And a slightly clearer view:
Ever had one of those moments in life where you feel like maybe you shouldn’t have bothered? This was one of them!
As I was looking for a trip in August, I figured I might as well head up to Scotland as no doubt the weather would be better then than at any other time of the year. I was also getting a little bored of flying out of LHR, so looked at other airports in the area. My original plan was to fly out of Birmingham, but having covered that on my trip back from Copenhagen, I decided on Southampton instead. This would mean flying with Flybe. I had experience of them on my trip to Glasgow last year and although not majorly disappointed with them, I cant say they impressed me hugely either – mainly due to the fact they weren’t all that low cost and the seat selection system wasn’t that great either. However, one-way tickets to Edinburgh were nice and cheap – just £24.99. For that price, I could book the flight and a seat for a very reasonable price.
And finally the seat booking:
Pretty pricey for £7.50, but when the whole ticket cost less than £25, I couldn’t really complain.
Next up was to book a return from Edinburgh. I didn’t really fancy spending any Avios, but the airline everybody loves to hate, Virgin Atlantic have flights from EDI and I have a stash of their miles in my account – therefore creating a cheap weekend away.
They had quite a few reward flights available:
Just as I was about to hit the book button, it occurred to me that I had selected the 24th August (the day I arrived in EDI) rather than the 25th – oops. I selected the correct date, only to find the only reward seats available were first thing in the morning.
Not really seeing the point in flying into somewhere one evening, only to fly out first thing the following morning I looked at buying a ticket. VS were pretty expensive so I got on the phone to Flybe to see if I could either cancel the ticket I had just booked or add a return portion on. The guy on the end of the phone added a return flight, via Manchester for just a little bit over £58.
Once I had finally sorted my flights, it was time to look for a hotel. I’d completely overlooked the fact that it was the Edinburgh festival, so therefore most hotels were sold out and the few that were available were massively overpriced – the Travelodge wanted £180 just for the one night! After a bit of searching, I was able to find a box room in a Hilton for £150. Still the most expensive hotel room I had booked, and by the looks of it the smallest but it would have to do. So things weren’t going all that smoothly so far.
A few days before departure, I received the following email from Flybe:
Dear Mr White,
I can see that you recently altered a booking with us now returning Edinburgh-Manchester-Southampton 25th August. I am emailing to advise that the agent you dealt with unfortunately gave you incorrect information as we are unable to make a one way ticket into a return ticket. Once a ticket has been confirmed as a one way, it cannot be later changed into a return, you would just need to book the return separately online. The fee the agent quoted of £58.88 will not be debited.
I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
Flybe Customer Contact Centre
Well that’s a bit of a poor show – pretty much admitting it was their fault, yet still not honoring the booking. Also the fact it was sent without any subject meant it could have been easily lost in my junk folder and I wouldn’t be any the wiser until I came to check in for my return.
Upon returning from work, I got straight on the phone to them and the guy on the other end could see the email and admitted it was rather odd. After being put on hold, he returned and said that as they accepted the booking they would have to honor it – too right you do! I know it was my mistake initially, but if you accept a booking then you should honor it. Also the fact that in the email, they admitted it was one of their staff that gave me incorrect information I figured they didn’t really have a leg to stand on.
The following day, I was issued with yet another E-Ticket and was finally set to go.
Due to not departing until 16:50, it was pretty much a normal Saturday morning for me. A lie in, followed by listening to a few CD’s (yes, they do still exist). After watching an interesting qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix left me running a bit behind schedule, it was a brisk walk to the station. I arrived perfectly on time to catch the train to Basingstoke. But I’m heading to Southampton? Yes, but as PalmJet says, where’s the fun in taking the direct route?
Upon arrival at Basingstoke, there was about a ten second wait for my train. Perfect timing again.
This train was ex Virgin stock. It wasn’t particularly comfortable – I wouldn’t want to go long distance on one of these that’s for sure!
Enough with the trains now though. I arrived at Southampton airport at around 15:15.
I made my way across the road to the terminal and over to one of the self serve check in machines.
As far as I was aware, I hadn’t checked in due to the fact that BE just allocate you a random seat without any option to change it. However the machines thought I had. Two out of three flights were window seats, however tomorrow’s EDI-MAN sector threw up seat 5B – no good!
