Upon the news of Flybe. getting its first ERJ195 I was delighted to find it was being based at my local airport- BHX first! So having keeped a close eye out at work decided to nail a flight on it, just days after it going into revenue service. This obviously meant the price of the ticket was going to be high (turned out not too be too bad at £69 one way at this late stage), so decided to see if Richard Bransons latest TV adverts about the Trains being as good as the planes was infact, in any way shape or form- true......
Route: Birmingham International (BHX) to Glasgow International (GLA)
A/C: ERJ 195 - G-FBEA
Delay code and reasons: 81 - Slot Restriction (BHX)
Working at BHX already, being up at the crack of dawn was certainly no change for me and after turning myself from a caveman to a budding twenty-something I climbed in a taxi (the one I usually fall into wrecked after a night out on the town) and headed down the A45 to the airport! No traffic on the roads, just streets littered with drunks, chavs, teenage mums, and a queue of men who claim to be their fathers at this time of day! No home like Birmingham is there!!
£18 later, we arrive at a busy Birmingham International Airport and go straight to check in.... it was picking up but flybe. only had a queue of two people. Me and my partner jumped in line, morealess went straight to check in and was given seats 20A/B (my best mate at aviance (SOU) had assigned them for me the day before anyway) and walked away with boarding cards. We had no luggage which is something you have to pay for now with flybe, just had my small liquid-free handbag (as in small bag, not female party sized things they carry everything around in!)
I went to see my collegues in the crew room for TCX and headed through staff gate security as there was a massive queue for normal folk.... see pass does come in handy for other things than duty free! My other half went through normal security as he don't work at the airport, and I met him starbucks in arm, the other side!
With not long to go now til boarding, I just watched the action out on ramp which was your standard summer traffic, loads of ZB 321's, TOM 752/762/763, TCX752 (CG and LE), WW 735/733, LH 735/733/CR1, MYT320, FCA 752's, BE146s/DH4's and of course my sexy little new machine the ERJ 195. Stylish as it is beautiful, I have often thought about trading my human counterpart in for a 195 ) Sorry Aaron, sometimes in many ways you just can't compare!
Boarding called, and we went down to gate 59 where she sat being all loaded up for the trip to GLA. You could tell the a/c was new before you even looked on ramp- the dispatcher had to keep checking everything with load control and the loaders were trying to load the wrong hold. The gate staff's jobs hadnt changed all they had to do was get the passenger missing number back to zero which wasn't too difficult as there was only 28 people onboard this flight today! I'd love a load like that on my TCX752 turnarounds! Boarding was commensed not long after being held in the lounge for a bit, and we headed down towards the sleek A/C.
Once on, the moodiest crew member in the world told us the seat was after row 19 on the right (god what i'd do to have the extended knowledge on aviation that she's got!) and we walked, well some of us minced, down the cabin and parked in row 20. There was no passengers allocated anywhere near us so had some privacy. The other crew members, were a bit rude to be honest, more interested on talking to themselves and laughing rather than smiling and looking somewhat professional.... most of the crew were women with one man. As the fuelers were still loading they decided it would be a good idea to actually make a seat belt announcement, advising pax not to buckle up just yet and then got back to talking about the ever so importance conversation regarding the latest shinanigans in eastenders.
Pushback time came and went and with no news on a sign of movement just a stressed dispatcher on and off the radio about departure procedures and a bored crew I sat and watched some ramp action. Two WW 733's pushed and a EI320 came on stand before us and then an announcement from the flight deck confirmed we was waiting for another slot allocation before we could go anywhere.
At 0740, 45 mins after getting on and half an hour after STD we pushed bound for GLA, and this is where the 195 really came out to play! The engines started turning and the sweet sounds of this Embraer kicked up. The latest ERJ i'd been on was an AZ170 back in November last year (trip report on here somewhere) and I have always been amazed at how quiet these machines are. The safety demo was done by the unmotivated cabin crew in a prerecorded tape fashion. Tug gone, and we was away taxiing past my collegue at a TCX turnaround bound for BJV, who was waving like mad from the top of the airbridge at us - bless ya Olivia!!
With no traffic infront of us we rolled around the TCX752, and past T2 onto the active R33, for a straight out departure. The engines kicked up a little roar but still gracefully spinning, and we shooted down the active, climbing like a squirrel up a tree . A turn over Birmingham, two miles out to the right whilst climbing and the crew clicked they needed to do some work. During take-off a number of tray tables had come down, so one fixed all of that, and the other made a PA regarding the bar. The choices onboard were extensive but expensive (I should copyright that!) and I don't think they may have got about a tenner out of the whole A/C. Most people, myself included had gone to boots in the departure lounge and got a meal deal for £2.99 which was a sandwhich/drink and a snack compared to flybe's £4.50 meal deal - a sandwhich and a drink thats it!
