Greetings fellow aviators,
This report is about the new Flybe, or rather Stobart Air, regional services that have started recently from the new base at London Southend (SEN) airport. For more background info and another good read, I gladly refer to these 2 stories which were published not too long ago on this very website:
Stobart Air/Flybe Inaugural: London Southend -Caen (by countvis Jul 5 2014 in Trip Reports)
Trying Out FlyBE / Stobart Air From Antwerp To SEN (by roberts87 Jul 27 2014 in Trip Reports)
A morning flight from ANR to SEN was booked for € 41 (incl all fees, but without seat selection). To connect the dots for the day, I completed my itinerary with an Aer Lingus Regional aka Aer Arann aka Stobart Air flight from SEN to DUB for € 35 and with an Aer Lingus DUB to AMS flight for € 65. To get home from AMS I decided to take the Thalys high speed train from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Antwerp Central Station, a semi flex ticket set me back € 39.
So all set, here’s the map in theory (provided kindly by Great Circle Mapper, copyright Karl L Schwartz):
And in practice as logged by a gps:
luchthaven is Dutch for airport.
Advertising for the new service. How long will it last? I’m sceptical...
I head into the terminal and check in at the desk. There are still enough window seats available so it’s good that I didn’t shell out € 9 for a prebooked seat. There’s also a CityJet flight for LCY this morning which departs 15 mins ahead of ours.
The FIDS still shows last nights info.
The crew has a night stop here, so the aircraft is already present. it’s EI-REL, one of the ATR72-200’s that are used for the new regional operations.
I’m happy to see the resurrection of VLM airlines!
Then it’s time to board the plane, by seat rows.
ANR to SEN
Photo © MarkStevens
It’s all a relaxed affair. Here’s an UTWYK - an expression you will most likely be familiar with
She’s quite photogenic in her purple coat.
Operated by who you say?
2 male stewards on this service, one is clearly Irish and one is clearly not. The Irish one is at the rear door and welcomes the pax with a soft and genuine good morning The cabin looks smart, apparently Flybe hasn’t done half a job to retrofit these proppers.
The seats accross mine.
Seat pocket & contents.
The waste bag has been used already it seems
Yes, the wing is purple.
I estimate the load to be around 60%, the seat next to me is empty.
The CityJet F50 next to us has already vanished in the murky skies.
There’s the usual welcome blah blah, both from the FA’s and from the flightdeck and a special mention that the flight is operated by Stobart Air for Flybe. Not before long we are off.
VLM F50 and Vizion Air F50, the latter taxies out as well.
Building works are ongoing as the busy road just adjacent to the runway is being transformed into a safety perimeter for landing aircraft. As such the road will go underground in the near future.
The take off procedure is LCY style, full power and release brake, woohoo
Over the river Schelde.
And the mouth of the Westerschelde.
A visit to the loo, handsoap is the only amenity present.
The built-in stairs is just next to the loo.
Cabin overview during the inflight service, BOB of course. I don’t take anything.
Somewhere over the Canal, enroute to the UK southeastern coastline. As you notice, the weather is far from summer
An occasional hole in the clouds indeed confirms our whereabouts: somewhere over the Canal.
The purplish wing again.
Another look at the opposite seats.
After 20 mins of slow cruise - this is a prop after all - we initiate the descent into Southend International, where the weather is as good as in Antwerp
The landing is very hard. After a U-turn, we taxi along the runway to the designated stand.
Leaving the lights behind.
SEN apron and some morning action at 7:00am.
We arrive at our parking spot a few minutes ahead of schedule.
There’s a slight delay in deboarding as a ground crew member has to be found to meet the plane. Oh wonder, all pax stay in their seats After a 5 minute wait or so, we’re good to go. A Flybe branded choc in a purple wrapping is given upon leaving the plane. No pic sorry, I ate it too fast.
Parked at spot 4.
Bye now to her royal purpleness. At least you can’t blame Flybe for not trying something different with their livery!
Really wonder what this one is doing here? Maintenance?
Next is immigration - faultless - and bagage delivery and a short time after stepping off the planes’ stairs I’m outside.
Really handy to have the railway station just opposite the terminal building.
A few more exterior pics, el torro.
With about 2h to spare, I have a tea from the one and only and tiny café in the arrivals area. SEN offers free wifi, for a 2h period I believe.
The next flight should be EI3301 to Dublin.
Landside departure area.
Checkin for the remainder flights of this day is done online so I go straight to the airside level.
An ad featuring the new regional destinations by Flybe.
1 floor up is security screening.
And again one floor down is the airside departures area, right...
... and left.
Looking back to the security screening. Although I was virutally alone there, it still took me a firm 10 mins to get through as my camera had to be swiped
I grab a seat and open Flightradar24 to see which plane will come to pick us up. I was hoping for one of the newer ATR72-600’s but alas no, I’m in for another treat. Apparently one of DAT’s colourful ATR42-300’s, OY-CIR has been leased to do the job today. Although I have been on this type and carrier before, it’s still a nice sub and I’m happy to log a new reg as well.
Another ad, showing the plethora of destinations available from this very airport.
Spotting however proves to be a difficult task and besides, there’s not much to see either...
Until suddenly... There is the clown!
Isn’t she a cutie?
A clown or more a Rudolph?
The last passenger hasn’t even come down the stairs and the boarding process is already initiated.
SEN to DUB
Photo © Andreas Loenner
Boarding is neatly done by seat rows and we get to walk outside under the roof to the aircraft, where a closed barrier holds us for 5 more minutes until the sign is given by the handling folks.
Everything here breathes, reads Stobart which is quite evident since he owns the place!
Now we’re good to go!
Definitely not operated by Stobart Air.
On the ATR, the bags travel upfront.
