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Wheels Up at Southampton—Wheels Down at Jersey

Another Trip to Jersey Begins

Southhampton Airport

For anyone living in East Dorset, south Wiltshire, and southern Hampshire here in the UK, this is a very local airport with connections to the rest of the country and Europe. The airport is well connected to these surrounding areas by the nearby M27 and adjoining M3 and by the railway station with connections from Weymouth to Waterloo and other parts of the national rail network.

Boring Stuff About Parking Prices, Check In, and Security

There is plenty of short and long stay parking. The designated long stay parking is about a mile from the one and only terminal, is served by a frequent and regular shuttle bus service and costs about £27 per day. The short stay parking is the shortest of short walks from the terminal and the cost of that convenience is £34 per day with charges by the hour as well. For those of you who, as Captain Jack Sparrow would say, want to be a bit ‘savvy’ about parking costs there is an alternative. Next to the airport is Southampton Airport Parkway railway station where there is a large car park for both short and long stay parking costing £15.70 per day and charges by the hour for any stay less than 24 hours. (Prices quoted are as at December 2018.)

Check in with or without luggage for the hold is quick. Security is quick as well. Passengers, as one airline described them have become ‘walk on freight.'

From Security to Boarding

Security always seems to be a hinterland enveloped in a dusky half-light. It is where passengers, sorry ‘walk on freight’, will probably have an experience as close to that of a can of soup being passed through the infra-red beam triggering the electronic beep of a supermarket checkout. The only difference being that passengers do not want to set off the ‘beep’ and be subjected to further checks about their bodies in public or worse; in private.

Handbags, wallets, change and belts retrieved from the trays that have just passed through the x-ray machines are retrieved and returned to where they were just a few seconds ago and some semblance of dignity and personal identity returns.

From darkness into light.

There is no alternative after security but to enter the duty-free hall. The light here is almost blinding after the dusky half-light eyes absorbed a few seconds ago. More candlepower than the lamp in the Needles Lighthouse lights up shelves, glass cabinets and counters neatly displaying jewellery, accessories, alcohol, toys, souvenirs, and confectionary. All so well merchandised in a brazen attempt to drag unwilling £’s from wallets and handbags that were only just returned to their rightful owners. The only items out of sight and held behind opaque panelling are the tobacco products hidden from general view in case anyone travelling would impulsively take up the habit as they passed through a strictly no smoking environment.

At Southampton Airport the duty-free area is not big by airport standards. The path marked out on the floor in black flooring meanders through the ends of the displays. No straight lines to walk along. Only gentle bends to slow passengers down in another attempt to drag, more subtlety, unwilling £’s from wallets handbags and purses.

From light into darkness but not as dark as security.

The departures area or ‘air-side’ opens out to a big hall laid out with chairs in curves around the central area or in straight lines at the departure gates like they would be in a doctor’s surgery waiting room. Fear not for your comfort. If more than thirty minutes is available before boarding there is an alternative. There is a staircase clambering over the W H Smiths store that leads up to the first floor where there is a bar and restaurant as well as a Costa Coffee concession. Whenever I have gone through Southampton Airport, even at busy times, this area has never been crowded. It is like a secret, or it was until I mentioned it. There are departure screens all around this area so even if passengers do not hear the announcements over the public speakers, they will always be able to see progress towards their own departures.

Wheels Up

Flight time to Jersey is advertised as 30 minutes on Flybe and its affiliate airline Blue Island.

One thing I do find a bit frustrating as passengers board is how more and more of them push the limits of what is acceptable as cabin luggage suitable for the overhead lockers. Like midwives in reverse, they strain and struggle to get cases into the restricted overhead space. The cases are usually rigid which makes the whole exercise even more difficult. My own particular request of airlines would be that any luggage for the overhead lockers should only be in soft cases like a Gladstone bag. Anything rigid has to go in the hold. I am sure this would ease some of the pressures in the cabin before take off.

After wheels up, usually east to west, the route passes over Southampton, The Solent, part of the New Forest and then over The Needles at the western extremity of the Isle of Wight. The plane has not even reached cruising height before the refreshments trolley makes its way down the aisle. Its progress is slipstreamed by the duty-free trolley. Before buying from this second trolley really work out if you can wait until arrival in Jersey and time to go into a normal shop. It may well be cheaper and patience could be rewarded.

That is unless passengers find themselves in the same position as someone having to stop off at a motorway service centre late at night for flowers or chocolates as a way of ameliorating any domestic discord caused by errant behaviour. Getting home late with or without reasonable excuse let alone an alibi. Or, even not getting home at all.

By the time we passed The Needles I had drifted off into my own world of sleep. Just the same as when I went over in December 2017. I woke up in time to see some ocean and whitecaps before realizing Jersey was very close.

On a clear day and for those lucky enough to have a window seat they will see rocky outcrops ringed by white surf appearing through the ocean surface. This means that Jersey is getting close. The approach to the airport is along the length of the island. The trailing flaps and the undercarriage units will chunk and clunk out of their casings in anticipation of landing. St Helier, St Aubin’s Bay, and St Brelade’s Bay will slip by out of the port windows. Directly below there will be green fields, glass houses, and housing. Private swimming pools glisten if the sun is shining.

Wheels Down

Wheels down is followed by a seat belt straining deceleration and then a short taxi to the terminal. Then as soon as the seatbelt signs go out passengers then struggle to extricate their rigid suitcases from the overhead lockers putting passengers directly in great danger of concussion.

The walk from the aircraft to the terminal takes about a minute and after being in the cabin it is a relief to be in the fresh air again. Any luggage from the hold will be on the carousel within ten minutes of landing.

If you are not under any time pressure and are staying in St Helier or St Aubin’s Bay then consider catching a bus. There is the X15 service which runs every 15 minutes during the day and costs £2.20 to any stop on route. A taxi fare to say, St Brelade’s Bay, would be £6 or £7.

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Wheels Up at Southampton—Wheels Down at Jersey
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