Hi all & welcome to my next story!
I live in a suburban town in the vicinity of Antwerp, Belgium’s 2nd largest city. Antwerp is located app 40 km’s from Brussels, the capital. Like any itself respecting city, Antwerp has it’s own (little) airport. Besides being used for business flights and leisure flights, it also has 2 international scheduled services to London City (up to 5 daily) and Manchester (up to 2 daily), operated by CityJet on Fokker 50 aircraft. Pricing starts from € 69 all incl one way to LCY
and € 59 all incl one way to MAN
, so pretty good value if you ask me. In surplus, ANR
airport is easily reachable by public transport from my home and it has short checkin times (25 mins beforehand are enough!). Having never flown from this airport before I built a trip which would take me from Antwerp to Brussels, not by highway, but on a detour by the ‘high way’.
The first leg was quickly decided: ANR
on CityJet’s F50. A little search got me to FlyBE and I decided to book MAN
on FlyBE’s E195 and SOU
on FlyBE’s Q400/8. In all: 2 new carriers, 3 new aiports, 3 new aircraft types and as a consequence 3 new reg’s! If everything work’s out, I should be back in Brussels around 1pm, allowing me to go to work in the afternoon.
So let’s see how it all went:
I got up at 5.40am to catch the 6.09am bus to ANR
. It was still dark and after a 15 min ride I found myself in front of the terminal building of ANR
airport. Not much to see actually, it was still dark so that did not help either.
Apron views are not possible outside but I managed to squeeze my camera in between a fence
The check-in area seen from outside
A view on the main hall and the exit from arrivals & bagage claim
As I had checked in online the day before I immediately went through security and border control, which was a breeze. The FIDS draw my attention with the word ‘delay’ on it, lucky for me it was the 7am flight to LCY
which was affected… I got myself a seat in the holding area next to the window and with a view on the apron.
A view on the apron with 2 F’50’s on stand
10 mins before the scheduled departure time the gate agents turned up and boarding commenced right away. As I walked up to the aircraft on the way I counted 4 CityJet F50’s on stand.
Our plane, bound for MAN
Boarding was completed in minutes, very impressive.
Flight: AF5240 (operated by CityJet)
Reg: OO-VLI (named ‘City of Eindhoven’)
STD-STA (flighttime): 07h20-07h55 (1h35)
The load appeared OK
, some 60% and mainly business travellers. Once in my seat, I found it to be very narrow. Lucky for me, I had 2 seats for myself so extra room to stretch out. One annoying thing was the low positioning of the windows, I had to bend over for a proper look and the proximity of the seat in front made my head toch it. So not very comfortable.And the person in front reclining his seat did not make things easier… Next time I choose the bulkhead 3c/d, they looked better to look outside.
Initial view from seat 4a
After a welcome from the cockpit and the engines were switched on and the giant propeller blades started to make revs. At 7.20am we taxied out to runway 29 for takeoff.
We taxied half on the taxiway and entered the runway in it’s half and backtracked all the way to the departing point.
Liftoff with apron view
‘Antwerpse ring’ motorway
We climbed quickly into and above the murkiness. That was one bad thing about today, the weather was not good…
Ski slopes above Belgium
After a while, the attendants came round with food and drink which is complimentary on CityJet, I chose a smoked turkey sandwich and 2 cups of lemon tea. After that I popped in my custom made earplugs (I always do when I fly) and had a look at the inflight magazine which was too business orientated for my liking. After 1h20 of flying the pilot announced ‘landing in 10 minutes’ and the cabin was prepared for arrival into MAN
Weather clearing up a bit
Landing gear popping out
On short finals
Welcome to MAN
We landed on runway 23R and quickly vacated the taxiway. After a long taxi we came to a halt on a stand at terminal 3.
Arriving on stand
After deboarding and some steps to the terminal building I found myself inside terminal 3.
