Hello and welcome to another Flight Report series! This series is a bit different, as I'm finally getting away from my typical North American reports. For this one, I'm off across the pond!
Washington, DC - London, UK (IAD - LHR) | United | 787-8 [Report Here] London, UK - Amsterdam, NL (LGW - AMS) | British Airways | A319 [THIS REPORT] Cologne, DE - Berlin, DE (CGN - SXF) | Ryanair | 737-800 [Report Here] Berlin, DE - Munich, DE (TXL - MUC) | Lufthansa | A320 [Coming Soon] Vienna, AT - Washington, DC (VIE - IAD) | Austrian | 767-300 [Coming Soon]
After a great stay in London, it was time to head for the next stop - Amsterdam. To reach Gatwick, I took the Gatwick Express rail service from Victoria – an easy option, but expensive at £19. The train takes 30 minutes on the nose to reach Gatwick, so I arrived at the airport nearly three hours prior to departure.
The flight to Amsterdam was departing from the Gatwick's South Terminal, at which the rail service arrives. It was a quick walk over to the British Airways checkin area, where I printed out my boarding pass and self-tagged my checked bag. The security line was short, and I was quickly through to the maze of Duty Free shops.
I thought the post-security Duty Free maze in the after US preclearance in Calgary was bad – Gatwick was on another level. It felt like I was walking for minutes around numerous corners before reaching the main departures area.
With still over two hours before boarding was due to begin, I headed upstairs towards the No1 Lounge to which I had access via Priority Pass. However, on this Friday afternoon, the lounge was so busy that a reservation was required which I did not have. Fortunately, there is another Priority Pass option just across the hall, albeit a restaurant rather than a full lounge. I grabbed a late lunch and a drink there before heading to gate B12 for boarding.
After walking through yet another Duty Free area, I finally made it to the departure gate area. As I had arrived a few minutes before boarding was due to begin, a bit of a line had formed in the main concourse area. From my position in the line I had a view of our A319 that would take us over to Continental Europe.
Our neighbor was a Privatair 737-700, which would be operating a British Airways flight to Venice.
As the line started to move, I realized that boarding would be a two-step process – first, in no special order, passports were checked and boarding passes scanned for every passenger. Then, after waiting a few minutes in small waiting area at the gate, boarding zones were called – since all documents were already processed, passengers could walk unimpeded down the jet bridge. I boarded with Group 4. Overall, I liked this approach to boarding.
After waiting a few moments for passengers in front of me to store their carry-on bags overhead, I found my seat in row 23.
A quick look around the seat revealed that what I had read about the BA short-haul fleet rang true: there wasn't a lot of leg room to be found, although the seats themselves were relatively comfortable.
A view of a neighboring A320. Initially, my flight was scheduled to be on an A320 as well, being swapped down to an A319. This resulted in a completely full flight this afternoon, with several passengers having to gate check their carry-on bags as the overhead bins were full.
We pushed back from the gate a few minutes after scheduled departure time.
Departure this afternoon would be from 08R. While starting our engines, a Norwegian 787-9 departed.
Doing some spotting on the way to 08R, including a China Airlines A350 arriving from TPE.
After quite a lengthy taxi, it was finally our turn to depart.
After a quick takeoff run, we were off. I had a good view of the two terminals at LGW.
It was a beautiful afternoon for flying once we got above the cloud layer.
Shortly after reaching our cruising altitude, the cabin crew started the in-flight service. To my surprise, on this very short flight, a full beverage / BoB run was attempted. I didn't intend to purchase anything (I don't believe anything is included for economy on short haul routes anymore, not even soft drinks), but I didn't get the opportunity anyways – the cabin crew had to prepare for landing before they reached my row towards the rear of the cabin.
We began our descent over the English Channel.
Reaching the coast.
This evening we would be landing on Amsterdam's runway 06. Fortunately, this meant a very short taxi to BA's gates on the D Concourse and essentially a straight-in approach. A smooth landing followed just 41 minutes of flying time.
My first time seeing an A220 in person, an Air Baltic example.
We parked next to a company A320.
After deplaning, it was quite a walk to customs and immigration because the main route from Concourse D was closed that evening. This mean walking over to Concourse E, then heading downstairs from there. After a short wait my passport was stamped and I reached the baggage carousel just as bags started to emerge. From there it was off to the city center.
London - LGW
Amsterdam - AMS
On this short-haul route, British Airways was fine. Not bad, but nothing special. The cabin was pretty densely configured so leg room was on the tight side but general seat comfort was decent. The flight arrived and departed on time.
London Gatwick's biggest drawback is its location -- it's a relatively simple process to get down there, but can be expensive depending on how you do it. The South Terminal has lots of food and shopping options, although it can get crowded at peak times.
Amsterdam Schiphol was a great experience. The biggest drawback would be the lengthy walk to immigration for the BA gates towards the end of the D Concourse.
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