The following article is a true and completely accurate relocation of the events which occurred on the 9th day of January, 2006 A.D.
Serendipity in Action: 250 Miles For A Friend
This epic journey can be traced back to 1903 and the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. Man’s fixation, need and yearning to fly was the reason for the trip, it’s lead to amusing and bemusing times in the past and it sure wasn’t going to disappoint this time either!
Fellow user and friend, Mr Jamotcx more commonly know around the world as James or Jamo, had signed himself up for pilot training in Jerez, Spain and all that was required to do now was sign the loan agreement down in London. He got in touch with me and wanted to see if I fancied going along for the hell of it but also to raid the Bmi lounge of alcoholic substances. Well, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse!
Also coming along for the ride was Dazultra although we would be taking separate flights and airlines to James. His schedule required him to be in central London for 11am which meant getting a fairly early flight. In the end he flew down with Bmi on BD581 at 0645 since he is a Star Alliance Gold card holder. Myself and Daz on the other hand decided to fly down on a proper airline at a reasonable time. It all seemed good, or so we thought.
9th January 2006
I checked us both in for the flights the previous night and chose seats just in front of the wing, 14A and B, why not? I left for MAN
at 0700 knowing that the M61 and M60 would be nightmarish early on a Monday morning. Well like I had guessed it was bad and it took 70 minutes to reach the airport, normally just 35. C’est la vie!
Soon Daz arrived and we used the Self Service machine to print the four boarding cards off for the day. Daz also took this opportunity to add his BA
Exec club number to the booking which is a good feature to have on there. With that done it was off to security and then off to see an old friend.
I had learned from the administrator of www.ringwayreports.co.uk
that the MAN
, was leaving for dusking/cabin refit and probably wouldn’t be returning to be based here. The end of an era perhaps?
So we headed up to the gate area where WH
had arrived at from JFK
earlier in the morning. We sat in front of her for a bit and took a few photos but soon we got bored waiting for her to leave. So, we decided to make a note for a laugh in the form of a PowerPoint presentation that in the largest font possible read “WE
LOVE YOU WHISKY HOTEL”. It was a very jovial thing to do as we turned the laptop around and let the crew read it. Well about 10 minutes later a guy came walking towards us in the deserted gate area. It was WH
’s dispatcher! He came over, friendly guy, and said:
"Err hello guys, I’ve just come over as the skipper has seen your message here and is a bit intrigued!?"
Trying not to sound too sad I think we ended up conveying that we were photo journalists or some other cock n bull story at which point he seemed more understanding to this seemingly crazy fanaticism! He even went on and ‘reassured’ us that WH
would come back from time to time so don’t get too worried. Trust me, we actually weren’t. He left us alone after that. About 10 minutes later the aircraft pushed back and we got a huge simultaneous wave from both the captain and first officer. At least they weren’t too annoyed at us and appreciated our efforts.
We scuttled off towards our own gate after WH
had taken off as it was 20 minutes before our departure time.
Boarding had already commenced by the time we had arrived so we headed straight onto the plane at Gate142. As we were walking down the air bridge I jokingly remarked that I always hate this part of the flight, when on BA
, as I could never be too sure who was onboard. We both laughed it off and walked onboard G-BPEC. Well I showed my boarding pass to the flight attendant and then slowly made my way down the cabin. It was already packed by this time so this took a while. Passing doors L2 and R2
there was another cabin member whom smirked at us and said hello. All was good and row 14 was now in sight. However, as I looked down the packed cabin towards the mid section toilets I saw two more cabin crew standing there and one of them looked seemingly familiar, didn’t she used to work for Servisair, Swissport or somebody? Hmm, well we gazed at each other for a bit and I can only assume by lip reading that she was having a conversation with her colleague about cooking and Dell computers which seemed a bit strange?
A brief note at this stage is that the chance of getting one particular crew member on this flight was and still is just 0.07%. A tiny, miniscule chance you’ll agree. If it were to happen then it couldn’t be anything less than serendipity.
