During January I had applied to NATS (National Air Traffic Service) for a research job. NATS provide the air traffic control for the UK airspace and at most of the major UK airports. During the first week of March I was successful in getting selected for an interview for the end of March, and was invited to their Technical Centre based at Southampton.
Excitedly, I quickly purchased a direct flight from my local airport, BHD, to SOU with FlyBe. The flights were booked three weeks before the departure date, and cost £147. This has been the most money I have spent on a domestic flight, but as they were paying I didn't mind.
FlyBe is the main operator at BHD, and we see both the Q400 and Embraer 190 here quite regularly.
|FlyBe Q400 arriving BHD|
Ryanair have recently started operations to 4 airports from BHD.
|Ryanair EI-DCW at BHD|
Bombardier Dash 8-Q400
G-JECE (delivered August 2004)
March 26th 2008
ETD - 17:55
ATD - 18:00
ETA - 19:15
ATA - 19:05
That morning, just after 10am, I checked in online and printed my boarding pass. With FlyBe, when you check in online you are automatically allocated a seat which you cannot change, as they charge a fee per seat per way to pre-select a seat. The seat I was allocated was 15B, which I was disappointed with as I like to have a window seat. I was hoping though that there would be a light load on this flight and that I could simple move over the arm rest to 15A - I would not be disappointed
I arrived at the airport shortly after 17:00 and went to go through security. As I had hand baggage only, I had to purchase a resealable bag to put my few liquids into. BHD sells these bags in a tub of 5 bags for £1. Apparently other airports give these away for me, although I am not sure about this.
So I purchased a bag, transferred my liquids into it, and proceeded on through security without hassle. Once airside, I simply took a window seat to watch the action (although the views are somewhat limited at BHD once airside) and read a newspaper that I got for free when entering the airport.
About 17:30 boarding commenced, which was nice and early. I tried to take a photo of our aircraft while walking towards it on the apron, although due to not wanting to attract attention at doing this, the quality of the photo is somewhat lacking.
There was a sister ERJ 190 parked beside our craft, and i managed to get a sneaky pic of this too as I was walking alongside our aircraft.
Once onboard, I sat down and got settled in to 15B. Leg room was quite good, not too cramped at all.
Much to my (selfish) satisfaction, the load was really light this evening, so I quickly moved over to 15A for a window view . During the cruise I counted only 22 people in the cabin.
We were promptly pushed backed, the safety demo commenced and we started our taxi to RWY 04, which includes entering half way down RWY 22 and backtracking as the parallel taxi way does not reach down the whole side of the runway at BHD.
Once we did our 360 at the threshold, without delay, take off power was applied and we accelerated quite rapidly. Take off roll was not very long tonight, probably due to the light loads. I did mange to capture the take off on video.
Once airborne the crew quickly commenced their duties, with quite a few people seeming to buy coffee and drinks. I passed on this occasion though, and simply spent the majority of the 55 min flight time reading my book and listening to the iPod. I did take a wander to the toilet, and was amazed at how cramped and little space there was in here. I am 5ft 10"m, and basically had to crunch over to fit in - one could not stand up straight in here.
The captain gave us an update enroute, and not before too long, it was time for the descent and landing. Landing was quite bumpy into SOU, and I was amazed at how dark it had gotten so quickly. If you compare the departure and landing videos you will see what I mean. There was also a lot of cloud and rain as we descended to SOU. Landing video can be viewed here:
Once landed, I headed straight through arrivals and towards the exit. As it was rainy and dark, I could not be bothered trying to navigate through the public transport to my hotel for the evening (Jurys Inn) so simply hoped into a taxi. The fare was £14, which I thought was extortionate, although, once again, I wasn't paying, so didn't pay to much attention to it.
I arrived at the hotel and checked in without hassle. I went up to my room to change. The hotel itself was very nice, good valuer for £60 a night including breakfast (which was excellent), and the rooms as well were quite nice.
Once thing I didn't like, and this is unfair really as it seems to be general for most European hotels is that they charge for Wi-Fi, so I was unable to connect to the internet while at the hotel.
After changing, I went down to the hotel bar to get some food, have a drink and watch the friendly match between England and France (they lost from what I recall). Nice bar friendly staff and a good crowd in the bar that night for the match. After this I decided to go back to the room, read for a little and get an early night as had an early morning and long assessment day the next day.
The following day I went for the assessment day which was from 08:30-17:00, so was a long day. After this, I got the NATS courtesy bus back to SOU for the evening flight back to BHD.
Bombardier Dash 8-Q400
G-JECS (delivered January 2007)
March 27th 2008
ETD - 19:40
ATD - 20:00
ETA - 21:05
ATA - 21:05
As I had no access to printing facilities that day, I had to check in using the self check in kiosks available in the check in area. I was happy to be automatically allocated 12A, another window seat, so with boarding card in hand I proceeded through security.
Impressions of SOU were that it was a nice little airport with basic facilities. The airport itself seemed not to small, but not that big. Traffic that day were mainly Flybe Q400, although I did see two little rarities (for me anyway).
|OrionAir EC-JVJ departing SOU|
|G-BOTO departing SOU|
As I had a couple of hours to kill, I went to the bar which over looks the apron, got a drink and sat by the window. I also ate a packet of crisps and read some of the novel I was reading at the time. As it started to get darker, I went and got another drink, and got a able beside a plug socket so that I could do some work on the laptop. There were these ingenious little islands of seats that had sockets on them, so I sat in one of these. I think they were for people who were going to pay the premium and connect to the Wi-Fi network, but I could simply work away p[lugged into the electrical socket as no one else was using the seats at the time.
Boarding was a little bit delayed this night, and we weren't called to the gate till around 19.20. Boarding commenced about 19.35, so I knew we were going to miss our ETA of 19.40, but only by a little, so that was ok. Sure enough we were pushing back and on our way for 20.00.
We departed from what seemed to be the usual runway at SOU, runway 25 I think it was, but cannot remember exactly. Once again loads were light, I think I counted 30 passengers this time. Unfortunately, because it was so dark outside, I couldn't video either the take of and landing.
Flight time was just a little over an hour, and despite the small delay at SOU, we arrived 10 mins ahead of schedule at BHD. The flight was very bumpy enroute, and must have been very windy whilst landing at BHD as the Q400 was rocking all over the place. The flight itself was once again uneventful, with myself spending the time reading and listening to the iPod once again.
Overall it was a very pleasant experience with FlyBe - nice prompt service, flights arrived ahead of schedule and the hotel was lovely. Plus, I got offered the job, and start in Novemeber, so the experience could not have been better.
Thanks for reading, future trip reports include;
FlyBmi/British Airways and United - BHD - CMH and return (June)
Flybmi/United - BHD - MCO (July)
Past trip reports include:
BFS To SXF Return On Easyjet 737
Flyglobespan BFS-SFB Long +pics And Videos
CDG-EWR-PIT On Air France