After reading reports from both Gabriel and Suryo (Akhmad) on here almost a year ago, I decided that Malaga seemed to be a pretty good destination to visit during the UK's dark winter months - Sunlight, Beaches and an interesting city. I had originally wanted to go around March of this year, but the prices ended up being higher than my other planned trip at the time, so I headed off to Frankfurt instead. I still wanted to visit the Spanish city though, so I monitored the prices over the following months. Then one rainy Saturday in June, I was messing about with flight dates, prices etc. on ba.com and saw that if I went midweek in November the prices came down to a more reasonable £106.
It said on the site that there were only 5 seats left at the price for the outbound sector so without much delay I booked. I was quite happy with this, as it was the cheapest I’d managed to get a flight for! The only downside was that the flight would depart LGW at 07:40, so unless I wanted to catch a train from my local station at 04:00 I’d be staying the night at LGW.
Not a major problem as I’d managed to get such a good deal on the flights and a reasonable deal on the Barceló Malaga hotel at the station.
A couple of days after I returned from my trip to Madrid, I was feeling impressed with what I had experienced on the ground, and disappointed with what I had missed out on in the air. As BA had one of their standard Club Europe special offers on, I decided to upgrade.
Check in was done via the BA mobile app 24 hours before departure:
I was initially allocated seat 2A, but as it appeared I had a seatmate, I chose to move to 5A instead.
Unusually for me, I set off for the airport the night before departure and due to this I had no schedule to keep to. I decided to catch the train that went via Clapham Junction as I preferred this route over the one that goes through Guildford.
In hindsight maybe I should have taken the train through Guildford. There were a lot of problems at Clapham junction and an hour’s journey ended up taking nearly 2. Although going by my last 2 trips, I'd be happy of this to be my now traditional delay!
Once at a very quiet Gatwick, I made my way over to the hotel. The route ended up going through the car park, which wasn't what I was expecting, especially from a Hilton, but once through the front doors it was perfectly acceptable.
The following morning, my alarm went off at 05:00, and at 05:20 I made my way over to the North terminal via the transit system.
The check in area was pretty quiet as expected and I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass from a very chatty and helpful check in agent. She went the extra mile and invited me to use the fast track security and asking if I had been to the lounge before. After I said I'd only been to the one at LHR, she gave me directions on how to find it once through security. Once again excellent customer service from BA.
Once through security, I pretty much headed straight for the lounge, as the terminal seemed pretty much the standard affair. It had been 21 years since I last travelled from the North terminal and I must admit I didn’t recognize any of it really, except the water fountain that has now dried up.
I spent the next hour or so reading the newspapers on offer, abusing the free Wi-Fi, which didn’t work too well, grazing on the poor selection of food and trying to see what was happening outside. But as it was dark, this was a little difficult.
My choice of entertainment for the day ahead
About the best of the food offering’s
The only hot food on offer
I must admit I was a little disappointed with the F&B offerings in this lounge. A few slices of toast and some beans were about the only hot food on offer and the rest were pastries or cereal. I had better in the No1 lounge back in April. The major plus side though was that it was nice and quiet. If BA could take the catering from the T5 lounge and put it into the LGW one, it would be perfect.
Boarding was announced at 07:10 from gate 53. I grabbed my bag and made the short walk down to the gate. There was a separate lane for Club, BA Gold/Silver cardholders however it was sealed off.
When I got to the gate I noticed one of the flight crew sat at the gate. So unless he was just deadheading, we wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon. Turns out he was deadheading as boarding was called on time at 07:20. Despite being a jetbridge, an EasyJet A319 was using it, and our 737 was parked alongside – the ground crew mentioned this and told people to be careful on the wet tarmac.
20th November 2012
Seat: 5A / Club Europe
Funny how there seemed to be a lot of people traveling in Club Europe when boarding was called, however once onboard there were only 11 passengers in the Club cabin. There seemed to be quite a few people heading towards the back though.
Legroom didn't seem that great, however I don't remember it being too brilliant the last time I travelled on a BA 737 back in 2001 either. It wasn’t awful, I'd just had better. The cabin also seemed a little worn but I was expecting that really. Nothing major though – just well used. The only thing that was pretty poor that I later found out was the water pressure in the front washroom. To wash your hands, you had to hold either the blue or red button down, and even then it was a poor trickle that came out.
Our neighbor that was hogging the jetbridge
The flight crew came over the PA and made the usual announcements, mentioning the flight time was expected to be 2h25 and that there were pretty good flying conditions.