As I approached my seat a feeling of nausea came over me, like when you are in a situation you really wish you weren’t, feeling like the temperature in the cabin was over a 100°c? I tried reaching for the air overhead but alas I was on the oldest B757 in the fleet and she wasn’t equipped with this amenity that at that moment in time I would have found so very useful!
Time crept along as the remaining passengers boarded and took their seats. The overhead bins were full now and a guy in row 13 was having issues stowing his bag. That familiar crew member made her way down towards him with a smile that was positively beaming beyond belief, so cheerful in disposition that with just one look at her I reckon she could have made a Jew in a gas chamber smile. Well to be honest, I felt like that Jew in some ways as after all, I had to share the same air as her except after 10 minutes, I’d still be here.
I overheard the conversation with this guy, it went something like:
Woman: “Hello, can I put this bag in the front cabin for you?”
Man: “Yes of course but will I be able to go get it inflight?”
Woman: “Yea whatever.”
Didn’t seem like the ‘BA Way’ to me, more of the BMI
‘whatever goes’ way. The remaining overhead bins in row 13, 12 and 11 then got specialist slam treatment from this woman.
Short Video about the flight
After an excruciating wait we pushed back and a manual safety demonstration was shown but what was this? A woman had replaced that ‘familiar girl in my cabin! Hardly an issue as this one actually made eye contact with me.
We headed off for departure from 24L which had recently been changed from 06L. Either the winds had changed direction or this crew were intent on making life awkward for everyone.
Well, we got in the air just fine and followed the Honiley 1Y SID away from the airport. We climbed up to 17000ft and headed south for London. The women soon came around and gave us our All Day Deli offerings. I’d say we had a choice but when I refused the melted cheese sandwich thing I was told there was nothing else available. Even Daz was told there was no vegetarian option which seemed rather poor to me! Thinking about it I was glad I didn’t eat any food on this particular flight, you just never know what could have been in it. I was also a bit weary of the drink I ordered but I guess spite, sorry I mean Sprite, alone couldn’t be enough to harm me.
The flight continued and now after a seeming 8 hours, 52 minutes and 23 seconds onboard, the rubbish was collected during our descent into London’s Heathrow airport. Now unless I was imagining things I could have sworn on my life that I heard the two crew working my cabin say to themselves as they walked past:
“Yea, she didn’t want to serve those two”
What could they possibly have meant? Was this also possibly connected to the staring looks I was getting every time I looked around at the crew? Well it was a bit unnerving I can tell you.
Our flight entered the Bovingdon hold and we did a few laps in that before heading off for an approach to 09L at LHR
. We touched down and exited fairly sharpish and headed for Gate 78.
A few minutes later and I was finally on my way off the aircraft. First though I had a quick word with the Cabin Crew nearest to me, Charlotte. It was something I feel I needed to do, perhaps clear up a few misconceptions she might have of me. After that I left and with no luggage to collect me and Daz headed for the Underground Station via a quick stop outside at the Piccadilly Line Entrance. It’s somehow got to be a favourite spot of mine at LHR
Around 10 minutes later we both touched our Oyster Cards at the barriers and boarded the waiting train down below and set off for Knightsbridge. I had a few interesting calls and txt’s during the 40 minute ride from users such as, Pilot_Kaz, Jamo and Ben all extremely interested about my 30 minute domestic flight from Manchester. I just couldn’t understand it really……
Ahh well, we got off at Harrods and I literally bumped into Jamo who was waiting for us at street level. The bank deal had been done and we were all ready to hit the town, at 1150am! I led the way and we ended up walking down to Blackfriars via the north bank of the Thames. No whales reported that day. We spotted a pub which looked alright and so crossed the bridge and had a look in there. Too expensive was the first take on this place, god knows how Mr Jamo £65,000 in the bank could say that but whatever, we carried on searching. Well 20 minutes later the search proved fruitless, like some women’s bra contents, so we headed back to the first place and got some food and beer.
