After finishing my first year uni exams and working for a few weeks to replenish my finances I decided to take a trip to Guernsey (… for the day!). The main purpose was to visit a friend from uni and just to have a bit of an escape.
I looked at flights with FlyBE and Aurigny from Gatwick. My friend Gina had warned me that the weather in Guernsey often causes delays and that I should come by boat. Not being one to miss the opportunity to fly, I ignored her sound advice and went looking for prices anyway. After an exchange of emails Aurigny said they would allow me to rebook for another weekend if the weather caused delays and so despite being the more expensive I went for the Channel Islands airline.
LGW – GCI (Guernsey States)
GR601 Aurigny Air Services ATR 72-200
Departure 08.30 Arrived 09.55
At an ungodly hour of the morning (04.45) I got out of bed, feeling utterly grouchy and wretched I made the drive to the long stay parking at Gatwick. For once the M25 was fairly clear and I got there with plenty of time to catch the courtesy bus to the South Terminal. Gatwick was thronging with holiday makers whilst I waited for check-in to open. I was checked in for the both the outbound and return flights at Gatwick as I was making a day return. After queuing at security I was able to take advantage of the duty free available to Channel Islands passengers to stock up on some Remy Martin. I then sat in the busy shopping area for the gate to be announced. This seemed to take for ever and was eventually displayed on screens about 15mins prior to boarding. The flight was allocated one of the domestic gates at ground level and so this meant I got a good view of the bright yellow bird walking across the tarmac to climb aboard.
I made my way up the steep steps at the back of the ATR72 and was greeted by one of the two female cabin crew. I was one of the last passengers on board and made the way to my seat at the front of the cabin. It was occupied by somebody else and the other FA just pointed to another seat and said sit there (making me understand why my seat was taken in the first place). The last of the baggage was loaded and the FA’s made a pre-departure checks of the cabin. The pilot then came on an explained there would be some delays because of congestion but this could be made up en-route. We taxied out and after waiting about twenty minutes positioned onto the runway. After a short while the engines powered up and swiftly lifted the nearly full aircraft off the ground.
Once we were a cruising altitude the cabin crew began service, offering fruit juice and alpen bars. This was followed by the run with the duty free trolley before service was finished. After about 40 mins in the air the flight crew came on and told us we were about the begin decent to the island. The time had gone quickly as my mind was whisked away by the pages of En Voyage, the Aurigny magazine. It was with some incredulity that I had read how a man from the Forest (a parish in Guernsey) launched the Costa Rican coffee industry. I was equally incredulous that Aurigny listed every aircraft it had operated over the last few years as its present fleet (claiming 8 Trilanders, 3 Saab 340, 2 Shorts 360-200 and 3 ATR72) leading me to doubt the journalistic credentials of the whole publication. (OK .. perhaps I am just getting a bit carried away, this is after all an in-flight mag). Anyway before long, as the pilot had promised, I was enjoying spectacular views of Guernsey’s green pastures dotted by greenhouses and great mansions (my friend assures me its not only millionaires living there) as we lost altitude. Before long the wheels had made touch with the runway and the engines began to slow the plane down. After a period of heavy braking, the engines suddenly sped up and the plane raced to the end of the runway and onto the taxiway up to the small terminal.
I was met by my friend and had a fabulous day as she showed me the highlights of her island. Despite the hair-raising little roads we drove the whole way round the island after having lunch in St Peter Port. I was able to indulge in the local gastronomic delights, and it was laden with Guernsey Gache (a local tea bread like brioche) that I returned to Guernsey States Airport 20 mins prior to my flight.
(Guernsey States) GCI – LGW
GR606 Aurigny Air Services ATR 72-200
Departure 17.30 Arrival 18.10
After reporting to the bright yellow, puffin adorned, desks of Aurigny Air Services I went straight through security and to the gate for boarding. The return flight was much quieter with about 45 pax (capacity 64) and after the safety briefing the FA’s (one male, one female) took their seats. One FA sits at the front to the cabin which is sectioned off from the cockpit by the hold. There is a seat which slides out from the side for them to use during take-off and landing. After a short take-off roll we were airborne flying of St Peter Port and Vale before heading across the English Channel. Service was similar to before with fruit juice and savoury snacks. This time I partook from the duty free with a bottle of vodka and passed the time chatting with the lady next to me.
The flight was smooth albeit for the vibration of the engines. The aforementioned lady next to me had a cup of tea that kept sloshing with the vibrations of the aircraft. She told me how she didn’t like a small airline like Aurigny and that her landing into GCI had been very bumpy. Dark clouds began to appear outside, but by this time we were on final descent and ahead of the storm. We gracefully touched down on the runway, 20 mins ahead of schedule and taxied to the stand for debarkation.
Overall I was impressed with Aurigny and their reliability (esp given the susceptibility to weather). The flights were quick and comfortable and despite being fairly expensive (£110 rtn) were reasonable value for money, given the expensiveness of Jersey and Guernsey. I definitely hope to go back to the CI’s soon, who knows - perhaps on a Bergerac pilgrimage to Jersey! (sad I know )
Any thoughts and comments are most welcome!!