We began our journey to Berlin at 4.30 pm, and it took us about 1.5 hours to get to Gatwick Airport. We must have caught the slow train from Clapham Junction, because it seemed to stop at every stop after that. And you also had to be in the correct carriage, as the train divided and the back half of it went in a different direction. It was all a bit confusing.
We arrived in Gatwick in plenty of good time, at 6 pm. About 2 hours before our flight. Yes, like I said, never having been to Gatwick, I wanted to make sure we were early as I did not know what to expect. With hindsight, I think a planned arrival time of about 6.30 pm would suffice. This would provide enough buffer from any delays on the train line (it has been known to happen). I think the best thing to do is to travel light, ie. no check in luggage. That way, you can check in online and head straight into the departure area.
Security check in appeared quite long and chaotic. This could be normal, or just the Friday afternoon run. Once you got through, you did not need to clear immigration. Also, gates are not announced until about 15 minutes before boarding. I found this disconcerting given that some gates, you needed 20 minutes to get there. So we spent quite a while waiting around the departure boards for the gate announcements.
As it turns out, our flight was delayed by an hour. So, more waiting. We wandered around the departure area, but apart from bookshops, some duty free shopping and takeaway places, there really wasn’t much in terms of “entertainment”. Definitely bring a book with you.
We flew by Easyjet, which though affordable, does not give you allocated seats. Now, there’s good things about that …. and there are not so good things about that. One thing is the crush of people trying to get through the door when you begin boarding. And the public (and the airline) do not care about little people. By little people, I don’t mean babies. They get them to board first. For children around the double digit mark, they are forgotten, and my son nearly got crushed by all the adults carrying and pulling their luggage. It was highly unpleasant. When you board the aircraft, because people are carrying very heavy luggage on board, just also keep an eye out that your head doesn’t get lopped off as passengers swing their bags up to the overhead compartments.
Our particular aircraft also smelled very stale. They did not pump enough air through the cabin, so the entire flight felt unpleasant – to me. Thankfully, not all aircraft smell, as the flight back was more comfortable in terms of air quality.
When we got to Berlin, we cleared immigration and customs quite quickly, and we out through the doors within 15 minutes of docking. By the way, I should mention, that when the taxis to the air bridge, it was going pretty fast, like a car at 60 km/h before it suddenly pulls up and stops. Let’s just say it was “speedier” than in Australia. I guess the runway is quite far away and they have quite a long way to go before they get to the airport itself.
We took a taxi from Berlin-Schonefeld airport to the city, which cost around 35 Euros. By the time we got into the hotel, it was about 11.30 London time (12.30 Berlin time).