My last visit to Gibraltar was from Feb 14th-17th 2014, back then I flew with Monarch Airlines from London Luton as part of a package deal on an Airbus A320 (G-MRJK), sadly since then Monarch, who was the most frequent user of GIB, has gone out of business having served London Luton/Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester at the time of bankruptcy.
Some tourism from that visit:
Flying the Flag: British Airways BA490 (LHR-GIB)
This is one of my better deals with British Airways. I booked this trip first, and it was about 7 months before the flight. I got a good deal for a BA return from LHR to GIB, only £66 return, given I hold the OneWorld Ruby status, I don't have to pay for seat selection (which is good given it was £23 to £17 to pre-select). Making this one-way flight equal to £33!
Not bad for a 3 hour LHR originating BA flight during the half-term school holiday!
First off I had to clear a connection security clearance at LHR as I came from an Aer Lingus flight from Belfast. There was a bit of a wait due to there being many people connecting to American Airlines services that were due to leave around lunchtime/mid afternoon. However this allowed for some good spotting opportunities, especially since the 80's retro Landor B747-436 "City of Swansea" followed me into Terminal 3 from Miami!
After a few hours of indulging my avgeek hobby, I discovered I was to be boarding at a bus gate, meaning an open board- my first on a British Airways A320 at London Heathrow- I was quite pleased by this! I made my way down, got scanned through, and whilst waiting for a bus to bring us to the A320- I got some more shots, including the Qantas B787-9 that does the LHR-PER-MEL service.
My flight to Gibraltar was to be operated by the Airbus A320 G-EUUH. This aircraft is a 17 year old aircraft that was initially due to be sent to Aer Lingus in 2002, but the order wasn't taken up and it has been operated its whole life by British Airways since Oct 2002. The aircraft was given the 180 seat configuration in December 2019.
I was ecstatic to get an open board at London Heathrow- for me its a very rare occurrence. I've only had this twice before! So I planned to savour every second of this and bag as many images as possible on my GoPro!
Getting on the aircraft, I took my seat in Row 9. This was the last of the £23 window seats available when my 7 day allowance was due, so I got to save myself quite a bit of money. The flight boarded, and was effectively full, when I went down to the rear of the plane mid-flight, I didn't see a single free seat.
We taxied out to the South Runway, taxiing up next to the resident BA Concorde, G-BOAB, before rocketing out of London Heathrow, flying towards the south onward for Gibraltar!
We passed over western tip of France, the Bay of Biscay towards mainland Spain.
The crew did their Euro Traveller service which is a buy on board courtesy of M&S. I chose to buy the £7.95 deal on the new Steak Pie with a BA100 IPA beer, adding a Cola drink for another £1.95.
Rest of the flight wasn't very eventful, there was quite a build up clouds, which meant that our arrival might have necessitated a go-around if it came to it, however the crew said they'd do their best to get us in with one go!
Despite a windy approach, we made it into Gibraltar on the first go with the pilots giving the plane a slight slam dunk. We taxied past the Rock of Gibraltar and came off the runway, we parked on the taxiway for a good 10 minutes as the easyJet A319 ahead of us was still pushing back for its London Gatwick service, and running late too!
It wasn't long before the easyJet A319 was off, and we parked on stand at Gibraltar.
I asked for a flight deck visit, and I got to sit in the pilots seat, allowing for a unique shot of the terminal from the pilots view! Despite being a very quiet airport- Gibraltar Airport is certainly one of the most photogenic in the world, especially for spotters!
Celebrity Send oFF: Lt General Ed Davis Retirement
I wanted to get a shot of my aircraft departing, as I managed to clear immigration quickly. I went to the viewing deck, and a few minutes into boarding the passengers, I noticed a group of photographers in orange "PRESS" high-viz jackets came out. I asked a woman and her child what was going on and found out that the Governor of Gibraltar, Ed Davis, had retired and was leaving Gibraltar that day- returning to London on the returning service I had flown out on!
I took the opportunity to take a handful of pictures of this occasion, as it is something I probably wouldn't walk in on again in my life time.
The Governor was given his traditional send off, the deputy Governor was to run affairs in Gibraltar until the successor takes over early in the summer. The Governor and his wife gave Gibraltar one final wave farewell and entered the Airbus A320, ready to leave for London.
As the plane pushed and taxied out, it was flanked by two fire engines from the airport- who proceeded to give the departing Governor and his wife a water canon salute, which is the first time I've seen one of those in real life.
Minutes later, after turning around at the end of the runway- BA491 (G-EUUH) departed for London Heathrow, playing a part in the conclusion of another chapter in Gibraltar's rich history!
Hotel Recommendation: The Bristol Hotel
My hotel for the two days was a hotel I stayed in back in 2014, the Bristol Hotel. The place definitely has a very retro vibe to it, giving the feel that it was a hotel built for the burgeoning 1970's package holiday industry of the day!
Overall, a hotel i can recommend, its half way between the South of the Island, and the Airport to the North. It can take a good 45 minutes to walk from the Airport to here, or a short £1.40 bus journey. The room comes with all the essentials, and a fridge to store snacks and drinks in, all though I was slightly irked by the lack of a complimentary kettle with tea & coffee…
Bonus : Click here display hide
One of the main sights i wanted to see in Gibraltar, was the Sikorski Memorial to the Polish wartime General/Prime Minister who died in a B-24 Liberator crash just off the island in May 1943. The crash is still a hot topic for controversy in Poland, nearly eighty years later!
Some more cheerful sights from my visit to Gibraltar however also included:
Of course- I couldn't go to Gibraltar without getting a photo of one of these little rascals!
Of course, I also enjoyed some plane spotting at Gibraltar, like I was going to pass a good opportunity! Starting off with the BA490/491 that arrived the day after my flight came.
This flight was also in time with another flight, an easyJet Airbus A320 from Manchester!
The Gibraltar Airport is a place to spot from at least once in your life time! Especially as you can walk along the active runway in between flights, sadly when I was there- the RAF Gate Guardian was dismantled after 11 years in place due to corrosion. The aircraft was a Blackburn Buccaneer.
The afternoon I was due to return, I was fortunate enough to see the London Gatwick service from easyJet, due to the flight being 3 hours delayed! I saw it arrive from the Rock- then saw it go in person at the gate!
London - LHR
Gibraltar - GIB
British Airways: Another solid Euro Traveller experience and a fantastic crew. I really enjoy the pie and beer offer that is offered now for longer flights.
Gibraltar- A small airport, but a very nice modern facility and I'm glad it has a viewing deck for people to view from, something many UK airports neglect. Some nice spotting photo opportunities, despite the lack of flights. Public transport is quite reasonable and well linked across the area.
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