Flight: TCX910K Manchester – Ibiza
Date: 13 July 2005
Aircraft: Boeing 757-300 G-JMAA
Scheduled Departure Time: 2010
Scheduled Arrival Time: 2350
Wasn’t going to write a report for this flight, but anyway here I go although it’s rather brief in places and I didn't take many photos, but enjoy it anyways!
I arrived at Manchester Terminal 1 around 5pm for my evening flight to Ibiza. The Thomas Cook check-in area was pretty quiet and we were soon checked in. I was allocated seat 47C, there’s 48 rows on Thomas Cook’s 753’s, so I was at the back! Here's my boarding card stub:
Next I went through to airside departures and had a Burger King whilst looking out of the windows along the T1 mezzanine. After that we headed towards security where the queue was long as usual. I think we were stood in the queue for the best part of 30 minutes, which is not as long as many people will have experienced as Terminal 1 wasn’t too busy this Wednesday evening. Anyway we got through painlessly, even though our group were way over with the hand baggage allowance and also had stereos with us.
After buying some stuff to read on the plane and a book to read by the pool we sat down by the bar in the departure lounge. There weren’t too many departures so the majority of people in the lounge were all on our Ibiza flight and you could tell! The departure screen showed our flight departing on time at 8:10pm, and we were called to Gate 23 soon after. There was no sign of our aircraft at the gate, and the crew for my flight were sat down waiting. Eventually, at around 7:30pm our 757-300, G-JMAA, pulled up to the gate, arriving late from its inbound Kos flight. Clearly we weren’t going to be leaving on time as the plane needed cleaning and then have 280 people put onboard.
Photo © Paul Markman
The departure gate was now completely full, standing room only with a strong smell of alcohol in the air. One group of lads were getting into the holiday spirit a bit too much and had to be led away by some gate staff to calm down. They left behind some teddy bear which had been ripped apart with its stuffing all over the floor (I’ve no idea how that happened!).
At 8pm our flight was called for boarding, as I was at the back we were amongst the first to board and made the way down the air bridge and entered the cabin of the 757-300. It was a bit of a walk down to the back of the plane, passed all the blue seats. Gradually the plane filled up and there was no doubt that there was not one single spare seat on this flight. The cabin crew welcomed us onboard and warned people that although many people were young (I’d say the average age on this flight was about 21!) and excited to be going abroad that there were families on board and so curb your language!
Next the captain did the usual introductions, we’d be flying at 33,000 feet over southern England and then onto France and starting descent over Barcelona and despite the late departure we should arrive in Ibiza on schedule with a flight time of 2hrs 10 minutes. He also told us that there were only 2 of these 757-300 series aircraft operating in the UK and that it was very unlikely many people would have flown on one before and hence the safety video was of even greater importance!
We pushed back and started engines and headed over to runway 24L where we waiting for a short while before powering down the runway. We then turned onto our southerly routing and cloud cover soon prevailed as the sun began to set. The crew came round with the usual headsets before the bar service. Not surprisingly the bar does well on the Ibiza flight and they ended up selling out of Fosters and Smirnoff Ice! One guy infront was stood up helping himself to ice for his drinks, with a jug in one hand and a ice picker in the other, after his few minutes enjoying being cabin crew they were taken off him!
I was having a meal on this flight, and they came round shortly after. It consisted of pesto chicken with a bread roll, some sort of chocolate and coffee mousse and then followed by tea or coffee and a mini dairy milk chocolate. There isn’t much time on this short flight to get a full drinks service and then meal service through the cabin so everything was quickly cleared away. No time for the tax free service so the cabin crew just asked anyone who wanted anything to press the call button (no one pressed.)
A girl we’d been speaking to at the gate came through the cabin at one point with a member of crew with her, she stopped at us near the rear galley and told us that the group of lads that were going to be offloaded were let onto the flight and she was sat right in the middle of them, only for one of them to, in no uncertain terms, piss himself, with it going all over the seat! No way, I said! She then went through to the galley to give a statement to a member of cabin crew. I bet charter airline crew dread seeing a night Ibiza flight on their roster!
We started our descent into Ibiza, it was now totally dark and around 11:30pm, I leaned over to look out the window but couldn’t see much from my aisle seat. The flight crew informed us of our expected time of arrival and the weather, I think it was 27degrees Celsius. We landed on runway 06, from the southwest and touched down firmly followed by a few turns to keep the plane along the centre line before turning off and taxiing to the apron. It was now midnight and we’d arrived only 10 minutes late.
Ibiza airport seemed quiet; there was an Air Europa 737, Iberia A320 and Easyjet 737 on the ramp. Our 757-300 dominated over all of these! The crew opened the rear door and we were able to exit quickly rather than wait for the 41 rows infront to leave the plane. Down the stairs, then onto the bus and I had arrived in Ibiza! 2 weeks of fun had begun!!
Airline: Thomas Cook Airlines
Flight: TCX910L Ibiza - Manchester
Date: 28 July 2005
Aircraft: Boeing 757-300 G-JMAB
Scheduled Departure Time: 0050
Scheduled Arrival Time: 0220
Well I loved Ibiza, it lived up to my expectations and more, and I was sad to be leaving as the 2 weeks had gone by really quickly. We were travelling as a package with Thomas Cook who were fantastic for the whole time, especially the rep in the apartments, really couldn’t ask for more.
