Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 4 (J)

Read this report on Airliners.net.

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Hello and welcome to my 6th trip-report, part 4!

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This map and all other maps in this TR created with www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L. Swartz.

Previous Parts:
6th TR: Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 1: Featuring the flights to SIN and back, departing from TXL, arriving two days later in BRI.
6th TR: Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 2: Featuring the flights to NRT and PVG, a 787-roundtrip and visits to the cities of Tokyo and Shanghai.
6th TR: Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 3: Featuring the flights to PEK, HKG and HKT, the cities of Beijing and Hongkong, holiday at Phuket and the TG A380.

This is Part 4:

— HKT-BKK —

PRE-FLIGHT:

After my week in Thailand (as described in Part 3) it was time to end this trip, to end these amazing and fantastic 25 days of flying, visiting new cities, new countries and cultures. And I wanted to finish this trip in style, so I had booked a business class trip with RJ back home. But being price-sensitive I had booked a TG roundtrip, between HKG and HKT, because the one-way fare being inapproriate high and me wanting to get some more flights under my belt. So my routing for the next two days was HKT-BKK-HKG-BKK-AMM-TXL. The second stop in BKK was just to refuel and pick up passengers, so I could not leave the aircraft there.

I got up at 6:00AM that day, packed my bags and went to the reception, where I checked out and got into my waiting, pre-ordered cab to the airport. I arrived at the airport at 7:50, a good time for the morning rush-hour. Before entering the terminal I had to go through a first security check, then could proceed to the TG check-in-desks. This is the main hall, in the left part of the photo the Transaero desks can be seen, there were waiting close to 1000 pax for the check-in of two 747 flights leaving within of one hour:

I continued to the TG desks, but there were long queues, too, as only two desks were open. Ridiculous!

After waiting 20 minutes in line another three desks were opened, what speeded things up a little. So after a full 40 minutes I could check-in for my flight:

I stopped at the local BK for some hamburger plain and a coke and used the free wifi checking facebook and a.net:

Afterwards I went straight through to the security checks for international departures. Quite crazy as I was heading for BKK first, but for TG or Thailand only the last stop of your journey counts:

The FIDS, showing four departures to SIN:

The waiting area at my gate, it was crowded due to the Transaero 747 leaving at the next gate, but I still got a seat:

Ten minutes prior to boarding a 30 minute delay was announced, not very surprising with the situation at the check-in desks. But it even took longer than announced, boarding finally started 40 minutes after the scheduled boarding-time and ten minutes after the scheduled pushback-/depature-time. When the boarding call came, everyone was running to the gate, despite the agents calling for exact seat rows. Oh these leasure-tourists! Before entering the jet bridge there was a crossing were pax from the international departures waiting-area and the domestic departures waiting-area were mixed together. Here I took this photo of my TG 747 that day:

Full airbridge:

FLIGHT HKT-BKK

Date: 16 December 2012
Airline: Thai Airways
Flight: TG 202
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Aircraft Reg: HS-TGO
Departure Airport: HKT / Phuket
Arrival Airport: BKK / Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Scheduled Departure Time: 10:10 / 10:10 AM
Actual Departure Time: 10:10 / 10:10 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 11:40 / 11:40 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 11:40 / 11:40 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 49K (window)

Wingview from my seat 49K with a TG A330 at the next gate:

Pushback finally starting at 10:50, 40 minutes behind schedule. We were pushed back for a rather long distance as another aicraft directly pulled into our gate:

Passing a “Business Air” 767 on taxi-out, never heard of this airline:

Lining up in easternly direction, so no departure over the Maho beach of Thailand:

Take-off, leaving one of earths paradises:


After take-off we turned West and flew along the Thai Westcoast until we were on one level with Kho Samui. Then we turned to the Northeast, overflying mainland Thailand straight in to BKK:


The cabin in-flight:

In-flight map:

Excellent legroom again, the TG 747 really seems to the aircraft to go for a huge legroom in Economy Class:

Over mainland Thailand:

There was the usual snack/drink-run in the first third of the flight, I did not touch it again and gave it to my neighbour, who was happy to get some more unnatural OJ and that muffin:


At least they did offer free OJ this time on their drink-run, which is far better than only coffee, tea and water.

IFE with PTV, but disabled AVOD function on this domestic flight (for whatever reason? probably rights?):

With the ocean to our right and about 45 minutes to go I decided to sleep a little bit:

I woke up at 5500 ft and had missed all announcements regarding our descent. The flaps were gradually lowered and we made a rather hard landing:




As soon as the aircraft had vacated the runway it got insanely hot again inside the cabin. It had been this at boarding, too, and if you read part 3, it had been the same on the inbound flight to HKT. Is the 744 a/c system this bad or is TG using it the wrong way? I have never noticed this before at another hot country.

We had a short way to our gate and I could view the process of taxiing and turning into our gate through the front-camera again:

At our parking position:

This time I was not allowed into the flightdeck, but could take this photo of the Business Class cabin (i like the oldschool video projector in the top-left):

POST-FLIGHT:

After disembarking the aircraft I had to walk forever from the last gate of the domestic terminal until reaching the exit for the transfer pax:

— BKK-HKG —

PRE-FLIGHT:

I had to pass another passport and baggage checkpoint, which made me ask myself why I had to pass passport control already at HKT? Weird setup. After 10-15 minutes I finally had passed the checkpoint and was inside the international terminal:

FIDS, my flight leaving from E3, a codeshare with NZ operated by TG:

I to reach the E-concourse, which is just on the opposite site from the domestic gates. The walk leads you right through the longest shopping mall I ever saw at an airport, some shops existed two or three times. And it is quite a long distance, too, about 900m/1000yard. I think I never walked this far inside an airport (that felt too hot, too):

I really swore to never transfer at BKK again when I finally reached the calm and not so crowded E-concourse:

I directly passed through another small checkpoint to reach my boarding area at gate E3. Here my aircraft, another A330:

The waiting/boarding area at gate E3:

FLIGHT BKK-HKG

Date: 16 December 2012
Airline: Thai Airways
Flight: TG 638
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300X
Aircraft Reg: HS-TBA
Departure Airport: BKK / Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Arrival Airport: HKG / Hongkong Chek Lap Kok
Scheduled Departure Time: 14:00 / 02:00 PM
Actual Departure Time: 14:00 / 02:00 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 17:45 / 05:45 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 17:45 / 05:45 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 58K (window)

I waited for 50 minutes and tried using the free wifi, but it did not work. Boarding began at 13:40/01:40PM, the agents announced boarding by rows and even enforced this, despite everyone storming to the gate. Firt action after boarding, activating the map:

The flight again had a loadfactor close to 100%, which is good for TG, not so good for me. Waiting for some bags to be loaded into our aircraft in the last minutes before pushback:

Pushback exactly on-time:

PSU without vents again:

The fantastic Thai retro scheme 747-400:

Passing a PR 744:

EK A380 lifting off, I was a little bit slow and pressed the shutter too late:

Saudi Arabian Cargo MD-11 on its’ take-off-roll:

Lining up, love the scenery and the airport building (from the outside):

Passing a TG A300 while taking off:

Take-off:


Passing the airport after a long turn to the right (Northeast):

Rigth after take-off I started watching The Bourne Legacy which was an okay action movie:

Very nice colours and an serpentine like river flowing through the whole photo:

Legroom was okay, but not as good as the excellent 744 legroom on the two flights before:

Seatback with PTV/AVOD-system, the controller, double-folding table and a small seat-pocket very low under my knees:

Not so long after take-off the crew served us a late lunch and drinks. The meal was excellent again!

Wing-shot:

We had already started our descend when I looked out the window again and realzied we were in a holding again doing one or two rounds in the classic racetrack-pattern. And when I looked out I saw another aircraft flying the same holding just two flightlevels (2000 ft) below:

Sunset changing the colour of the clouds and our wing as we leave the holding and continue our descent into HKG, the spoilers being deployed again to reduce speed:


Approaching HKG over a endless number of ships anchoring close to harbour:

My movie ending, just in time:

The map showing the full route flown:

Wonderful sunset approach into HKG:


A zoomed-in view of the map, showing the holding and approach into HKG:

Final approach and touchdown:



Parking next to the TK 777 with the special FC Barcelona scheme:

Atlas Air Cargo 747 climbing away while I wait for the other pax to disembark:

The Economny cabin:

The Business cabin:

And thanks again to the great cabin and flightdeck crew, the “cockpit” of our A330:


POST-FLIGHT:

I had a long walk again to the immigration:

Passing immigration took less than 5 minutes:

And so I could pick up my bag again, just to check it in again a few minutes later:

— HKG-BKK —

PRE-FLIGHT:

From the baggage carrousel I proceeded to the upper levels where the check-in area was located. The only area at HKG that really feels crowded, check-in-area at Terminal 1:

I checked the FIDS and realized that the check-in for my flight would be done in terminal 2 and surprisingly the flight was expected to leave 15 minutes earlier than scheduled:

I headed over to terminal 2, which is just a “check-in-terminal”. All flights still leave from terminal 1, but there is a direct airside airtrain connection between both terminals and the departure area. In fact both terminals are not really seperate terminals, you just have to cross the street seperating both buildings or take the undercrossing, what I did. The more calm feeling terminal 2:

I proceeded to the business class check-in at the RJ desks, but had to wait for quite a while, because of the group in front of me which was travelling with close to 20 bags, all in the classic Louis Vuitton design. I later realized why they had to many bags, they were travelling with wifes and kids, but only the men had seats in J class. When it was my time to check-in, the very friendly lady informed me that I would be checked in for all three flights up to my final destination Berlin-Tegel and I would not have re-check my bags in Ammann. Not really surprising, but nice to get a talkative and friendly agent there. She also handed me the boarding passes and the lounge invitation:

I proceeded to the passport control of terminal 2, what turned out to be a epic fail. There were multiple long, very slow moving queues, and it took me more than 20 minutes to reach the airtrain (after I already spent close to 15 minutes at check-in):

The train drove 5 minutes through dark tunnels until it reached the main departure hall:

From the departure hall I walked up to gate 1, where The Travelers’ Lounge was located:

I was welcomed to the lounge and was informed I had to wait about 20 minutes until a shower would be free. They also informed me that I should expect changing water temperatures as there was a malfunction with the boiler. The lounge felt rather dark, but at least it was not croweded and there were many seats available:


25 minutes later the agent came over to my place informing me that my shower was ready to use. I took my time taking my shower, the water was really changing temperatures from cold to hot and back, but it was acceptable. Nice design here, too:


I felt like a newly born and proceeded to the buffet, having chicken, rice, nuts and an apple. Overall the lounge offered excellent food and really was on par with the lounge at SIN:




I was still eating my last nuts when the boarding call for my flight was made. The nuts were so tasty that I packed them into a napkin and then left the lounge for a short walk of 2 minutes to my gate (no.16). Before boarding a quick shot of my airplane, I love the colours RJ had selected:

FLIGHT HKG-BKK

Date: 16 December 2012
Airline: Royal Jordanian
Flight: RJ 183
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Aircraft Reg: JY-AIG
Departure Airport: HKG / Hongkong Chek Lap Kok
Arrival Airport: BKK / Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Scheduled Departure Time: 21:25 / 09:25 PM
Actual Departure Time: 21:25 / 09:25 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 23:25 / 11:25 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 23:25 / 11:25 PM
Class: Business
Seat: 01A (window)

While boarding the aircraft I was welcomed by the crew and while getting seated the very friendly FA handling my aisle in the business class cabin was already offering me a drink. I opted for an OJ and then got into my seat. I had chosen 1A while booking the flight and got lucky that 1B remained empty:

OJ and left-over nuts from the lounge:

Just a minute later the friendly FA was back again at my seat. She handed me the ammenity kit and the menu for the “short hop” to Bangkok and informed me that there would be another menu for the next flight to Amman:





There also was a menu called “The Cellar” for the wines and alcoholic drinks, but as I am not drinking when flying, I did not read it:

The amenity kit:

Pushback started exactly on-time, with both jetbridges being removed from doors 1L and 2L:

Overhead PSU with no vents again:

China Airlines A330 parked at the gate to our left:

Lining up with the runway:

Sorry for the blurry pics, but I loved these shots after take-off: clouds over Hongkong, but thin enough to be lit up in all the different colours of Hongkong Island and Kowloon, it was one of the magic moments of flying:


The very good IFE system, I started to watch Red Lights right after take-off, which was a good movie:

Seat controls:

About half-time into the flight my FA was back at my seat, setting up the table for a cold dinner. I only ate the fruits and the chocolate muffin:

Reading light, power supply and USB slot:

Contents of the amenity kit:

When my movie finished we already had started our descent. I really have to say the HKG-BKK route has the perfect length for watching most movies:

My seat in the sleeping position:

Business Class cabin:

Dark Economy Class cabin:

When taking the photo of the Y cabin the seat-belt-signs were switched on, so I returned to my seat before visiting the rear Y cabin and the galley. The inflight map showing our approach path into BKK:

Blurry sea of lights on final approach to runway 01L:

From exiting the runway to our gate G3 it took less than one minute:

POST-FLIGHT:

No photos, as we had to stay on the aircraft.

— BKK-AMM —

PRE-FLIGHT:

No photos, as we had to stay on the aircraft.

FLIGHT BKK-AMM

Date: 17 December 2012
Airline: Royal Jordanian
Flight: RJ 183
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Aircraft Reg: JY-AIG
Departure Airport: BKK / Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Arrival Airport: AMM / Amman Queen Alia
Scheduled Departure Time: 00:30 / 12:30 AM
Actual Departure Time: 00:30 / 12:30 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 06:15 / 06:15 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 06:15 / 06:15 AM
Class: Business
Seat: 01A (window)

After we had arrived at the gate it was announced that the technical stop would take about 45 minutes. Just after opening the doors the catering arrived and some trolleys were exchanged between the catering truck at door 1R and our galley. Soon after a cleaning crew came onboard and cleaned the seats of passengers who had disembarked the aircraft at BKK. That was very weird to see while being onboard, but not really disturbing, just something “special”. I could not take any photos as the chief of the cabin told everyone to switch of any electronics and stay at their seats while the aircraft was refueled.

When the refueling was done, some new passengers boarded our aircraft. Three of them were seated in the J cabin, thus raising the J loadfactor from 20 to 40 percent. After boarding was completed three ladies in Thai Airways uniforms came onboard and counted the passengers two or three times, comparing their numbers all the times. It seemed to me like something has gone wrong and they were not sure about the number of pax onboard. Perhaps someone who was only booked to BKK had not disembarked the aircraft or a scan of a boarding pass had gone wrong. Who knows?

