For those who don't know the area, Leeds Bradford (LBA) is a small regional airport in West Yorkshire, about halfway between London and Edinburgh.
It has a resident low cost airline, Jet2 (LS), which uses age old 737s and a few 757s to fly to the usual sun spots and city destinations in Europe. LBA has good domestic connections to Scotland (EDI, GLA and ABZ), Northern Ireland (BFS and BHD) and south west England (BRS, EXT, PLH and NQY). London and the south east were less well connected, with BD operating the only London connection with daily flights to LHR until March 2009. In common with most UK regional airports, LBA has a connection to AMS with KL and a few FR routes to DUB, GRO and ALC.
Flybe (BE) are the UK's major regional airline. They operate a mixed fleet of Dash 8s and Embraer 190s, but only usually use Dash 8s on services to LBA. They operate to LBA from their SOU, EXT and BHD bases, and operate additional services to ABZ (as an extension of their EXT service) and EGC (as a summer Saturday 'w' route from one of their other bases). On 29 June, they started a new three times daily service from LGW to LBA (which hasn't been operated since BA axed the route in 2003). BE hopes the route will attract interline passengers as well as point to point passengers travelling between Yorkshire and Surrey, Sussex and Kent.
Leeds Bradford (LBA/EGNM) - London Gatwick (LGW/EGKK)
Dash 8 Q400 G-JECP
Friday 3 July 2009
Scheduled departure: 0900 Actual departure: 0924
Scheduled arrival: 1010 Actual arrival: 1020
Photo © Tommy Desmet
Photo © Christian Waser
To give you a bit of background to my journey, I was travelling from Leeds city centre to West Sussex so had to get the bus from the city centre to the airport and the train south from Gatwick, but even with these transfers included, the journey was cheaper, quicker and a lot less hassle than getting trains all the way.
I arrived at LBA to find a huge queue at security that extended around the check in hall - it would appear LBA is in desperate need of expansion. Luckily, I could check in (no queue at the BE desk) and go straight to the business fast track lane - a free gift to LGW bound passengers for the summer. I was given seat 14A at check in, a window seat.
The departure lounge was absolutely rammed - lots of LS flights were departing, as well as other BE services to SOU and BHD and, unusually, a BE Embraer 190 charter to Lourdes in France. I saw the inbound LGW aircraft land at 0840, five minutes late. Boarding started straight away but we had to wait in a holding area for half an hour and weren't on the plane until 0915, some 15 minutes after our departure time.
Once we were onboard I found out that 14A was the worst window seat available! Not only was it in between two windows, but all I could see outside was the engine. Tip: when travelling on a Dash 8, get a seat right at the front or right at the back, otherwise the engine gets in the way.
The fairly poor view out of the window:
The flight was about half full - not bad considering it was the first week of service.
I took a quick shot of the cabin (this was my first flight on a Dash 8) - quite cosy I thought:
As we were pushed back I got increasingly frustrated by the lack of decent view out of the window, but I did get a glimpse of the morning KL flight from AMS that had just arrived:
As we taxied to the runway (we taxied quite fast - did it just feel fast as it was a small plane or do BE have a fast taxi policy like FR?) I saw the BE Embraer 190 heading for Lourdes backtracking:
We then waited for a it to take off, before backtracking ourselves. We started the roll on the northerly runway at 0924, 24 minutes late. The Captain earlier apologised for the delay which was due to a storm in the Midlands causing the late arrival of the aircraft from LGW. But I thought that was a poor excuse seeing as the plane landed just five minutes late and the turnaround took 45 instead of the planned 25.
Anyway, the wheels quickly left the deck as we accelerated. The only advantage of this seat is probably the view of the gear after take off:
We got a quick view of a lake before disappearing into cloud for the rest of the flight:
The friendly crew (there were two onboard) soon served us with refreshments. I went for the coffee and chocolate deal for GBP2.50. Not bad. This photo shows how row 14 is in a bad position for the windows:
The Captain told us during the cruise that the flight time was expected to be 55 minutes rather than the usual 45 minutes because of the storm over the Midlands, thus requiring us to take a different routing.
I'm not quite sure where we flew as there was nothing to see. If only I had a GPS.
The flight went quite quickly - the July edition of the BE magazine is quite good. As we started to descend, about 20 minutes before landing we turned - and I got my first view of the sky!
Many turns followed, and we popped out of the clouds as we turned onto finals to the westerly runway at LGW.
Those familiar with the approach to LGW will recognise some of these sights of Surrey.
First up is Lingfield Racecourse:
The gear appeared as we passed the Mormon temple:
Then we flew over the M23 (the main route between London and Brighton):
After flying over the long stay car park, we then crossed the railway:
We landed at 1020, about ten minutes late. Unfortunately I couldn't get any good photos as we taxied in, because the engine was in the way!
The time from touchdown to pulling out of Gatwick on a train was 20 minutes - not bad considering the size of the airport.
Apart from the minor delay, it was a very good flight. BE is a very professional airline and has found the niche in the market - low cost, regional routes. It is great to see the route between LBA and LGW operated once again.
Just before I finish, here's a link to a similar journey I took before the LGW to LBA route was reinstated: UK Domestic: Flybe / BMI Regional LBA-SOU LHR-LBA (by Sam1987 Feb 16 2007 in Trip Reports)
And some other recent reports of mine: EasyJet INV-LGW (w/pics) (by Sam1987 Jul 3 2008 in Trip Reports) Ryanair STN-ALC-STN (w/pics) (by Sam1987 Jul 4 2008 in Trip Reports) Ryanair LBA-DUB-LBA Daytrip (w/pics) (by Sam1987 Dec 31 2006 in Trip Reports) EasyJet LGW-NCE-LGW Daytrip (w/pics) (by Sam1987 Dec 30 2006 in Trip Reports) British Airways LGW-Cyprus-LGW W/pics (by Sam1987 Jul 15 2006 in Trip Reports)
More to come!
Thanks for reading. Comments welcome.