My first trip report in ages so be gentle
London Gatwick (LGW) – Paphos (PFO)
Monarch Airlines MON3468
1st September 2004
Dept time 11:25
07:00 and my alarm starts to go crazy, wishing it would shut up as I do most mornings I suddenly realise that maybe this morning I should take some notice of it as this morning I am to fly to sunny Cyprus.
I turn the alarm off and have a wash and shave and pack my wash kit in order to pack it in my suitcase. Breakfast time, cup of tea and some peanut butter toast. We had booked a taxi to take us to and from the airport which was due to arrive and pick us up at 08:00 but at 07:45 the taxi arrived and a female taxi driver appeared to take us to Gatwick.
Heading North on the A24 for Gatwick our taxi driver suddenly decides we should take a different route to the way I always take to Gatwick telling us it’s much better and quicker so I reply with an unconvinced “oh right”
She drives like check-in is about to close and we make it to Gatwick a little later than if we had gone the normal route and she drove like a maniac (1-0 to me I think )
We get dropped and head off to check in zone K in the South terminal. We arrive at an amazingly efficient check in area for Monarch, flights to Heraklion, Paphos and 2 Rhodes flights are taking place but with the guy Monarch have to sort the queues out the check in is fast and efficient compared to most charter carriers.
The A300 is 3-3-3 configuration but 2-3-2 near the back so I requested 2 sets of 2 at the back as we where a party of 4 but alas even 3 hours before check in they had all gone so we where gives row 5 A / B / C / D which was pretty good.
Went airside and were met by the usual noise and massive number of people you get airside at Gatwick.
As the A300 is the most unreliable aircraft in Monarch’s fleet I was pleased to see “wait in lounge” on the screens which indicated an on time departure (or near enough) One of the Monarch flights to Rhodes had about a 6-8 hour delay which was funny as I didn’t
I went to one of the windows airside at Gatwick (yes there are some!) and saw G-MONS looking resplendent in the new colours as the morning sun beat down on her she was being tugged from a remote stand to gate 20 which I assumed was our aircraft
I assumed right! And the screens told us to board at gate 20. We boarded a touch late but I was looking forward to flying the A300 for my first time.
As I entered the aircraft I had to queue behind some guy who seemed incapable of using overhead bins (there’s always one) so while I waited instead of saying “get a bloody move on for gods sake” I just turned and grabbed a quick shot of the A300 cabin: -
Not the greatest of shots but a shot all the same.
Boarding took for ever the A300 holds 361 pax and it must have been almost full so that’s why. We where loaded and ready to push, about 10 mins late but the announcement came thought from the flight deck that due to ATC we would push 30 mins late (boooooooooo )
We pushed back and departed 26L at approx. 11:55
The take off performance was surprisingly good and the A300 was a nice quiet aircraft.
We levelled out and the crew soon started walking about the cabin, I couldn’t believe how many cre there where there seemed to be an endless number of new faces during the flight!
Let the Monarch sales begin!
Firstly Pringles and chocolate (now there’s a healthy choice!) Next, drinks and then headsets £1 each and you had to return them at the end – what a bargain
Audio channels included Heart 106.2, Classical, Audio for the TV, some recent music and some other tosh.
The IFE wasn’t all that great some rubbish about the Olympics first. The Office and Coupling also which was alright. Had to love the front TV thought big bulbous screen which looked so old and retro I’m sure it was installed when the A300 was made
Now the meal – Some thing that was free! (Nope, paid £10 in the flight price for the pleasure) The meal was chicken and potatoes covered in a less than tasty leek sauce with a little salad and lemon dessert. No free drink with the meal, I flew LGW-PFO with BY last summer and got a little water with the meal but not MON. Tea and Coffee came round shortly after, (nice tea it was too)
Afterwards there was some quiet where people all madly needed the loo after their meals or felt fat and had to sleep after filing their bellies with Monarch generous offerings.
After a couple of hours into the flight it was time for some more moneymaking. This time in the form of scratch cards £1 a card and all the luck in the world from Mr Steward (ooooo good luck, or words to that effect where heard around the cabin)
Judging by the lack of uncontrollable screams throughout the cabin I surmised that in fact no one had been lucky and that was that.
The flight contined now over Turkey and nearly at our destination, it had been aery quiet and smooth ride and the A300 really had impressed me.
