Scheduled departure & Arrival: 1240-1520
Actual departure & Arrival:1246-1505
737-300 G – IGOG (formerly with Go)
In the olden days:
Photo © TZ Aviation
Photo © Gerry Hill
Checked-in at Luton airport (LTN) around 40 minutes prior to departure (check-in deadline for easyJet flights has now dropped to 30 minutes, perhaps to placate the business travellers that frequent certain easyJet flights.) I arrived late due to the fact that I was travelling on a Staff ticket (no standbys or IDs, we get confirmed seats, every time) and the check-in agents will always pre-board staff as a matter of courtesy.
Although I received a purple boarding card (different colours for different routes) with ‘126’ printed on it, the agent always phones ahead to let the gate agent know that I will be jumping to the front of the queue.
A fairly old and knackered 737 was assigned to the route today, G – IGOG. Boarding started as usual in strict order of boarding card number (although I know this system is totally ignored at other easyJet stations, which I think is a real shame.) I said a quick ‘hello’ to the gate agent and then walked across the ramp to our little orange jet. Both rear and forward doors were open, but being ahead of everyone else, I decided that I was going to be flying in 1A today (if I can’t afford First Class, dreaming doesn’t cost a penny ).
I knew the 3 cabin crew straight away, the Senior that greeted me at door 1L was called Jan, she is one VERY funny, but very OLD lady. She’s been flying for 35 years, and has worked for just about every airline you can think of, including doing some HAJ flights to Saudi Arabia and delivering 3 babies during the course of her professional life (!) She has an excellent, if somewhat dirty sense of humour, and she certainly looks like she’s been smoking since her teens….
The other two FAs were both guys I knew, one of them was actually based at ORY in France, but was operating some flights from the UK for a while.
Although the aircraft looked fairly smart and clean on the outside, on the inside it was starting to show its age. The dark blue seat fabric hasn’t changed since the airline took over Go, and there are some black marks on parts of the cabin panelling. In addition, the aircraft has 2 toilets at the rear of the aircraft, whereas easyJet has only configured its own aircraft with 1 at the rear, 1 at the front.
This was the first sector of the day for the crew (I guess it was obvious from their enthusiasm ), but they were due to fly to BUD, than straight back to LTN, then off to Aberdeen (ABZ), then straight back again….that is a long day made longer by having to complete all the turnaround duties repeatedly. Oh the joys of working for a low-cost airline….these airlines really work you to the bone!
The majority of passengers coming aboard were British, reasonably well-off Daily Telegraph readers of the middle class perhaps coming to Budapest for a lazy weekend after reading about the city and the new services in the Travel sections of newspapers, magazines etc. (eastern Europe is in fashion here in Britain). And why not? It’s cheap, and the girls are nicer…
Anyway, before push-back our Captain introduced himself, this guy was ex-SAS (knew him) and we had an Australian FO (it seems easyJet are soaking up an excess of unemployed pilots from all over Europe and Australasia!) Flight time was set to be 1 hr 50 mins, that’s pretty good going for a -300, and we would be helped along by some very nice tailwinds.
After doors were shut, Jan, our Senior crewmember, introduced herself in her usual humorous way “Ladies & Gents, boys and Girls and anyone else, welcome aboard, my name is Jan, I’m your Wagon Dragon on today’s flight to Budapest, joining me in the back are our two trolley-dollies, David and Brian”.
As we were pushed-back, one of the guys read out the safety demo from the back whilst Jan and the No.3 did their little performance.
After that, it was a fairly long take-off to the west, right over Luton town, then a sharp turn to head eastwards, towards the plains of Europe. About 10 minutes from take-off, the crew were released, and magazines were distributed from rows 1 and 12. Although I find the easyJet magazine a bit dull, it does have a very good guides section, and I flicked through the sights to see in Budapest, transport options etc.
After about 20 minutes, Jan came round with the “easyKiosk” service – it’s the usual snacks/drinks for sale that you find on most low-cost airlines these days (and dare I say some full-service airlines now). My own opinion even though I sell these things myself to the passengers, is that all items are 1) Overpriced 2) Low quality. I brought my own coffee from the Costa coffee shop at LTN, and I was going to wait until arriving in Hungary before eating anything. Nevertheless, about 50% of passengers were purchasing food & drinks, so I estimate the airline made about £200 on this flight (believe me, that is what all those drinks & snacks add up to…
Because the aircraft was old, the toilets didn’t have those vacuum pumps installed that you see on most modern aircraft today. This can be a problem for quite a few reasons, not least the smell…and I have to say that the forward toilet was VERY smelly on this plane. I mentioned this to Jan, who sprayed some air freshener inside. Unfortunately, these things don’t offer a permanent fix to the problem. It’s a shame we’re still stuck with these old planes whilst other bases get the new Airbus jets.
The remainder of the flight passed fairly uneventfully to be honest. A quick second round of drinks and snacks were offered before the Captain asked the crew to prepare the cabin for arrival.
The weather down in Budapest was marvellous, the region around the airport is fairly flat, and reminded me of the area around CDG. Landing at Budapest was lovely and smooth, although I believe the perfect weather conditions helped!
There is nothing to mark out BUD as unique in any way; it’s fairly small, and looks like a typical, small airport really. I saw the usual bunch of Malev equipment, plus a Germanwings A319, BA 757, KLM 737-400, Air Berlin Fokker 70 (?), and an Austrian Arrows Dash 8.
We eventually parked next to the BA 757, which promptly departed soon after we’d come to a stop.
All in all, the usual easyJet product really: simple, basic A-B travel, on-time and with friendly and very funny crews on this particular flight. A nice choice from the many different options to take from London airports. (Wizz Air, Malev, Skyeurope & BA)