After the counting was finished, the RJ crew got relieved by a new crew. The new crew was a little bit older on average (by their looks), but seemed more friendly and professional, at least this was my feeling. The last crew was a mixed bag, with only the lady in my aisle being vey friendly, while her older two colleagues were more reserved and just doing their job. The new crew was really outgoing, communicating a lot with the passengers and trying to impress with their service. Their first action onboard was to hand out the menus.

The Cellar:




The Art of Dining (the RJ menu):



I opted for my standard OJ again before pushback which started on-time, with a KQ aircraft to our left:

I did not manage to get any good photos from the take-off as it was a really dark night with low clouds on that day, but I took a video:

The flight-time to AMM was close to 9 hours on that day, leaving me enough time to sleep after dinner. When the FA in my aisle reached my seat to hand out the warm towel (I was the last one in J getting it) she asked me why I was taking all these photos. I told her about airliners.net and the trip-reports. That is how we came to the topic “787”. She told me how she loved aviation and that she hoped to be one of the first FAs to get on the 787 at RJ. She loved the 787 and really looked forward to RJ getting theirs. We ended our talk with her telling me she would love to have me onboard again and perhaps it would be onboard a 787. Nice to find a FA who loves aviation, too.


Warm towel, coke, nuts:

From now on every time “my FA” was back at my seat we exchanged some words about RJ, the 787 or aviation in general, so soon after she was back setting up my table for the appetizer. Too bad I ate nothing except for the bun with some butter:

Soon after the appetizer the FA was back asking me about my dinner choice. I opted for the beef tenderloin, removed the sauce and had an really excellent onboard dinner with a perfectly medium-well cooked piece of meat:




While eating I opted to use the IFE and listen to some good music:

The little chocolate-cake was a perfect finish for a really good dinner:

When I had finished the little cake my FA came back asking me if she should take a photo of my, to which I agreed:

I had one last OJ and then moved my seat into the sleeping position. I could sleep about 5 hours, woke up about 5-6 times, but could go back to sleep everytime in no time. In my opinion much to early the cabin lights were switched on again in preperation for breakfast. We still had 1 hour and 40 minutes to go, why this early???!!!

Just 5 minutes later breakfast was served, which was very good. I even got another strawberry yoghurt:

15-20 minutes later everyone in the biz class cabin had finished their breakfast and apperently I was not the only one feeling this had been much to early in the flight. Multiple people went back to sleep, so did I. The crew even switched out the lights again. Really stupid timing. About 50 minutes later I woke up to an announcement by the crew that our descend had started and we should return our seats into a upright position. The sky outside was totally clear, stars visible all around. On the ground no lights could be seen, it was just dark. AMM was built very far away from the city, in the Southeast of Amman.

Landing video:

I asked my FA if I could visit the flightdeck and after a few words with the pilot and his first officer I was allowed to take my photos up front. Upon entering the flightdeck the captain saw my cheap entry-level-DSLR and announced “Oh, a profession camera, lets switch all the lights on, so it looks sexy”. The FO and I laughed about his comment and I could take my pics. Don’t know why, but they turned out a little bit blurry.

POST-FLIGHT:

After I had taken my photos I thanked the cockpit and cabin crew. I disembarked the aircraft after a really good flight on RJ. They should just exchange the angled lie-flat-seats to real lie-flat-seats.

The old terminal of AMM is really looking shabby and you could really feel that everyone was just waiting for the new terminal to open (what happened four month later in April 2013):

After going through the transfer-exit the looks got better, but it still felt worn down and like a construction area at some places (look at the ceiling):


— AMM-TXL —

PRE-FLIGHT:

I had more than four hours until boarding for my flight to TXL should start, so I headed for the RJ Crown Lounge:

If you wanted to shower there, that would cost 15 USD. Not really logical for a business class lounge. Luckily I was not feeling the need for shower, so I could relax in the very spacious lounge. Billiard/Pool and kicker table:

Lounging area 1 and TV/movie area to the right:

FIDS, flight to TXL on RJ metal on-time at 11:20 AM:

Buffet (with breakfats being on offer at this time of the day):



My airplane at the gate, still completely dark at 6:30 in the morning:

I had chosen a seat at the large window front in the back of the lounge and watched the sun rise a half hour later, always an amazing experience:

One window was facing the area where the new terminal was built:

The sun still rising, but not visible:

Another aircraft arriving, an E-Jet:

Breakfast, these little chocolate croissants were really good and I had multiple rounds of breakfast that day:

Finally, the sun appearing at the horizon, what a sight:

Another breakfast round:

An hour later I switched to couch in a more shadowy area and starting reading a Jordanian magazine named JO. Quite an interesting read, mostly covering luxury cars and houses, sports cars, but also new stories about the refugee crisis at the Jordanian border to Syria.

20 minutes prior boarding time I left the lounge and proceeded through the shopping area to the other wing of the old terminal.

The boarding area of my gate:

As there were no signs indicating the gate numbers (very strange) I just went to the area were the most pax had gathered. This turned out to be gate 7a, which was the right gate. The pax at 7b and 7c came over when boarding was announced. On-time boarding was announced, we passed a boarding pass control and could take an escalator down to the ground level where a bus should wait. But there was no bus. So we ended up on the apron, with no official person or a bus to be seen.

After one minute a RJ gate agent came running down and told us to wait inside, made a hectic call and 5 minutes later the bus arrived. It took is over to the new terminal where our aircraft was parked at one of the new gates. Apperently they were using the jet bridges there instead of stairs on the apron, why not? We still had to walk of the stairs inside the jetway-building:

FLIGHT AMM-TXL

Date: 17 December 2012
Airline: Royal Jordanian
Flight: RJ 121
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Reg: JY-AYQ
Departure Airport: AMM / Amman Queen Alia
Arrival Airport: TXL / Berlin Tegel
Scheduled Departure Time: 11:20 / 11:20 AM
Actual Departure Time: 11:20 / 11:20 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 13:55 / 01:55 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 13:55 / 01:55 PM
Class: Business
Seat: 03A (window)

I was welcomed onboard and took my seat, number 3A today:

The crew on this flight was more of the “professional” type, not unfriendly, but not like the perfect crew on the BKK-AMM sector. As a welcome drink I opted for an AJ and OJ combination:

The last passengers boarding:

“The Art of Dining”:



“The Cellar” and the Nespresso Menu (interesting, this was not offered on the longhaul flights):

More simple headseat on this narrowbody aircraft:

Smaller amenity kit:

Pushback could not start on time as two German-sounding (judging by their names) pax had not boarded the flight and their baggage had to be offloaded. But after a few minutes we could start up the engines and were good to go. Egyptair E-Jet:

RJ narrowbody fleet:

RJ Cargo A310:

LUZair L1011:


More parked aircraft:





Rich International L1011:

Lining up:

Take-off:


Shortly after take-off the cabin announced that the Dead Sea would be visible to the left, perfect for me:

The IFE was a little bit older, but still perfect for a narrowbody and much better compared to comparable aircraft on European airlines.

I started watching “The Watch”, which really was a funny movie, typical Ben Stiller style:

Contents of my ammenity kit:

The seat in the fully reclined position:

Inflight view of this sunny winter sky:

Legroom and seatback:

20 minutes after take-off the flight attendant came through the J cabin and noted which drinks and snacks we liked to get:

Getting a Coke and nuts as a starter, I even got a second round of nuts:

Appetizer being served next:

While the eating the appetizer the captain announced it seemed like we would arrive a little bit late and would not make up the 10 minutes delay at AMM. Soon after the crew cleaned our tables and came back with the lunch trolley. I really liked this better than having to choose the food from the menu like on the last flight. This time the FA came up to our row and I could choose what to get on my plate from her trolley. PERFECT! I just opted for beef and rice:


Very tasty:

A chocolate cake for dessert, perfect, too:

After lunch I closed my eyes and slept for an hour. When I woke up we were close to Thessaloniki, Greece:

The J cabin:

Just when I got back in my seat, the captain appeared in the cabin, talking to a person at 4C and D. He went away and came back 5 minutes later and talked to these people again. When he wanted to return to the flight deck I asked him if I could take some photos of the flightdeck after landing and he told me I could visit the flightdeck any time. I asked: “Anytime? Now, too?”, to which he replied “Yeah sure, just come with me.” So I followed him. The FO welcomed me to the flightdeck and we talked a bit before I took my photos. Both put the flowers from their meal-tray on the dashboard “to make it look nicer”. Haha! Just too bad the sun was so strong that day, everything looked too yellow:




Soon after the captain asked me if I wanted a photo from myself in the flightdeck. I said yed and he said we should take a picture all together. He called the J class FA and she had to take the picture:

After our photo session I thanked the crew and returned to my seat, very happy after my first inflight flightdeck-visit since 1994 (on AF). As you might have seen on the flightdeck pics we had just passed LOWW, which is the 4-letter identifier for VIE. the landscape had changed and the ground was covered in snow in this very long winter which covered Germany and the surrounding countries in snow up until the first days of April:

What I found interesting on all my flights with RJ is that I never saw one person pray. A lot of TRs here on a.net describe the praying pax on airlines from the Middle East and some even show the prayer room. RJ also showed the direction of Mekka all the time on their IFE-airshow. Perhaps people from Jordan aren’t that strict about that matter? Anyone know this?

It did not took long and we overflew the Czech-German-border and started our descent into TXL:

While descending the FA offered us a last drink, i opted for a last OJ. Overall you could say she was very, very active. Looking around all the time if she could do anything for the pax. Passing the sea of clouds:


We approached Berlin from the East, passing Berlins’ Autobahn (highway) ring and the boroughs of Marzahn and Hellersdorf with their old GDR-style high-rise buildings:




Over the borough of Mitte, the “Fernsehturm” (tv tower) to our left:



Passing the bus depot at Müllerstraße:

Landing:


I wondered why we were deccelerating very slowly that day and did not take one of the early exits to the terminals. Instead we continued on to the end of the runway and around the end of the parallel runway. It turned out an inspection being done at the runway 08R/26L:

AB heavies waiting for their next flights to warmer destinations:

Approaching Terminal 1:

Gate 13 today:

POST-FLIGHT:

While disembarking I thanked the Captain again, then passed passport control. My aircraft seen from the terminal:

My bag arrrived as one of the last bags, despite the priority tag. Bad work by the rampers at HKG, AMM or TXL. Who knows? But it had made it back home, YEAH!

FINAL WORDS:

What a trip! This were amazing three weeks. It all started out was a crazy fueldump-fare to SIN and NRT. It ended with Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Hongkong and Phuket. Flying, sightseeing, relaxing, scuba-diving and my first flights in J class since 1994 IIRC. All in one trip.

The airlines:
TG: A mixed bag again. The service at HKT was absymal. The service on domestic flights is close to LCCs. On international flights the stars shine brightly for TG, great service, great food and excellent legroom. A top-notch hard-product on both flights.
RJ: I was totally happy with their service, the hard product, the soft product, the flights, the lounge, I can’t really say anything bad about them. The food was excellen, too. They could improve a little bit with a true lie-flat seat in longhaul J-class. But this aside, I would fly them any day in J.

The airports:
HKT: Actually, an okay airport. But the service of TG, the long waiting times at the counters and security. Not really modern, just acceptable for a typical holiday destination. I know some better airports.
BKK: Modern? Yes. Efficient and relaxing to pass through? No! Too hot, more of a shopping mall than an airport, long lines at security, missing signs. I say again: I know some better airports.
HKG: HKG is one of these better airports, in fact one of the best out there I know, beside SIN and MUC. Efficient, not too crowded, just much too long lines at security/passport control.
AMM: AMM is efficient, not too crowded, not too much shopping, just too old. I guess the new terminal changed a lot and that is a good thing. Otherwise an airport I would not mind visiting again.
TXL: Not much can be said, what I haven’t said before. Old, but in good shape, efficient and working fine if you start or end your journey there in Terminal A.

Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 3 (Y)

Read this report on Airliners.net.

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Hello and welcome to my 6th trip-report, part 3!

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This map and all other maps in this TR created with www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L. Swartz.

Previous Parts:
6th TR: Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 1: Featuring the flights to SIN and back, departing from TXL, arriving two days later in BRI.
6th TR: Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 2: Featuring the flights to NRT and PVG, a 787-roundtrip and visits to the cities ofTokyo and Shanghai.

This is Part 3:

— PVG-PEK —

PRE-FLIGHT:

Two days after arriving in Shanghai it was already time to leave again. Still not feeling that well I decided to take a taxi to Longyang Road station that morning. From there I took the Transrapid maglev train to the airport, cruising at 400 km/h this time:

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The shiny and modern main hall of the airport, on a level between arrival and departure levels:

I went to the domestic check-in-area (area C) and waited in the line to check-in for my flight to PEK. When I reached the desk not one of the MU gate agents spoke more than three words of English. Finally a supervisor came to me and told me in very bad English “English, international check-in, there English”. So I went to the International check-in, waited in the line, then explained my situation and got my boarding pass. Crazy situation at such a huge international airport. Another interesting thing was that they have baggage scanners directly over the baggage drop-of at the desk. The moment I set my bag down on the conveyor belt the check-in agent said: “Sir, you still have a lithium battery in your bag, please take that into your cabin baggage”. So that is what I did. The departure level:

14:10 departure time for my flight to PEK/Beijing, a codeshare with Qantas, operated by MU:

There wasn’t much to do landside, a few boring shops and Chinese restaurants, a KFC too far away close to the Maglev Station, so I continued on to the airside area.

The stylized skyline of Pudong above the entrance to the shopping area and the security checkpoint:

Airside in the domestic terminal, some shops and restaurants, many seats. Kind of strange is that all shops and restaurants exist about 5 times each. Why bother with different tastes and individual shops? In communism everything is equal, so all the shops are equal, too.

I had more than two hours left until boarding, so I sat down close to the windows and took some pictures:


After some time I visited one of the many “Hope Star Coffee Bars” and ordered Spaghetti Bolognese. And to my astonishment they tasted fine. I even ordered some garlic bread for dessert; to make the other passengers around me happy. ^^


I spent the rest of my time with spotting some domestic flights arriving, but I really disliked that long distance to the windows from the seating areas, about 8m/yards:


My aircraft pulling into the gate, I really had hoped to get another A330. But despite an A330 being scheduled this A321 arrived, boring:


Boarding started on-time, I still had some hopes that we would bus-board an A330, but apparently MU starts Economy Class with row 31 after Biz and later make another jump from 48 to 54 or so. And thus it explained why they started boarding with rows 44-63 on this A321:


FLIGHT PVG-PEK

Date: 03 December 2012
Airline: China Eastern Airlines
Flight: MU 0272
Aircraft: Airbus A321-200
Aircraft Reg: B-6367
Departure Airport: PVG / Shanghai Pudong
Arrival Airport: PEK / Beijing Capital
Scheduled Departure Time: 14:10 / 02:10 PM
Actual Departure Time: 14:10 / 02:10 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 16:40 / 04:40 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 16:40 / 04:40 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 38A (window)

I got a misaligned window and the flight was packed! Load-factor 100%, every seat taken. Good for MU, bad for me. I had hoped for two seats on an A330. Well, can’t change that now.