Now about 45 mins out it was time to sell all manner of items emblazed with the Monarch logo and also a last drinks service.
Afterwards the crew came round to collect rthe head sets (I don’t think so, remember im flying Monarch back so I aint buying antoehr headset on the inbound so I popped my head set in the seat back fell asleep for a minute as the crew walked past.
Crew seats for landing and a nice view of Paphos and the airport could be seen from the left hand side (as I had been in row A before flying to PFO I knew this) and had my camera ready for an overview whilst downwind for a rwy29 arrival :-
Photo © Ben Pritchard
We landed with the smoothest landing I had ever experience on runway 29 and taxied to the terminal the steps where almost immediate, which was a nice change from the 45 mins we waited last year for them!
Off we got and onto the bus for the short ride to the terminal to get our bags. Paphos are the most incompetent airport ever at unloading bags it took 45 minutes to get them!
Finally we got ours and headed out to meet or taxi driver for the 15-mile trip to our hotel.
After a week of non-stop sunshine, shade temperatures of 33 degrees and more food and drink consumed than you can shake a stick at it was time to head for home.
(Shot of my hotel)
Paphos (PFO) - London Gatwick (LGW)
Monarch Airlines MON3469
8th September 2004
Dept time 19:00
Before we left the hotel I check BAA online to see if MON3468 (the aircraft I would be on back to Gatwick) had left ontime. It had left Gatwick an hour late so I was prepared for the hour delay.
We got to a manic (as normal!) Paphos:-
Checkin going on for ECA and ZU to Larnaca, BY to GLA and LPL (eh, eh calm down) and MON to MAN and MON to LGW)
Having checked in we went airside, good old Paphos isn’t quiet your TFS or PMI but its got seats, 4 walls and a roof so its not too bad.
I decided to buy some Keo (Lovely Cypriot beer) and head for the outside “viewing area”:-
Round the corner to the right of the shot is a small area no one goes so I did to get away from the crowds and got out my camera and just shot the few arr’s and dept’s there were.
After an hour and a half in came A300 in the old Monarch colours G-OJMR, my ride home me thinks.
We got called to the “lounge” !! for boarding 5 minutes after the aircraft had landed, great
This is where the fun started. Now I have been to Paphos 3 times before this trip so I know just how they make every possible situation worse than is possible so nothing therefore surprises me. Everyone queued up at the door, I didn’t as the aircraft ahd just landed so we where hardly going to board soon where we with 350 odd pax and baggage to come off (Cypriot style)
After about an hour we where told boarding would commence any time. I got up and joined the queue. At this time there where 3 airports buses and 1 bus driver working another feat of Cypriot planning it then just drove off empty and everoyone got a touch irritated no one could understand why then he came back a few minutes later and this time did actually pick pax up for the flight!
Pre-boars first but remember this is pre-boards a la Paphos. So the bus with the only driver picked up the 10 pre boards and drove off the aircraft basically empty!
After about 5-8 more trips all pax had finally got out to the aircraft and the doors where closed. We taxied off for a runway 29 takeoff with an MYT 321 in front of us also Gatwick bound. We took off about a minute or so after the MYT flight and landed before it at Gatwick (‘ave it )
The flight back was pretty similar to the outbound same sales etc meal was Roast Chicken which was really tasty. I was asked on the inbound flight if I would like to purchase a head set “no thanks” I replied “nicked the pair from the outbound flight thanks” I wanted to say
More of The Office and Coupling and a little music before my sleep, managed about 2 hour doss and then it was a 08R approach at Gatwick. We slammed and I mean SLAMMED into 08R which set the babies off crying
Made our way to stand and that was that holiday and flights all over.
Overall I like Monarch good airline good service and I would defiantly fly them again. I flew them in 2001 and they where every bit as good.
The A300 made the flights, I really enjoyed it firstly being more interesting and rarer than the bog standard 757 767 etc but also comfort wise and the cabin etc really great to fly on.
Although I mocked the Cypriots and PFO in my report its all in good humor, the Cypriots are as nice as any race you would ever meet lovely people.
Cyprus and Paphos in particular is great, love it there, it’s back next year
Hope you enjoyed the report
PS. Few PFO shots to chuck in – Link should work until the photos are screened