A few months ago I got a BMI
Mastercard which gave me a free return trip on BMI
to use by March 31st. I had forgotten all about it and realised a few weeks back that I needed to use it or lose it.
So I called BMI
to book a day return to EDI
for March 27th. As I had left it quite late to book, there was no availability going out from LHR
on the day I wanted. They did have seats on the return flight- so I checked the BA
website and booked a ticket leaving LHR
in the morning at the time I wanted for £36 plus tax- not too painful.
I have never flown BMI
before, so I was looking forward to the experience, and flying BA
on the same day would allow for some interesting comparisons between the two!
Sat Mar 27 2004
Flight BA 1434 LHR-EDI
Scheduled Dep Time: 07.55
Actual Departure: 08.05
Scheduled Arrival at EDI: 09.10
Actual Arrival: 09.10
Although I live near Green Park in London, the Piccadilly line was closed all weekend, so I decided to splash out and take the Heathrow Express- it is brilliant, but you pay for it! When I was at the ticket window the guy offered me a special rate if I was coming back before 3pm. How many people get out to Heathrow, take a flight and return before 3pm?
I caught the 06.25 train and arrived at Heathrow on time at 06.40 in plenty of time for my 07.55 flight. I had checked in online the previous day and selected seat 1F, so on arriving at T1, I used my Exec Club card to check in- the self service machines are very easy to use, and as I had no bags to check in, I went straight through security.
domestic services often leave from Gate 5, which has to be LHR
's equivalent of a Greyhound bus terminal. I had about an hour before my flight left, so I grabbed a seat by the window and watched the early morning arrivals- lots of BA
widebodies of course, plus SAA arrivals- 747 300 and 400 series, and I was also lucky enough to spot the Cathay Pacific Spirit of Hong Kong. It looked amazing, even in the rain! I also managed to see the weekly Swiss RJ
-100 flight from Sion arriving- quite a rarity at Heathrow.
I was sitting listening to my walkman and waiting for my flight to be called, when I noticed that my flight had been switched to Gate 74, so I had to schlep it over to the gate, but it wasn't too far. One thing I like to do whenever I take these early morning domestic flights is spot the people
who are connecting from international flights who are returning from their holidays- they always look tanned and totally knackered, and if their duty free bags don't give it away, I like to try to guess where they have come from. There were lots of tanned, tired people at the BA
domestic gates that morning!
Soon my flight was boarding. Passengers with children and special needs were called first. Boarding was smooth and quick. There was a great selection of newspapers to choose from before boarding. I settled into seat 1F and had a look through the High Life mag.
The weather was still appalling.
The flight was about 95% full, but thankfully the middle seat between me and my fellow passenger remained empty. Result! Soon we were pushing back and the safety demo was done in a rather half hearted way.
We had a relatively short taxi to the holding point and had a fast take off- straight into low cloud almost immediately. We then turned northwards and emerged above the clouds a few minutes later. We would be flying at 35,000 ft according to the captain, and apart from giving us the weather in EDI
, no information was given about our routing.
Soon breakfast was served.
It was excellent- really tasty and hot, and as I am on the Atkins diet, I could even eat most of it with a clear conscience!
One of the best things about BA
is getting a nice hot breakfast on a short flight, and the crew worked hard to serve everyone in the short time available.
A word about the crew- the usual BA
harridans that seem to predominate on shuttle routes nowadays! It was the usual story of BA
efficiency, but without any effort to personalise the service. I know that there is a lot to do on a short flight, but BA
seem to have lost the art of serving people. The crew went through the motions, but it was all rather perfunctory.
Cloud cover only broke on our descent to EDI
, and we approached over the Firth of Forth where I got some excellent views of the Forth bridges.
It felt like we were coming in quite fast, and landing and braking were hard, throwing everyone forward in their seats. We arrived on stand on time at 09.10.
I was really impressed with EDI
airport- it is quite small but very modern and has all the facilities that you would expect. Before getting the Airlink bus into the city, I went to departures to check in for my return BMI
flight that evening. This time I chose seat 26F, got my boarding card from the machine, and headed into town.
I had a great time in Edinburgh- it is a beautiful city and I met up with some friends and enjoyed the sunshine. After walking up and down hills all day, I was grateful to get the bus back to the airport for my return flight.
Sat Mar 27 2004
Flight BD063 EDI-LHR
Scheduled Dep Time: 18.25
Actual Departure: 18.50
Scheduled Arrival at LHR: 19.55
Actual Arrival: 19.50
I arrived back at EDI
in plenty of time for my flight, had a look around the landside shops and went through security as I already had my boarding card.
There were BA
flights leaving for LHR
, and AF
to Paris, LH
to Frankfurt. There was also an Air Scotland 757 going to PMI
- most of the passengers seemed to be getting sozzled before boarding in the bar. There are good facilities airside with good views of the apron and runway. I did some more shopping, sent some emails and headed to the BMI
gate at Gate 4. The incoming flight arrived slightly late and was turned around quite quickly. The aircraft was in one of BMI
's many hybrid schemes- I was hoping for the new colours. Special needs passengers and Star gold customers and business class were boarded first. By this time the passengers had begun to congregate near the gate, and the BMI
staff were quite firm in telling people not to board yet.
Eventually we were called and it was time to take my first BMI
trip. No newspapers at the gate- they had all been taken. The uniforms that BMI
staff wear are very smart- better than the rather tired looking BA
uniforms. Anyone know when the new uniform is being rolled out? My impression of the cabin was that it was much brighter that what I am used to on BA
. The cloth seats are a vivid blue and looked quite new. I thought that the cabin was much brighter that BA
's. Of course another big difference is that BMI
have 2 class configuration on domestic flights.
I took my seat- I had heard at the gate that there were 84 passengers on the flight- so there was some room to spread out, and the middle seat was empty again.
The security demo was shown on flip down screens, and I thought that it was quite detailed. A big difference between BA
I found was that safety seemed to be much more important to the BMI
crew. On BA
the crew did the demos and checks almost mechanically, whereas the BMI
video was very detailed and the crew were meticulous about the pre-flight and pre-landing cabin checks. Not sure if this reflects company policy or just the cew that we had.
We waited for the Air Scotland 757 to depart and then taxied out for a rolling take off. By now clouds had gathered, and we took off almost straight into cloud again which didn't break until our approach into LHR
Soon we were offered a drink and a sandwich. I had a cold beer and the choice of sandwich was hummus and peppers
or ham and egg mayo- I opted for the latter. It was ok, but nothing special. I wonder how BMI
's hot breakfast compares to BA
The service was friendly and the crew seemed to be genuinely enjoying what they were doing and engaging with the passengers, which was a contrast with the BA
flight. The attitude of the crew and the bright colours within the cabin gave me the feeling of a fresher, more polished product- not a scientific study- but my first impressions of BMI
We arrived on schedule and within a few minutes I was on the Heathrow express heading for home.
It was interesting to compare both carriers. I have read a lot on this site about the friendliness of BMI
crew, and my experience bears this out. I would be interested to hear any other comments that you may have.
Next week I am flying to Barbados on BA
in First, then flying Caribbean Star to Antigua, taking a cruise across the Atlantic and flying IB
from Las Palmas to LHR
in Club- that will make for an interesting trip report (I hope) when I get back!