In the pub looking over what Jamo had just signed up for. A lot of debt!
Me, James and Daz
The day then continued on via stops at the wobbly bridge leading to Saint Paul’s and then onto Hammersmith. We met up with Ben there and sank a few more beers accompanied by some interesting conversation about the current state of affairs in our community. All good and a very necessary part of life.
The time came to head back to Heathrow so we headed across to the Tube. There was standing room only but who cares when you have cans of Carlsberg at hand thanks to Jamo and his early morning visit to the BMI
On the Piccadilly Line.
Me at Heathrow
On arrival at LHR
dinner came in the form of cardboard provided by Burger King adjacent to departures in the T1 Domestic area. I’d highly recommend that place for sure.
Passing through to airside we had the opportunity to get into the BMI
lounge but frankly couldn’t be arsed so we, me and Jamo, settled for more free Carlsberg courtesy of BMI
. Our airline fuelled binge drinking session later had to be put on hold as we heard the final call for Jamo’s flight back to MAN
. We shoved him off towards his gate before heading off to the smoking area in Gate 5. I really do like it up there, so quiet and smoker friendly. Normally full of BA
crew as well!
Well when I came out of there it appears me and Daz were part of the last 3 passengers to board the flight, myself ultimately getting the coveted boarding place of second to last to join the flight. Oh well, priorities!
Last flight of the day
9th January 2006
I was now sadly in a bit of a poor state, perhaps a bit too merry when I stepped onboard the aircraft. A friendly fellow, the CSD, and a woman greeted me, looked at my boarding card and welcomed me by name as one of the last to board. Well if they can be funny then so could I, so I went on and asked them if a certain somebody was on tonight’s flight and asked how long a standard day roster lasted for a Eurofleet member. They seemed taken aback with my question so asked me why I wanted to know, so, I told them. Well they had a big smile on their face and joked around reassuring me that this flight was “safe”.
Me and Daz walked back to our seats in row 22 and sat in seats D and F. The cabin was amazingly empty with a load of just forty-nine tonight. That worked out as one cabin crew for every seven people. The CSD soon made his announcement which I was apparently recording as I later found the below clip on my phone. Listening back he makes a bit of a boob in his speech with this gem:
"In the mean time I’d like to sit back and relax.">
Oh well, I’m sure he would. We pushed back soon afterwards all the while I had a Milf sitting next to me in 22C. Here’s a photo. Maybe the BMI
beer had made her look better at the time?
27R was the runway in use that evening so as we held at Rokit, quite appropriate, I gave my phone to Daz and asked him to record the takeoff. I’m not really quite sure why I wanted him to record it but he did, in flight mode of course. The takeoff I remember as being fun, 19 seconds from being pushed back into your seat till rotation. We both laughed as we reached FL410 as we crossed over the M25 below.
CPES Takeoff Video
About 2 minutes later the seat belt signs were turned off and I ran and nearly fell over on my way to the toilet as we were of course still climbing, and fairly steeply too. I tried to aim for the bowl but of course I missed so I went about looking for some tissue to clean up the mess. For some ungodly reason I couldn’t locate the toilet roll so I just opened everything that had a latch. First I found the baby changing table then moving to the right I found the mother of all stores. It was filled with soaps, women’s things and boxes of tissues, bingo. I cleaned up the floor and returned to my seat sadly complete with 8 soaps stuffed in my pockets and a box of BA
tissues stuck up my T-shirt. Why you ask? I have no idea; maybe I liked the Speed Marque on the box, it just seemed like a good idea at the time? Sorry BA
As I sat down Daz handed me my sandwich which had been handed around. I can’t remember what it was but I know it wasn’t cheese based as I ate it so that was good. I think I may have eaten Daz’s sandwich as well assuming there was some kind of animal between the slices of bread.
