I thought seeing as I've just taken a pretty rare trip that some will never make, I'd like to write a little on the antics of July 22nd.
Up at 3 in the morning to be collected from my house at 4am by my friend and her family (she was coming with me). Out flight, BA2921 was due to depart ABZ at 0635 but due to some heavy LGW traffic we didnt leave until just past 7am. The flight went smoothly, with EXCELLENT food and cushy seats. Boeing 737, forget the reg number though.
Arrival in LGW was standard, arriving at 8:30am with perfect touchdown and surprisingly fast slow down. Our flight to GYD was due to depart at 1100 with Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL, AHY, J2), so we were under pressure to collect our bags and transfer from North to South terminal to check in again.
Arrived at the AZAL check-in desk at 0920, which was excellent because it only opened at 0900! So we got checked in and with about 25 minutes to spare before we needed to go to the gate, we perused duty-free.
Arriving at the gate, we boarded on time and I remember the assistant calling out boarding to commence from rows 25 and above (we were in 26). A woman who only spoke Russian got up and proceeded to the gate to be told by the assistant (pretty harshly mind you) in English that she was not to board yet, so I dug up the old Russian from the mid section of my mind and asked her if she spoke Russki, to which I got a reply "Da". So i tried my best to tell her it was rows "dvatsat-pet, dvatsat-shest etc." (Russian for 25, 26). She eventually got the message and sat back down, which left me feeling just a tad proud of myself!
Photo © Terry Wade
Photo © Ben Pritchard
AZAL Plane Registration was 4K-AZ43.
So boarding was finalised and we taxied at just before 11am, and were airbourne by 11:15am approx. The flight was excellent, although I couldn't say much about in-flight entertainment (the TV's were blurry and showed "Matchstick Men", not my kind of film, as well as the in-seat radios not working it was an ok flight! The flight attendants were excellent and were always on hand to assist you.
Touch down in Baku came just 2 minutes behind schedule so it was very good, with an approach over Baku Bay instead of the usual Baku City approach, and another added bonus was that I'd never landed in Baku in daylight, so was able to see for miles!
The holiday was good but won't go into details, nothing really exciting to mention, apart from going to see Mud Volcanoes and Gobustan cave carvings. (By the way, the reason I go to Baku is because my Dad moved out in March of 2002 and has been there ever since).
On the way home (05.08.05), we arrived GYD Heydar Aliyev Intl. Airport at 0630 and proceeded straight to check-in and what a farse this was! The first security check was about 100 yards from the front door and the security guy was asleep I'm sure of it! Anyway we then went through to another baggage x-ray before checking in, where lots of silly Azeri families were clogging the queues to get though. Eventually when I got to the check-in desk I was told I needed to pay $42 in excess baggage! So that was a case of walking over to a desk to pay for that, go back and tell the woman who then tagged my bag to go through (AZAL only allow you 20K, I was 26K).
Passport control was a breeze like it usually is, they only hassle you if you are local, asking for money to let you go through. My dad's wife is local and you can bet your bottom dollar she always gets hassled for money.
AZAL registration was again 4K-AZ43.
The flight left Baku a little behind schedule (forget the time) and arrived in Gatwick 30 minutes late (0930GMT), because of strong winds (it has to be the worst turbulence I've ever experienced!).
So, with 6 hours to kill before our 1625 BA flight to ABZ, I did self-service check-in and what a breeze! My first time and I felt all important! So once I was checked in I went to fast bag drop and left my bags there and walked around Gatwick until proceeding to Depatures in the North terminal at about 3pm.
The flight was delayed until 5pm but this wasn't a problem, because as usual the BA flight was excellent, apart from the food which was miserable. It was a texan bean wrap with cheese (which I dispise) and was the size of half the diameter of a mug.
We touched down in ABZ just 15 minutes behind schedule and baggage arrived safely.
So that was my trip from ABZ to GYD via LGW return. I hope you enjoyed reading it and maybe I'll write a better one in December!
PS If anyone else has done a trip through GYD Baku Airport, please let me know I'd love to hear of your experience with it!