Legroom was excellent:

Pushback on-time, too:

Taxi-out passing the international terminal:



Take-off:


Inflight wing-view:

The crew did two drink runs and was really active, but not over-friendly. Professional would be the best description.

Soon after take-off we were all asked to close the windows again. So with the best entertainment on a day-flight taken away from me (looking out), I opted to read the communist state-newspaper “China Daily”. Very interesting how they mangage to turn some stories into the total opposite and ignore most facts. Afterwards I watched a TV story on the overhead monitors about houses being build on water in the Netherlands. Quite interesting.


Overhead PSU:

When we started descending into the Beijing area we had a wonderful approach with a great sunset:


Final approach to PEK with its three parallel runways:


Passing a NH 787-8:

Touchdown with the EK A380 in the background:

Love the yellow-reddish sunlight:


Iconic tower:

Passing a Dragonair A330:

We had to wait for this Air China A330 to take-off before we could pass the center runway:

Parking on a the apron beside this SP Airlines Cargo 737, it took more than 10 minutes for the busses to arrive:

POST-FLIGHT:

Our aircraft after disembarking and before boarding the bus:

It took more than 10 minutes until our bags started arriving:

I then left the airside area and went to the airport express station. Both ticket machines were broken down and only one desk was open selling tickets. There was a queue of about 70-90 passengers waiting. Great!


After more than 10 minutes it was my turn to buy a ticket. At least I thought so. They only accepteped cash and I did not have the needed amount with me. No signs before the desk, so I turned around, frustrated. I went back to the terminal, took the elevator to the arrivals area and searched for an ATM. There were three of them, but only one of the three working. Is this really a international airport? After waiting for 5 minutes it was my turn to use that ATM and get some cash. So back to the train station, waiting behind a now shorter queue of about 50 people. When it was my turn I gave the cashier a 100 Yuan note (the fare was 25 Yuan). He returned me a white receipt and no change. As he could not speak one word of English I gave up and continued to the platform. And what happened? The machine checking the tickets did not accept my white receipt. Some Chinese businessman told me I need a real ticket, not only a receipt. WTF?! A police officer sees me there, comes to me, takes the receipt, goes to the desk where the tickets are sold and then comes back, shrugs his shoulders and gives me the white receipt back. Everything without speaking one word. Probably he is not able to speak a word of English, too. Just when I wanted to turn around to get a new ticket at the desk or take the free shuttle bus to the international terminal another German tourist comes to me and gives me a ticket, because he had one ticket left over. Very nice gesture. I still don’t know for what the guy at the desk took my 100 Yuan, but I was now on my train.

When the airport express reached the metro station Dongzhi-men I got out and went to the ticket counter and tried to buy a ticket. No one here could speak a word of English, too. I showed them the myterious white receipt and my airport express ticket and got a new metro ticket without speaking a word or paying. China is a special place…

— PEKING/BEIJING —

I had to change trains at Jianguomen and then left the metro at Wangfujing, close to my hotel. But I can tell you, changing trains at Jiangumen in the rushhour is CRAZY! You could not walk one meter. It was so packed. It was like in the movies about Japan in the 80s and 90s. There were security people pushing you inside the trains and I had three bags (one large bag, one cabin bag and a backpack). Inside the train there were people from all social levels. Old people sitting on huge bags of food they probably tried to sell at some market, businessmen, casual workers. And everyone pressed together. Some not so strong, smaller people, especially women sometimes missed their station, because they had not enough power to get to the exit, as good behavior was not existent. First let passengers get out, then get in yourself? Unheard of in China. Well, after arriving at Wangfujing I walked about 10 minutes through the pedestrian zone (Wangfujing Avenue/Dajie) to my hotel, the Crowne Plaza Beijing Wangfujing. The pedestrian zone was made up of luxurious shops and hotels, a intense contrast compared to what I have seen on the metro before. A land of contrasts.

The hotel was wonderful, I really can recommend this place. Nice rooms, good design, an excellent restaurant with superb service and fair room rates:

For day one in Beijing I had prebooked a day-tour via Expedia with visits to the Great Wall of China, a jade production site, the Summer Palace and a tea-ceremony. For a uncredible low price I got a car, a driver and a guide for the whole day.

Me on top of the Great Wall of China, a great experience to walk up to the top of it:


After a short visit to the jade production site, lunch there and desperate attempts to sell me some jade figures, our next stop was the Summer Palace, another great place:


The next day I visited Tiananmen Square, the Monument of the Peoples Heroes, the Mao Mausoleum and all the goverment buildings around Tiananmen Square:



Afterwards into the forbidden city:

After the rather long visit at the forbidden city I went back to the hotel, but walked through some Hutongs, old, not renovated residential areas:

I missed out visiting the Temple of Heaven, but despite feeling better the day before, I was still feeling the cold and was freezing and shivering like hell. So I slept for a few hours that afternoon, feeling much better in the evening.

— PEK-KMG —

PRE-FLIGHT:

The next morning I got up at 5:00, checked out and took my pre-ordered taxi to the airport at 5:30, arriving there at 6:20 AM after a ride at breakneck speed. Much too early! I had booked a later non-stop flight to HKG a few month before, but MU first rebooked me onto their flight via PVG and then again onto their flight via KMG.

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Main hall of the MU terminal, lots of shops and quite a long walk to the domestic check-in area:

FIDS:

While checking in at the counter the friendly lady serving me discovered that she could not check through to HKG and told me I would have to go to the transfer desk at KMG. She appologized and gave my bag a first class priority tag, because I would just have a little more than 90 minutes to connect at KMG.

Passing the security took about 15 minutes, the queues were moving incredible slow, nearly every bag had to be inspected and multiple belongings scanned again. I had to give them all my SLR lenses for a special inspection. All women had to get out of their long winter knee-length boots. The comrades must be quite afraid of terror against their communist regime. Airside:

I had more than one hour until boarding left, so I tried to get wifi-access. There are computer-terminals all over the airside-area providing a wifi-code if you swipe your passport through them. But none of them were working. I tried at least four or five or them. The woman at the information counter could not help me, too. So I sat down at the first level to wait for my gate getting announced. After 20 minutes my gate was announced to be 41, so I walked down to the ground level were this gate was located. This meant bus-boarding.

An MU aircraft in front of the domestic terminal:

FIDS, gate 41 and a on-time departure expected:

Boarding started 2 minutes early and only very few people went onto the first bus. I realized why, i waited more than 10 minutes in the bus until we started the short hop to our aircraft. This with a temperature of -5 deg C and open doors, engine and heating not running.

Long queue to board the aircraft:

FLIGHT PEK-KMG

Date: 06 December 2012
Airline: China Eastern Airlines
Flight: MU 2035
Aircraft: Boeing 737-700
Aircraft Reg: B-5255
Departure Airport: PEK / Beijing Capital
Arrival Airport: KMG / Kunming Changshui International Airport
Scheduled Departure Time: 08:25 / 08:25 AM
Actual Departure Time: 08:25 / 08:25 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 12:00 / 12:00 noon
Actual Arrival Time: 12:00 / 12:00 noon
Class: Economy
Seat: 03R (window)

I got a bulkhead seat, 03R, directly behind the short business class section. The captain announced a delay of 20 minutes without mentioning a reason. So 20 minutes later pushback was under way:

Passing some heavies at the international terminals:





The huge Bizjet apron:

We taxied to the center runway and after waiting for an AirMacao A320 to take-off, it was out turn to line up for take-off:

Take-off:


As mentioned before we took of from the center runway, which is called 36R. At the same time another MU 737 took of from the right runway, which is runway 01. We flew a perfect parallel course in northernly direction, we just outclimbed the other aircraft. When reaching the mountains north of Beijing both aircraft, ours and the parallel flying 737, turned left to go onto their final course. You can see the other aircraft on the second photo beside our engine and in the third photo in the center of the image:



We had a wonderful climb over the mountains to the North and West of Beijing, it looks like a really intresting landscape:

Again reading the communist newspaper China Daily, look at that lovely group photo! The leaders of all the states and governments I would trust with all my heart combined:

The breakfast or lunch looked really disgusting, so I did not touch it. And that was the first time for over 20 years that I did not touch anything from an airline meal. The other passengers however all ate their meal, so I guess this was something good in China/this part of Asia.

Wing-view:

Good knee-room at the bulkhead:

Fixed armrest, but also a free middle seat:

Not much room for my feet due to the bulkhead:

I tried to close my eyes the rest of the time, but did not manage to really sleep, so I watched the landscape flying by and also some episode of “Time for Laughs”, which were really funny. The more we flew in southernly direction, the more the landscape changed. The woodless mountains changed to green covered mountains, with red sands inbetween.



Rice terraces everywhere when we came closer to KMG:



When we started our descent the captain announced an arrival time of 12:25. This meant we would be 25 minutes late and I would have a mere 65 minutes to collect my bag, check-in again and board the next flight. Descent into KMG:

Final approach:

Landing:

Passing the new terminal at KMG, which was the second largest terminal in China at this time, with over 60 gates, build for some 30 million pax:

The iconic tower. Seems like a copy of the one at PEK:

Waved into our apron parking position:

The business class section while disembarking:

POST-FLIGHT:

Our aircraft as seen from the waiting bus:

It took another 10 minutes to reach the terminal, so we were there at 12:35 (60 minutes left). It took another 10 minutes until my bag arrived (50 minutes left):

— KMG-HKG —

PRE-FLIGHT:

After I got my bag I went to the international transfer desk, located airside, right beside the baggage claim. But the desks were not staffed. Bummer!

So I had to go airside and the take elevator up to the departure level:

I went to the FIDS and searched for my 13:35 departure to HKG. When I saw the flight not displayed I really got the strange feeling, that something must be wrong!

Opposite of the large FIDS display was the MU international ticketing desk, the only desk staffed at this time, so that is where I went to:

I showed the two ladies staffing the desk my booking and the emails about the changing of the bookings, first via PVG, then via KMG. And I told them I was checked in at PEK in the morning and told there I would be checked in again at KMG. The two ladies now got angry, not with me, but with their colleagues in PEK. They told me flight MU733 between KMG and HKG would not operate this day and the agents at PEK must have known that. They also said that this is typical for their colleagues at PEK, they should have rebooked me, but instead left it to their colleagues in KMG to solve the problem. While I was told to wait, one of the ladies started a phone-call to PEK. Some shouting and angry chinese rants later, she came back to me and told me, no problem, I should not worry, she will find a solution for me, I would arrive in HKG that evening. I was not overly pleased, but happy that at least someone was taking care of me. The lady led me to the counter of KA / Dragonair, where the check-in was just opened. Five minutes later I had my new ticket on KA, the bags were checked in to HKG and I even got a window seat. As a added bonus the KA check-in-agent told me I could ask the lounge-agent if I can wait there for my flight, as MU messed up:

The KA flight would leave 1:50 minutes after my booked MU flight, so I had a lot of time at hand. First logical step, explore the new terminal at KMG:

As the terminal turned out to be shiny and new, it was also rather boring. So I turned around and went back to the lounges. The FIDS showing my KA flight to HKG:

I went to the lounge serving MU guests and was let in. I spent my time there, ate some rice, drank some Cokes and called the hotel in Hongkong, because I would arrive later and would need a later transfer from the airport. Interestingly out of the 12 or 13 guests in the lounge, three of them were Germans, too, one was a US-journalist, two were Brits and multiple others were Chinese looking, but speeking English, so I guess from HKG or SIN. Quite an international group of people for a city like KMG:


10 minutes prior to boarding-time I left the lounge and walked slowly to my gate, number 77 at the far end of the terminal. Here a TG A330 at the next gate:

My aircraft, the KA A330:

I found that booking error by MU quite amusing now, I got lounge access, could fly on a new airline and got another A330 in my books (instead of the scheduled MU 737).

Waiting area at gates 77 and 78:

GIDS:

Boarding started 1 minute after the re-scheduled time (21 minutes late) and everyone ran to the gate seconds after the announcement. I did not care, as the load seemed to be very lite, I guess around 40 percent. The wing of our A330 as seen from the jet-bridge:

FLIGHT KMG-HKG

Date: 06 December 2012
Airline: Dragonair
Flight: KA 761
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300X
Aircraft Reg: B-HWF
Departure Airport: KMG / Kunming Changshui International Airport
Arrival Airport: HKG / Hongkong Chek Lap Kok
Scheduled Departure Time: 14:55 / 02:55 PM
Actual Departure Time: 14:55 / 02:55 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 16:55 / 04:55 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 16:55 / 04:55 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 31A (window)

After taking my seat my neighbor in the aisle seat immediately started talking to me, a friendly man from Scotland, regulary visiting Kunming for work. When boarding was announced to be completed he changed to the aisle seat of the middle block, so both of us had more room. Pushback started about 1 minute after boarding was complete and with about 10 minutes delay we started to taxi to the runway:

Taxiing to the runway:

Lining up and taking off:



Stich of two photos of this fantastic scenery we were flying away from:

Some more impressions of the landscape around Kunming:




Legroom was excellent:

As soon as the fasten seatbelt signs were switched off I moved to the aisle seat and continued the interesting conversation with the guy from Scotland. He had fascinating stories to tell, as he wittnesned some cities in China grow from a few 100.000 to millions inhabitants, Kunming is only one example here. It grew apparently from under 900.000 in 1990 to over 7 million now. When you think about it, it’s just crazy. Explains why the new airport was badly needed and why it got such a huge terminal.
While we were talking dinner was served and it tasted excellent. One of the tastiest airplane meals for me so far:

The standard inflight wing-view:

Two seats for me, I am loving it. ^^

After dinner I walked around the cabin and took these photos, I really like the colourful and fresh look:


Seatback and IFE with PTV, but no AVOD:


As we came closer to Hongkong the clouds got thicker and the scattered/partly covered ceiling turned into a fully covered, fluffy sea of clouds:

After I had returned to my seat, the scottish guy and me continued our chat about China until we were asked to fasten our seat-belts as the descent had started. As seen on the IFE we passed Hongkong in the West and flew into a holding there, where we flew some rounds:

Sadly I did not manage to get a good shot from the CX A330 which flew parallel to us in the holding, but after two rounds in this “racetrack” we continued our descent into HKG, approaching the city from the Southwest. Descending through the clouds:




The clouds we hanging low this day and so it took a while until the dark South China Sea came into view:

After a quick right-turn we were aligned with Hongkongs northern runway and touchned soon after that final turn:

Taxiing to our gate:

Parking beside some international airlines:

Directly behind us the CX A330 which flew parallel to us in the holding turned into the gate next to us:

I waited again for most people to disembark and then was allowed again to visit the flightdeck. First stop, business class, i like these old school recliners:

The lights of the flightdeck were already turned down, but the captain asked me “should we turn on all these fancy lights again?” and to my reply “I wouldn’t mind” he and the FO turned on all the lights again. Sadly the images didn’t turn out to be very sharp. The flightdeck of our A330:

POST-FLIGHT:

After I had thanked the cockpit and cabin crews for their service and friendliness I continued on to the immigration. First step, down to the airtrain:

The way to the immigration was rather long, but it took just under 5 minutes to pass through. After waiting another 5 minutes my bag arrived on the carrousel:

— HONGKONG —

After I had picked up my bag I walked to the transfer desks for hotel buses. It took a while finding the right desk, but after my third try and some discussions I found the right desk. They first thought I am not their guest, but after my second try at the first desk I went to, they realized I am the guy they should get into Hongkong City. It took 10 minutes for the bus to arrive, then we drove of to Hongkong, passing Kowloon on the highway and arriving on Hongkong Island about 40 minutes later at my hotel: the Hotel de Edge by Rhombus. I did not leave my room that night, ordered another dinner to the room and then slept, so I could get up early on the next morning.

