Manchester, United Kingdom
Hmmm, I am not sure I am a fan of BMI. I know we’ve been flying premium economy on all thee longhauls and I know we’re now back in ‘monkey’ class (well what did YOU think the ‘M’ code on the economy ticket stood for?), but they do seem quite cavalier.
OK, from the beginning; on arriving at Heathrow we walked what felt like halfway back to Manchester along various corridors following the ‘transfer passengers’ purple signs, through passport control, security checks, a ‘secure’ bus ride from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1, more security checks… until we were spat out where BMI had left us waiting for our Air NZ flights a month ago. We swapped our Virgin-issued boarding cards for BMI-issued ones at the transfer desk and it wasn’t long before we were down at gate 8, which seems to consist of multiple actual gates leading to various BMI aircraft. About 30 mins from flying time they decided the Manchester flight would go from gate 7, which wasn’t really a gate but a cunning set of stairs disguised as a gate. This lead to a bus that drove all the way round the airport to an Airbus 320 with ‘Star Alliance’ seemingly crudely stenciled on the side (they really do need to hire a graphics designer). We had to climb up steps in the rain to the aircaft too – no civilised departure fingers for us BMI monkeys. We were now past our alloted take-off time and it was obvious we were sat on the apron waiting for a free slot, which luckily did show up about 20 mins later. The flight itself was fine and short. The aircraft was full of people of a certain age and older plus a large man of the cloth. It turned out this was a church congregation returning from a pilgrimmage to the Holy Land. I noticed a woman across the aisle praying as we lifted off and as we landed, whilst the woman next to me was definitely fidgety on both occasions too. Now call me cynical, but WTF have they got to be worried about, eh? They’re obviously saved already, they have just been on a pilgrimmage, surely they’re going to be well in with the Big Man? Unless of course there’s something they ain’t telling us?
But anyway, either the prayers work or Airbus Industry do their job or something like that and we land safe and sound back at good old cold, wet, dark Ringway. Did I say ‘good old’? Slip of the tongue! We’re finally back on terra firma after the last flight. By my calculations we’ve flown something like 24,000 miles on this circumavigation. Would I do it again? To be honest with you, I’d have quite happily hopped straight on board the Air NZ 747 bound for Los Angeles and flown back the other way! The bank manager wouldn’t have liked it though.