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Old 5th October 2017, 05:32 AM
Phil Stevens Phil Stevens is offline
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Default UK to Barbados 5 Sept

Barbados trip September 2017

My wife and I had accumulated a significant number of Virgin airmiles as a result of visits to Australia to see family (and the odd top up on Virgin Trains to keep the miles) so we decided it was time to put these mile to good use. We opted for a return trip to our favourite hotel in Barbados, but using our airmiles to upgrade from Economy to Upper Class.

Despite living only 40 minutes from Gatwick we decided to avoid the stress of the M25 on the morning of the flight, so checked in to the Premier Inn at North Terminal on the evening of 4 September, and luckily were given room 1032. This has a reasonable view of the approach to Runway 26, and with ADS-B on the ipad, I managed to clear a couple more Norwegian and Vueling before dinner, and the 2 TUI B787-9s hit the book before breakfast. Into the Virgin Clubhouse and seats by the window meant that Air Baltic CS100 YL-CSG (needed) and Westjet B737 C-FWSK (previously seen at Toronto) were noted.

Our flight to BGI was on A330 G-VSXY, and seats 2A and 3A were allocated. I am sure that the layout of 1-1-1 is an improvement on those still featuring 1-2-1, but it is most strange sitting at about 45 to direction of travel, and having the window behind your head does not make for great views. Food and drink were plentiful and good quality, so the flight passed quickly and pleasantly.

We landed from the East at BGI, so I was able to log C182 8P-BAW ( which seems to lack a known c/n?) on the Southern apron, then helpfully we taxied past the main ramp with Hawker N72FC, CL604 C-GOSN, C525 J8-JET, A321 N151AN, LIAT ATRs V2-LIC/D/F/G/N, Twin Otter J8-GAA and the stars for me Jetstream HI-851 plus the hurricane chaser WP3D N42RF.

The Orion was here to check on Hurricane Irma, and over the next few days RAF C17 and Voyagers were visible from the beach at our hotel. The Voyager showed on ADS-B as ZZ337/ZZ335! but I think the former is more likely. Based on the Gov website, I think the C17 was the one bringing in what was due to be a Puma, but no Puma was seen over the holiday, whereas a Chinook was hiding in a hangar when we left.

Etihad 777 freighter A6-DDB inbound from Hahn was a surprise on 9 Sept, and on 2 occasions unidentified C130s flew high overhead.

Nothing else went into the book until we went to have lunch at Oistins, close to the airport, on 14 Sept. We ate at ‘Dora & Jazzies’ on the beach, where I thoroughly recommend the Marlin with Rice and Peas and a cold Banks beer. First seen here, but still unidentified was a 757 in full DHL colours that flew directly overhead inbound. This was followed by Twin Otter J8-UNI, JetBlue A320 N524JB and LIAT ATRs V2-LIC/F/K while we relaxed on the beach. Back at the hotel the only trail of the whole holiday went over, A330 PR-AIT of Azul in a bold blue scheme. Unfortunately this was a regular LHR visitor with MEA as F-OMEB.

Returning to Grantley Adams for our journey home on 15 Sept, the first tail visible was a DHL scheme B757 – I hoped to identify this while taxiing, but frustratingly, all I could make out that it was one of the four HP- registered machines of DHL Aero Expreso, and FR24 flight histories is silent on these! Also on the deck were Atlas ZM414 and CP140 140111, presumably both invoved in Irma aid work. American Airlines had finally started flying to Miami again, and A321s N993AN and 996AN were present, as was Westjet B737 C-FTWJ. LIAT ATRs V2-LIH/N were joined by Ameriflight E120 N179CA and again C-GOSN.

Alongside our Virgin A330 G-VLUV was BA 777 G-VIIV, which would fly almost in formation with us back to LGW. On taxiing out, the previously mentioned (but unidentified) RAF Chinook and C172 8P-JOY were the last items in the bookj.

Virgin’s lie flat beds made for a comfortable night’s sleep, so the 8 hour flight home was a doddle. Then joy of joys, no queue at passport control, luggage carousel already in motion, and we were leaving the terminal 30 minutes after touchdown. Well done Gatwick!
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