Hello everyone and welcome to my 2nd trip report! The trip was made over the weekend, from Friday 15 Feb to Monday 18 Feb.
Introduction and Background
University years. Those will probably be one of the best times of everyone's life. Apart from the new friends, partying and nights which we can't remember but will never forget (I meant burning the midnight oil to study of course ha), I also take time to travel quite a fair bit. Students studying abroad are, after all, part time student and full time tourist. So about three weeks ago, I made a spur of the moment decision and decided to visit Amsterdam.
I gave my friend a call and within a day, we've made up our minds. There were a couple of airlines to choose from: easyJet, KLM or British Airways all fly direct from London to Amsterdam. But I was keen on flying on BA
. I've already flown on easyJet many times as a student on a budget. Additionally, I would get a chance to fly on the 737-400 if I chose BA
. That would be something new on my log; I've never flown on a 737-400 before. Since I read somewhere that BA
might retire the 737s soon, I hoped to have a chance to try them out. It turned out that BA
flights were slightly cheaper than easyJet, so I booked it as quickly as possible. It cost £86!
'I think I might have forgotten my passport'
Departure day! After my last lecture for the week, I rushed to Victoria Station to catch our Southern rail service to Gatwick Airport. Personally, I find this the best way of getting to Gatwick. With a Young Person (18-25) railcard, a return advance ticket cost around £8. While not as fast as the Gatwick Express, it's a lot cheaper and doesn't take that much longer either. The journey took about 32 minutes.
We arrived at Gatwick on time, and then headed to Zone A of the North Terminal to check-in our flight.
Just as I was about to touch the screen to check-in, my friend laughed and said, "I think I might have forgotten my passport"
"I think I might have forgotten my passport. Wait, let me check...Yea I forgot to bring it!"
For a moment, we stood there rooted to the ground. It was 4.20pm and our flight was at 6.05pm. Even if my friend could head home to collect his passport, he would not be able to make it back as check in closes at 5pm. We decided to seek help and approached the lady behind the BA
customer assistance desk.
"Hello, we're in a bit of trouble. I forgot to bring my passport and I believe check-in closes at 5pm for our flight today?" We laughed a little as we brought this up. The lady behind the desk was sympathetic, and she confirmed that we will not be able to make it back in time. She offered to search for the next available flight. When she did find it though, she told us it was not going to be cheap. It will be "tomorrow morning, at 6.50am, departing from Heathrow but will cost £180 one-way." We laughed a little, that's too much. We were, after all, on a student's budget.
After some consideration, we decided that I would continue to fly that evening, while my friend would search for the cheapest flight departing the next morning. Then the lady behind the desk told us she would protect my friend's return flight, which we thought was a lovely gesture. "Tell you what, I'll protect your return flight, and I'll hold the space for tomorrow morning's flight as well. Do let me know soon!"
We thanked her and told her we might head to easyJet to see if there was a cheaper flight. We both laughed knowing it probably won't be much cheaper, but she knew exactly our predicament and was extremely kind to wait for us to come back.
So we headed across the terminal and asked easyJet for help. It turned out to be only slightly cheaper. It was still £149 for one way! And it will still depart the next morning at 6.20am. After thinking it through, my friend decided to go on easyJet the next morning. However, the desk was unable to book the flight for my friend because they weren't allowed to overbook on that system. We were told that we could book through easyjet.com, so we headed to the nearest internet facility and completed the booking.
By then it was close to 4.45, and I had to check-in for my BA
flight! I ran back to Zone A and completed my check-in. I was helped by a BA
agent who asked me if I had been to Amsterdam before. He also offered some recommendations on places to visit. After check-in, I said goodbye to my friend and headed through security.
"Or do you mean pleasure?"
At 5.25pm, my gate number was shown and I proceeded towards Gate 50. To my surprise, there was no waiting in the lounge provided at Gate 50. Instead, we proceeded immediately to board the Boeing 737.
British Airways BA
Seat Number: 15B
Reg number G-DOCU
Load: 100% on Euro Traveller
Departure: 6.09pm (6.05pm estimated)
Arrival: 7.51pm (8.15pm estimated)
I began snapping photos of the cabin. Sadly, I was unable to get a window seat today
While boarding, I noticed that the seats up front (row 4 to 11) had slightly different seats and looked similar to Club seats. Can anyone explain why? I thought there were only two configuration on this flight.
The view across my row
At 6.09pm, we roared down the runway and rose very quickly into the air. It leveled off at around 20000ft and proceeded across the North Sea towards Amsterdam. Overall, it was an extremely smooth flight with barely any turbulence. It was quick, calm and enjoyable. Beverages were served about 20 minutes into the flight. I got myself gin and tonic and a cookie.
Soon, we began our descent into Amsterdam. Similar to the takeoff, it was a sharp descent. At 7.51pm local time, we touched down at Schiphol and began an extremely long taxi towards our gate. I assumed this meant we probably landed on the runway named Polderbaan.
Then came perhaps my favourite part of my flight that day. I asked one of the flight crew if I could visit the cockpit and she said yes! I continued into the cockpit and had a wonderful chat with the captain about our short flight that evening and the renewal of the 737 fleet at Gatwick. He mentioned that BA
would be replacing the 737 slowly with the A319/320s, but not the neo versions. Then he very kindly agreed for me to take some photos and even offered to help me take a photo with me in the seat!
In the hot seat!
I wished I could have stayed longer, but everyone had left the plane and I didn't want to keep them waiting. So I thanked everyone and made my way towards immigration.
So I've reached Amsterdam after a rather eventful evening. At immigration, I was asked about my purpose of visit to Amsterdam. "Leisure," I replied. The immigration officer looked at me and added cheekily, "or do you mean pleasure?"
left a warm impression on my first journey with them. Although my friend missed his flight, the customer assistance agents were sympathetic and helpful. So it was a short flight, but the service was professional and well done. I especially appreciated the chance to visit the cockpit and the ability to chat with the captain. Overall, a quick, comfortable and enjoyable hop from one city to another!
Thank you for reading!