The flight was going to be around 45 minutes so we was bound to make up time as the flight time allocated to this sector on our ticket was 1hr 20 mins. My boyfriend moved over to the opposite window for a peak, though with hevy cloud cover today there was nothing to see. After the bar ran through the cabin, and about enough time to walf down your sandwhich had passed, we began our decent into Glasgow.
The crew made their final clearance and checks of the cabin before taking their own seat for landing. This in turn, was not too bad, however the touchdown was a little hard and heavy reverse thrust was used. We parked next to a TCX752 (friggin work pi** off!) and a MYT763. No exciting traffic on the ground really but was nice to see the new colours of US Airways in person. Other traffic included BA 320/757, flyglobespan 737/763, MYT and BMI 320.
Disembarking was quick, and domestic arrivals was a breeze and so we left GLA and headed for a mass shopping trip in the city centre. Glasgow itself is quite nice I feel, loads of shopping and a cute little pub named the Drum & Monkey! This is me, and err wine... which by the looks of it don't go!
Route: Glasgow Central - Birmingham New Street
Airline: N/A Virgin Trains
A/C: N/A for coach make and model number; ask a train spotter!
ATA: dont know was drunk.
Delay code and reasons: none- ontime- hurrah!
OK so now the train part..... with a 4hour journey ahead we nipped to the off-license before getting on and carted bags of shopping on with us. The freedom of not worrying how to pack on the way home was nice, as was the fact of not having to turn up ages before we were meant to be leaving. In turn, it would have took us just as long to fly back if you know what i mean - with going to the airport earlier and waiting, the flight and then getting home from the airport when I live in Birmingham city centre and its a stones-throw away from Birmingham New Street. So Richard gets the points there.
This service, due to leave Glasgow central at 1810 was bang on-time (yes I know thats a first for VT but give them the credit!) and the train had a handful of people in my carriage if that. We cracked open a can and watched the world from land level...... and watched..... and watched..... so much so we decided to have a laugh together..... as instead of showing you some of the normal face pics I could have done at the begining of the journey, heres a little review of the trip by pictures.............
The scenry aint go grand....
bordom kicks in..... but at least you can use ya phone......
drink comes out.....
and the party gets started.....
sun goes down, and my boyfriend aaron tries to attempt at attracting a lady friend with his straight pulling technique....
and is hurt when it don't work.....
So a few stations came and went but the cabin was clean, comfortable and offered music entertainment through in seat radio (more than what flybe could offer), along with a hotline magazine (so like flybe's inflight mag then). There was on onboard shop/cafe and didn't see no miserable crew, as we didn't see any VT staff at all!
Overall - The Verdict
Virgin Trains have a good product, i'll give them that, but the current state of the UK railway network it's too much too soon and overcrowding on numerous services, along with delays and long journey times means that people won't catch on to the dump the plane idea just yet. The train fare was just £24 one way booked two days in advance, which was nowhere near anything offered by flybe or ba connect who operate GLA-BHX.
I, like many of here, also wouldnt dump a plane ticket for a train ticket anytime soon either, so Richard B, quit whilst your ahead! Thats if you are, pick up a copy of railway weekly or something if you want to know the state of VT!
Flybe on the other hand are leading the way for domestic air travel in the UK and throughout europe with the introduction of such a smart, sleek aircraft which has bags load of space both for passengers and in the a/c asile. The crew on the otherhand wouldn't survive two seconds on my turnarounds back at TCX, they were uninspirational, miserable and downright rude even one crew even laughed through the safety demonstration. This is not like the service I recieved on a flybe flight last year to AGP on the 733 so hopefully, this was just a one off and most of them are good, only time can tell.
So in end, flybe won but only becuase of the A/C on this occasion, so will try them again once they have had the aircraft a little bit longer and they have more of them so its not just a sham. the Aircraft itself was above all expectations, very nice, very sexy and very very quiet. Definatly the way forward for regional air travel, and good on flybe. who have an excellent potential product with this unit.
DISCLAIMER: No boyfriend was harmed during the filming of the landing, nor through the company of me throughout the train journey.
What a nice and funny-written report! Enjoyed the pics and vids, and of course it was interesting to read about Flybe's new toy. As you know, I visited BHX two weeks ago, and when I saw the ERJ195 I just thought "Damn, I should have booked a ticket on this aircraft somewhere". So you did, and it was nice reading about it, definitely an entertaining report that was!
Quoting Thomsonfly (Thread starter): No traffic on the roads, just streets littered with drunks, chavs, teenage mums, and a queue of men who claim to be their fathers at this time of day! No home like Birmingham is there!!
- Very very funny!!!
Flown on 2 E170's, need to fill out the rest of the family now.
When I last looked at booking with Flybe to get a D84 there was no indication as to aircraft type by flight, anyone got a way to work it out?