Well the drink’s service finally made its way down to me and of course I wasn’t going to get tea or coffee. Ha, hell no. I asked for a large vodka and lemonade to which I was handed 2 cans of Sprite and one vodka. They asked me if this is what I meant. Oh ha-ha, comedians! Well as I squinted and looked at their face they appeared older than my mother so I let them have their joke as they handed me the second bottle of vodka. Women like that are normally sharp as a tack and I wasn’t in fighting form, plus of course I had limited time to drink my double!
We carried on up the spine of the UK and I spotted the CSD just a few rows ahead. Jokingly I said to Daz we should ask for a cockpit visit when we land and surprisingly he dared me to ask. Well I hadn’t visited the flight deck of an aircraft I was flying on since I was 7 so I felt like a nob asking to do it aged 19. I grabbed the CSD’s attention and he came over smiling at me. He immediately asked if I had been causing any trouble on tonight’s flight. I was a bit taken aback by that but I called him a cheeky git, which he laughed at, and went on and asked if it was possible to visit the flight deck after we had landed. He said of course it was alright and that it was no problem at all. Well I should have known it would have been alright. After all let’s face it; boozing is the true BA
Way! I mean it’s not like on arrival the plane was going anywhere for 8 hours anyway?
So we made our way over Stockport and down the ILS to 24R. I still hadn’t finished my Vodka as we flew past the familiar B&Q, Morrisons and Co-op Pyramid landmarks which frequent visitors to MAN
should know well. Around this time the flaps were lowered and since we were seated at the back of the wing that weird noise they made could be heard well. Daz later recorded me as I made some spooky, ghostly actions to the noise. Oh dear me.
Fairly soon we past The Airport Pub at the beginning of 24R and I masterfully stated we must nearly be there as I took one last sip of my vodka before touching down. During the brief interval of reverse thrust I remember talking to Daz about how quick the flight seemed and finished off my drink as we taxed to stand at T3
Normally you head around to Gate 142 or 143 after arrival from LHR
but today we taxied around the corner to where to JFK
flight usually arrives. I was a bit confused when we came to a stop but whatever, so I headed back to the toilet while the rest of the passengers got their stuff and got off the plane. After all, we had a cockpit to visit!
Soon myself and Daz were at the front of the plane and the CSD went into the cockpit to ask the crew if we were good to go in. Of course they were happy to have us go say hello which was a bonus for us. I went in last and sat on the jump seat behind the captain, incidentally on his hat and crisps he had in there. We spoke to the crew for quite along time; well Daz did as I couldn’t really form words all that well. In retrospect I had a lot to ask them but the words definitely escaped me that evening.
No photos were aloud up front which was a bit disappointing but it didn’t matter too much. After a while the CSD came in and told us we had to leave as he was going home. Oh ok then! I walked ahead down the air bridge to be confronted by a locked door which lead to departures. I found it quite amusing that the door wouldn’t open and so some cabin crew member tried it also perhaps thinking I couldn’t open a door?
Well myself, Daz and the crew of BA1408, who incidentally were Manchester based, all stood at the bottom of the air bridge, stumped by a locked door to Domestic arrivals. Luckily a cleaning lady behind the International arrivals door saw us and came to our rescue. The crew charged forward, one of then chirping out that we couldn’t follow but what else were we to do? The CSD said he’d get us through passport control as Daz didn’t have his passport with him. When we got to the queue it all went just fine, we walked past the line of recently arrived international passengers and let the CSD explain to the immigration officer that we had just come up from London and we were with him. It was quite amusing! After that we walked out into arrivals, I nipped upstairs for a smoke and to see Jamo’s A321 on stand before heading outside for my ride home.
It was definitely a good day, the flight down was certainly amusing, and who would actually believe that something with a 0.07% of occurring would actually happen. I’m just going to put it down to serendipity and leave it at that.
Cheers for reading and all the best to Jamo in Jerez!
One Life, Live it.