The room:

View from my room onto Victoria Harbour:

My hotel as seen from the street, after a good breakfast:

I spent day 1 of 2 crossing nearly the whole Hongkong Island by foot, at least that was my feeling. I started the day with the shops at Des Voeux Road West, selling everything out of the sea:

After a long visit to these shops and a short stop at the hairdresser, I turned around and walked back in easternly direction. Passing Des Voeux Road West again and Wing Lok Street, I walked up the steep hill along Morrison Street:

I had lunch somewhere up there on the mid-levels, before passing the markets around the Upper Lascar Row. Next important stop was the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road:

On Hollywood Road you’ll also find some very nice cars:

And in a shop on the same road I saw this photo-book:

Walking Hollywood Road uphill to the Escalators:

After taking the escalators of Shelley Street up to one of the highest streets of Hongkong Island, Conduit Road, I walked the whole way back down. I think the next photo shows how mountainous Hongkong is:

I stopped at some shops for photo-equipment on the way down, passed the markets of Li Yuen street and the noble Des Voeux Road Central to Hongkong Central Station. From there I walked to old and historic Legislative Council Building, which is located right beside the famous HSBC Tower:

I walked up Gardon Road next, passing the St. Johns Cathedral, with the HSBC Tower making an appearance in the background:

A few hundred meters up the Gardon road there is the “valley station” of the Peak Tram, which I took up the hill:


The Peak at Hongkong Island:


I stayed on the Peak for hours, even had dinner there, it is a great place and watching the sun set above Hongkong Island and Kowloon in the background can not be described. I later took the Peak Tram down again and after a short walk down Garden Road I took the normal tram to Sutherland Street station at the Des Voeux Road West, right behind my hotel.

The next morning after breakfast I opted for a walk to the Sheung Wan station, which is just 8-9 minutes by foot from my hotel, so did not take the tram that day. I took the Island and Tsuen Wan line (changing trains at Central) to Prince Edward station and started the morning with a peaceful walk through the flower market and the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden:

Afterwards it was time to see something off the beaten path, so I walked along Boundary Street and La Salle Road to the entrance of the Kowloon Tsai Park, which was a very important place for aviation when the old Kai Tak airport was still operating:

Checkerboard Hill the infamous visual navigational aid inside the park, right inbetween football/soccer fields and tennis courts:


As a true a.nutter next step was to climb up Checkerboard Hill. The climb is quite steep and a little bit dangerous. There is a fence around the hill, but the gate behind the tennis courts is always open as I was told. And this turned out to be true. This is view in the direction of the old Kai Tak airport:

Zoomed-in views of Kai Taks runway, skyscrapers now right at the path where once 747s flew right over the roofs of the neighbourhood around Kai Tak:


Another telezoom-view of Kai Taks old apron, everything gone except for the radar tower:

Via Iverness and Grampian Road I reached Pricne Edward Road West, which took me in easternly direction to the old Kai Tak airport. The road leads to a lot of old social housing projects, which are very interesting. This area is definitely not comparable with some more posh districts in Hongkong. Down at Prince Edward Road East I reached the elevated roads which led to the terminal building at Kai Tak. The terminal had already been demolished this year, so I was a few month late. This sign was hanging at the roadblocks of the elevated road:

I walked up the elevated road to get a good overview of the field which once was one of Asians most important airports:

The only thing left over from the old airport was the ground control tower, a few concrete areas of the old apron and about 50 meters of the original runway. Here are a few photos of the area:





I walked the Prince Edward Road back in westernly direction until I reached the shopping center Grand Century Palace after 45 minutes. I rested there for 15 minutes and visited some of the shops before I continued my march to the markets between Fa Yuen Street and Sai Yeung Choi Street, which are traffic free zones on the weekends. I went into some camera shops there to get my hands on some Nikons and Canons, as I was planing on getting a new camera. Btw, I think I never think I have seen so many people as on these streets. Shoppings seems to be the hobby number one in Hongkong:


After a 60 minute stroll through the streets with shops and market stands, I walked down Nathan Road:

It took me another 20 minutes to reach the Yau Ma Tei Temple, another very nice cultural place in Kowloon, last stop that night was the Temple Street night market:

I had planned to visit the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade with the bell tower there and the great looks over to Hongkong Island, but I was too tired. Two days of walking up and down the streets of Hongkong were enough. I took the metro back to my hotel, showered and relaxed for an hour. Afterwards I took the tram to the Escalator, where I had discovered a nice pub the day before. I had dinner and some drinks at there (the name is Peak Bar). A lot of British tourists or inhabitants with British roots made the visit very entertaining:

One of guys at the next table took this photo of me:

— HKG-BKK —

PRE-FLIGHT:

The next morning I packed my bags again, had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then checked out. With a 10 minutes walk (which seemed very long with my bags) I reached the Sheung Wan metro station again. Just one station later I had reached Hongkong Central. From the metro stetion of the Island and Tsuen Wan lines it takes about a 8-10 minute walk underground to the connected station of the airport express. I took the elevator to the ground level, bought a ticket to the airport and went to the Airport Express check-in desks. All major airlines have check-in desks at the Airport Express stations at Hongkong Island and Kowloon.

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As I had already checked in online the evening before, I just had to drop my bag there and 10 minutes later I was sitting in the train to the airport:

The legroom was ultra tight, but I had two seats for myself, so this was okay:

Half an hour later I had reached the airport, where I could pass the check-in-area and directly pass through security.

Some shops between check-in and security:

FIDS: My flight leaving from gate 60, apparently on-time:

After passing security, more shops and restaurants:

Just when I wanted to take some photos of the apron my camera reported a full memory card, so I had to buy a fourth card. Afterwards I took this photo, I love all the widebody aircraft at HKG:

After some spotting I took the airtrain to my gate:

Walking down the long way to my gate:

I reached my gate about 60 minutes prior departure time and 20 minutes prior boarding time:

The Thai A380 which would take me to BKK, the reason why I opted for the one-stop-route instead of a non-stop flight to HKT:



FLIGHT HKG-BKK

Date: 09 December 2012
Airline: Thai Airways
Flight: TG 601
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Aircraft Reg: HS-TUB
Departure Airport: HKG / Hongkong Chek Lap Kok
Arrival Airport: BKK / Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Scheduled Departure Time: 13:25 / 01:25 PM
Actual Departure Time: 13:25 / 01:25 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 15:10 / 03:10 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 15:10 / 03:10 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 51A (window)

Boarding started right on time, around 40 minutes prior to departure. As just a few people made an attempt to get onboard I strolled to the gate expecting a very light load. PTV showing the tail camera, love this feature:

Activating the map feature showing our route to BKK:

Thais aircraft fleet in their inflight magazine, nice feature with such a diverse fleet:

The inflight mag, this month with a special story about the 77W:

Look at all these different tails rising behind the curvature of our wing:

Just prior to pushback a huge number of people boarded, I guess some travel group as the load factor went from about 25% to 95% in just 5-10 minutes. Pushback still started on-time and we passed a huge number of CX aircraft:



With no wait we took of and had some great vortix streaming over out wing:



Legroom was excellent:

The IFE box on the other hand I found very disturbing, as it took quite some room away and the seats went up to the wall, with no possibility to put one foot between seats and wall:

Wonderful weather for some flights that day. Have a look how the wings curvature was gone now due to the lift raising up the outer part of the wing:

Thais IFE-AVOD-system was one of the fastest systems I encountered so far, including the SQ 77W. Loved it! I watched MIB3 on this flight, a good and funny movie:

This photo showing the insane thick walls of the A380, I think with some optimization we will see 11-abreast soon on these whale-jets:

More or less right after take-off (10 minutes) lunch was served, which was tasting fine:

Mood lightning:

What I found interesting is that you could start watching movies on the ground on TG aircraft. The movies were paused for announcements, but continued afterwards without user interaction. But for landings movies had to be stopped after starting the descent. I just finished my movie, when the announcement was made that our descent had started:

The inflight-map, nearly there:

Some wonderful clouds on approach to BKK:

Vortix forming again when the spoilers where raised to burn-of some excess speed:

The cabin at final approach, without mood lightning this time:

Final approach into BKK and landing:


See how the outer wing drops again after the spoilers killed off all remaining lift:

BKKs interesting design not to be overlooked:

Some Orient Thai classic 747-300 aircraft resting in the hot sun:

Arriving at our gate C3:

POST-FLIGHT:

Passing through the international termin to immigration and to the domestic part of this airport:

FLIGHT BKK-HKT

PRE-FLIGHT:

FIDS, showing my TG 16:55 / 04:55 PM departure to phuket delayed by 30 minutes:

After reaching a main hall, where I could turn left for international transfers and arrivals or right for domestic transfers, I apparently turned right, just to run into a checkpoint. TG agents checked there if you already got a boarding pass for the next domestic flight. I could pass through and walked straight on with multiple other pax from my last flight, too. When we all realized that everything was empty around us we turned around and found we had gone in the wrong direction. I blame TG or the airport here for missing signs. Have a look at the next photo, the TG checkpoint is behind this improvised wooden wall to the right. Apparently you would walk straight ahead. And that is what we did. But you would have to do a 180 after the checkpoint and walk in the direction from where the photo was taken. Who should know that without any sign?

Because of the delay I opted to have a second lunch at the local BK. Hamburger Plain FTW:


After I had finished my lunch I continued to my gate, a bus-gate at the ground level:

The gate area was very crowded, but there were enough seats available:

Boarding started a few minutes before 5 o’clock, at our scheduled departure time:

A 747 waiting for us instead of the scheduled A330, that made me happy, as this was my first 747 since 1997:

Date: 09 December 2012
Airline: Thai Airways
Flight: TG 217
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Aircraft Reg: HS-TGO
Departure Airport: BKK / Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Arrival Airport: HKT / Phuket
Scheduled Departure Time: 16:55 / 04:55 PM
Actual Departure Time: 16:55 / 04:55 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 18:15 / 06:15 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 18:15 / 06:15 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 57A (window)

The flight was totally packed and there were flights between BKK and HKT about every 30 minutes on different airlines. I really wonder if it wouldn’t be better to have more direct flights to Europe from HKT instead? After boarding I took my seat at the window beside a couple from the United Kingdom. The oldschool PSU seen above my head, no vents, how I hate this:

The airplane was totally hot, probably having been in the sun for multiple hours without any fresh air being pumped into the cabin. I was really happy when the pushback finally started at 5:30 PM. Passing some foreign and Thai heavies while taxiing to the runway:




Following a CX A330 to the runway:

With the engines now running for some minutes, finally the A/C kicked in and it got colder in the cabin. Wonderful sunset:

The CX A330 taking off:

Lining up on the runway:

Take-off:



Legroom was excellent again, the best so far on my trip, you could really stretch out:

Lots of room for my feet, too, no IFE box here and no strut of the seats in front of me close to the wall:

The IFE with PTV and AVOD was okay, but older non-HD monitors compared to the A380 and fewer choices of programs. But it still was fast and had a lot to offer. Despite being turned on, while on the ground, the IFE was turned off inflight and just the map was shown. This was fine was me, as I could watch the sunset on this short 80 minutes flight to HKT:


The served sandwhich looked disgusting again and I opted not to eat it, like most pax around me, too. The orange juice tasted not very natural and the tea was only acceptable with a lot of sugar. What a LCC-service on this domestic hop:

The last rays of sunlight, can’t get enough of these conditions:


The cabin after the sun had settled and darkness surrounded our aircraft:

I used the remaining flight time to write down the events of the day in my travel log, which is just an evernote notice on my smartphone. While I finished writing down the last words the descent started. We had flown down the East Coast of Southern Thailand and now turned right for the final approach over Phuket:


Landing:


Parking next to a Transaero 767:

It took a while until I could get up, as there was only one bridge for the aircraft at HKT and First and Business Class pax took their time getting out first. Anyway, I waited for most pax to get out first anyway, so I could try to get into the flightdeck again. Despite the Captain and First Officer just having dinner they allowed me to visit the flightdeck. If I remember correctly, this was my first 747 flightdeck visit since 1994. It had been a TG 747, too, back then. But I can’t remember if it was a -400 or classic model.

POST-FLIGHT:

The airport was very hot and when going to the baggage claim for my flight, I was told I would have to go to another room, where all bags from international flights would arrive and another customs checkpoint was located. The agent had recognized me by my blue sticker I had got at the TG checkpoint in BKK. I really was lucky at this point, that my bag had made it to all countries on this trip:

— PHUKET —

As one of just a few pax I was not singled out for a customs check after I had picked up my bag and then took a cab to my hotel in the southeastern part of Phuket. The Radisson Blu at Panwah Beach. I had booked a 7 night stay with an all-inclusive-package featuring a free upgrade if rooms available. To my total surprise for this time of the year I got an upgrade to a Beach Bungalow. Fantastic!