Anyway, I sat out on the steps of the hotel waiting for the Thomas Cook bus to come pick us and everyone else on the flight up and take us to the airport. A group of Liverpool lads were in our hotel and on our flight; it was their tradition to leave the stereo they took on their holiday in the resort, so that was placed in the water fountain at the entrance to the hotel! (Who says Ibiza has no class!).
Our bus pulled up, and surprisingly our rep was doing the airport run today so it was good to see a familiar face. He checked off the names and when he came to our group he had no need to ask who we were, I think we’d already left our mark and picked up the ‘hardcore group’ tag.
Anyway the coach soon got us to the airport where we were told where to check in for our 00:50 flight and joined the rest of the people who would be onboard, the queue was quite long, but soon even more coach loads of people arrived for the Manchester flight and they were queuing out of the door! When the desks finally opened it took about 20 mins for me to get to the front – we had around 6 queues for 4 check in desks! Despite our cases being severely overweight they were just checked in as normal. We all said good bye to our rep and thanked him for making our holiday even better than we expected and I proceeded through to departures – stereo in hand like a right scally!
Again a pretty quiet time for the airport, a few EasyJet flights to Stansted, Gatwick and Newcastle were boarding, and then there was the Manchester rabble. There was a bit of time to wait which meant more time to browse duty free and then have a sit down looking out onto the apron, not much to see at midnight! I couldn’t see our plane on the ground but our boarding pass said gate 8 and this time I was in seat 38A. We were called for boarding ontime, so the plane was obviously parked at the other side of the airport. We headed down to a bus and waited for a bit for it to fill up. The Easyjet NCL flight was starting up and on its way back to the UK as we waited.
I already knew what plane would be operating this flight, thanks to a mate back in MAN, and the bus set off across the ramp, pulling up infront of G-JMAB, the other 757-300 in the fleet and I was pleased I’d got the chance to fly on them both! We walked right under the wing of the plane towards the rear door and once inside the freezing cold cabin, found my way to the seat 38A, not quite as far down the plane as on the outbound flight.
Photo © Stewart Andrew
A few more bus loads of passengers arrived and the captain ‘welcomed’ us on board, although he sounded fed up, but I suppose 1am in Ibiza is not where many pilots prefer to be! He didn’t tell us our cruise altitude or weather en route, just “welcome onboard, we’re ready to go to Manchester and the weather up there is dull, that’s all the info you should need, pay attention to the safety video.” It was now 00:50 and we should be departing. No sooner had the last passenger boarded, the steps were removed and ‘cabin crew doors to automatic was announced’. At Ibiza the stands are drive through ones so no need to have a push back.
I could now see the red beacons flashing in the shiny Rolls Royce engine cowling so I knew we were on our way soon. The engines started and we taxied to runway 24 with the cabin lights now dimmed, the mood on this flight was a lot calmer than the outbound – either people were partied out or were sad to be leaving. The plane turned onto the runway and we rolled for take off straight away, the flight crew weren’t wasting any time!
Again, it was pitch black outside and there was little to see over the Mediterranean Sea. The crew came round with questionnaires for everyone to fill in about our holiday, as requested by our rep, who wanted to work in Ibiza next season, we ticked the ‘excellent’ box for the rate your rep section. The bar service then commenced, which took an age to get to my row. When I eventually got my drink the meal service began. We had meatballs in tomato sauce with green beans and potatoes, standard bread roll and a Toffee Apple brownie desert – not as nice as the outbound meal. I barely had time to finish my meal before the crew were out with the rubbish carts collecting them back again. Meanwhile the flight deck crew remained silent for the majority of the flight, only to say we were flying over west Barcelona and then on an almost direct route to Manchester. Not even an estimated arrival time or weather update or even a thank you and goodbye at the end!
Our descent started around 1:30am UK time, again pitch black outside and I had no idea where we were. We soon hit cloud and the plane got quite bumpy, with one the crew managing to spill a cup full of melted ice and lemon over my mate and another passenger as she tried to take it off them, she gave up and told us to put it in the seat pocket. The crew on this flight were no where near as friendly as on my outbound flight, and you got the feeling they would just rather be somewhere else. We seemed to fly through cloud for the majority of the descent, with the wings flexing and the strobes reflected in the dark cloudy sky.
We finally descended below the cloud, and there was now mass of orange lights and streets like usual, so I presumed we were flying at 06 approach over Cheshire from the southwest. Cabin lights were dimmed and we locked onto the ILS and the aircraft dipped sharply at this point, then headed over Knutsford and the M6 which was looking very quiet at 2am not surprisingly. I looked ahead and could see the airport and after a few more bumps along final approach we touched down on runway 06L at 0210 to a quiet Manchester Airport, with most stands occupied by night stopping aircraft.
The cabin crew welcomed us back home and wished us a safe onward journey. We then taxied to the far end of Pier C of terminal 1 where engines shut down and air bridges attached. As usual, Manchester airport are doing ‘refurbishments’ in terminal 1, the place looks like a building site for arriving passengers, not good for people’s first impression of the place. But anyway I was home, it was stupid o’clock and I just wanted my bed!
Overall I’d rate Thomas Cook Airlines as good, outbound flight was excellent with friendly crew, but inbound the crew just really didn’t seem to care and just wanted to get home, like most people I guess. Atleast I could now say I’d flown on the only 2 757-300’s in the UK!