Flight #8 of 13 – What could possibly go wrong?

  • Flybe (operated by Eastern Airways) BE7614
  • Cardiff to Anglesey (RAF Valley)
  • BAe Jetstream 41 G-MAJU
  • Monday 12th August 2019

After a long journey south yesterday to Cardiff it was time for my 7th flight in a week, and the start of the second part of my crazy summer trips. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at Cardiff Airport, which was less than a 5 minute walk from the terminal door.

Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Airport – literally a 5 minute walk from the terminal

I was starting my day with Eastern Airways, who operate almost entirely under a Flybe franchise these days. They fly from my home airport, Teesside to Aberdeen. The prices on this route, like the majority of their network, are out of reach for a ‘leisure’ traveller like me. It is mainly aimed at offshore workers who can save time on their journeys but pay a huge amount for that privilege. It’s because of that I’ve never flown in a Jetstream 41 so when the opportunity came up for a decent price (£20!) I had to include it somehow!

Unfortunately Eastern are not exactly renowned for their timekeeping and/or ability to run a consistent schedule. The flight from Cardiff to Anglesey is a ‘PSO’ contract from the Welsh government though so tends to have a much better record. I was pleased when I had an Eastern J41 sat outside my window when I arrived at the hotel and it meant I could relax!

View from my window, Airbus A400 and Jetstream 41 on the ramp!

So it’s a nice leisurely start to the day with an 0735 departure time for the twice week-daily route to RAF Valley which doubles as Anglesey Airport. The flight was scheduled for around an hour, arriving at 0840. I arrived at check in around 0630 and handed my case over, and was quickly through security and into the departure lounge. Although there was no gate showing on the screens amongst other departures I knew the J41 was sat outside waiting so everything was fine. Eventually it came up gate 8, boarding. Great, off we all (13 of us…) went and sat in the gate area having been scanned in. Ominously the gate phone started ringing…

Sure enough, we are told there is a technical fault with the aircraft and we’ll be given an update in an hour, at 0815. This was backed up with a “Next info 0815” on the screens. This then slipped to 0840, 0900 and 0915. Then it flashed up with an update… “Delayed 0915”. Was this an improvement? Sure enough a few minutes after 0900 up came “Boarding gate 8” again.

Finally boarding! Flybe operated by Eastern Airways BE7614 Cardiff to Anglesey

Now a ‘short’ delay like this wouldn’t normally bother me but today I had other travel booked fairly soon after the flight. We were due to land at 0840, and from there I’d catch a bus soon after to Holyhead where I’d be picking up a ferry to Dublin two hours later. What could possibly go wrong?

I’d clearly not allowed for the ‘Eastern effect’ – so I spent the whole 90 minute delay looking at options to salvage my day including flying to Anglesey then catching the train all the way back to London, or even abandoning Anglesey altogether and heading elsewhere to catch a flight either to Dublin or Frankfurt to allow me to resume the rest of my trip. Half an hour was spent on the phone to a lovely girl at Lufthansa as we went through my options. Friends were pricing up flight options for me while I was trying to decide at what point a decision had to be made.

Tiny cabin onboard the Jetstream 41, but surprisingly spacious! I had seat 7A

So we eventually boarded for Anglesey just after 0900 – all in a bit of a rush to get us away as soon as possible. This was all great but that still left me with the dilemma of what to do when I got there. I was assured the flight would only actually be 40 minutes so that gave me a small window to get to my ferry, albeit I knew the bus took 30 minutes into Holyhead. The issue that was in the back of my mind was the check in for the ferry closed at 1010, little more than an hour after boarding in Cardiff.

Enroute to Anglesey finally!

I had to give it a go, so I boarded the flight and we were allocated seats at the door by the cabin crew, presumably to ensure weight distribution was correct on such a small aircraft. After what seemed like a lifetime, probably about 5 minutes, the door was closed and we were pushed back, taxiing to the runway for a takeoff at 0916. We made good progress up the country and landed into the RAF Valley base at 0957, parking shortly after on the apron. After the engines were all shut down and all of the bags were out of the hold we were finally able to disembark, grab our bags and off through the tiny terminal to my next adventure.

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