There were 3 cabin crew on board: one quite young and friendly, one who I never saw and the purser who seemed like they couldn't crack a smile if their life depended on it.
Pushback was delayed due to a couple of late passengers – the captain announcing that he was still deciding if they were going to travel or not. One of my pet hates is lateness and when I heard this announcement my first thought was “sod the potential delay, throw them off – that’ll teach them!” Around 5 minutes later they turned up and sat themselves down in seats 1D and F.
Must nearly be time to go.
A few moments later we pushed back. Once we did set off it was over to runway 26L - the first time I had departed from that runway since 2002. During the taxi, I noticed the purser jump up from their seat and tell Mr. 1F to put his seat in the upright position – So he turns up late, then continues to annoy the crew by reclining his seat before takeoff.
As we were running a little late, we got to push our way to the front of the queue. On takeoff, just before 08:10, we went past the BA hangars, where there was quite a mix outside - an open skies 757, a Cityflyer E190 and a mainline 767.
Takeoff from LGW
This was pretty much the last I would see of the UK today.
Due to the low cloud cover, I didn't get to see much. Around a minute after takeoff Mr. 1D decided he was bored and wanted his laptop – which meant another telling off from the purser. Not that he paid much attention as he continued to fiddle with his bag until he retrieved his laptop and then sat down again. I noticed a gold executive club tag on one of their bags, so they weren't new to flying... they obviously just didn't care!
Once the crew were released for duty, the hot towels were handed out. I remember back in the day, this was standard practice across all classes. Now it seems to only be reserved for premium passengers.
There still wasn’t much to be seen outside.
Around 20 minutes after takeoff, breakfast was served, still without a smile. It was actually pretty good - it didn't have a microwaved taste to it at all, although presentation was a bit lacking compared to the BD breakfast I had earlier in the year.
During breakfast, the first officer made a quick update, saying that we had reached our cruising altitude of 35,000 ft., we were due to land in Malaga at 11:45 local and that we were given an odd routing over Paris, Toulouse and the Pyrenees rather than straight over the Bay of Biscay.
The clouds had started clearing slightly once we had crossed into France
Once the trays were cleared, I turned to fellow trip reporter adamspotter (Brendan) for a bit of entertainment.
Or at least that was the theory. The 2 older guys sat in the row behind were talking and laughing very loudly, making it pretty difficult to concentrate on reading. At least I wasn't trying to sleep, like the deadheading captain who was sat opposite.
After finally managing to read Brendan's interesting report on his trip from RTM to MUC, I made an attempt to chat to the not so friendly purser. I asked about the fate of the 737's but the only reply I got was "who knows". She did mention that a couple of the ex BMI Airbuses might be coming over to LGW, but she was then distracted by and economy passenger trying to use the Club Europe toilet. I decided to cut my losses and return to my seat.
A short while later we crossed they Pyrenees
Not bad, but nowhere near as good as the view of the Alps I had on my previous trip!
The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. The purser gave out glasses of water, which was a nice touch though
There were a few views of various cities down below.
I had a look through the new look high life magazine to kill some time. There wasn’t much of interest though, apart from an interview with a 777 first officer.
Then it was time to descent at 11:17 local. Around 30 minutes before landing the captain came over the PA giving an update of our progress and saying that we would be landing on the southwesty runway (technical term?!) and that the weather was pretty good and 14 degrees. The routing took us out to sea before making a 180-degree turn to line us up with the runway. I noticed that the landing gear was extended very early – maybe around 5 minutes before touchdown. Of note, there was a Spanish woman with a baby in the cabin, who spent the entire flight wondering backwards and forwards, not even stopping during the meal service. Why pay extra for Club Europe, then not sit in the seat or eat the meal?! Might as well go in economy - least there would of been a bit further to walk!
Landing in Malaga
Touchdown was just before 11:45, and we made a short taxi over to the terminal. I noticed we were being guided in by a follow me van. Not noticed this before, but seemed to be common practice in AGP?
Shortly after we arrived on stand and it was out through quite an old looking part of the airport. During disembarking, the guys behind had a brief chat with the deadheading captain. Turns out he had flown in from BGI that morning and was off to finalize buying a property.
I saw another couple of visitors from the UK/Ireland along the way. The MON landed just after us – I was also unaware that there were any MON A321’s were in the new livery. I'd get a few more pics of this one a bit later.