My First TR
for a while! So will get straight on with it. This trip was booked on a whim back in January when BA
reduced the £35 tax on reward flights to £1 to certain destinations on flights booked that day. So I used my Tesco points and booked flights from Heathrow to Nice during a midweek 'long weekend' (I work shifts with a six week rotation) with the aim of walking the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. Then I managed to find a Hostel for £33 for 2 night stay and finally the most expensive part was the National Express from Exeter to Heathrow for £40! It would also be my first trip on BA
and first through Heathrow (previously I’d only gone from Bristol or Exeter)
It was a fairly late start by my standards (no 4am drive to BRS) and the coach was already in when I arrived at Exeter bus station at 8am (I'm guessing it had no booked pickups in the villages before Exeter so had taken the main road) so after a quick ticket check by the driver I had about 30 mins to make myself comfortable before departure.
Walking to the Bus Station
The White Coach is the one I caught to Heathrow
National Express Legroom
On the Motorway
The coach wasn't the most comfortable, leg room was tight and the seat was a little uncomfortable (suspect the padding was in need of replacement). No major traffic and arrived on time at Heathrow Central bus station. From there it was a few mins on a moving walkway to Heathrow Central rail station for a Heathrow Express to Terminal 5. I had just missed one, so watched the T4
shuttle come and go, and a Heathrow Connect arrive and leave empty for what I presumed would be a turn back siding. Eventually the Terminal 5 train arrived for the 5 main trip under the airport. HEx is very posh but the ExpressTV auto announcer got rather annoying!
Lovecraftian Rugby advert on the HEx
After getting the lift to Departures it was a friendly and quick trip through security. T5
certainly is spacious. I did have a nose around Duty Free and made a note of where the MAC
counter was for a future trip and felt sorry for the guy who’s job it was to stand outside the Duty Free dressed as a royal guard for tourists to pose with!
The only area that was overcrowded was the Weatherspoons by the Domestic gates, though surprisingly a pint of Doom Bar was cheaper than many pubs back home - was expecting Heathrow to be premium!
The Flight was called from Gate A22 (Stand 522) so I walked the length of T5
, to find plenty of seating at the gate (a novelty compared with certain gates at Glasgow that only have about 3 seats for full A319). Boarding was by rows, and being at the back I was one of the first on. Still I did have to evict a Gold/Silver business type’s bags from my Window seat. The middle seat did remain free and he piled his stuff up there. He then got a telling off for not putting his laptop away for takeoff.
We pushed back on time and departed from 27R, we had a short wait for the last couple of arrivals (it was the 3pm changeover) before taking an intersection departure.
Taxi and Takeoff Video
After reaching the top of climb the food and drink service started with a Chicken and Tomato sandwich which was a bit meh, and a strong vodka and coke which wasn’t
Drink and Snack
I was hoping for views of the coast on approach but it was not to be, instead the wind was favouring an arrival on runway 22R so I mostly had a view of sea. Though the view was spectacular on the downwind leg with glimpses of Monaco.
Approach and Landing, this is quite long but the views are spectacular for most of the way down. http://youtu.be/xIeDmoFYFWY
by TIM PATRICK C
, on Flickr
Not my picture, but a spotter did catch our flight on approach to Nice
Also you might notice in the video that businessman’s Ipad kept going off, once again he’d had a strop at having to stow his laptop for landing. So he had got his Ipad out and was having problems connecting the blue-tooth to his headphones. (By this time the Cabin Crew were seated or I suspect he might have had a telling off)
There was a bit of a wait for deplaning but was soon heading off. I did notice that the businessman had left his laptop in the seat pocket but he’d gone up the aircraft as soon as the seatbelt light was off.
It took me a while to work out what this was. My first sighting of a DC-8 (and I'd have recognised it from the front but from the back I was thinking that E-Jet has 4 engines, wait, it's too narrow for an A340, what the hell is it? - The CFM56s? threw me a bit!)
