While some people may like to take the train to Exeter, I prefer the airborne route. Flying from London City Airport is an absolute doddle as is getting to it. The airport has its own DLR station, multiple bus links and a taxi stand that can whisk you to your final destination. Even though the airport claims you can check in to your flight 20 minutes before departure, I recommend that you get to the airport at least an hour beforehand due to security being quite small and there being a possibility of queues.
My flight was with Flybe and it departed at 17:30 and the airport was experiencing the second of two business rushes. I had checked in online so I could skip the check-in desk as I was only carrying a backpack. Although the airport was full of business people, I was able to clear security within ten minutes and do some exploring. In the duty free there are the same shops you’d expect in a larger airport such as Heathrow or Gatwick like WH Smiths and the generic duty free shops that sell perfumes that you walk past to get to the gates. Further down into where the first gate is there is a small cafe/restaurant where you can get some food as well as a Pret A Manger which is quite strategically position between gates three and four. As I was waiting for my flight, I witnessed an extremely quick turnaround by a Luxair Bombardier Q400 which was about 15 minutes. As soon as the passengers on the arriving flight were off, the passengers waiting for the departing flight started boarding.
By the time I had settled down at my gate, and had eaten, I saw that my plane was not at the gate, and this was ten minutes before the departure time of 17:25. I wasn’t worried since I’d just seen the turn around time for another airline. When the deep purple aircraft did finally arrive, the turnaround was even faster, around ten minutes. The flight was quick to board fully since the aircraft was quite small and there were only about 50-60 passengers on the short flight to Exeter. I was in seat 9A, right under the wing and next to the engine. After the plane had its passengers on board, the two stewardesses commenced their safety demonstration, which was followed by the engines starting up and taxiing towards the runway. The flight took off from London City at 17:43 and made a few turns over North East London towards Exeter. After we had reached our cruising altitude of 22,000 feet, the inflight service started. I opted out of the inflight service as I had eaten in the terminal, but from what I had seen in the the on board menu, they have a great variety of drinks and food options. The cruise was quite comfortable even though the Q400 is not known for its comfort and I was sitting next to the engine. I will admit that there was a lot vibration while sitting under the wing. The seat was comfortable and the legroom was good enough and whats more is I had the joy of no one sitting next to me which made the flight a more pleasant experience, since I didn’t have to silently wrestle for the armrest with my neighbour.
We were at cruising altitude for about fifteen minutes before the descent into Exeter started. The aircraft sunk through the clouds above Exeter,despite some light turbulence, and the landed quite smoothly on the runway, at 18:21, 14 minutes ahead of schedule.
The flight wasn’t something to be impressed by, but for what it was, a cheap and efficient alternative to train travel, it was very good. If you expect full service flight you’ll be disappointed, but the quality of the service was great and exceeded my expectations, with a range of food and drink options that are reasonably priced. Flybe most likely goes under most peoples radars when searching for a cheap flight but the experience is more intimate and quicker than on another low cost carrier. However, the flights aren’t that frequent. They are daily but there is one flight in the morning and one flight in the evening, so if you miss it, you’re scuppered. There are good things about Flybe, such as the fact that it covers most of the smaller destinations Britain, unlike British Airways, from bases in London, Edinburgh, or Belfast which is great for connectivity and options.
Flying on Flybe might not be the most flashy experience but with codeshares with a few major airlines, makes the airline a tempting option, but if you’re only looking for a cheap flight to get you from A to Flybe, look no further.