Like mentioned in a blog post from early 2016, Lufthansa had introduced services from Southampton to its hub Munich in March 2016 operated by its codeshare partner BMI Regional. Having just recently completed a channel crossing from Hamburg with the mighty Queen Mary 2, it was just the perfect occasion to try this air link by myself, turning out to be a comfortable and time-saving alternative to the permanently overcrowded London Heathrow airport.
There is currently only the 3:30pm afternoon service on Sundays available, but “killing” time in Southampton is easy with sightseeing and shopping before taking the public bus to Southampton airport for only 2 GBP one-way. The ride takes roughly 45 minutes and is quite fun from the upper deck of the double-decker bus that you already know from London.
Southampton airport itself is tiny, yet it offers a reasonable Duty-Free shop as well as a Costa coffee lounge in the check-in and another one in the gate area, as well as free WiFi.
One thing that is useful to know is that the check-in desks are opening just about one and a half hours before departure, so it does not make too much sense to head there earlier than that. Otherwise, you will die of boredom!
When we left the ship around 11am, we stored our luggage at the Oceans Gift Shop (160 High Street) which charges 5 GBP per piece and which is at the same time a fantastic treasure trove for maritime and nautical souvenirs. So when you have a few hours to spare before your flight leaves, this is a great alternative to bridge these with a little sightseeing tour of Southampton itself before taking the bus towards the airport.
As we were traveling on a standby ticket, I was a little devastated to hear that the flight was full when we arrived at the desk. But with a little luck and keeping a cool head, we eventually made it onboard.
Each of the BMI Regional handling staff, that we had contact with, was truly lovely, helpful and supportive.
Transportation to the airplane is done by bus as there are no jetways available. Most of the aircrafts serving SOU are smaller planes and you will have to leave larger carry-on items for delivery at aircraft outside before boarding. So it is advisable to pack computers and valuables in a small handbag.
BMI Regional operates a fleet of Embraer 135´s and 145´s which are so tiny, that they almost pass as a private jet from the outside. The ERJ145 that was allocated today featured 49 seats in a 1-2 (A-DF) configuration with one lavatory at the very rear of the cabin. One charming flight attendant took care of any ground preparation as well as the inflight service.
BMI Regional is a full-service airline with complimentary drinks and snacks. On this 1 hour 45 minutes flight we were offered a selection of hot and cold beverages (including beer) as well as a choice between a cheese and a ham sandwich.
I opted for a Pellegrino sparkling water and the ham snack, which was absolutely sufficient for this short sector. The remaining flight time I tried to catch a little rest. Even though the interiors were a little outdated and old-fashioned, the leather seats were actually quite comfortable and leg room seemed also a little larger than on most carriers these days.
Announcements by the captain were made after departure and before landing and with just 5 minutes delay we touched down at rainy Munich airport. Disembarkation took place on the apron (and I had packed my umbrella in the suitcase), but the short distance between the stairs and the bus were not enough to get me really wet.
Overall, a pleasant and convenient experience with a friendly service. In my opinion, absolutely a much better alternative (if suitable for your connection) to the hassle to get to Heathrow and then be stuck in a middle seat on a full flight afterwards.
For more flight information check BMI Regional´s website!