Passport control was pretty quick and I then started to walk into the city. Yes you read that right, I figured an evening walk along the front would be nice, also was hoping to get a view of the arrivals and bizjets. Unfortunately with Cannes coming up, anti paparazzi netting had been put up on the fence, you could see the jets through it, but no photos possible!
Memorial to a Caravelle Crash
The walk took about 2 hours and once on the Promanade was a pretty nice way to get into town with views of the arrivals making the sharp final turn over the beach.
Air France Airbus banking over the beach
A few shots of Nice and Monaco
Vintage Lotus Racer for the Historic Grand Prix (taking place at the weekend)
Tram without Wires!
After a morning watching people (and a protest march) in Messina Square I caught the Tram to the Station and then the bus to the airport. I wasn’t keen on the bus ride, services to the Airport have a premium and so it was €6 instead of the standard €1.50 (€4 day), also the bus arrived 5 mins before departure and then the driver disappeared for 15 mins, eventually departed for the airport 10 minutes late, dropping first at T2
and then at T1. As I was a little early and the BA
app was showing a 30 minute delay. I had a look around the landside part of the airport. Again there was a big queue for Helicopters to Monaco. I do have to wonder if after all the queuing, check in, minibus to the helipads on the far side of the airport that there is much of a time saving versus getting a road taxi!
Security was fairly speedy and after a quick look around the small airside departure lounge I grabbed an expensive drink and grabbed a window view and watched as an Air Lingus A321 arrived on a remote stand and then just sat there for ages because while all the buses were ready and the cargo was starting to come off, someone had forgotten to fetch the airstairs.
Shamrock in need of stairs
I then headed through Passport control to the non Schengen part of the terminal where the facilities were minimal (there was a lounge but I don't have any status) and eventually we were called to a bus gate. I saw our A319 land and taxi back past the terminal before parking up out of sight.
Once on the bus it was short run out to the aircraft which was parked next to a Russian Oligarch's private 767. I took my seat at the back and had a whole row to myself. Another passenger asked the steward how busy we would be and the reply was about two thirds full.
Emirates Cattle Carrier Pushes Back
The Captain came on and announced that the delay was due to strong winds at Heathrow reducing the arrival rate and that we would be holding on the ground for another 10 to 15 minutes awaiting a slot.
In the end the delay was only a few mins before we pushed back and taxied to runway 4R for departure.
The departure was very impressive with a helicopter on parallel approach to the helipads and the sharp right turn passing 400ft before making a 180 degree turn to overfly the airport and clear the mountains.
There were good views of the French Alps.
Food was the same as on the outbound. Chicken and tomato sandwich with Vodka and Coke.
There was a little turbulence over Northern France shortly before the top of descent, the seatbelt sign was turned on but there wasn't anything to speak of beyond the initial big bump.
During the descent a video guide to Terminal 5 was played for connecting passengers. We managed to escape the hold and just had a dog leg to the final approach over London which was very bumpy. Though as seems to happen all too often, a rough approach often gives a smooth landing.
We taxied past several A380s and two 787s (first ones I've seen up close) before pulling onto a central stand on T5A. The Automatic Passport gates were quick as usual and then it was to the station for the Heathrow Express to T123 station for the Central Bus Station where I would have an hour to kill for the 504 coach I was booked on, or so I thought. On the CIDs I spotted a 501 calling at Exeter due in about 5 mins. So £5 at the National Express ticket desk later and I was booked on it. Just in time for the coach to pull in. The coach was one of the brand new super long tri-axles that remind me of a 747 in profile. (Someone else's Picture of one here
) The legroom was better too. So I settled for the 3.5hr run to Exeter and ordered a pizza for collection when the coach finally arrived in Exeter at about 9pm.
I really enjoyed my BA
experience and have another trip to look forward two in a couple of weeks with a week in East Germany for a music festival.
EZY Daytrip: Bristol To Glasgow (Take 2)
Flight Of The Fokker: BRS-AMS
Day Trip To GLA With EZY