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Air Southwest !! Was it their fault? Air Southwest operate internal flights from Plymouth, Newquay, Bristol and Leeds Bradford. They also have flights to Manchester, Newcastle, Dublin, Cork, Jersey, London, Glasgow and Chambury. The flight my partner and I caught last week-end was the WOW480 flight from Bristol to Leeds Bradford.
WOW is was not !
I have travelled to Leeds on several occassions but via road not air. However, after the rises in car hire and petrol, and just being 2 of us travelling, it was decided that flying from our local airport would be a cheaper and quicker option. I had booked our flights several months ago and was quite happy that it had cost a total of £193.00 for a return journey. The outward flight on saturday was due to leave Bristol at 8.30 am and arrive in Leeds/Bradford for 9.35am. The return journey would leave Leeds at 19.10 and arrive in Bristol for 20.20. Brilliant, I thought not only plenty of time to get checked into the Travelodge at Leeds, have a nice lunch but also time to see family and friends before heading to Elland Road for the Kaiser Chiefs gig. We arrived at Bristol International at 7.20 so plenty of time to check in before take off. The queue wasn't exceptionally long (8 people infront of us) but then there was 10 mins to go before official check in began. 7.30 staff appeared. 7.35 only one member of staff trying to check people in. 7.50 the queue still the same! News form the passengers at front of line - computers down and the poor young girl was try to check everyone in manually. 8.00am some-one has the good sense to send another member of staff to help. 8.10 YES WE ARE THROUGH!! On entering the departure lounge we immediately look at info screens for details on which gate we would be leaving from and the time. Nothing - The flight number was there with a message "Info shortly". Anyway, time to visit the lav's & grab a coffee (still a bit early for breakkie for me, not for big guts who stuffs 2 cheeseburgers & fries from the Burger King food outlet) By 8.30 we are both still looking at the "info shortly" message, wondering whether to hit the duty free shops or stay put for more info. comprise - newspaper for him, 'New' mag for her. Eventually, 8.55, we were asked to make our way to gate 3 where we could board. The staff here were friendly enough but gave us the impression we were keeping them up, long night dear?! After boarding the bus we were soon whisked across to our small plane.
The Plane ( the plane - for those of who old enough to remember the vertically challenged guy on the Isand) Our flying machine consisted of 48 seats, 24 in pairs on each side of the aisle. The small windows were ok if you were fortunity enough to sit next to one. I was just happy to be on the craft and settled into my seat (although not with my partner - because of manual check in seats were not allocated so it was first come first serve)
I wasn't that bothered because we would be taking off any minute now. I don't believe it, the captain's sheepish voice is now explaining that due to air - traffic congestion above we wouldn't be taking off until 10am!!!! So much for flying being quicker. An hour flight apparantly, 10.05 and we on the plane, on the runway, on a stand still.
I had to laugh though - reading my stars from my recently purchased New mag, it said "It's true, you're trapped. You have soaring ideals, adventurous plans and worthy ambitions, but you're stuck in a rut" During the wait I had chance to look through the reading material left by the airline. 1) Sick bag - blue (small too) 2) Company mag - Enjoy Southwest Spring 2008 £2.95 - mainly full of adverts for places alot nicer than where I was. Good article on Hadleigh Barrett. And oh yes, Air Southwest offer Vintage Car Hire from their Newquay port. How , about getting one here to drive us to Leeds. 3) Menu - overpriced drinks and snacks. - hot drinks £1.50 alcohol 3.00 - £3 for a sml plastic glass of Chardonnay- ( They obviously haven't read my reviews on the Saturday Red or Mellowood Chardonnay. Cheddars & pringles £1. Breakfast in a box £2.50 OH YES and last but not least ; 4) Safety on Board instructions - Why the title? The information give in beautiful coloured pictures and points were about crash landings. Landings would like to be taking off before we worry about landing.
The seats were a fairly good size and considerably comfortable. Even though we had been sitting for some time, I wasn't experiencing back-ache or knee pains that I sometimes do after long periods of sitting. There was not masses amount of leg room but enough to stretch abit if needed. However, I'm 5ft 5" whereas my partner is nearly 6ft so he did find the leg room a little more restricting.
We did eventually take off and had a fairly good flight, with a complimentary drink - non alcoholic- Landing safetly (hence the reason I can write this review) in Leeds Bradford at 11.20am.
The staff were apologetic and it wasn't their fault. Like my partner said those red lights always cause tailbacks. However, on our return journey, we did experience more delays and grumpier staff. One in particulary who snapped so loudly down the phone ( Quote - No I can't we have no staff) I thought the whole of the departure lounge were going to run for cover.
To conclude Yes, even with the delays, flying up was cheaper, quicker and much easier than driving, we all know this. I would suggest that if flying with Air Southwest, you do prepare yourself for not arriving on time and encountering some tired staff. (many passengers flying onto plymouth were told they would have to get off at Newquay where buses would take them onto their final destinations)