There are 2 women manning this plane, 1 in the Aer Lingus (Regional) uniform and 1 in the DAT uniform. We are welcomed on board for this ‘Aer Lingus Regional flight on behalf of Stobart Air which today is operated by Danish Air Transport’. The captain on the mike is certainly of Scandinavian origin which is evident by his accent.
A nice logo don’t you think?
Accetable legroom but a lot less than the previous flight.
A DAT safety card...
... Aer Lingus Regional menu and Aer Lingus Cara magazine.
The only round shapes in this cabin are the air nozzles.
We’re a sole plane on the apron now.
It doesn’t take long for everyone to be seated, the flight is not full. Next, the props are fired up and we taxi out.
Entering the runway. We hold a few minutes and then blast off into the clouds.
After 15 mins or so, we soar swiftly above the white.
The trolley is rolled out and I decide to have a ginger ale. This 15 cl can is € 1.
Also here the cabin is well loaded but not full.
Window view while enroute, somewhere over the English countryside.
Leaving the UK behind and entering the Irish Sea.
A sharp right turn and the descent for DUB starts.
First sighting of the Emerald Isle.
Flaps 30, time to brake!
Here comes DUB.
We touch down gently and take an early exit. Next up we taxi to a remote parking spot behind T2.
A Cobus is expecting us.
No problem with picture taking here in DUB, I’m out on the apron while the other pax disembark.
Fair Lady is ready to go, she’s an almost albino ATR42-300 of Aer Lingus Regional.
Meanwhile, our ATR is being unloaded.
And some others are loaded, like Colum here.
Or those lovely seven-fivers in the distance.
After a short busride we are let loose in the terminal building.
I follow the signs to flight connections through T2.
Rudolph is parked in the distance awaiting the next assignment.
After another security check, I’m back on the way to T2 departures. The AMS flight looks like OK from gate 412.
DUB’s shopping mall, I’m sure my friend OA260 knows the way here
T2, I like this terminal.
It seems that everywhere I go nowadays, there’s an EK T7 parked near where my flight is leaving from, this time it’s no different. Impressive machines they are!
The Shamrock longhaulers look as well imho.
Another seven-fiver that will fly over the pond soon.
Or what about Ms Rouge?
Planespotting is a job of all ages.
All too soon, the FIDS displays go to gate so the good man I am, I head over and wait for boarding to start.
EI-DVJ will teleport us to AMS this afternoon.
From the other side.
Again, boarding is by row numbers and since my seat is once again window last row, I’m on me way quickly.
DUB to AMS
Airbus A320 EI-DVJ
Photo © Ian Lim
These Aer Lingus A320 workhorses are well known to me as I flew them a couple of times already. A 1 class config, with dark leather seats, well used.
Boarding in full swing.
So next to us is the EK Boeing. The difference in wing size between our ‘small’ A320 and that ‘massive’ T7 wing is apparent.
Back to my seat now, the legroom is average but the most annoying thing about these seats I find that they’re too straight up, I feel like I’m almost bending fwd iso leaning bkw. Or is it just me
The overhead panel, it seems a more recent ship of the production line, 1st flight on March 20th 2009.
Also the final flight of this day is not full, and once again, I have all the row to myself. Pushing back now.
On the way to the runway, we meet this nice ATR72-600 of Aer Lingus Regional.
This company Airbus leaves the runway after landing and now it’s our turn to go.
We’re taking off towards the Irish Sea which gives a good airport overview (if you’re seated on the left side that is).
Back over Dublin beach
And then we’re above the clouds.
Now what’s in the seat pocket? As expected: a safety card.
And a menu, which is an extended version of the one on the regional flights.
I have a raspberry/orange muffin from the trolley which sets me back € 3.
One of the 4 female FA’s at work during the service.
It’s a calm flight, here we are somewhere over the UK.
And this is somewhere...
... over here. We’re now cruising at about 822,5 km/h which equals 0,671 Mach
At some point over the North Sea, the captain advises us of our descent into AMS, which will involve some holding due to visibility issues.
He seems to be right as this is all I see until a few seconds before touching down.
As luck may have it, our plane has a (working) GPS device as well and as such we land flawlessly at Schiphol’s Kaagbaan.
Ah, the ubiquitous farm is well populated at this time of the day.
It’s the holiday season, so the folks at Transavia will be busy transporting the holiday makers.
The taxi is only short and we park at the very end of the D gates,a designated area for non-Schengen UK and Ireland flights (or so it seems).
We park next to this Air France/CityJet Avro RJ85 which comes from and goes to LCY.
I step out of the plane and make a leisurely stroll towards the exit and train station.
EI-DVJ at the gate.
El Thalys arrives in the station.
After soaring 57 mins through the Dutch fields at + 300 km/h, I arrive at Antwerp Central Station.
A mix of old and new and a nice and difficult piece of engineering, this station.
The last part of my journey is by tram and 3h after disembarking at AMS, I’m back at my doorstep.
I was happily surprised by the new Flybe service, operated by Stobart Air. In fact, I really have nothing to complain about: the price was good, the plane retrofitted with good comfort for a propliner, ther service on board was friendly and courteous and SEN is a small and convenient airport. If the load on my flight is representative for the other new regional routes as well, then Flybe made a good start and a smart move to start this operation.
As much as I hoped for a flight on Aer Lingus Regional’s ATR-72-600, I was still very happy with the colourful subbed plane from DAT. Loud and vibrating as hell on the inside though but I knew that already from my previous ride a year and change earlier. For the rest also good service, no more no less.
And lastly Aer Lingus who provided also this time an ontime and no-frills journey to Amsterdam. There’s not much more to say really...
Thank you for reading and any comments are appreciated and gladly answered!