Welcome back to my fourth trip report covering the European route Edinburgh - Lyon via Manchester operated by the UK second operator BMI.
For sure one of the route, if it is not both, have been treated previously, but it can represent an update, on what it has been written before.
BMI advert at Edinburgh airport
Before heading to Africa, for a month vacation, i've promised my beloved mum to visit her in south of France for a week end. Browsing the AF website for the usual routing to the South of France, a mail from BMI reminded me their sale's beginning on January, and their generous end of year status match (Gold Skyteam to Gold DC), and the opportunities offered trough this FFP. To be honest that was not the cheapest , easiest or fastest way to reach my mum's town, which is being serviced by Air France, Ryanair, and Easyjet, but it was time to top up my DC account and try a new route, land on a new airport and fly into a new aircraft such like the Embraer 145..
For the comparison AF offered a EDI-PAR-MPL rtn for, as they stated, only £315, and BMI thanks to the sales, was below with £266 on the EDI-MAN-LYS rtn, with the drawback to reach Montpellier from Lyon.
Nevertheless I've quickly made up my mind, motivated by the need of a little change from the usual Cityjet and boring AF domestic flight.
BP and gold card
2.1.1. Edinburgh airport
Arrived around 6H30, with the shuttle bus n°100, my new airport base looks pretty sleepy on the week-end eve. Few business men around, and no queue at any airline counter, except at the Continental desks. The sun has not arise yet and it feels like something wrong gonna happen.
2 transatlantic flights departing today
Checked-in online on Thursday, i just come to withdraw my BP and drop in my 2 luggages. As i'm heading to the Star Alliance Gold, 3 well dressed ladies welcome me with a large smile and ask for any kind of ticket or ID that i do not possess, and finally let me in. There was absolutely no queue at all, but the process took a while because hold 2 heavy luggage, BMI did not send me yet my Star alliance Gold card and had to explain why. Anyway the old man, quiet slow, managed to find out all the information and register to the final destination and explained me where the BMI lounge is located. Even if each luggage weight approximately 20 kg, he sticked heavy, and fragile on both of them and requested to drop off at the oversize counter. Maybe he was working for a low cost airline before!!!
2.1.3. BMI Lounge
With plenty time ahead, sorry for this, i had to smoke my first cigarette of the day. The sky just got dark blue and noticed a nice BMI advertising displayed this month out of the terminal.
On my way passing the security check, as maybe most of the international airport, you can find 2 lanes, a VIP or X press (at EDI) on File N°1 (at Paris). On my several trip to London with BMI the staff, welcomed and invited me to follow the Xpress security check, faster, better, smoother what a pleasure, but today they denied my access here, pretending, the flight was not departing shortly. Right, during my previous experience neither. Never mind except few British and American, the security had been pass within 6 min.
Before getting my first breakfast, an airport is always busy in a morning, and took this opportunity to walk around, Unfortunately for your eye today at EDI was an ordinary day, just a bunch of Welsh, enjoyed a pint of Guinness around 7h30, OK, not really interesting for an aviation enthusiast.
well situated immediately on the right after security and opposite of gate n°5, Here we are at the BMI sanctuary!!! the receptionist invited , in a polite way to enter inside the DC lounge located behind the right door, in comparison of the business lounge straight after the entrance. To steal the word of a forum member (Globaltraveller):
“ As I proceeded beyond the welcome desk, I felt like I was walking into an IKEA store. From the fittings to the chairs to the cupboards, everything reminded me of the world famous DIY furniture from Sweden. This is, in my opinion, not a particularly positive characteristics for a Frequent Flyer lounge to have”
the positive point was the breakfast buffet was quiet well garnished, the lounge totally deserted (Only another passenger) and the newspapers already stock up. I've called my mum to announced the flight is expected on time and enjoyed a warm, crusty pastry with a cup of tea and the Scotland's favourite drink : Irn Bru.
