Covid-19 has caused us to say good bye to many services, aircraft, airlines and airline personal.
But it has also brought some new routes and services that would have gone unnoticed prior to the pandemic. This new service from easyJet aptly fits in this description.
Bournemouth has had easyJet services for over a decade now, they've served Geneva during the winter as a seasonal service targeting the ski holiday packages. This has been a safe bet for easyJet whilst BOH summer routes are dominated by Ryanair and TUI uk.
G-UZHZ, an Airbus A320-neo operating the inaugural Bournemouth/Belfast service for easyJet on May 26th 2021.
Back in 2010, a Ryanair service between Bournemouth and Edinburgh existed alongside a rival service by Flybe from Southampton. Ryanair cancelled the route during the early 2010's and the route wasn't served during 2015-2016 when Flybe started a small BOH base for 12 months. With Flybe going bankrupt in 2020, and Loganair covering the SOU-EDI service at a substantial cost, the lack of international travel opportunities led to easyJet seeking new domestic services, and they found Bournemouth!
May 26th 2021 saw the launch of the seasonal BOH-UK domestic services by easyJet which were covering two locations: Belfast International (launched on May 26th) and Edinburgh- launched on May 27th 2021- featured here!
I arrived at Bournemouth Hurn about 70 minutes ahead of my flight departing. Living local to this airport, I know it quite well and was able to be dropped off a short walk from the main entrance, avoiding the £3 drop off fee. The terminal building is split into two buildings- a main facility for departures and a smaller arrivals hall.
The only place open at the Terminal was a small café in the public side of the Terminal. The sole shop (WH Smith) and a restaurant were still shut on May 27th 2021. The usual Customer Service desks, bag drops were open and in use. I went straight through security and was over and done with in less than five minutes, only two passengers were ahead of me.
Despite the store and restaurant being shut, a trio of vending machines were in operation for staff and customers. I picked up a bottle of cola for £1.50p (not the cheapest but quite reasonable compare to some on-board offerings) simply for use if it was needed throughout the day in Edinburgh.
My plane was already arrived and on stand, the boarding started shortly after I arrived airside. As I didn't have priority boarding- I did my usual tactic and waited for mostly everyone to have lined up for ages to board, and joined towards the end of the que.
easyJet went to town on this inaugural flight by sending the rather young Airbus A320-neo G-UZLB, delivered brand new to EZY in September 2019, just as the very first cases of CV-19 began to raise its ugly head in the far east. It was an Edinburgh based aircraft which (according to FR24) hadn't flown since May 23rd when it returned from a Bristol service, making this aircrafts first flight.
I was to be sat in Row 11, Seat F- so it was up the front boarding steps for me. Most airports in the UK use traditional boarding stairs, but at Bournemouth (possibly due to the majority aging demographic) they use ramp stairs similar to the ones you see in the USA.
My flight had a slightly different interior to the 2017 delivered easyJet A320-neo (G-UZHA) which I flew on back in May 2019 on my last easyJet flight. This A32N had black leather seat covers, where as the original A32N had fabric black/orange seating. There was plenty of legroom for myself personally at this particular row. After boarding was completed I was pleased to see I had an entire row to myself on this hour long shuttle flight to Scotland.
And now for the snag! We had a twenty minute delay to our departure as there was an administration issue, I assume the passenger head count didn't tally with the figures from the company. But it cost us 20 minutes and the four cabin crew went up and down the plane multiple times doing counts. The captain had to get in touch with easyJet HQ as well, I am not sure what the exact issue was- but it was an interesting start to this service!
Once the crew dealt with the matter, the plane was closed up and pushed back from the Terminal, we went to the Runway 26 passing the sight of the old Bournemouth Aviation Museum which was forced out in 2008, the only remaining part of it being a now somewhat manky red Hawker Hunter left neglected on a concrete plinth, two of the old hangers now used for small business jets. The site had been meant to become a multi-storey car park, but the 2008 recession scuppered the idea.
We lined up on Runway 26 and after a very short wait the Airbus A320-neo was powered up and off we went, buzzing out of Bournemouth and climbing up into the clear skies over Dorset. We did a U-turn as the plane climbed out and headed east along the South coast before making a turn North towards Scotland.
easyJet still offered a buy on board bistro service, though the menu was scaled back from what it was back in 2019. Hot foods were the main cut from this, but they still offered various savoury snacks, sweets and drinks of all three varieties. I spent £9.15p on an orange twirl, pringles, cola and vodka… I know this will have some of you boiling blood- but I like to provide content and feature some items you can buy with various airline bistros- and easyJet is not an exception!
Snack time anyone? This selection cost me £9.15p
The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful as the plane closed in on Edinburgh. The cabin crew went around twice collecting rubbish during the final few minutes as we descended towards Edinburgh.
Our arrival brought us in over the Forth Estuary and in sight of the famous bridge its named after before arriving onto Runway 24 at Edinburgh Airport. Our total flight time in the air was 1hr 5min.
The pandemic's affect on aviation was clear to see at Edinburgh still as various easyJet and Jet2 planes were parked up in covers for storage.
Another sobering sight was a now retired Boeing 737-8MAX in Norwegian livery. having likely being stored there since March 2019 after the 737-MAX disasters and unlikely to fly for a long time as Norwegian has retired the type alongside the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The aircraft parked up and everyone disembarked promptly, being on my own by the window, I simply waited for everyone to stamped off. We were on a stand, but not using the jet way- so it was an open disembarkation.
One bit I do enjoy about an open board or departure is the great photo opportunities, including this one which I will end this report with!
easyJet- Still keeping up their usual EZY service despite the pandemic. If you can get a flight at a reasonable fare, they are a good airline to fly with especially if you have a base near by!
BOH- Pretty bare bones service at the moment due to the low passenger numbers, but hopefully things will get a bit more normal once the travel restrictions ease off and people start flying again. Can't fault security service and its a really good regional airport if you want to fly to a destination but fancy going local or avoiding London's main airports.