a movable footrest and headrest too.
Decor on the aircraft iterior is a few shades of blue for the seats and walls with reddish carpeting. Economy seats have blue headrest cover while the business class and 'new economy' sport yellow covers.
The flight was now beginning to fill up so I fastened my seat belt and waited for the captains announcement regarding the route - something im always eager to hear. This was promptly announced and I listened carefully!! With a flying time of 7 hours 15 mins, our route today would take us from Manchester facing west, out over Liverpool and Northern Ireland then across the atlantic to Newfoundland, then down the U.S east coast over Boston and Manchester (yes that's the one in New Hampshire!!) and into Washington Dulles (IAD
/KIAD) with an expected arrival time of 1505 (about 30 mins early). Following this the safety video was shown then the cabin crew retired to their jumpseats.
At 1228 we pushed back from the gate and started our taxi to the runway, which today was 24L. We arrived pretty quickly and found only 1 aircraft waiting to take off ahead of us. When we received our clearance we performed a rolling take off (which I watched on the nose cam video on the IFE). Climbing through 5000ft we passed over Liverpool airport, and I could see numerous easyjet aircraft on the apron, along with one waiting for takeoff clearance at rwy 27.
Anyway, soon we were passing over Ireland and our lunch was served - i chose the beef stew and dumplings, one of my favourites. The full meal also included a salad dish, biscuits and cheese and a chocolate bar followed by ice cream. Dinks included wine, tea, coffee and orange juice, regularly topped up by the ever pleasant F/As that BMI
I didn't watch any movies, instead choosing to sleep, and it was a good sleep too. When I woke we were over Massachusetts and it was time for the afternoon snack. I was offered tea or coffee along with a cake and a hot ham and cheese pannini.
We soon started our pretty turbulent decent into Washington and at roughly 1500 we touched down on runway 1R then quickly taxied to gate C1, arriving on time. Departure was soon followed, then I went for the shuttle bus to the main terminal. I quickly passed through immigration and customs and found myself standing at the hotel shuttle point by 1545!!
Arrival at my hotel (the Days Inn) soon followed, then after dinner I had a good sleep.
Washington Dulles - Manchester
Sunday 14th March 2004
Flight No:- BD702
scheduled Dep Time:- 1750
Actual Dep Time (from Gate):- 1743
Scheduled arrival time into Manchester:- 0550 (next day)
Actual Landing time:- 0530
Actual Arrival at Gate time:- 0545
The United Airlines check-in area at Dulles airport was quiet for the time of day (2pm), is that just because it was Sunday? I don't know. Anyway, I proceeded to the 'Star Alliance Gold' check in area and handed over my documents. The lovely lady gave me a window seat (good) and asked me a few questions. She had a problem inputting my FF
card but told me that the staff at the gate would be able to do it for me. I then proceeded to security to find all the checkpoints open, but empty (very surprised!). I was greeted by a charming young lady who asked me to remove my shoes and also take my laptop from my bag too, while I walked thru the scanner. X-Rays complete (with no alarm bells ringing!), I put on my shoes, packed up my laptop and proceeded to the terminal 'C' shuttle, which soon departed.
On arrival at the terminal I proceeded to the 'Red Carpet Club' at gate C7 and quickly made myself comfortable. I passed the time away watching aircraft and drinking juice. At 1630 I made my way to the departure gate C1 (this flight used to depart from C7). I noticed a flyer was advertising the 'New Economy' cabin and asked how much the upgrade would be. I was told $200 and I quickly stumped up the cash, as I've always wanted to try this cabin. The 'New Economy' cabin provides 6" more legroom, a different menu, laptop power points/telephones/dataports at all seats and of course it is a separate cabin - in fact it is only 6 rows of seats. I was reassigned a new seat - 10A - and issued a receipt for my upgrade. Unfortunately, you cannot use FF
miles to upgrade to this cabin, its cash or credit cards only.
At 1630, 4 members of staff from the TSA
arrived and cleared everyone away from the seating area. They had arrived to carry out a random security check on passengers traveling on my flight. I was asked to show my boarding pass, and was selected for the security check (I had 'sss' written in pen on my card by the checkin agent and this means I was to be selected).
About 30 of us were taken to one side in this way and had our bags and personal belongings searched and scanned. I later found out that this is something that BMI
has requested the TSA
to do, as an extra security measure.
After eventually boarding the aircraft and taking my seat, 10A, the usual formalities stared including the safety video. Looking out to my left, I could easily see the 'Rolls Royce' plate on the left engine while on my right was a United B747 on that evenings Heathrow flight. Listening for the captains announcement again, I found that the flight was due to be 6hrs 30 in duration and our routing would today take us to the east coast, up towards New York then towards Halifax, NS before crossing the Atlantic to Shannon, Ireland. We would then pass over Dublin, Liverpool and then eventually land in Manchester at (estimated) 0535. We then we pushed back from the gate at 1743 but took quite a while to taxi to our assigned runway - rwy 30.
In the queue for takeoff were a number of aircraft including an American B767-200, a Saudi Arabian B747-400, an SAS A340 (300?) and a united CRJ. At 1808 we received our T/O clearance and again performed a rolling Takeoff. Climbing at 250kts towards our initial altitude we made several right turns before heading towards the coast. Soon we climbed above the clouds and we started accelerating again towards 450kts. The seatbelt signs switched off and I immediately went to the bathroom (too much to drink in the business lounge had taken its toll!).
In the new economy cabin this evening it was nearly empty. Out of 48 seats there were 32 spare - I had just about an entire row to myself, except for the window seat on the opposite side of the aircraft.
Soon I plugged my laptop into the seat power supply as I needed to recharge the battery. However it soon became apparent that there was a fault with the system, the power kept shutting off, causing the laptop to keep shutting down (I was trying to write this report at the rime!!). The 'cabin service supervisor' (purser?) told me to move to another seat and try again, but also brought me another power adaptor pack just in case. Problem now sorted, I continued with my report.
For dinner this evening I had Stir Fried Chicken with rice, mixed salad and a cheese plate. Also on offer was a chocolate bar and ice cream. Again my drinks were regularly topped up by the crew. After dinner the cabin lights dimmed and I took the chance to get some well earned sleep.
I was suddenly woken at about 0400GMT by the cabin lights returning to full brightness!! I looked on my ptv screen and saw we were just approaching Shannon, Ireland and it was now time for breakfast. A warm Cheese Toastie, Fruit and Tea or coffee were on offer. Looking out of the window, I could see The lights of the Irish coast appearing from the distance, it was a clear morning today.
We soon started our descent and the seatbelt sign was switched on. The female first officer came over the pa and gave us the weather information for Manchester, which sounded pleasant for the time of year. We passed over Dublin and Liverpool again then over Stockport before turning for finals into Manchester (MAN
/EGCC). To my surprise we landed on rwy 24L (I've only ever taken off from this). With help of the speed brakes we managed to stop about 2 thirds along the runway. We then turned round at the 06R holding point, where a Britannia 767 and a British Airways 767 were waiting to taxi to the terminal. Arrival at gate 27 was at 0545. Departing the aircraft shortly after, I arrived into the airport train station at 0605, as I had no luggage to wait for. There we go, the end of my short trip and I was now ready to head home for bed.
Overall, the BMI
experience was what I expected,and for those of you who have not yet travelled with them from MAN
to either IAD
I suggest you try them, you wont be disappointed. The MAN
service starts in April and I will be trying that out too.
Thanks for reading and id sure welcome any comments you may have!!
[Edited 2004-03-17 19:27:55]
[Edited 2004-03-17 19:34:23]