When the screen displayed BD1586: boarding, I've seized all my belongings, to across in width the terminal until the gate N°5.
The pride of BMI
First breakfast of the day
2.2. BMI domestic route to Manchester
Date: 26th of February 2010
Flight number: BD1586 operated by BMI regional
Aircraft: Embraer RJ145, G-RJXF
Distance: 185 miles
Photo © Artur Jarosz - Warsaw Aviation Photography
Photo © John Farrington - FlightLineImages
With this shower rain, it was a good news to boarding on bridge directly at gate 5, finally they called the passengers to process with a little 10 min delay, in order the disabled and family with young kid and then, the Gold passengers. Then the rest. While we were walking through the aircraft's obliged to step down the bridge and walk to it directly. I've tried to catch few photos under the heavy rain but and ground staff, annoyed, forced me to forget this idea. Hum strange.
Gate number 5
2.2.2. Aircraft + cabin
Having my first step in this plane followed by a warm welcomed by the unique cabin crew, it feels really comfortable, with human dimension, a certain privacy and descriptive comfort as the leather seat. Overall, the seat comfort was sufficient for a one hour flight, the 1-2 layout with a seat pitch of 31 inches and width of 17.3 inches is configured. Pre-booked for the seat 6F, there was no business traveller or class as i was the first customer. A good point for the service. Feeling exclusive in the 1/3 full cabin, this jet is rather silent. Happy to experience a regional jet, i choose the right side with 2 seats. While we were waiting for the departure clearance on the VIP just arrived at EDI inside a Range Rover.
our Goldy hair crew showed the safety announcement, even if you are a regular traveller...i was too busy to pictured a KLM Fokker 70.
scene of the tarmac
Front of the cabin
rear of the cabin
Just landed: KLM Cityhopper
Take off video from Edinburgh:
The regional jet rolled along at an high speed under the low clouds via Alpha taxiway without holding at threshold, we were, ready for departure. After the really short wait, RJXF blasted off all its power to climb over the lowest clouds, then proceed a short turn right to clear the runway track before reaching the intermediate altitude giving by the ATC. The pilot engaged a U turn on the left, which should have enabled to view EDI airport, but today, just cloud and light turbulence were escorted us during this winter The load factor would reach only 16/50 client today, very few for the week-end eve would ease the service for this very short flight.
The leather seat was comfortable, but the pitch not really generous. I like the promise of BMI “ when you are gold the next seat close to you is empty”... it's not to hard to verify this today.
Cruising altitude with clouds
2.2.3. In flight Service
Our unique purser, called Bey W., has ensured a really prompt, professional and mechanical service, in the other hand the flying time lasted only 40 min, everybody seemed happy as me. BMI regional offered a complimentary snack on both domestic and international routes. I've tried a cold Egg, Mayonnaise and Bacon filled rubbery croissant, with a cup of tea and orange juice. I think she had enough time to relax also.
The pilot just announced the begin of the descend to Manchester, and within 15 min the propeller jet unstably landed on runway 23, under the same rain as Scotland, an effective and sharply braking , managed to clear the runway quickly. The Terminal 3 is really close and RJXF stopped its engines only 7 min, after touchdown but parked but not on air bridge.
Landing at Manchester:
2.3. Post flight
Allocated the first seat, disembarking, took 2 min the time the hostess disarmed slide and cross check (you must be 2 for a cross check???), the English rain welcomed us as she left us in Edinburgh, but the way to reach the terminal was rather short. With a long corridor to across and the transfer sign to follow within the terminal 3. an hesitation came of if i had enough time to enjoy a cigarette or not. The plane landed and parked on time, but it was a tight connection (55 min). The wise solution had been chosen. It will wait Lyon.
Terminal 3 Manchester
3. Manchester-Lyon St Ex
3.1.1. Transit at Manchester airport
Any British reader would know better MAN than me, i was just happy to discover the third UK airport.