I made my way over to Flybe customer services to rectify the problem. This was granted with an ‘of course sir’ and I was given 5A instead.
I noticed there was a vending machine selling priority security, lounge access and other priority bits – I didn’t indulge though.
After this, I made my way back outside to the car park, to see what was going on. Not a huge amount, and I’d read online that people tend to get moved on from this spot, so I didn’t hang around.
Once back indoors, I made my way through a pretty quiet security.
The main hold up being an older couple who either hadn’t flown at all or at least in a good few years as they just couldn’t seem to get the procedure right! Once I had been processed, it was through the obligatory duty free shop and out into the basic departure lounge.
Not many flights from here.
I headed over to WHSmiths to buy some water, before taking refuge in an area half way up the stairs – where it was much quieter than down below.
After a while, a couple of flights departed so it got a lot quieter downstairs. I made my way down to see what was going on outside.
During this time I tracked my incoming aircraft – G-FBEJ, a new reg for the log, delivered new to Flybe in March 2008 and in service with them ever since. I continued to wait and watch the goings on.
Around twenty minutes later, my aircraft arrived and pulled on to stand. The furthest one from where I was stood. But still only around a thirty second walk away!
Boarding commenced at 16:40, and as I passed the computer screen I noticed there were 85 passengers on board. I boarded via the rear stairs.
(Almost) Under the wing.
24th August 2013
Embraer E195 / G-FBEJ
Seat: 26A / Economy
Scheduled: 16:50 / 18:20
Off Stand: 16:56
On Stand: 18:02
Once on board I seemed to think the legroom was a little tighter on my flights last year?
The captain announced a flying time of an hour, and that we were just waiting for the aircraft next to us to push back, and then we would be on our way. Following this came the safety briefing, which the crew demonstrated to a pre recorded announcement. I ended up with an entire row to myself. Once we had pushed back, it was a pretty quick taxi over to the active. We made a right turn, taxied to the end of the runway and spun around to face the right direction again. The engines spooled up, before the brakes were released and we made a powerful and loud takeoff.
A few moments later we were into the clouds.
Shortly after departure, the crew started the on board service, although I didn’t buy anything. As I took the next picture, I noticed one of the passing crew give me a bit of a glance from the corner of her eye.
Then after I took the last picture, the same member of cabin crew came over immediately and questioned all my picture taking. I explained that I have a website that I like to record my flight experiences on and she seemed ok with it – just so long as I didn’t take any pictures of the crew or other passengers. I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in people, just my own flight experience. After this, I decided to lay off the photography for this flight – at least until the crew were seated for landing. Quite the opposite attitude to last weeks flight on BA ( http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/245220/ ) where the crew were almost encouraging me to take pictures. After my experience last year with Flybe and their attitude towards me taking pictures, I’m wondering if this is official company policy, or I’ve just been unlucky? As the crew passed through the cabin to collect the rubbish, the purser approached me and I was again questioned, with the initial crew member that questioned me in attendance also. She wanted to make sure that I hadn’t got any pictures of anybody (blaming data protection) and I told her I hadn’t. No believing me though, she then wanted to see all the pictures I had taken though, just to make sure. I did consider telling her where to go, claiming it was in breach of ‘data protection’, but if I figured if I didn’t comply things could have got a whole lot worse for me upon arrival. She then asked what website they were for and I told her my own personal one. They both then carried on their way, no doubt feeling very satisfied with themselves.
To be honest I wasn’t feeling all that impressed with the extended grilling I got – in full earshot of the passengers around me at that, who were now starting to give me a few stares. I’ve been on plenty of airlines in the last 18 months and it’s only Flybe that I’ve had any issues with. After the booking problems I had before the flight I’d basically made the decision not to use the airline again, and this was just vindicating my decision.
I spent the rest of the flight staring out if the window feeling just a little bit pissed off.
Descent started, most of which was above the clouds and cabin crew got the ten minutes to landing announcement. There were some good views to be had of the forth bridge on approach, although as the crew were late sitting down, well after the landing gear was lowered, I didn’t fancy taking the risk of getting any pictures until well on to finals.
