Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log : January 2008 : BA6932

London Gatwick (LGW) - Malta (MLA)


As many reading this will know, BA has had a franchise arrangement with Gatwick-based GB Airways for many years, whereby that airline operates a number of services to mostly Mediterranean destinations on behalf of BA. The aircraft are in BA livery and have BA-spec interiors, the staff wear BA uniform and the service is to BA standards. To most people, the difference goes unnoticed. The company has a long history as part of Gibraltar's Bland Group. My own involvement with the airline dates back to the 1980s and a memorable trip to Madeira under its own GT code, long before the BA franchise deal.

In late 2007, however, came the shock news that the franchise would be terminated early, due to the likely acquisition of GB Airways by easyJet, this coming hard on the heels of Bland's disposal of its other airline, BMED, to bmi. (BMED was also a BA franchise.) As it turned out, completion of the sale was confirmed on 31 January 2008, so this was my farewell trip on GB Airways, before it goes from full service to minimalist, flag-carrying to orange, proudly Bland to just plain bland.

The flight

As I settled into 1A, I noted that the Club Europe cabin was set at four rows and that it was very busy indeed, with at most only one or two empty seats. Fellow Malta Do-ers David and Dorothy were a couple of rows back in 3A/C. My seat-mate in 1C decided to swap places with her husband in 1D as 'he needs more room'. This was bad news as he was an example of one of those categories of irritating fellow-traveller : the seat belt flap-flicker. You know the type : 'I'm bored and need something to play with. Ah, what's this?' ... flick, flick, flickety-flick. Thankfully he was to spend most of the flight asleep and the noisy fidgeting would only resume well into the descent.

But back to LGW - we lost a significant amount of time before we even got going, with pushback not taking place until 1503. It seemed an easy taxi, but with only a single runway available at Gatwick, it was another 15 minutes before we finally managed to get airborne. One thing that GB Airways have always been good at is stressing that Economy passengers should use the toilets at the back. I noticed that they had further strengthened the message, announcing twice that Economy passengers must not enter the Business cabin without explicit permission from the cabin crew. Excellent stuff - but a bit ironic considering that the business cabin on GB Airways would soon be history.

Service began with hot towels, followed by drinks and nibbles. I had Champagne. (What else? ) A choice of main courses was offered : Moroccan Beef (described as 'very spicy') and Chicken & Mushroom Pasta. I decided to play safe and opted for the latter. I drank a French Chardonnay, being slightly surprised that the white wine alternative was also a Chardonnay, followed by some coffee. The tray also contained a little cheesecake-type dessert, some cheese and grapes, a packet of oatcakes and a Bendick's mint. Warm bread rolls were offered.

Our route took us over the south coast of England, then passing between Paris and Orleans, then via Lyon, Marseille and Nice, passing north of Corsica and turning south towards Palermo. After cruising at 35,000', we began our descent over Sicily, touching down in the darkness at Malta Luqa at 1857. We were on-stand a mere three minutes later.

Date : Thu 31 Jan 2008
Aircraft : Airbus A321
Scheduled dep : 1445
Actual departure : 1503
Scheduled arrival : 1850
Actual arrival : 1900
Cabin : Club Europe (Business Class)
Seat : 1A

Flight History 2008