Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Travel to Nicosia

Leeds Train Station

I had tried to book a flight departing from Manchester, but it seemed to me relatively expensive with Cyprus Airways. So I had decided to take the inconvenience and travel by train to London, leaving from there with Monarch Airlines. In order to get there I had to take a train. Leaving from Leeds at 8:28, I took an East Midlands Line train with destination "St. Pancras", the train station just next to Kings Cross. The usual connection from Leeds to London would be to go to Kings Cross. The train line goes more towards the East, and is shorter: the ride can be 2:10 hours, and the line is electrified. But it does not seem to have a suitable connection to Luton airport, which is north of London. And so I ended up travelling with a train on the longer route, through Sheffield and Derby to Bedford, then changing into a commuter train which stops near Luton airport.

The East Midlands train made a more run-down impression than the National Express East Coast train which I had just taken last week to London. That one even had free Wifi for everyone – and the 2 1/2 hours went by quite fast. But the East Midlands train had a more conventional approach. Diesel-driven, the line is not electrified. Sometimes 4 parallel tracks, remnants of past UK railway glory. It took almost 3 hours to arrive in Bedford. Then another 20 min, a shuttle bus, and then I was ready to check in at Luton airport.

I had not done an internet check-in – I had already my seat assignment and did not want to bother. But that was a mistake: the line for checking in took more than 30 minutes, while the line for internet check-in was almost empty.

Monarch Airways has a low base price, but charges for everything: checking in a suitcase costs 4 pound, and a seat reservation for a seat with more leg room costs again 4 pound. But it was worth: at least my knees did not bump into the front seat. Unfortunately, the increased leg room did nothing to increase the arm room as well – still 3 seats close to each other, and the usual elbow fight with the neighbor for the arm rest could not be avoided.

How I miss those free first class upgrades I enjoyed in the past years in the US when flying Northwest Airlines! Seat 1A, nice location right behind the cockpit. The free gourmet meal, beer, wine, champagne. And having the seat leaning back, the legs wide stretched, the neighbor far away. It was always nice to look out of the window during the late-evening descend into the LA basin, with its sea of lights. Yeah, that was great. Now I have to shall out a few pounds for those sandwiches, and there is no more any free beverage!

But the flight was without any incidents, we landed ahead of time in Larnaca airport around 21:00.

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