One of the great things about being in Europe is access to the discount airlines offering direct flights all over Europe. We were able to get flights to London for 50 euros less than it cost to get West End theater tickets in the mezzanine to see Aladdin. But, my son and I love musicals so we were excited to be able to just head to London to see something. The flight was only about 80 minutes which is shorter than it takes to get to the theater in New York City or Chicago from Birmingham. But then there is the travel to and from the airport needs to be mentioned.
Back in Birmingham, I have a 10 minute drive to the airport. Somedays it may take 20 minutes if I go in the middle of rush hour but otherwise it is very easy to get to the airport. There is not a great option in terms of mass transit from where I live to the Birmingham Airport. We don’t have a rail or tram system. There is a public bus system but it would take me more than an hour to use it to get to the airport. Needless to say, I usually drive myself or use some type of ride sharing service. But overall, the drive is short and sweet.
In Bordeaux, we have an excellent transportation system. For less than 3 euros, we could get to the airport and back. All though the cost is low, we had to take a tram ride for about 30 minutes followed by a 15 minutes bus ride. So the travel time to the airport was a good bit longer than I would experience in Birmingham. But you can't beat the price or the reliability of the Bordeaux transit system. The trams come about every 5 minutes and the buses come about every 15 minutes so we didn't have long to wait.
London was not quite as quick but neither is getting to Manhattan when you are coming in from LaGuardia. In order to get the cheap fare on the plane ticket, we flew easyJet into London Luton which is a good way from Central London. But then again, I suppose most big city airports are quite far from the action. To get into London from Luton, we had to take a bus to the nearest underground or tube stop. The bus ride was about 45 minutes and cost 22 euros round trip if booked in advance (which we did of course). We landed at about 9 pm, had to wait outside in line for about 20 minutes for the bus in the cold and so it was no surprise my son promptly fell asleep on the bus. The bus dropped us off at the Finchley Road underground station and from there it was 15 minute ride into central London to get to the hotel. We were staying right next to the London eye but didn’t get to the hotel until close to 11 pm so not much enjoying the hotel on Friday night. Saturday we explored Tower Bridge and went to dinner in the West End before taking in Aladdin. Sunday morning we got back up and reversed the process to arrive back in Bordeaux around 2 pm. It was about 5 hours door to door in terms of travel time and went something like this tram-bus-plane-bus-tube.
The plane itself was great. The boarding process was quite different as they did not assign a gate until about 30 minutes before take off. Then everybody on the runs to the border control area to show passports (since the plane was leaving France). From border control, we basically went straight out to the plane. There were not any jetways and the plane was boarded from both the front and rear doors of the aircraft. We walked up the stairs just like I used to do on the teeny tiny planes that flew into Houghton, MI. They were able to board the plane in about 15 minutes and we were ready for takeoff. We were only allowed one carry on and they were very strict on the size. But it was just for the weekend so that was no problem. Food and beverages both cost money on the plane. Overall though, the plane was clean and got us where we were going. Completely worth it!