Nice trip report there, I missed seing the EMB195 doing a low fly-pass over Plymouth Sound a few weeks ago, I was gutted as it would have made a spectacular picture. Still, tomorrow I'll be heading down to BHX to book a flight and shoot a few movements, hope to catch the new FlyBe whilst I'm there. Will fly on it too as soon as it's flying somewhere other than GLA
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
if anyone wants a longer sector on it, the longest it currently operates is bhx-tls every sat and sunday. other than than its on a scheduled pattern for belfast, glasgow and edinburgh - if you need the plan lemme kno!
Great report ..funny... articulate..looks like you two had a great laugh.
i don't think you should be taking advantage of your staff pass to bypass pax security, especially when flying as a pax....... don't think the Dft would be too impressed...infact i'm prtty sure it's a sackable offence......... don't tell your boss.
Quoting Thomsonfly (Thread starter): This is not like the service I recieved on a flybe flight last year to AGP on the 733 so hopefully, this was just a one off and most of them are good, only time can tell.
Probably because that was operated by Astraeus
Quoting Thomsonfly (Thread starter): Virgin Trains have a good product, i'll give them that, but the current state of the UK railway network it's too much too soon and overcrowding on numerous services, along with delays and long journey times means that people won't catch on to the dump the plane idea just yet
Virgin is winning hands down on the main London-Manchester trunk route, however as sectors get longer the airlines have a greater advantage. It doesn't help when external factors trash the airlines' product and you can see why airlines put so much pressure on having the security rules relaxed
Quoting Thomsonfly (Thread starter): Definatly the way forward for regional air travel, and good on flybe. who have an excellent potential product with this unit.
Looks very nice indeed. Shame about the hideously complex charging system that FlyBe have that nearly caught me out recently - can you believe that if your home printed boarding card doesn't print properly they'll charge you £10 for a replacement? Or it's £5 to book a window seat, if you decline to pay then their website will allocate you one anyway when you check in at home (and then when I boarded they just said sit anywhere you like!). And I can tell you it does NOT cost £4 to handle an item of baggage, when the charge per turnround for handling a Dash 8-400 could be as low as £200 which includes pushback, dispatch, check-in, baggage handling and everything else required. I agree in principle with not paying for services that you don't use but this is just a rip off. Fortunately the railways have yet to indulge it this type of behaviour. In short, for me, travel by air wins over rail 90% of the time but low costs put me off. And I always choose rail over car.
i wasnt aware the flight was astraeus crew too, seens as they had the full flybe uniform on and are bhx based, but all the more I used to fly bhx-snn-bhx with them alot too and this still was the worst service I had recieved.
As for the pass, im aware of the rule but olivia had left paperwork landside and my pass is in my locker, and was rushing paperwork through to a departure too - which is how i know i could do it (checked with bhx first).
Quoting Thomsonfly (Reply 15): i wasnt aware the flight was astraeus crew too, seens as they had the full flybe uniform on and are bhx based, but all the more I used to fly bhx-snn-bhx with them alot too and this still was the worst service I had recieved.
Probably just the flight deck. Cabin crew should be FlyBE. I take it you were just referring to the cabin service then, not the whole experience?
I'm not having a go at you for using your pass,just a reminder that it's all too easy for us to take our privelages for granted.
As for Plane v's Train......
Well, like everyone here, i am an avid aviation entusiast and would love to fly an every operatunity given...
Last January i needed to be in LLandudno on a specific day/time, and planned to non-rev LHR-MAN then train to LLandudno via Manchester.
£20-25 for zed fare plus £24 for train tkt..and around 6hrs travelling in total..
or Virgin trains Euston-Llandudno direct around 3 hours and £18 booked two days in advance......
Virgin won on this occasion,and i have to say the service was good.... allocated seating,rerasonable bar/snack service/price...clean quiet trains...
All in all, Virgin have a good product.
defo agree with the last comment on VT; though as i've said they may have peaked too soon with ambitions of tilting trains etc... anyway back to airliners and yes the 733 cabin serivce was good as was the larger a/c type for them and the BE crew on those flights as ive said were excellent. For this, i'm supprised that mid october ive been told they are getting rid of the 733's? but i dont know if thats just from BHX???
Been a bit of a Trainspotter (I admit it!   you were on a Voyager on the way back, a hated train among the spotters - Don't ask why, apparently the trains that they replaced were the "worlds best trains". Not that I agree with that.
Reminds me to get a move on with my Air Southwest report!!
An Engineer made a bet that a 747 Gear wouldn't retract in a Hangar. He lost the bet.
Quoting ZBA320 (Reply 19): Been a bit of a Trainspotter (I admit it! you were on a Voyager on the way back, a hated train among the spotters - Don't ask why, apparently the trains that they replaced were the "worlds best trains". Not that I agree with that.
Maybe a better experience is to be had, had the train been a Pendolino.
Thanks for the advice 'palmjet' but stick to where your better acquainted, when your a regulator please advise me on how to write trip reports. End of!.
Now back to the main topic and just a note to say that the ERJ195 seems to have a more mixed schedule at the moment from its based plans so if your trying to book yourself onto it, best to see if there has been a pattern of the unit on that route beforehand! Has a tendancy to go tech too....