I relaxed at the beach for the first two days, really needing this after month of work, and two weeks of crazy flights and hurting feet from all my sightseeing trips:


On day 2, around noon, German female dive instructor Jana from the local scuba-diving center arrived at the pool, offering test-diving in the pool for newbies and interested people. I asked if I could do swim rounds underwater with the equipment as I had not been scuba-diving for 12 years. When I explained that I had more than 100 dives in my logs, I was allowed to dive in the pool without any explaing and shortly after I wrote my name on the list for the next two days. So I spent days 3 and 4 in Thailand on the dive boat, diving at some interesting locations, especially the wreck of the MS King Cruiser. It was great to do some diving again after such a long time, but it felt like it had been yesterday that I took my last dive, so no learning curve for me there:


The last two days I wanted to go diving again, but my sanity won and I opted to stay at the beach and pool, as I wanted to come back to Germany relaxed. I used these days to finish my two books I had taken with me on the trip, one about the history of the football club FC Bayern and the other about the history of the 747 by Boeing legend Joe Sutter. I can really recommend everyone to read Joes book!

***FINAL WORDS:***

Despite a lot of flying, I’ve been to Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Hongkong and Phuket now. And I love Tokyo and Hongkong. They are totally different, but both were fantastic in their own, unique way. Thailand was the perfect mix between relaxing and scuba-diving, a paradise on earth, that I really did not want to leave.

The airlines:
– MU domestic really not that great, the crew “professional”, the gate staff at PEK apparently not doing their job, the agents at KMG at least very helpful.
– KA did a fantastic job, great food, friendly cabin crew, uber friendly cockpit crew
– TG fantastic, too, friendly as they are known to be, excellent legroom, great IFE, good meal on the international sector, LCC-catering on the domestic one

The airports:
– PEK domestic: rather boring, not that modern airport, wifi not working as it should, security lines much too long, but at least on time
– KMG: great airport, brand new, friendly staff from MU and KA, nice lounge (with just a little bit limited offers), efficient and on-time
– HKG: fantastic airport, despite some longer ways to walk it always has a airy, modern feeling, seems perfect for connections, but also for O+D traffic
– BKK: too hot, hectic feeling, missing signs, at least modern, but not perfect
– HKT: older airport, with a little bit weird layout on arrival regarding the baggage claim, but it does it job just fine for that touristic location

Part 4 will be featuring my return to Berlin, Germany via BKK to HKG with TG and from there in Business Class with RJ via AMM to TXL.

Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 2 (Y)

Read this report on Airliners.net.

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Hello and welcome to my 6th trip-report, part 2!

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This map and all other maps in this TR created with www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L. Swartz.

Previous Parts:
6th TR: Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 1: Featuring the flights to SIN and back, departing from TXL, arriving two days later in BRI.

This is Part 2:

— BRI-FCO —

PRE-FLIGHT:

My alarm rang at 6 o’clock in the morning and it took me forever to get up and pack the things I had used into my bag. Just anothern sign that there are more relaxed things than flying to SIN and back in less than 48 hours. But what was I complaining about? This was the third day of my self-chosen odyssey, which would lead me to Tokyo today. I managed to be out of my room at 6:45 AM and checked out at the front desk. Just ten minutes later I was sitting in the hotel bus on my way to the airport of BRI where we arrived after a short drive of 3 minutes.

The FIDS in the departure hall, at 6:59 AM, 51 minutes prior to scheduled departure:

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Ryanair check-in counters in the foreground, Alitalia counters in the background:

Before going to sleep last night I had used AZ online-check-in, which had worked flawlessly this time. Probably, because this were AZ flights being operated by AZ, too. I went to the baggage drop-off and just had one passanger in front of me. When the lady behind the counter checked my passport and booking she started printing out new boarding passes, seats not changed. I gave her a questioning look as I already had printed out my boarding passes she said that she had to issue me new BPs and asked how long I would stay in Tokyo. I told her that I would just be staying for a few hours before taking my next flight. That made her smile and she handed me the new BPs. I guess she wanted to know if I really would be taking the return flight on AZ as booked, which I would not take. But I had not lied to her either, as I just told her I would leave again after a few hours, what was true, too, as my flight on NH to ITM was leaving just a few hours after my arrival at NRT.

I directly passed through security, which took about 1 minute and sat down at my gate waiting for the boaridng announcement. Here the gate area:

My aircraft just before boarding:

Boarding started right on time at 7:20 AM. I waited till most pax were onboard and then went through without waiting. Minutes before, the long queue of pax all eager to board the aircraft:

FLIGHT BRI-FCO

Date: 26 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 1608
Aircraft: Airbus A319-100
Aircraft Reg: EI-IMP
Departure Airport: BRI / Bari – Palese
Arrival Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Scheduled Departure Time: 07:50 / 07:50 AM
Actual Departure Time: 07:50 / 07:50 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 08:55 / 08:55 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 08:41 / 08:41 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 23F (window)

View from seat 23F with a Ryanair 738 ready for boarding:

Cabin view prior to departure:

Pushback and departure were right on time, take-off from BRI:



Service again water, tea and coffee only, I spent the time reading a story about the new CLS Shooting Brake:

Some views of these wonderful mountain ranges in the middle of Italy:


Approaching FCO right over the city, flying right over “Termini”, Romes terminus main train station:

Final approach and landing:



Passing a lot of company A320 series aircraft:

Parking at our “bus gate”, another apron parking position:

Some technical work being done at the company aicraft to our right. It looked like the guy was pumping something out of the aircraft. Waste water? Hydraulic fluid?

Under-wing shot, Markus-like:

POST-FLIGHT:

We had landed at 8:39, were at our parking position at 8:41 and inside the terminal at 8:50. Way before our scheduled arrival time of 8:55. Another heads up to AZ! First stop after leaving the bus, the FIDS, gate G07 for me today:

— FCO-NRT —

PRE-FLIGHT:

Inside the terminal it looked like I had a walk of 10 minutes plus to my gate, but with more than 90 minutes until boarding time this was no hassle:

On my way to the G-gates I stopped at several shops selling electronic stuff for a travel charger, but they all claimed to be sold out or not having something like this in their portfolio. (Remember, I had forgotten my DSLR battery charger in the lounge at SIN and stil had to use my little back-up cam.) At least I found a shop for sweets and got a box of Rocher. Passing through the shopping mall named FCO:

Taking the airtrain to the G-gates:

A view of heavy AZ and CX metal at their apron parking-positions:

Gate G7. You see the lady at the desk looking at me? Right after I took the picture she came running to me and told me not to take pictures of the counter.

Some views of the mighty tripple-seven which would take me to NRT, I love the engines:

As I had a lot of time until boarding, more than one hour, I even took part in a survey about Italian airports. Don’t know if I really took part, because I was bored or because of the beautiful Italian lady asking me to do so. Whatever, she got what she wanted. later I had “breakfast”, a “little” box of Rocher:

Boarding time was 9:55, but nothing happened. Nearly 15 minutes later, at 10:09 boarding was called, stating with Business Class pax, Economy Plus, frequent fliers and Economy in two groups in the end. That was the plan, but it was not enforced, which is a thing I hate. So everyone stormed up to the gate agent and was let onboard, no matter which class or status they had. It took me about 10 minutes to board the aircraft, this really looked like a light load this day.

FLIGHT FCO-NRT

Date: 26 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 782
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Aircraft Reg: EI-ISB
Departure Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Arrival Airport: NRT / Tokyo Narita
Scheduled Departure Time: 10:45 / 10:45 AM
Actual Departure Time: 10:45 / 10:45 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 07:00 / 07:00 AM +1
Actual Arrival Time: 07:00 / 07:00 AM +1
Class: Economy
Seat: 27A (window)

We boarded through door 2L, this is my seat 27A for this long flight to Tokyo. Matter of fact, seats 27 A, B and C were my seats for this flight as it turned out very quickly that this flight had a load-factor of under 30 percent.

That is how my row looked for the first half hour of our flight until some other pax claimed the block of center seats and and block of starboard seats:

Massiv wing of this 777-200ER:

Thanks to the light load we had no problems pushing back right on time. When the flaps got extended to their take-off position after pushback I was amazed at the crust of oil and other substances on the wing. It seems like AZ is learning a lot from AF, hohoho:



Lining up on runway 16R this time (it was 25 yesterday):

Take-off from FCO, passing the airport terminals while lifting off:


After take-off we flow a nearly 90 degrees right turn out over the Mediterranean Sea, before doing a 180 degrees left turn to get on a Northeasternly course to Tokyo:

Passing the airport again while making landfall to its South:

Our departure route:

Legroom would have been an absolute disaster on a plane with a high load factor, me knees were pressed againt the backrest of the seat in front of my while taking off. The IFE box was huge, taking up a lot of legroom, too. I could have lived with 3-4-3, but not with this seat pitch of 30 to 31 inches. Shame on AZ for this layout.



Acceptable sitting like this:

The seatback with the folding tray table, IFE control unit and IFE display. This is an older AVOD-system, but IMO acceptable, even for such long 12-hour-flights.

Movable headrests, I really like this feature a lot:

Wing after we had reached our initial cruise level:

My reading light was not working and when I touched it it fell out from the ceiling. I pushed it back in, but it was still not working. Good that I had two more of them.

Right after take-off the crew served drinks and a snack. They were super friendly and even made some jokes, apparently they were lucky, too, to have such a low load this day. I spent the next one and a half hour reading in my Tokyo guidebooks.


After the drink-run the crew came around handing out this cards, asking us to take part in a survey about the experience onboard. I took part the next day before going to sleep in Tokyo:


I used the time before dinner was served to explore the cabin and took this snapshots showing the light load this day:



Another wing-view while dinner was served:

The great crew handing out dinner:

9511 km to go, while flying into the arriving night:

IFE finally activated:

Reading:

I took the japanese dinner option, baked chicken with rice and soya sauce, loved it, tasted fantastic:


After some time the crew picked up the trays again and asked everyone to close the window blinds. The cabin lights were turned off and it was time to go to sleep. I used the reading light to read one of guides for another 90 minutes and then went to sleep, too. I woke up a good hour later, because of one the flight attendants was chatting loudly to a female passenger one row behind me. That happened to me before on an AZ flight in 2008, back then the chatting went on for the whole flight. This time I got up and just wanted to ask her to be quit as most people were trying to sleep, but when she saw me getting up she apologized without me having said a word and I went back to sleep after taking these photos of the inflight-map and and more or less dark cabin:


I had problems sleeping that night, probably because I had crossed to many time zones in the past three days. I still tried sleeping, but woke up multiple times. Heads up to the crew for doing multiple drink-runs and keeping us hydrated. At one point, somewhere over Russia, I went to the galley and picked up somehting to drink . I met the purser there and asked him about the load-factor. He told me that 140 persons were onboard today, which is not much on a 293 seat aircraft, but more than I thought. The next photos show some towns somewhere over central Siberia, but they can not show the beauty that met my eyes. I could see all stars on a cloud-free sky, the wing was lit up by the very bright moon and small towns were lighting up the clouds from below. That is one of the things why I love flying, the world looks beautiful from above.


I went back to sleep, but only slept in 30 minute intervals. A good hour before landing at NRT breakfast was served. It was a cold, European breakfast, but very good.

While approaching the West coast of Japan the descend started and the sun was rising in the East.

We overflew Japan made a few turns to the right after we had overflown the East coast and turned back on a Westernly course to NRT.

While making landfall Mount Fuji became visible in the South, lit up in the red and orange tones of the sunrise. Wonderful!

Final approach and landing at NRT:



While taxiing to the gate I got a small glimpse of this DL hub:


VN A330 on a gate to our left:

I waited again for most passengers to leave the aircraft and then asked if I could take a few shots of the flightdeck. Premium Economy:

Business Class:

And finally, the flightdeck of the mighty 77E:

POST-FLIGHT:

Arriving in the Japan, my first visit to this country:

Welcome to Japan

After the last photo the battery of my backup-cam gave up, so this left we with the camera of my smartphone (Samsung S3) and the photo function of my video-camera. Good for me that the Samsung has quite a good camera as long as enough light is available. And my bag had made it:

After passing customs and immigration, landside at Japan:

Exchanging 120 Euro into 12500 Yen:

Afterwards I bought a train ticket for the Skyliner, one of two Express trains running into Tokyo city, and went to the train station. I had about 40 minutes until my train would arrive, but could spend the time using wifi thanks to my Boingo account:

The train arriving:

At 9:15, exactly on time the Skyliner arrived at Tokyo Ueno station, were I changed into the Ginza metro line into the city:

I left the train at Ginza station and went into a camera store (BIC Camera, found at multiple places in Tokyo) and bought a charger for my DSLR battery. But buying the charger was not an easy thing to do. No one in the shop spoke English or wanted to speak English (typical shyness). It took three attempts to find a young, female sales assitent who could help me. And despite her broken English, she could sell me the product I needed. FINALLY! From that store I took the Yurakucho line to Nagatacho and from there the Hanzomon line to the Hanzomon station. From there I had about 300 meters to my Hotel, the Grand Arc Hanzomon, directly on the Westernly end of the park surrounding the emperors palace. More about that later. I checked-in, dropped of my bags at the reception as the room was not ready at this time and left again.

— HND-ITM —

PRE-FLIGHT:

Taking the Hanzomon, Ginza and JR Yamamote line I reached the Hammamatsucho station, where I bought a ticket for the Tokyo Monorail, which then took me directly into the domestic terminal no. 2 (owned by NH) of Haneda airport:

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Inside the domestic terminal no. 2:

My 14:00 / 02:00 PM flight to Osaka-Itami apparently on-time, leaving from gate 62:

I tried to use a self-service-machine, but only got a receipt telling me “Contact ground staff with this receipt”:

I went to desk 14 doing the check-in for this flight about 45 minutes prior to departure. I waited for about 10-15 minutes in the queue and then got my oldschool looking boarding pass. Good thing that I had already chosen my seat while booking the flights.


I hurried through security and arrived at the gate 10 minutes prior boarding time. Here she is, the 787-8, what a wonderful looking aircraft:

YouTube-Video of my aircraft seen from the terminal:

The gate area:

Gate information display even showing aircraft type and a small 787-picture:

Another photo JA809A:

FLIGHT HND-ITM

Date: 27 November 2012
Airline: ANA – All Nippon Airways
Flight: NH 027
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Aircraft Reg: JA809A
Departure Airport: HND / Tokyo Haneda
Arrival Airport: ITM / Osaka Itami
Scheduled Departure Time: 14:00 / 02:00 PM
Actual Departure Time: 14:00 / 02:00 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 15:05 / 03:05 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 15:05 / 03:05 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 17K (window)

That wing! WOW! I already ask you to forgive me to post endless wing shots of the 787, but it looks so fanastatic, especially from inside the aircraft. And the flex when taking off and more so the “deflexing” when all the lift gets killed off on spoiler-deployment after touching down:

Raked Wingtip:

The huge engine:

Security card, 787-8:

NH 767:

Everything was on time, we taxied out and took off Southeasternly direction, followed by a long right turn:


HND airport:

Tokyo City:

Climing away from this huge Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area:


Legroom was okay, the layout overall a little bit tight (domestic 3-3-3), but acceptable.

