New Gatwick flight

This almost snuck in under the radar (LOLz – aircraft pun), but here’s some great news for people living in Sussex:

British Airways has announced it is launching a new route from Gatwick Airport to Cape Town later this year.
The major airline is expanding its fleet or aircraft at Gatwick as new three-times-a-week flights are being added to its schedule.

And I suppose it’s good news for anyone in Cape Town too, as adding more flights means more seat, means less competition, means cheaper flights overall. This good news is tempered somewhat by the realisation that if you take one of these new flights, you will end up landing at Gatwick Airport though.

Have you ever been to Gatwick Airport?
Hmm.

You’ll probably recall that it’s almost 4 years since SAA stopped flying the Cape Town to London route, citing “dwindling passenger numbers” on flights to Europe from the Mother City. Something that doesn’t seem to have stopped Swiss, Turkish, Condor, Air France, KLM and (of course) BA from operating such services.

But, back to the new (Northern hemisphere) “winter only” Gatwick flights:

The three flights will depart on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 6pm, arriving in to Cape Town at 7.50am the following morning.

This winter BA will add a fourth three-class Boeing 777 aircraft to its Gatwick fleet, bringing the total number of Boeing 777s at the airport to 12.

Note that those are two separate lines: there’s no suggestion that the LGW-CPT flights will be on 777s – BA currently operates 747s on its Cape Town to Heathrow route (for the moment, anyway).

I’ll get in touch with BA and see if they can tell me what aircraft they are planning on using. It would be nice to move on from the aging jumbos. After all, we were promised 787s way back in 2013…

 

UPDATE: And here’s the answer – 777s!

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That does help, Jamie. Thank you.

Let it snow?

I’d love my kids to see real snow. It was something we were kind of hoping for when we came over for Christmas, but it hasn’t happened. Yet.
We did do some sledging in the faux snow at Snozone, and that was fun, but it wasn’t real snow.
We’re heading back home tomorrow, but suddenly, there’s snow forecast tonight. That gives us tomorrow morning to frolic in the potential whiteness, but if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll be aware that I don’t have a great record with journeys to (and flights from) Gatwick and snow.

So there are mixed feelings as the wintery weather sets in this evening.

Happier

Some of you may remember this post.

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Thankfully, our trip through Gatwick was happier this time around. Despite a delay of about 30 minutes for us and about 20 hours for some of our luggage, all is well that ends well, and since I’m back on the Isle of Man, things have ended well.

Sad.

All the way from Cape Town to London. But no further.

It’s sad that after all the anticipation, all the planning, all the trials and tribulations, that the final photo I managed to get on my trip up North was this one:

But it does speak volumes about my last few days in the UK. Taking photos inside the airport – even if you were in the mood to do so and there was something worth recording – is frowned upon by the Sussex police and their big guns. And the view from the windows was grey, industrial and limited by poor visibility.
That pic was taken on my arrival at Gatwick on Wednesday afternoon. The following morning, I trekked 4 miles up the A23, towing my suitcase. To put you in the picture (not literally), this is the the major route that leads in, out and around Gatwick airport. It’s a major road, a busy dual carriageway. Usually, anyway.
This was it on Thursday morning at about 9:30am:

This was just before I hitched a lift with an aircraft engineer called Brian, who was trying to get into work and who had been on the road for over an hour, despite living only 6 miles away. He told me that the ground staff had cleared over 160,000 tonnes of snow off the runway in 8 hours the previous day. I wondered why the person weighing it was bothering – the numbers are meaningless when you’re fighting a losing battle anyway.

And so, with Gatwick cut off from the outside world – no planes, no buses, no taxis, no hire cars, no nothing – in or out for over 24 hours and with reports of the weather rapidly worsening towards the west of London, when a single (and I mean a single) bus did become available to Heathrow, I jumped at the chance, got to T5 and moved my flight home forward by 48 hours. And thus, I found myself – ironically, left without a reason to stay – checking in for a flight back to Cape Town at just about exactly the same time a-ha would have been coming onto the stage at the Oslo Spektrum.

Utterly heartbreaking and a disastrous end to my trip. I didn’t see the friends I wanted to see, I didn’t get to Oslo and I didn’t get that last opportunity to see Morten et al doing their thing for the last time. At least for my part, I did everything I could.
There were the usual, annual reports in the papers about how badly Britain had coped with the snowy conditions, but this was exceptionally bad weather: the worst in living memory in Sheffield, as you can see from this photo of my parents’ road – yes – it is there somewhere.

Back to Cape Town and normal life (such as it is), then.

Which actually isn’t such a bad thing.