Well, first time for everything, and that includes me writing a trip report.
OK, well, background. My wife works for Manx Regional, handling arm of Eastern here on the island. Recently, as you may be aware, Eastern started flying NCL-LCY. However, they started with no experienced check-in or despatch staff at LCY. So, my dear wife was sent to LCY for a week to assist in the training and monitoring of the Menzies operation.
So, being in possession of several complimentary vouchers from Euromanx, I decided to try their IOM-LCY route and spend a night in London with my wife and escort her home the following morning.
So, at 16.15 on Friday 24th Feb, I presented myself at the check-in for Euromanx, where the nice lady (who knows me!) checked me in and allocated seat 4D, blocking the seat next to me
I wandered through to the rather small departure lounge to wait. I went into the shop and bought a magazine - not from the top shelf, I can't reach them! In front of me at the checkout was a young lady buying some choclate and magaiznes for which she paid using a debit card - £2.50! What a waste of time. Obviously no cash.
Anyway, I then wandered up to gate 3 and waited while Flight Support boarded the Flybe to BHX. Looking through the window I watched them pull the steps away from the 146 and shut the door. Then, an agitated Flight Support chap comes up to the gate and makes an announcement to the effect that one passenger is missing from the BHX flight and would they come forward immediately! Two further announcements and then, grinning stupidly, the woman from the shop queue wanders up. I sometimes wonder why they let these idiots get away with this sort of behaviour. Gate shut = no go. Ah well.
Anyway, my turn to board. 3W809 using the Dash 8 Q311, OE-HBC. A smiling Christina greeted me on board and I was soon settled in my seat. Around 22 pax on this trip, not full but respectable. The aircraft was soon running and taxiying to the threshold.
'HBC is a very clean aircraft, with loads of legroom. I'm only 5'7" but there was at least another 9" between my knees and the seat in front.
We took off, on time and headed South East. Once we got above the clouds it got boring and so I settled in with my Iriver MP3 thingy. Nazareth Rock Ballads. Very nice! Christina came round with the drinks trolly and I decided to try the buy on board experience. Settled on a Brandy and coke for £2.50. Not bad, considering I didn't pay for my ticket!
Well, flight time should have been around an hour, but thanks to the high level of traffic, we had to circle around London for 20 minutes. When we finally got on approach I had a spectacular view of Tower Bridge, lit up, and then Canary Wharf, so close I felt I could have reached out and touched it!
A final plunge to the runway and with the minimum of disturbance we were down and racing back down the runway to the stand. Once we disembarked it took seconds to reach arrivals and there, waiting to greet me was my wife.
They were staying in a floating hotel, The Sunborn, and had a chauferred car to take them there. I waited for Kate (my wife), Martin and Judith (the Boss) to finish and we where whisked off in a Mercedes to this amazing place.
The rooms were small staterooms, with a lounge area and shower off. Plenty of room for both me and the wife.
We then went to the bar for dinner. It was here I nearly died at the prices. A malt whisky at £8 - Thats the price of 1/3 of a bottle!!!!!!! But, apart from the expense, the hotel was nice, clean, bright and very nice!
In the morning we were again chauferred to the airport, again in a Merc. I could get used to that lifestyle VERY quickly!
Check in was quick and soon we were in departures for the 09.40 3W802 flight back to the IOM. Departures gives a good view of the runway and part of the ramp. I was a bit disappointed as G-BZAT was obscuring my view somewhat, but hey, I don't much like taking pics through dirty glass! I called my son (who works on the ramp at IOM for Flight Support) and asked him which aircraft was doing the LCY run. He said 'HBC and it had left 10 minutes early. 5 minutes later it touched down at LCY in front of us!
The return flight was fairly uneventful, slightly bumpy but for me, the highlight was landing on 03, the short runway. In all my flights to and from IOM I have never landed or taken off from this runway. Swinging in past Jeremy Clarkson's pad on Langness and lining up over Derbyhaven Bay, then swooping past the golf course to touch down with plenty of room to spare.
Very soon we were parked on the new ramp and there, waiting for us, was my eldest son. The F/A was surprised when I told her he was my son. Not sure whether thats a good thing or not lol!
All in all a damn fine trip, on an airline that appears to have got its act together finally and which provides an excellent service to this small island of ours.