One last shot, our F50 going back to ANR
in a while
Next mission: on to the next flight without any further due! So off I went, following the transfer signs. I had to be in terminal 3 again so I expected a smooth and fast transfer since I already arrived at terminal 3. Boy, was I wrong! I will not bother you with the details but the experience was quite a hassle. And since I had a transfer time of only 55 mins I got quite nervous in the end! So just in time I arrived at gate 147, a packed area looking a bit like a dungeon with lots of other gates and lots of other passengers. Where am I, is this a modern airport?
Anyway, the flight was called for boarding 2 mins after my arrival there so my timing appeared perfect
I walked outside to the ‘scheduled’ E195 but to my surprise there was a Q400/8 on stand.
The not-so-expected-but-nevertheless-welcome Q400/8.
Hmm, hopefully not twice the Q400/8 then today. I was the first to board and asked the jolly attendant about the equipment change. She indeed said the flight was to be operated by the E195 but a last minute operational issue made for a change. Well nothing to do about that… Since the door was open I asked for a cockpit photo after the flight. The pilot overhearing our conversation kindly invited me in and told me that I could stay there until boarding was complete. Great! After the photo was taken and some chit chat I thanked them for their time and went to my seat. Seat comfort was very good, legroom was nice and the overall cramped feeling I had in the F50 was not present here. Well done FlyBE & Q400. The load was about 50%.
STD-STA (flighttime): 08h45-09h45 (1h00)
View from my seat, BA
The captain came on with some info about flight time and expectew weather conditions and at about 5 mins after SDT, the engines spooled into life and we left our parking position on the way for runway 23L.
Pushing back giving me a view on a company E195, well maybe some other time then?
Nice surprise, City Airlines to GOT
Haven't seen this one before either, AirSouthwest Q300/8 to ?
The 2 FlyBE types waiting in for takeoff
Finally our turn
We rocketed off into the skies, the takeoff was really powerful. I never experienced that on a prop before.
Prop in action while climbing out of MAN
After a while we were above the clouds and as expected the weather was not the best: an all white blanket was spread out underneath us. The crew sprung into action for the BOB service while I just sat back and enjoyed the flight. After about 35 mins we started our descent towards SOU
airport. It took a while before we broke through the clouds again and when we did I could see we were coming in from over sea and over Southampton's harbour.
Descending into SOU
After touchdown on runway 02 , we turned on the runway at about halfway and taxied into our stand.
They are waiting for us!
While walking to the terminal, another E195 came in associated with a lot of noise!
Arrival into SOU
was painless, as wel as the transfer to the departures area again. What a contrast to my bad experience in MAN
. It took me under 10 mins to get back to the departure area. SOU
is a really small airport, mainly used by FlyBE. It is very relaxed and I liked it a lot. About 20 mins after my arrival at the gate, boarding was called for the flight to BRU
. And guess what: we were directed to an E195 which made me very excited.
STD-STA (flighttime): 10h50-13h00 (1h10)
Boarding via the rear stairs of course
...and all other passengers boarding via the front stairs of course...
I took my seat in 29D and was positively surprised about the overall comfort: wide enough slimline seats, good legroom and clean. That's how we like it don't we? Load factor was about 40%, so not very good but normally this service is performed by the Q400/8 so that would give a better load factor.
View outside, FlyBE all around
The captain did his welcome speech and we pushed back on schedule.
Pushing back, the Cobus has to wait of course
Going the wrong direction?
Apparently not, turning around on the threshold of runway 02
THAT is the right direction!
After a short takeoff roll we lifted into the overcast skies above SOU
Climbing out of SOU
Here again, skies were pitch white all the way into BRU
Mind the winglet
After about 40 mins and a series of twists & turns we came on finals for BRU
And touchdown on time on 25L
Terminal B in the far distance
We taxied past the old satellite terminal to a remote stand
Nice looking ATR
Coming to a halt next to this nice neighbour
We disembarked through the front door, me getting off last I asked for a quick snap of the cockpit which was kindly granted by the captain again. Many thanks for that and a great end of this half day of flying.
The E195 office
Thanks for reading & feel free to comment!
In thrust we trust.