We made a smooth touchdown at around 6pm and made the taxi over to a remote stand, pulling in along side a company Dash 8 and a Loganair Saab 340.
I disembarked via the rear stairs and made my way on to the waiting bus. We made the short drive over to the domestic arrivals area, which was pretty much straight into the arrivals hall.
Under the wing
As I exited, I brought a ticket for the 100 bus into the city centre.
Around fifteen minutes later I was at the Haymarket station where my hotel was located.
I checked in and was told I was given a deluxe room – the first bit of good news in this trip it seemed. It was then a bit of an odd set up. My room was actually located up the road! So I exited the main building, crossed the road and walked around a hundred meters or so to the other building. Once inside, again, it was an odd set up. It was through a door, up some stairs, through another door, down two flights of stairs and into what seemed like the basement. Hmm. Luckily, upon reaching my room it was pretty spacious and clean. Nothing like an unexpected upgrade to heal some of the wounds that the Flybe cabin crew had inflicted earlier!
I dumped my bag and made the thirty minute or so walk into the city for some dinner and to take in the atmosphere of the festival.
Upon arriving in the city, I stopped for one of the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever seen!
Feeling more than a little full, I was glad of the long walk back to the hotel to work it off!
Although not before stopping to admire the fireworks coming from the castle where the Edinburgh Tattoo was just finishing up ( http://www.edintattoo.co.uk )
It was then a slow walk back.
The following morning I had a bit of a lie in before heading out around the local area, grabbing some breakfast along the way.
Bath or Edinburgh?
Simple enough breakfast.
I then went back to my hotel and watched a bit of TV for the next hour or so – as I had such a nice room, I felt like it would be a bit of a waste if I didn’t spend a bit of time in it! A bit later on I took the train into town.
First stop was the Holyrood Park, for a walk up the hill:
Followed by a walk around the golden mile, and up to the castle:
Stopping for something traditional along the way:
Before reaching the castle grounds.
I then took a walk back down the hill again.
More festival antics.
The final stop was a look around the shops, stopping to upgrade my phone price plan to 4G. At 16:00 it was on to a busy bus back to the airport.
Last view of the city from the bus.
I arrived at a packed airport at just past 16:30. I made my way inside, grabbed a couple of souvenir boarding passes and then made my way through security. This was also pretty busy, but also efficient therefore it didn’t take too long.
Bit of a blast from the past
Once through, I made my way to find something to eat as I’d only really had a couple of snacks all day. There weren’t a lot of options really. A few Costa coffees, a sandwich bar and a busy Weatherspoons, which is what I went with.
After I had finished eating I had a bit of a look around Dixons and had a look at what was going on outside.
The BA flights seemed to be suffering from a few delays today.
The gate was announced at 17:45.
I made my way down to the gate through the basic looking corridors to what was firmly the LCC wing, although there wasn’t really a holding pen as such – just a corridor.
So I stood next to the window, watching G-ECOD arrive, delivered to Flybe in July 2008 and in service with them since.
Boarding was delayed due to there being a passenger in a stretcher having to be loaded, but boarding began at 18:20. Hopefully I wouldn’t have the same issues as yesterday…
25th August 2013
Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 / G-ECOD
Seat: 5A / Economy
Scheduled: 18:30 /19:40
Off Stand: 18:31
On Stand: 19:33
Something that was missing from yesterday’s flight.
I did have a seat mate and although there were plenty of spare seats around he refused to budge – instead staying engrossed in his newspaper. The captain announced a flying time of forty five minutes and a cruising altitude of 19,000 ft. We pushed back a minute or two behind schedule and made our way out to the runway on one engine. We had to hold for a second or two to let the delayed BA flight to LHR pull out ahead of us.
The remaining engine started and we pulled on to the runway a couple of minutes later, departing at 18:40.
It was up into the hazy skies above Edinburgh. A few minutes after departure the crew started the service. I managed a couple of shots out of the window and one mobile pic of the cabin, but was still a little reluctant to take many more pictures.
The guy with his head down in front would turn out to be my seat mate on my following flight.
The captain gave a brief update a few minutes before descent, saying we were just passing the Lake District and that he expected us to be on stand shortly ahead of schedule at 19:30.