IFE-box installed, it seems NH wanted the option to reconfigure the domestic aircraft on short notice for international use:

No IFE, configured for domestic flights only:

Demonstrating you the electronic-dimmable windows in the 787, the right window not dimmed at all, the left window completely dimmed (photo 1), half dimmed (photo 2) and not dimmed, too:




Shortly afterwards we flew past Mount Fuji and had a wonderful view of its peak. I really hated not having a fully loaded DSLR with me now:



Service was BOB only on this domestic flight. Here another wing view while overflying some mountain ridges on Japans Eastcoast:

I walked around taking some cabin photos, getting a lot of weird looks from the other passengers, rear Economy cabin:

Middle Economy cabin:

Front Economy cabin, with Biz Class being located in front of that cabin. Have a look at the dimmed windows, too:

Descending into the Osaka region, the trees already getting the wonderful red and orange leaves, typical for the Japanese autumn:

While approaching ITM the lady in the aisle seat asked me to stop taking pictures. I obeyed for a minute, but could not resist taking more photos from the landing:

Landing at ITM:


Parking beside a company 767:

Business Class:

POST-FLIGHT:

I was not allowed into the flightdeck system “due to regulations”, so I took this photos of the 787s’ nose, great design:


— ITM-HND —

PRE-FLIGHT:

From leaving the aircraft to reaching the check-in counters it took me less than 10 minutes:

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It took a while to pass security, but I still had 20 minutes left until boarding time. My aircraft being prepared for the flight back:

The gate 10 waiting area:

FLIGHT ITM-HND

Date: 27 November 2012
Airline: ANA – All Nippon Airways
Flight: NH 032
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Aircraft Reg: JA809A
Departure Airport: ITM / Osaka Itami
Arrival Airport: HND / Tokyo Haneda
Scheduled Departure Time: 16:00 / 04:00 PM
Actual Departure Time: 16:00 / 04:00 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 17:10 / 05:10 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 17:10 / 05:10 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 17K (window)

Boarding commenced on time, in a very orderly manner, typical for Japan as I found out. Here is the new Boeing PSU unit including their new vents. The unit is not only featured on the 787, but all other aircraft with sky interior, too:

Wing view before pushback:

As this is the same aircraft as on the outbound flight I will focus on videos for this inbound flight to HND.

Take-off and climb-out from ITM



Descend over Tokyo Bay and landing at HND

POST-FLIGHT:

The nearly empty Monorail back to Hammamatsucho station:

And from Hammamatsucho station back on the Tokyo metro on the way to my hotel, “a little bit” more crowded now. Tokyo rush-hour:

— TOKYO —

Despite the interior of the hotel rooms not being brand-new, everything was clean, I got free wifi and I had a wonderful view. My hotel room:

The bathroom:

Not to be missed out in Japan, the heated toilet:

The hotel lobby:

The horel restaurant where you can get some great food:

When I arrived back at the hotel around 6:30 PM I went to my room and wanted to close my eyes for 10 minutes. I had planned to go down afterwards, have dinner and plan my touristic program for the next days. But what happened? I did not wake up again until it was 11 AM on the next day. I had lunch in the hotel restaurant and then took the metro to Harajuku, where I visited the Meiji Shrine inside the Yoyogi-Park:

From the Yoyogi-Park it is just a short walk up to “Harajuku”-Street, which is basicly packed with shops for girls, focussing on clothing like school-uniforms and everything out of the cosplay- and emo-world. Can not describe it any better, so please don’t feel offened if you are inside that world. Quite crazy, especially if you see the people wearing all this costumes. Afterwards I continued South to Shibuya, a district of Tokyo famous for its shopping malls, bars and love hotels. Here my photo of the famous Shibuya crossing, a so called “all-go-crossing” in Japan. (Taken from the local Starbucks.)

I continued on to the next Burger King, where I had three Whoppers, plain and then strolled through the stores and malls in the area, passing many bars and internet-/gaming-cafes full of young Japanese people. Quite a nice place that district. After a visit to “Tokyo Hands”, a huge department store I strolled back to the train station and took the trusted Hanzomon line back to my hotel. The next photo is taken out of my hotel room, the emperors park very dark on the left, the districts from Ginza (left) to Shimbashi (right) lit up in the distance, with the Tokyo TV tower out-shining all the skyscrapers.

On the next morning I had to get up early, which was still very difficult with all these flights in my bones. I took Hanzomon and Maronouchi lines to Tokyo station and from there on the JR Yamanote line to Hamamatsucho. This time I did not change to the monorail, but left the station and entered the Tokyo World Trade Center just a few meters away. The Tokyo WTC is home to at least two large bus companies doing tourist trips throughout Tokyo and the surrounding region, but also many more companies offering long-range, domestic bus-travel. I had prebooked a trip with one company via Expedia to Mount Fuji and Hakone this day. We had a speedy bus driver and a great guide, speaking very good English. Due to a lot snowfall in the last days we were not able to reach the highest bus station, so we had to return from the third last station IIRC. Here you see me smiling in this winters sunlight, just a few hundred meters away from the top of Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji as seen from a bus-stop on our way to Hakone:

Hakone was a cool place, too, despite it being a little bit smelly, because of all the free sulfur in the air (Mount Owakudani at Hakone is still a active vulcano). We took a cable-car up to Mount Owakudani and had a good time taking a lot of photos there from all the vulcanic action, sulfur coming out of the mountain at many places. We even could see Mount Fuji in the distance, because we had such a clear sky this day. The bus then took is down to the north end of Lake Ashinoko, from where we took a “pirate ship” to the southwestern end of the lake, where the bus picked us up again. After that wonderful day, which I had enjoyed to the fullest, I got dropped off at Hakone station. With some other tourists I had decided to book the premium option, which would take us back to Tokyo 30mins faster and in style, travelling with the famous Shinkansen high-speed-train.

Needless to say the ride with the Shinkansen was great fun, but even more interesting was to see the Japanese rail system at work. Most corridors have four parallel tracks, even at small stations like Hakone. “Through-trains”, which just stop at important stations, take the inner tracks and pass the small stations at full speed. My Shinkansen, stopping at multiple stations was travelling on the outer tracks, thus not slowing down the faster non-stop-trains. I was tired after returning from my trip, had dinner at the hotel and went to bed early. On the next morning I took the Hanzomon line to Oshiage, where I went up on the Tokyo Sky Tree. An amazing experience at 520m above this huge, never-ending city out of concrete and skyscrapers all around.

I went around the Sky Tree and took photos of all directions and later stitched them to a nearly 180 degree panorama. I recommend you to click on the image and download it from my site to feel the city in full-size.

From Oshiago I took the trains to Akihabara, Tokyos electronic district, a crazy mix out of hundreds of stores for any electronic good you could think of, mixed with maid-cafes, a paradise for the nerd in every man. Unbelievable! I took the following photo in front of some crazy store, where like hundred Japanese men of every age were waiting in a row to get an autograph from the two young ladies in their cosplay-clothing. FOR WHAT REASON? It’s Tokyo. I loved it. The people are so friendly their, they can do what they want, it’s a total different culture compared to Europe (or any other country I guess).

I had dinner at the local “golden M” and then took the Ginza line to Ginza, from where I had a nice walk through Tokyos poshest district, in westernly direction to the emperors palace. If you don’t book a tour far in advance you can not enter the palace, so I just took some shots from the outside and the surrounding parks.

Again I went on the train and got to Hamamatsucho again, where I went up on the World Trade Center and enjoyed another view over Tokyo and Tokyo bay. I then continued by foot to the Zojo-ji shrine. Here I could view some locals practice the rite of lighting up some incense sticks and speaking their prayers. Another few hundred meters by foot led me to Tokyos TV Tower, from where I took my third panorama that day, this time by night. Probably the best place to see Tokyo from above. The WTC is too far in the South, the Skytree is too high and too far in the Northeast of the town. Afterwards I went to the train station again and went to Roppongi, Tokyos “party-district”, at least that was the case in the 80s and 90s. I had dinner there and said goodbye to this lovely town and went on back to my hotel.

— NRT-PVG —

PRE-FLIGHT:

I had a hard time already leaving Tokyo, I wanted to see more of the city and swore to come back. Despite leaving the city, another let-down for me was, that I was feeling ill that morning; I think I had catched a cold. I packed, checked-out at 7 o’clock and then took the metro back to Ueno, from where I took the next Skyliner to NRT airport, terminal 2 this time. In the train I drank a Pepsi NEX, which is not available in Germany as far as i know. Very tasty, better than Coke Zero.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

There was a first passport control after the train station:

After I had changed my Yen into Chinese Yuan, I went to the FIDS, to check where my check-in-desk was located: MU272 to Peking/Beijing via Shanghai, check-in-desk B

NRT Terminal 2:

The MU check-in area where I waited more than 20 minutes in the queu. I know, it does not look packed, but they were in incredible slow. Well, I was in holiday-mood and did not care, I had already selected seat 33A while booking and everything worked out fine.

As I had more than one hour to pass until boarding-time I went up to the Airport mall, where I had pancakes and also visited the outdoor viewing-terrace:







About 15 minutes before boarding I went back into the terminal and passed security, which took not more than four minutes (I know, I know, I should have left the terrace earlier, but I was lucky):


I took the airtrain and was at the gate at 10:23, 2 minutes before boarding time:





The gate area:


As soon as the young gate agent went to the microphone everyone lined up. I joined the queu after most others were onboard, what did not take very long, at 10:41 the boarding was complete.

AI 777 at the next gate:


FLIGHT NRT-PVG

Date: 01 December 2012
Airline: China Eastern Airlines
Flight: MU 0272
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300X
Aircraft Reg: B-6097
Departure Airport: NRT / Tokyo Narita
Arrival Airport: PVG / Shanghai Pudong
Scheduled Departure Time: 10:55 / 10:55 AM
Actual Departure Time: 10:55 / 10:55 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 13:00 / 01:00 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 13:00 / 01:00 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 35A (window) (changed to 33A)

Onboard my first A330:

As I had another person seating in 35B I changed to 33A where I enjoyed the freedom of having two seats for myself. Then something happened what I never expected to experience myself. It was so crazy that I only knew it from kid-hating a.netters and hollywood-movies, a small boy, age 8-10 started kicking into the back of my seat with all his power, like ten times. He was sitting alone in 34A and no parents were to be seen around. After the fith or sixth kick he started saying “fat man, fat man” in comibination with the next kicks. I started to look around for his parents, other Chinese pax were also looking over what was going on, but noone felt responsible for the young lad. I turned, grabbed his hand through the space between seats A and B and told him to shut the f*** up and behave. He just gave me a stupid smile and sat back in his seat. Craziest experience ever, I mean it was a small chinese boy, you can not harm or shout at him, but that nobody felt responsible for him was not normal, too. It turned out, that he was an UM, but the flight attendants did not care a bit about him. More about him later…

Wing-view on taxi-out:

A house of one of the NIMBYs who does not want to give up his estace on the NRT grounds (or an airplane enthusiast, who knows ^^):

Cargo ramp:

Nippon Cargo landing before we got our take-off clearence:

Take-off and climb-out:



Above the clouds, finally sunshine again:

Legroom was okay…

… but having two seats is better:

Seatback:

Overhead PSU without air ducts, I hate airlines opting against them, especially with my cold I felt hot and wanted some cold air blowing on my head:

Soon after take-off the first drink-run was done with some tasty nuts as a bonus:

About 20 minutes later lunch was served, I could choose between fish and beef and took the beef option. I sorted out the vegetables and had a very tasty lunch (only the little cake tasted very flavorless):

After lunch I filled out the immigration card, then took a stroll through the cabin. The interior was a little bit dated looking, but fine for an intra-asian flight. BTW, we were all asked to close our windows as we came closer to the Chinese airspace:


Inflight wing-view with great weather, just very dirty windows:

After I had returned to my seat, another drink-run was done and the small boy started talking to me again, I guess you remember him. But to my astonishment he was totally friendly this time and tried to start a conversation with me. His English was really good for a 8-10 year old. He said things like “I am a boy from China, and you?” and “I have pets, fish, and you?”. I gave him short answers as I can’t be really angry at little kids, at least not for a long time. What also was annoying that a lot of pax were continuously pressing the call-buttons, the ceiling looked like a christmas-tree at times. There have been two drink-runs on that short flight and the chinese pax treated the flight attendants like slaves ordering drinks to their seats the whole time. While I hate lazy FAs, I would have just stayed inside the galley as a FA on that flight.

After the boy had asked me all his questions he started running around for at least 30 minutes, talking to all pax close to him, even getting the old lady in the aisle seat in the middle section to stand up and look through his window; I guess because of the nice blue sky. When the boy finally was so tired, that he started sleeping, I started sleeping, too, instantly. About an hour later he must have woken up and instantly woke me up, too, with pokes on top of my head. I looked at him and he asked me if it is bad in the USA. He probably thought that all white men come from USA and are very bad people. Strangest flight I ever had in my whole life. My cold was not getting better, I was really feeling tired and lucky when the descend started. Nearly there:

Descend through some thick layers of clouds:


Landfall:

Shortly before landing the boy got up from his seats despite a FA waving him to sit down again. He ran into the BizClass to his apparently favorite FA, a young chinese girl. At least he had a good taste. She came back with him, tugged him into his seat and went back to her own seat. While we were flying some rounds in a holding he got up again after one minute and started laughing at all the people around us with an outstretchted index finger. This time the FA stayed at her seat, what made him run to her just before touchdown and stayed up front in biz class or on the lap of the FA, I don’t know. Did I say “strangest flight ever”?

Overflying some industrial area around PVG:

Passing a MU A343 just before touch-down:

Touchdown, the first time on chinese grounds!

Air Macau A321:

KL 744 rotating:

Parking at gate 13:

When the passengers started to get up the boy came to his seat and told me “get up, get up now”. I ignored him and waited for everyone to leave and was allowed to visit biz class and the cockpit:


POST-FLIGHT:

My airplane head-on:

It was a long walk to immigration as we arrived at the domestic part of Terminal 1, so that this aircraft could fly on to PEK with the same flight number. In just two days, this would be my flight, too. Taking a picture from the Chinese security did not seam to be a good idea, because I was stopped immediately when fondling with my camera, when looking at some pics, while waiting in the queu. But at least there were friendly “Ni Hao” signs everywhere. After passing the immigration (what took very long) I picked up my baggage, which again had made it. YES!

