Part Two and why I'm avoiding MAN
So my week at Torremolinos came to an end. I fell in love with the Costa Del Sol, and the laid-back life of the place where young, old, gay,straight,Dutch, British, whatever were totally integrated and relaxed with each other. It's the way everywhere should be.
We had a bit of a problem on the way to AGP
as the coach collecting us was hideously delayed and we ended up getting a taxi to the airport. No biggie as we were only a few miles from the airport and could watch the Malaga departures from our hotel balcony. Flights tend to leave heading out over the sea, and one late afternoon an Aer Lingus A330-300 seemed to be struggling to cope with the hot conditions. The CF
6 powered A330 is apparently notorious for having thrust issues in high temperatures, and this one was roaring away whilst climbing like its A340 bretheren.
Jet2 checks-in at a dedicated and decorated set of desks at terminal Two. This is an older-style building which for some reason reminded me of Berlin's Templehof but on a smaller scale. From there (no waiting again, good old LS
) passengers have to walk the full length of T2 and the attached terminal 3 to the far end and security. It's a bloody long way and certainly unhelpful when you are short of time. Malaga security is a bit more relaxed than Manchester but still as efficient, and from there to the hunt for the gate.
The Manchester flight was leaving from D43 again, and eventually this showed on the board. Once again G-GDFC arrived which was a bit disappointing as I'd hoped for the other 738W in the Jet2holidays scheme to be on the flight just to see what that one was like. As this flight started boarding G-GDFE in the white livery turned up as well to operate back out to Newcastle, taking some friends with them that we had made at the hotel. There is a border passport check as you enter Pier D which is just a wave of your EU passport which gets quickly scanned and up you go to the gate.
This time we were in Row 35, right at the back. Boarding started at 6.10pm, and was done in sections so we were one of the first down the bridge and seated ready for departure which was accomplished quickly thanks to a brisk cabin crew who announced that we were pushing for an on-time departure to make a 6.30 slot. On pushback we waited whilst a BA
734 arrived and then headed for the runway.
The pilots introduced themselves, explaining our routing which was the reverse of the trip down crossing into the UK
somewhere near Exeter. On reaching the line-up point they pushed the throttles and off we went into the hot Spanish afternoon air. This time the takeoff run was a little longer as the day at AGP
had been another 40 degree one, and we departed over the sea into a straight-out track and more leisurely climb than at Manchester. The view from the (slightly scuffed) window was stunning.
From there, a left turn and across Spain towards the Bay of Biscay again. The LS
crew did their routine three cabin passes, consisting of refreshments and food then a tax-free sales and a second refreshments service. Jet2's cabin crews are consistently good and seem to do a lot of smiling!
The pilots explained that we would cross into the UK
over Devon, then head up over Wales towards Wallasey. By now the sun had set and as we descended to take up the MIRSI STARS approach the lights of Warrington and Manchester glowed beneath us. A right turn indicated we wouldn't be stuck in the hold and off we headed towards the east of Stockport to join the ILS for 23R at MAN
Cloud cover over the east of the county met us and the descent was a little bumpy. Over Stockport we broke through and the pilots used increasing flaps and speed brakes to slow the descent. Another firm landing on 23R followed; somewhere between an A320 and a typical 757 one in the way the 738 floats then drops onto its wheels. This was a bit of a floater and we ended up going full length on 23R with plenty of reversers and brakes coming in.
So from there and a taxi round to gate 9 again. One thing I do remember of G-GDFC is that despite the coloured bulkheads, new seats and branding there was still a sticker in the bog announcing that smoking in there constituted an offence under Dutch law! One tiny reminder of the plane's previous life at Transavia. On reaching the stand, we had to wait and wait and wait...eventually the pilot came on and apologised for the lack of stairs and how Menzies seemed unable to ensure that they were waiting for an on-time arrival with steps. Only one set turned up and naturally were attached to the L1 door, ensuring a huge wait as we were in the last row down the back end.....
From there to arrivals. Piss poor performance at the UK
Borders yet again. Despite only being 8.30 in the evening the E-Gates were shut, and a Customer Services dragon who needed to stop dodging salads and looked like her makeup was done with a catapult was whipping several flights (including a MON
A300 from Paphos) into a huge queue stretching back to Pier B. After over half an hour of shuffling and watching this retired stormtrooper bollocking people for not moving fast enough or daring to pull a camera out we eventually got past the passport control point and down to the (broken down) belt for another wait whilst this was beaten back into life by airport staff. And out into the cold Manchester evening.
I mentioned I won't be using MAN
again for my holiday. Nope; after that arrivals farce which was incredibly annoying (and I might add not a Manchester issue as the gates are manned by UK
Border Agency staff of which there are simply not enough) next time I think I'll try Blackpool and their Malaga flights which don't seem any dearer. MAN
has a great departure experience but arriving passengers at T1 don't seem to be looked after nearly as well. Maybe that's because the chance to sell them things has passed. Why is it so bloody hard to get back into my own country? The E-Gates could have cut the wait back substantially but were sat unused with their welcome displays blinking away, so there didn't seem to be any fault with them. The Spanish staff at AGP
were much more efficient processing arrivals from inside the EU.
It's such a fail from my local airport. Come on UKBA and MAG, get it sorted. Just because evening arrival punters tend to be holidaymakers doesn't mean T1 Arrivals should be such a drag and horrendous time shuffling along in that snaking queue.