The airport serves as a base for the charter airlines Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways, and as a secondary hub for bmibaby, Flybe, Jet2.com, Monarch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Which could have been a good plan for spotting but today!!!
Very quickly, after a unfriendly tunnel, I've passed the transit hall, including plenty pseudo duty free shop, boutique, restaurant, pub, and other shops. It's surprising that the UK airport got the best view on the apron and the runway, and all the public building in EDI and Man get a prime view on the traffic.
Atrium at man
3.1.2. BMI Lounge
As the main door was out of order, I've used the DC gold entrance, but as soon as inside, the BMI hostess naturally greeted me promptly, asked for the BP and the gold card. After the fast check-in she suggested to relax and enjoy this private place, before telling me, the day before flight to Lyon left with 2H late.With a kindly sense of service she added “don't worries we will call you when your flight will be ready for boarding”, and continued straight the discussion with her colleague . All right, it could not be as clear as this!!!
Anyway this detail, not even mentioned at EDI by the staff, decreased a little the peacefulness on the journey.. and disturbed my second breakfast in the lounge.
the feeling of “déjà vu” saddened me, indeed, once you visit one BMI lounge, you've already visit all of them in UK, the same layout, identical colours, standard greeting, and disappointing buffet.
Entered here around 9H50, i visited around to check which service would the provide to get more news about the French ATC strike . The only place to get Internet inside, was a BMI computer, to book, amend or change a flight , but even this machine was unable to provide any late, or any live update information about their own flight, that is ridiculous. It would be interesting to know how many travellers change booking or purchase ticket while they are in connection!!!
Except the scale model aircraft found in EDI this place seems exactly the same, the description must not be done, it was rather empty with maybe 10 guests maximum.
At 10H35, the official departure time, worried about the situation seen on the lounge screen I've visited the so talkative receptionist, who just told me to keep relaxing and enjoyed a couple of drinks, as of now the flight would not be ready.
Suddenly the lounge and the airport seemed extremely boring more than before and time was so long. But at 10H45 only, she made the so awaited announcement of the flight BD1343 that it would be boarding on gate 23.My mum just thought i was on the way home!!!
Same furniture than EDI
3.2. BMI regional route to Lyon
Date: 26th of February 2010
Flight number: BD1343 operated by BMI regional
Route: Manchester – Lyon
Aircraft: Embraer RJ145 G-RJXF
Distance: 622 miles
Photo © Tommy Desmet
Photo © Marvin Meinel
After a short good bye to the friendliest lady of the lounge, i proceed to gate number 47, tough a small area, the surroundings looked familiar, until i reached the gate. Strangely the queue was not to long, and enable to board quickly.
the ritual process was the same, and the gentleman, told me good morning, thanks to fly BD today to Lyon and have a nice flight...
My previous and next ride
3.2.2. Aircraft + cabin
It was the second short flight but i felt tired already about this confusing situation lived in the lounge, a nice surprising arose, when XF appeared for the second time of the day, all right, same gate, same stairs, obviously same aircraft, bingo!!! another good surprise was to fly for a second time this cute Bey W., cabin crew, and obviously the unchanged cockpit team for this segment to France . She greeted with a personalized welcome back mister E.A.S., it's pleasure to see you again on board. A part to get also the first passenger seat on row 4 line F nothing has really evolute within 1h30 min. It would be interesting to learn how did they spend their long break.
After 20mn only, among the last, all passenger joined their seat, mostly French and some originated from St Etienne apparently, they've enjoyed their UK holiday. Today on this international flight the passenger would reach 21, better than before . While we were all waiting for the ATC clearance, and the traffic here increased, same as the rain.