I walked to the Maglev/Transrapid station (what felt like quite a long way with my cold getting worser) and bought a return-ticket. All pax have to wait in some waiting area before being allowed onto the platform (after the train had arrived). After everyone had enough time to take a few photos we boarded the train, which runs to Longyang Road outside the city center of Shanghai, just a few miles away from the airport. But better 5mins in the Transrapid, than 25 in the packed metro train.



This train only reached 301 km/h, the speed depends on the time of the day.


The Transrapid at Longyang Road station:

—SHANGHAI—

Quite stupid to not let the Transrapid run up into the city-center, so it takes another 15 minutes from Longyang Road with the metro up to Nanjing Road. Here I disembarked and walked the 20 minutes to my hotel right at the Bund (Bund is the seafront at the Huangpu River, which seperating Shanghai and Pudong). Old houses on the way to my hotel:

The Hyatt on the Bund, my hotel for just two nights:

I said just two nights, because it was a wonderful hotel, excellent kitchen and great service, a true 5-star-house IMHO. Here my room above the Huangpu River:


Pudong Skyline across the river, photo taking out of my room:

Sad thing was, that the cold was really, really bad now, so I went to bed, because I know it would be better for me like that, I had to save the rest of the trip. I had plans for that day, but instead slept 6 hours. Then I had a great all-you-can-eat buffet-dinner at the hotels restaurant, before I went back to my room, took the following photo (panorama-stitch from two shots) and then slept again:

So with a half day lost I had to make the most out of the next day, I still felt tired, but better. I started the day with a long tour southwards down the Bund:

From there I walked off the beaten pass down some small roads with old houses and about hundreds of shops for music instruments:

Newer skyscrapers in central Shanghai:

I had lunch in this renovated old houses, quite a nice place, with a lot of restaurants:

I walked on, via times square, normal housing districts to see something outside the tourist areas and back to the Peoples Square, from where I took the metro to Pudong. I went up on the Jin Mao Tower, where I found this modell of the planned ARJ21:

After a excellent dinner in a restaurant under the Jin Mao Tower, the Blue frog, I took some more night-time shots of the Pudong skyscrapers:

I then headed to the Oriental Pearl Tower (Shanghais TV Tower). The view from the tower was great, much better than the view from the Jin Mao tower:

I took the little train inside the Sightseeing Tunnel back to the other side of the river and relaxed at the Bund for another 30 minutes before it got too cold. I was feeling much better now after that whole day outside in the “warmish” air of Shanghai (around 12-15 deg C). Goodbye Shanghai:

FINAL WORDS:

Except for a few vists to Thailand before, this was my first visit to multiple Asian countries. And I loved it. Culture, people, buildings, history, everything you can get as a casual tourist. I loved the 787, the design, the look and feel, but also the feeling being inside this beautiful, new airplane.

Tokyo was fantastic, the people were great, I loved the country immediately. China was a cultural shock after visiting Japan. The people are much more reserved than the friendly Japanese. But still a great place, with the mix of historical and new buildings that I love.

The airlines:
– AZ was great again, friendly crew, very caring about the passengers, everything on-time.
– NH was fine, everything worked out on this domestic run. I still hate the concept of LCCs or just serving coffee, tea and water. And that is what NH is doing on its domestic flights. Unacceptable for such an airline.
– MU was great on their international flight. Good food, friendly cabin crew and great cockpit crew while visiting the flightdeck. A little letdown was the crew performance regarding the unaccompanied minor.

The airports:
– BRI: efficient little airport, fast and convenient.
– FCO: A little old, but it did work, fast connection, everything on-time, worked for me.
– NRT: Modern, efficient airport. What else to say? Nothing special regarding the core facilities, but it had a great visitor terrace and a nice and quiet overall feeling.
– ITM: No comment, as I was there no longer than for 30 minutes. It worked for me.
– PVG: Long lines at the security, long ways to walk, but modern and clean. No real complains here either.

To be continued in Part 3…

Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 1 (Y)

Read this report on Airliners.net.

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Hello and welcome to my 6th trip-report, part 1!

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This map and all other maps in this TR created with www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L. Swartz.

BACKGROUND-INFO:

This trip was not planned. Really! I had no intention to go on a holiday in 2012. I wanted to save up some money for future trips and had already planned to spend my 3 weeks off work in September 2012 at home, perhaps going on one or two fly-for-fun-trips for a few days or a short golf-trip. And what happened? In June 2012 Alitalias booking system offered us that incredible error-fare or fuel-dump-fare which a lot of other a.net trip-reporters wrote about already. Here are two examples of airbuseric and grabrielchew. You’ll find more examples of the flyingfinn86 and others if you use the search function.
To make a long story short: You could book tickets from MXP to BRI or back with a stop in either SIN or NRT. And you could book these tickets for prices of a domestic fare within Italy. The downside was that you could not stay at either NRT or SIN, the time at the destination was not longer than 3-6 hours, depending on the booked flights. The round-trip to SIN was available for 130 EUR (170 USD) and the round-trip to NRT for 86 EUR (120 USD). BTW, as there is no intercontinental flight from BRI, all flights operated via FCO, making the NRT-flight a 3-stop “domestic” flight. The SIN-flight was a even crazier 5-stop flight routing via FCO and CDG twice, booking the long-haul segment on the AF A380.
Some a.netters booked the trip to NRT or the trip to SIN, but I was one of the crazy guys booking both trips for late November 2012. I just couldn’t resist booking two long-haul round-trips for 210 EUR (290 USD), especially because I haven’t flown long-haul since 2008. And to make it worse (in the eyes of the normal traveller) I booked both trips back-to-back with one night in BRI before leaving Europe again.

After booking both trips I was looking forward to a long weekend of flying, five days to be exact. But as the time passed I repeatedly thought how stupid it would be not to use the flights as a cheap one-way to Asia. So I pulled out one of my many prepared travel-plans and thought about how I could fit these flights into them. As I had booked the round-trip to SIN first, followed by the RT to NRT the only option was to dismiss the return to Europe and start my trip through Asia from NRT. I wanted to visit Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Hongkong and Singapur and I wanted to do it in less than 3 weeks. In the end I did not stay in SIN, but opted for staying a week in Phuket, Thailand to relax after two hard weeks of flying and discovering new cities for me. I spent about 10 nights on Kayak searching for the cheapest fare, most interesting flights and best hotels within my financial limits.

I won’t discuss my hotels here, but mention them later in the report, review them and show you some photos. Regarding the flights, I searched for hundreds of options, I really tried to get the most for my money. So I tried a lot of combined flights and multi-stop-flights, too. This is how I came up on a fantastic fare on MU routing NRT-PVG-PEK-HKG for just 210 EUR (290 USD). NRT-PVG-PEK was one flight number, but MU allows you to stay in PVG for multiple days, so this ticket was perfect for my plan, this way I got to see Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and Hongkong as planned. A bonus was the MU A333 on NRT-PVG.

Like mentioned before I first wanted to go to SIN from HKG and use the UA 744 between HKG and SIN. But as I found no affordable hotel near the beach in SIN I changed my mind and found a great all-inclusice deal in Phuket, so I searched for options to go there from HKG and the options seemed endless. KQ, EK, RJ and a lot of other carriers offer 5th freedom flights between BKK and HKG and most of them have interline/resale agreements with either TG, OG or OX to channel passengers to other airports in Thailand. I ended up spending some more money and decided to book tickets with TG via BKK. This offered me the option to fly the TG A380, 744 (twice) and A330.

Why four aircraft? Well, while booking a huge amount of flights for the trip and all of them in Economy I had decided to fly back to Europe in style and had booked myself a ticket on RJ in Business. And this ticket was cheaper when booked from HKG instead of BKK, despite being longer and stopping in BKK on the way to AMM. Additionally the round-trip on TG was cheaper compared to the one-way ticket to HKT. Again, crazy, what are the airlines thinking? Nevertheless, good for me, more flights, take-offs and landings for less money.

Four weeks later, when everything was booked I read an a.net thread about the NH 787 on domestic Japanese routes, so I added a HND-ITM-HND round-trip on my arrival day at Tokyo for 130 EUR (170 USD). What a normal price compared to the AZ fuel-dump-fare. These were 21 flights, but MU decided to make it 22; four weeks before my trip they informed me that I was rerouted PEK-KMG-HKG. More interesting, I wasn’t complaining.

This is Part 1:

— TXL-MXP —

PRE-FLIGHT:

Not mentioned above is the outbound flight, but there was only one option anyway, as I needed to get a 11:00 AM flight out of MXP. So I booked the earliest possible flight with AB from TXL to MXP at 6:35 AM. It was available for just 48 EUR (65 USD) and offered me enough time in case of winter delays and to pick up my baggage at MXP and drop it off again at the AZ counters.

I had checked-in on the morning before for the AB flight, but could not check-in for all AZ flights. I parked my car at my company at 5:30 AM and was dropped off at ABs C-Terminal at TXL around 5:40 AM. I headed in side and dropped-off my baggage at the friendly AB staff (photo taken after baggage drop-off at 5:51 AM):

A hurried up and passed the security which took just under 3 minutes, passed the duty-free-area and arrived at my gate:


Seems like a light load, few pax waiting at the gate 10 minutes prior boarding-time:

Boarding started right on time at 06:05 AM, 30 minutes before scheduled push-back. All pax had to board a bus for a 90 seconds bus-ride to the aircraft which was parked 30m away. It took btw 10 minutes before the few pax had boarded the bus, so I took my time taking photos of the apron outside of the bus:



Here are some photos of my A320-200 from the outside, while waiting for the masses to clear the stairs; i wasn’t really in a hurry with that low number of pax. I love it that noone got an ego-trip and tried to stop me taking photos around the aircraft:




FLIGHT TXL-MXP

Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: AirBerlin
Flight: AB 8430
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Reg: D-ABFG
Departure Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Arrival Airport: MXP / Milan Malpensa
Scheduled Departure Time: 06:35 / 06:35 AM
Actual Departure Time: 06:35 / 06:35 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 08:15 / 08:15 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 08:15 / 08:15 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 09F (window)

The cabin on taxi-out, it took more than 10 minutes until everyone was seated, there seemed to be a huge percentage of inexperienced travellers onboard, families with little kids, who took forever to stow their hand luggage and find the right seats, very uncommon. Nevertheless, after being greeted by the cabin crew and from the flight deck afterwards, with a announced flightime of exactly 90 minutes, we pushed back on-time:

We taxied to the westernly end of the airport and took of in easternly direction, offering me a nice view of my hometown in the early morning hours, still under a cover of low, thin clouds, lightened up by the cities lights. This was the moment I won’t be seeing this city for the next 24 days, a great trip was lying ahead of me and I was hoping to everyting would work out as planned:


Climb-out of the Berlin area, still some stars visible at the sky, the towns and villages below lightened up, I love flying at night:

Shortly afterwards the cabin crew came around with the expected breakfast service, a tasty, but too soft pretzel, filled with butter and as always two OJs for me:

Recaro slimline seats and a row for myself:

The sunrise in the West:

Legroom, sufficient for a inter-European flight:

Just enjoy the view, a flight over the Alps, descending to MXP, wintertime, clouds hanging between some of the mountains, just wonderful:




Final descend into MXP, loved the North-Italian villages:


Touchdown and vavating the runway. Why is it always foggy in Milan?


A few parked aircraft, Livingston, Etihad A340 and a company 737-700:



POST-FLIGHT:

My first time at MXP, the terminal looked very dated, but it turned out to be very clean and efficient, except for the restrooms. We were 5 minutes early at the gate and the baggage arrived after just 3 minutes, great! (North-)Italian efficieny?



— MXP-FCO —

PRE-FLIGHT:

Before my next flight I had to leave the secure airside area on the Ground level and took the elevator to the second floor which serves as the departure / check-in level at Malpensa airport. The AZ counters for my flight were still empty, no AZ staff around, as I found out the check-in counters open just 2 hours before scheduled departure time. I thought that this is very odd for a major airport, especially for the the busiest route in Italy between MXP and FCO.

As online-check wasn’t working properly I had little hopes the self-service machines would work any better. And I was right, again I only could print my boarding passes to CDG.

While waiting for the counters to open I took this photo of the apron with the AA 752 and AZ A330 being prepared for the next flights.

When the counters finally opened I could check-in my baggage, but again could not get a ticket or seat assignment for my AF-flight to SIN. I was told to check-in at CDG. Bummer…

Some more apron pics here, international remote parking with CZ 77W, DL 763 and a Monarch A330.

Close-up of the Swiss Jumbolino:

FIDS, Gate A06 for me:

Breakfast at the Golden M with five Hamburger plain, what a healthy morning!

Passing security, waiting of around 6 minutes, effiency again…

No gate change, still A06…

The AA 752 being pushed-back for her departure to JFK:

Passing through MXP which seems to be the epidome of a shopping mall with no windows at all outside of the gate-area:


Daylight! Gate A06 waiting area:

Some more apron views:


As soon as the AZ staff arrived at the desk most pax lined-up for boarding, despite boarding not being opened for another 5 or 6 minutes. I always find this behavior very odd, except I really want to board first or you are on a flight with no assigned seats. While boarding I noticed that at Gate A07 the next flight would be an IB flight to JFK via MAD, which seemed odd, too, because AA had a scheduled direct flight to JFK leaving 20min earlier from MXP. Is there no better option for the IB tag-on flight, an airport that is not served by AA or OW at all?

FLIGHT MXP-FCO

Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 1019
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Reg: EI-DSO
Departure Airport: MXP / Milan Malpensa
Arrival Airport: FCO / Rome Fiumicino
Scheduled Departure Time: 11:15 / 11:15 AM
Actual Departure Time: 11:20 / 11:20 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 05A (window)

Boarding started at 10:55 AM and while I walked down the aisle I noticed a familiar face sitting at seat 03F, it was our fellow a.net trip-reporter roberts87. We said hello and arranged to talk at FCO. I had known he would be on the SIN-trip with me some month earlier, but both of us had already forgotten when the trip started. After boarding, the iconic MXP tower in the background:

A320 Enhanced, whatever that meant, at least the the PTV was showing nothing worth watching, just promo-videos for Italian regions.

TAP on the 9 o’clock position:

Soon after boarding pushback started just 5 minutes late. The captain had greeted us before and had informed us that there would be a short delay due to belly-cargo being late. He announced a temperature of 16°C at FCO, which was exactly 16°C above the temperature at TXL in the morning. Here we are lining up on runway 35L:

Take-off:



Excellent legroom:

Overview of MXP airport after our left-turn to the South:


While in-fight, the AZ cabin crew performed the drink service, offering water, tea and coffee for free. Some in-flight pics:



roberts87 himself, well, at least a small part of him:

Missing ceiling panel, perhaps someone pushed the call-flightattendant-button too often?

