Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Trip Report: Newcastle to Birmingham, the Long Way Round

I recently went on a trip up to Newcastle, travelling up by train. When I saw the price of the trains, I though there must be a better way! So I started hunting for flights. BHX-NCL direct flights are available with Eastern Airways but these are pretty steep, instead, for £60 I managed to get a routing of NCL-DUB-BHX - more than the train, but absolutely worth the extra!

Newcastle (NCL/EGNT) to Dublin (DUB/EIDW) EI3355
Aer Lingus Regional (Operated by Stobart Air) ATR 72-600 EI-FAT
The first leg of the journey was on an ATR, my first flight on the type, operated by Stobart for Aer Lingus. I have to say that everything about the trip was quick and efficient, both in the airport and onboard. I breezed through security and the flight left pretty much on time. My impressions of the ATR? It seemed quieter with less vibration than the rival Dash 8, of course the ATR 72-600 is a newer model than the Dash, having first flown in 2009. This aircraft was EI-FAT, first flown in 2013.

The taxi was short, with take off towards the east on rwy 07. The flight took us over the lake district, the Isle of Man, across the north of Dublin and in from the west to land on rwy 10. 

Looking back over the toon
Over the lakes
Courtesy of!
With the ATR particularly, changes in thrust were very apparent during the approach, (as with the Dash) there's no autothrottle. And the ATR approach is noticeably nose down in comparison with other modern airliners. I enjoyed it! Once we'd landed and parked on a remote stand by Terminal 1, we were bussed across the airport to Terminal 2, where passport checks were swift. I was out of the terminal within 15 minutes, and making my way landside back to Terminal 1.

Dublin (DUB/EIDW) to Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) FR666
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 EI-FRI
Terminal 2 is definitely nicer than 1 at Dublin! But then, 1 is the lo-co terminal, dominated by Ryanair. I had a whopping 3 hours to spare, thankfully the views of the airfield are good from inside the terminal so I didn't get too bored. I was to fly on EI-FRI, a brand new 73H, built in April of this year. The aircraft was BHX based, by tracking the FR667 on flightradar24, I watched it land before joining the huge queue that had formed at the gate.

The flight was so full that cabin bags were being moved into the hold at the gate. With only a rucksack, I got away with it! Once onboard, I could tell the aircraft was new - it was spotless, and had the new Boeing sky interior, inspired by the 787. This meant slimmer seats (so more legroom) and mood lighting that changed from white to blue to orange.

Take off was again on time and we soared into the calm evening sky. Calm being the operative word, there wasn't a single bump for the entire flight until landing! The following pics demonstrate why flying back the long way was worth it:

You don't get views like that from a train!

27,000ft over Snowdonia

We performed a little right hand orbit over the city of Birmingham, at a few thousand feet, and being on the right hand side I got a stunning view of the city lights. Then it was straight in to rwy 15 for a 10 minute early touchdown (I had hoped, given the quality of the service so far, that Ryanair had abandoned their silly on time trumpeting, but alas no!). 

To conclude? It may have taken 8 hours total door to door (rather than about 4 on the train), but for just a little extra, flying is absolutely my preferred ride home. I enjoyed the little ATR too - I'd look to fly on those if travelling to Ireland again!