I had to fly to STR
earlier this week (Tues 22.03) and as usual, I opted for BE
with the late afternoon 1640 BE7127 departure. The check-in agent advised me of a 1h05 delay when I collected my boarding pass which wasn't a serious problem (more time in the lounge) for me.
Whilst waiting the extra time, I searched BHX
arrivals for a correspondingly late BE
arrival - primarily so that I could track it on FR24 and discover the aircraft type. BE7127 is scheduled for an E175 but is frequently subbed for a Q400 or E195. Interestingly, there was no corresponding late inbound flight to be seen.
We were called to the gate about 1h10 after booked departure and promptly boarded a waiting Q400. Once the approx. 75 pax were seated the captain came on the blower to apologise for the delay, you could tell he was about to launch into some generic spiel when he noticeably checked himself and advised that the "real reason" for our delay was owing to a staff shortage; that he and his aircraft had been scheduled to fly elsewhere but had been pulled off that schedule to take the STR
In a detailed announcement, he explained that the Q400 would be slower than the booked aircraft and that his computer indicated a flight time of 1h55 but he would do his best to improve on that by flying "faster than normal" and indeed achieved a total flight time of 1h40.
This led me to surmise that perhaps our scheduled E175 had been at BHX
all along but that BE
lacked a sufficient complement of crew to operate the service. Whilst I appreciated the captain's refreshingly honest approach to customer information, does he mean that there really is a problem at BE
? Are they operating more services than they have crews for? Or was Tuesday a one-off?
By comparison, I returned home the following evening on BE7128 (the return leg of BE7127), the inbound flight arriving early allowing for an on-time departure of BE7128 and an arrival into BHX
some 25 minutes early!