Thankfully, this flight remained uneventuful, and descent into Manchester started at 19:07.
We landed at 19:25 on Manchesters new runway. Although it’s not so new anymore.
We exited in the direction of the terminals, the number one engine was shut down almost immediately and we made a short taxi over to the stand and I disembarked.
MAN’s new tower.
Want to try one of these – but the high prices put me right off!
I checked the FID for my next gate, but unsurprisingly it hadn’t been announced yet.
I followed the signs for flight transfers, however when I got there I was told that my next flight would be departing from gate 1 – back in the direction I had just come from so it would be better off me heading straight there – which I did.
Last time I was in this area, there was a bit of a celebration going on…
Heading back to where I came.
When I arrived, there wasn’t an aircraft on stand.
Fortress Flybe at MAN
G-ECOE pulled in a few moments later though. Despite being the previous birds sister ship, this one has had a much more interesting history since it’s delivery back in July 2008. It headed off to Wideroe in October 2008 and then Olympic in August 2009 before spending a brief period in storage from June 2010 before returning to BE in June 2011.
Boarding was called at 20:20. It seemed to be a pretty full flight and I had a seat mate – a guy who sat a couple of rows ahead of me on the EDI-MAN sector earlier. However despite there being a free row behind, once again he refused to budge. Oh well, at least its only a short flight.
25th August 2013
Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 / G-ECOE
Seat: 4D / Economy
Scheduled: 20:35 / 21:30
Off Stand: 20:44
On Stand: 21:41
Legroom etc. was identical to my previous flight, so no repeat shots. It was amusing to watch the other passengers force their massive carry on bags into the Q400’s tiny overhead lockers! We pushed back ten minutes or so behind schedule, due to a late arriving passenger. We made the taxi out to 05L and were held at the threshold for a few minutes before departing pretty rapidly into the darkness. Not much can be said about this flight as it was pretty similar to the last – apart from the fact this one was in darkness and I was sat on the other side of the cabin.
My IFE on this sector was staring at the girl opposite wearing a massive pair of sunglasses, despite it being night time and wondering why? The captain came over the PA a little while later, giving our expected arrival time, a cruising altitude of 19,000 ft and a speed of 400mph.
Descent then started, although due to the darkness there wasn’t much to be seen.
As we got lower, I could tell we were over the water, before making a pretty sharp turn to the right – passing a well lit cruse ship as we were on final descent.
We thumped down on to Southampton’s runway at just before 21:40, did a U turn at the end and made a quick taxi over to the stand. Shortly after, the doors were opened and I was on to a waiting bus.
It was through the doors straight into baggage claim.
Then straight out the other side into arrivals.
From pulling up on to stand, having to be bussed to the terminal and walking out the front door of the terminal took a grand total of eight minutes – only LCY could rival that!
A few moments later I was at the train station, waiting for the 22:03 train home – approximately an hour after departing from Manchester.
Shows how near the station is to the terminal at SOU
I arrived back at home an hour or so later.
So what did I think of Flybe? I think you can probably guess to be honest. After being less than impressed with my flights with them last year, due to their pretty high prices for a LCC and low service I thought I’d give them one final shot. And quite honestly they were actually worse on this occasion – from the mess up of my booking (granted, part of it was my fault, but if they accept a booking, they should honor it without me having to chase them) and also the treatment I received from not only one, but two crew members on the outbound flight. I also think the seat selection process is pretty rubbish – basically having to pay (quite a lot – £8 per sector, compared to EasyJet’s £3) to be able to choose where to sit. I think I’ll be avoiding them in future unless they have a VERY good offer. To be honest, I’m hardly surprised they’re struggling.
However, despite all this I had a good weekend in Edinburgh, and glad I did bother in the end!
As the day following my return from Edinburgh was a bank holiday in England, I took the opportunity to head up to the O2 in London to visit the Emirates aviation experience and the air line – so as it might be of interest to some, I’d like to share a few pictures of that too.
View of the Olympic stadium from the airline.
And LCY to the other side
Watching the arrivals into LCY:
And after lunch at one of the O2’s many eateries it was on to the Emirates Aviation Experience: