Edinburgh Airport and Loganair to Islay (A Cranky Travelogue)

I’m not sure if I was still suffering from a lack of sleep, but there was something about the Edinburgh Airport’s layout that reminded me of Puerto Vallarta as I walked up from the tram.

The L-shaped main terminal building was buzzing as I walked inside. The ticket counters were along the back wall, but I already had my boarding pass printed, so I breezed by looking for security. I was excited for my first experience, and I was not disappointed. This ended up being my favorite flight of the trip.

As in Puerto Vallarta, I had to walk upstairs above the ticket counters to then try and avoid a gauntlet of shops. There was an expansive security area, and while I again had to remove my liquids and laptops, these were pros who processed everyone very quickly.

I stared at the departure board, impressed with the number of flights going to every corner of the continent. Edinburgh has seen tremendous growth, and the airport is bursting at the seams. But I was a bit more concerned with the fact that my departure time had apparently moved from 12:25pm to 12:05pm with no warning. My boarding pass even said departure was at 12:25pm, but the screens said otherwise. I had time to spare, but I was certainly confused.

There is a great deal of construction behind security, and it looks like they’re just trying to build enough food and shopping options to keep the ever-increasing number of travelers busy. Not having eaten, I stopped at a restaurant and ordered a British breakfast. Like the Brits, I agree that beans should be a part of any balanced breakfast. As I told my wife, I’m pretty sure British food is my spirit animal. Then the monitor posted for the flight saying I should go to the waiting area near gates 26-29.

While gates 1-18 have jet bridges and look to be in a fairly modern boarding area, gates 19-29 are really just in a long tin barn with ground level boarding. (I arrived at the same place the day before and hadn’t seen there was a proper terminal until I flew back out.) I walked to the end and saw it surprisingly crowded. That’s when I learned a British Airways flight to London’s City Airport was boarding. Once that was gone, the gate area was quiet.

Our exact gate (27) was called and boarding began eight minutes before the brand new 12:05pm departure time. I ambled up and unlike the day before, there was no concern from the agents about my bag fitting. I was told to just take it on, so I headed downstairs. After going through a long, covered walkway, we were held while they prepared the airplane. They then cleared us to board, and that’s when I got a good look at this nearly-30 year old airplane that started life with Crossair.

It was beautiful from the outside, and the tartan tail colors look downright regal. I climbed up the stairs and was greeted by a giant teddy bear of a flight attendant.


April 21, 2019
Loganair 325 Lv Edinburgh 1225p or possibly 1205p Arr Islay 115p
Edinburgh (EDI): Gate 27, Runway 24, Depart 8m Early or 12 minutes late
Islay (ILY): Gate Yes, there was one, Runway 13, Arrive 13m Early
G-LGNK, Saab 340B, Tartan colors, ~50% Full
Seat 10A, Coach
Flight Time 35m

It took me about half a second to realize there was no chance my bag was going to fit in the minuscule overhead bins. The flight attendant with his pleasant Scottish accent dryly told me to just put it on my lap and he’d come back to take care of it in a few minutes. So I did.

This airplane looked brand new on the inside with slimline leather seats, the same ones Frontier and Hawaiian (on the 717) use with their half-tray tables, I believe. The most striking feature, however, is that each seat has its own antimacassar tartan design which looked to be made of actual wool (or least scratched like it). It was a welcome, proud Scottish look for the airplane.

We buttoned up and I realized there wasn’t anyone in the couple rows behind me. I was sitting on the single seat side, but on the two-seat side? My bag would easily fit under those seats. The flight attendant came back and I told him my plan. He heartily agreed. After a short taxi, we were airborne.

There was some light chop on the climb out, but it settled down nicely for yet another gorgeous day of flying. The flight attendant came through with drinks, and he had warned us before departure that this was a short flight so we should have our orders ready. I had some tea. There was also a surprisingly large selection of snacks. I told him I’d take one of the caramel wafers for my kids. He asked how many kids I had, and when I told him, he gave me three: one for each of them and one for me. These things are very tasty.

Since I was the last one to be served, he stayed back for a minute as I peppered him with questions. Apparently he had flown for British Airways for 30 years before deciding he wanted to come back home and fly for Loganair. I could tell he was enjoying himself.

It turns out about half the passengers onboard were women from Islay who were in Edinburgh for a hen party (bachelorette party for us on this side of the Pond). I asked the woman next to me if she had any tips for where I should eat while on the island. She suggested I go to a restaurant where her dad was the bartender. The connections on the island were all like this. If people weren’t related, they at least knew each other well.

We soon began our descent and had an expansive view of the Hebrides islands as we wound our way down. After a turn back toward Islay, we paralleled a long, broad, empty beach all the way until the airport. I took.

Right before touchdown, we passed a handful of spotters armed with cameras to try to catch one of the two or three Loganair flights that day. It was a short taxi back to the terminal and our flight was done.

After disembarking, I walked into the spartan terminal through the “arrivals” door. I found my ride, and I exhaled. I was finally on Islay.

I can’t say enough about Loganair from a passenger perspective. They’ve put together a very Scottish experience, and one that I enjoyed thoroughly. I should note that multiple people told me they were surprised my flight was early. They say it’s usually late, though it remains unclear just how much of that is based in fact and how much is lore. But for me, this was a great ride.

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