The Pilot basically announced that we had a late due to those (lazy) French ATC, for at least 30 min. Surprisingly, nobody complained, or get edgy, or said nothing bad, the only reaction started after few minutes, and target the cabin temperature, which get hellishly warm as unbearable. Without APU, there was no air conditioning, and instantly at 11H15 our Favourite crew, took the decision to visit the cockpit and serve a round of drink and few snacks to the passengers, who did not ask for better treatment, for some of them she gave few explanation also. It has been nearly 1h that XF has stayed unmoved at MAN. Confused between the pleasure of spotting AA, Thomsom, LHcargo, Delta, and others regional carriers and the time running against us i feared to miss my train connections. passengers wondered if our flight was expect to leave soon.
not the best legroom
AA767 and TOM757
Still awaiting for departure
Lufthansa heavy at man
Bey showed the safety procedure, and immediately The pilot gave the awaited news after pushing back and already taxiing to the soggy runway in service today, the 23R. We standed there for a couple of minute, holding at the threshold, waiting for the A380 of Emirates.the pilot opened the throttles at the full power for the fastest take-off of my flight history... 1H after the original schedule...
Ready for take off
Take off from Manchester:
3.2.3. In flight Service
The pilot switched off the seatbelt sign 25 min after the take-off, when we reached the cruising altitude. Bey quickly changed uniform for a apron, and then started the service. i was the first customer, she shamefully sorry that the identical choice provided in comparison as EDI-MAN route. I could not bother anymore, and wanted to rest quickly. Finally i choose a cold vegetarian chewy croissant filled with cheese and tomato and an over cold acid red wine. Definitely not the best airline meal but the efficiency and the professionalism were here. After she just change uniform and sat on row 1, with a newspaper, French were not demanding today. The sky became scattered over the channel to catch a glimpse of the French coast, thereafter, enables to seen Paris.
I've decided to read the newspaper and to learn more about the French President Sarkozy Trip in Rwanda, also my destination, after this week-end.
With the clear sky it has eased the approach on Lyon, and 20 min ahead the First Officer asked Bey to prepare the cabin for landing. Hum, she cleaned it 60 min ago, but had to wake up some dozy French before the arrival. That was easy for her, according to her finest skill.
We flew over the west side of Lyon where la Fourvière suburb, and Gerland stadium have been seen, before, engaged on a standard south approach, a grass airfield can clearly seen, and probably Bron airport. Just after the pilot, decided to turn left again for a final to runway 18R. The touchdown appeared at 14H23, And took another 10 for taxiing until the gate.
Approaching the French coast
Le Bourget Airport
Relaxation for her
Descent to lyon
Gerland football stadium
Lyon second's airport
Runway in sight
Taxing to the gate
St Exupery overview
Landing at Lyon:
3.3. Post flight
Parked away from the terminal , i stepped down first from the jet and hoped on the Cobus, while others passengers disembarked, it could be notice that the bag handlers took on most of the goods from the luggage compartment, before all putting it back. When one couple of holidaymakers saw their bags at the back, inside the container they decided to go and picked their until a ground staff shouted and stopped them.
On our bus trip to the terminal we noticed the LYS visitor including a Swiss Jumbolino, a Turkish A320, few AF and others charters.
finally arrived at Lyon
Lyon offers trolleys to carry luggage, by the system is pretty strange, as the €1 coin distributor, is not available, Luckily, a maintenance worker help us to know where to find the token for the trolley.
Tagged Star Alliance priority, the luggages arrived number 2 and number 4, unfortunately without the fragile sticker anymore, good job Lyon staff anyway.
It was now 14H40, the train was scheduled in 27 min in city center, when i quit the arrival hall, i've been slowed by the French air and border Police control (PAF). I would definitely missed the train to reach Montpellier.
Except the delay, which costs me an extra €54 (new train ticket) this first experience with BMI regional was convenient and enjoyable.
Thanks for reading and commenting
East African Spotter
previous trip reports:
- A trip to the Victoria Falls in Cessna Caravan
- Rwandair and Skyteam airlines to Scotland
- KLM and Kenya Airways to Rwanda