Interestingly there were five AZ captains onboard our flight, I guess that still a good percentage of the AZ crews live close to their former MXP hub. Descend into FCO:


Landing at FCO:


Parked and partly dismantled MD-88s, a sad sight:

The mobile stairs approaching:

My aircraft en detail after deboarding:



POST-FLIGHT:

none

— FCO-CDG —

PRE-FLIGHT:

As agreed Robert and I met after our arrival at the terminal, Robert informed that he just got ST Gold and invited me to the AZ lounge. This domestic lounge offers some nice seating, computers, WLAN, drinks, nuts and some bisquits, what was all we needed for the next 2.5 hours. We chatted for 30 minutes before Robert had to do some work on his laptop. I spent my time chatting on facebook and surfing a.net. We ended our visit to the lounge by chatting another 30 minutes about the different airline FF programs before heading to the gate 10 minutes prior to boarding time at 14:55 (02:55 PM).





This is AZ land:

A good 5 minutes walk down to our gate:

Our aircraft at the gate:

Boarding at 15:05 / 03:05 PM, 25 minutes prior to departure. First for FFs and C class pax, afterwards for the normal cattle class pax:

FLIGHT FCO-CDG

Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 330
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Reg: EI-DSU
Departure Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Arrival Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Scheduled Departure Time: 15:30 / 03:30 PM
Actual Departure Time: 15:30 / 03:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 17:40 / 05:40 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 17:41 / 05:41 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 10A (window)

Pushback dead on time at 15:30:

Another “enhanced” A320:

Legroom still okay, but tighter compared to the previous flight. Perhaps because they have more legroom in the forward rows?

The cabin while taxiing, nice colours, but I am missing some colourful contrast:

Well, they have plenty of busses here at FCO in case all air bridges brake down. Or is there a secret plan to open up a bus service between FCO and MXP?

Lininp up right into the late afternoon sun:

Take-off with some nice views of FCO:



Overflying the west-coast of Italy:

Even before we reached our final flightlevel I was asleep against the closed window. Closed? Yeah, because the sun was hanging low on the horizon the West shining right into the windows on the left side of our aircraft. I woke up for about 10 minutes while drinks and snacks were served, took the obligatory photos and went back to sleep right afterwards.


When I woke up the next time the purser was announcing that we had started our descend into CDG. The weather had changed, blue skies have become a grey mess, the sun had disappeared behind the horizon:

Approach and landing at CDG:


After a very long taxi to our gate we parked beside a company A319:

POST-FLIGHT:

Long airbridge:

AF land with a single KL aircraft on pushback:

Terminal 2 at CDG is just wonderful, modern architecture, just a little bit too dark here and there:

— CDG-SIN —

PRE-FLIGHT:

After I had left the aircraft I went straight to self-service check-in where I met Robert again. We were both able to get our boarding passes for the AF flight to SIN, but not for the flight back a few hours later. Robert wanted to get some fresh air, while I wanted to explore the international part of Terminal 2 at CDG, because this was my first time here, except for a very short visit in 2009, when I flew on the AF380 between LHR and CDG (Link to this TR can be found at the end of this TR). We agreed to meet again when Robert has arrived at the AF Lounge. So I passed over from the short-haul terminal to the Skyteam long-haul terminal (2E):

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Inside the brand new L-pier of 2E, if you look at the ceiling it still looks like some work is unfinished. Some shops were still closed, too.

I went on to explore the terminal and take some photos of the AF heavies parked at the different gates, here the Queen of the Skies:

AF 777:


Brand new, modern terminal, with a lot of space and lots of amenities:


The FIDS, 4 hour and 40 minutes until departure:

Some ceiling work needs to be done here, even some cables hanging down:

While I enjoyed all the work being done around this AF A380, while it was prepared for departure, I bought and ate two poppy seed rolls at a shop right infront of this gate. When the A380 was pushed back I played two rounds of FIFA 11 at some PS3-desk (which was free btw) until Robert wrote a SMS that he had arrived at the lounge “AF Salon” and invited me to join him.

Thankfully I joined him upstairs in the lounge as his guest. We had a small dinner (well, not that small for me), took our time in the showers and chatted for about 90 minutes until it was time to leave for our gate:






Our aircraft being prepared for its long journey to SIN:

FLIGHT CDG-SIN

Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: AirFrance
Flight: AZ 2692
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Aircraft Reg: F-HPJA
Departure Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Arrival Airport: SIN / Singapur Changi
Scheduled Departure Time: 23:20 / 11:20 PM
Actual Departure Time: 23:20 / 11:20 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 18:45 / 06:45 PM +1
Actual Arrival Time: 19:05 / 07:05 PM +1
Class: Economy
Seat: 12L (window)

Boarding had already started when we arrived at the gate, thanks to Roberts status I could use priority boarding, too. We had already noticed that there were only very few pax at the gate and after boarding it seemed to be a very light load on this day, probably less than 40% in Y. About three minutes before boarding was finished a young couple sat down in the other two seats in my row. Bummer, would I have to move now to get more space? Would I get another window seat? Robert and I had chosen seats right behind each other with a row of three for both of us, but someone must have assigned them the seats right beside me…

The huge wing with another A380 to our right:

When the sound for “boarding completed” hollered through our aircraft the couple to my left jumped up immediately and changed to a free row. YES! STRIKE!

The nearly empty main-deck Y cabin:

Beginn of our taxi, we had pushed back on time, but it took like 20 minutes to reach the runway, with multipe stops to let other aircraft path by:

Line-up and ready to go:

After the fasten seatbelt signs had been switched off the cabin crew walked around suplying the passengers with enough water for the rest of the flight. Because of the light load (at least I think this is the reason) everyone got up to three bottles of water. The inflight-map right after take-off:

More than 6500 miles to go:



It took about 45 minutes until dinner was served, that wasn’t overly long, but nearly too long for me, as I was very tired at this point. Dinner was great, it tasted excellent and a good example how Y class airlane food should be:


As soon as the the cabin crew had collected the trays I went to sleep, somewhere over Austria. And I didn’t get up until we had passed the East Coast of India. I woke up about five times and went to the restrooms two times, but overall I could sleep very well. That was relaxing and allowed me to enjoy the rest of the flight. I started with some good music until breakfast was served southwest of Thailands coast:




The breakfast wasn’t great, but sufficient. The bun was too soft, but tasty and it could have been more, but well, this is Economy. It was odd that they did no drink service, they just offered tea, coffee and the little portion of OJ that came with the tray. After the trays had been collected, I went around exploring the cabin, which looked very nice with the mood lightning switched on:



Just after I had climbed the rear stairs to the upperdeck the cabin crew informed us that we should take our seats due turbulence being expected. The seatbelt-signs were switched on for about 30 minutes while we flew through some light bumps. Missing gaspers on the AF A380, I really don’t like it that gaspers are optional at Airbus and so many airlines do not opt to get them:

About 90 minutes after breakfast we started our descend into SIN. Descent, approach and landing are always my favourite parts of a flight. In this case, this was one of the greatest approaches I ever wittnesed myself, the sunset, its reddish light, the tropic sea below, a new territory and airport for me, fantastic:


Anyone which industrial area we overflew here?

The famous multitude of shops anchoring in front of tha Singaporian Coast:

Final approach and landing, just love the light:






Vacating the runway to the left:

Passinger some SQ heavies, eeehmm, supers? Three SQ A380s and their *A coloursheme tripple-7:



Sunset over Changi Airport:

SQ A345:

AY A330:

When we arrived at our gate we were 20 minutes late, mainly because it took us so long to taxi to the runway at CDG. I waited until everyone was off the aircraft and as usually asked if I could get some photos from the flight deck. The friendly cabin crew asked the flight crew and they allowed me to visit the flight deck:

POST-FLIGHT:

Because of my visit to the flight deck, I was the last person to leave the aircraft, here is the CX A343 at the gate to our left being pushed back:

It felt good to be in Singapore, my first time at SIN. Robert had waited for me and we made our way to the immigration to pick up my luggage and check-in for our flights back to CDG:

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Because I had not filled out my immigration form onboard our aircraft, I had to do so just before passing immigration and then we went on through. SIN is a fantastic airport, despite a lot of flights arriving at this time and a lot of passengers everywhere we didn’t wait longer than 5 minutes to pass the immigration. Everything worked flawless at that airport:

Picking up my baggage, so far, the bags made it:

— SIN-CDG —

PRE-FLIGHT:

After we had picked up my bag we took the escalator up to the first floor, where departures are located at SIN. Here is the FIDS infront of the AF desks:

The desks were still closed when we arrived there about 3 hours and 15 minutes prior boarding-time. Two of three SkyTeam self-checkin-machines were not working, too, both of them showing a Windows XP error window. The was a very long row in front of the one machine working and after waiting about 20 minutes Robert was able to check-in using the machine, getting a window seat at seat 45A. At the same time he did his check-in a second machine got repaired by a technican, i tried to check-in there, but just got a message that I was put on the stand-by list. I panicked a little bit at that moment, because this would ruin all my next flights on this trip. When the desks opened another 15 minutes later I was one of the first persons to line-up for the Economy check-in. The agent told me that the flight was overbooked (what a contrast to the outbound flight). I told her I have to go to Paris or Bari this day, because I have get on another SkyTeam flight after just one night in Europe. When Robert came over to the desk I asked the agent if she could upgrade Robert as a ST Gold to Business Class and give me his seat, but Business class was overbooked, too. I don’t know what the agent did next, probably she removed another passenger from the flight, but I got my seat, what made me insanely happy. It was a middle seat, but still, everything was still going on as planned. Yeah!

As soon as I had my boarding pass Robert and I went on to search the Cactus Bar on the roof of one of SINs terminals. The airside area at SIN looks wonderful, flowers and green everywhere, a huge amount of passengers, but everything worked very coordinated. But I am repeating myself, see yourself:


The Cactus Bar, lovely place, to bad I wasn’t reacting too good to the tropical air at this moment, really was feeling too hot:

Some partial views from the tarmac:


After staying at the Cactur Bar for about 30 minutes I followed Robert to the Skyview Lounge, to which he had invited me again. Robert knew his way around, he had looked up where all the lounges were before going on the trip, so I just had to follow him. The first thing I did was taking another shower. Refreshed and relaxed I returned to our seats and had dinner. The available dinner menu was really excellent. A lot of choice and very tasty food, especially the satey sticks and chicken curry. While surfing on facebook I put one of camera batteries in the charger and placed it on the table beside us.



After 75 minutes we had to leave again, boarding had already started:

While passing security at the gate I realized that I had forgotten my battery and the charger in the lounge. And I had no time to go back. F#@K!!!

Our aircraft before boarding:

FLIGHT SIN-CDG

Date: 24 November 2012
Airline: AirFrance
Flight: AZ 2691
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Aircraft Reg: F-HPJA
Departure Airport: SIN / Singapur Changi
Arrival Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Scheduled Departure Time: 23:30 / 11:30 PM
Actual Departure Time: 23:30 / 11:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 06:10 / 06:10 AM +1
Actual Arrival Time: 06:05 / 06:05 AM +1
Class: Economy
Seat: 21B (center)

In my middle seat, very tight for a longhaul aircraft, not much legroom for my rather long legs:

I got two friendly neighbors around my middle seat, a mother and daughter from Singapore travelling to Paris. Both did not want to change seats with me. Well, who takes a middle seat if he doesn’t have to sit there?

Seat design of the rather thick and comfy Economy seats, the IFE-AVOD-system still switched off.

Before push-back the two crew members walked up and down both aisles spraying some pesticide into the cabin, according to their announcement something mandatory by the WHO. Questionable IMHO as only very few airlines do this with passengers onboard.

We pushed back on-time, here we re lined-up and ready to go:


Take-off:

6668 miles to go:

After take-off the cabin crew greeted us onboard and like on the outbound flight supplied us with headphones and the menu for the flight. The usual stuff. But we got no water this time what I found to inconsistent and annoying on such a full flight and in a middle seat. That ment a lot of moving pax at night.

The inflight map right after take-off:

I listend to some music for 30 minutes, than started to watch Batman (The Dark Knight Rises). Somewhere around the first third of the movie it was dinner-time, I took the beef option and it was excellent. Again fantastic food by AF.

When my movie had finished I tried going to sleep, but just didn’t manage to do so. I really tried for a long time, multiple hours, but it didn’t work and when it worked I woke up again after 10 or 15 minutes. I gave up after 6 hours of flying and decided to watch TED, another good movie, absolutely funny. I think at one point I woke up my neighbors when I had to laugh and did so very loud. After the movie I went back to the lavatories, the crew had placed a cart there with drinks. I got some water and went back to my seat, we still had a good five hours to go and we were right over the Caspian Sea. And finally I fel asleep, right away and I didn’t wake up until the crew was two rows away serving breakfast.

Breakfast 80 minutes before landing, right after passing the border between Austria and Germany south of Regensburg. The bun too soft again, but still tasty:

The crew did a final drink service after breakfast had been served:

I passed the remaining 50 minutes chatting with my seat neighbors, discussing my trip and their holidays in Europe. Here we are on final approach, seen through the tail camera of our A380:

Just before touchdown:

Video of us landing, touching down and vacating the runway at CDG:

I was allowed to take my flightdeck phto again. Lovely cockpit, love the cameras and airport diagram being shown on the displays:

POST-FLIGHT:

Robert and I took the airtrain from terminal 2M to 2K, where we had to pass immigration. That took us nearly 30 minutes, what a mess, that was a real letdown on the part of CDGs management:

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Finally through immigration, waiting for Robert right behind me:

— CDG-FCO —

PRE-FLIGHT:

Robert and I walked from terminal 2K to 2C where the AF Arrivals Lounge is located. My first stop was the AF desk inside the lounge, I asked which flight I would take next, as I got tickets to BRI via BLQ, but that got changed about one month before my trip to two boring A320s via FCO. To my surprise that had changed again at a few days before departure, back to the route via BLQ. I never got a notification for any of the changed, I just found out by checking checkmytrip.com every few days. So it was to my even greater surprise when I got a boarding pass for CDG-FCO at SIN. Say what?! So CDG-FCO it was, as the agent in the lounge did found the same booking in her system. She printed the boarding pass for the leg between FCO and BRI, too, because that that wasn’t possible at the desk in SIN. Then I showered and then had breakfast with Robert. Afterwards I called the lounge at SIN, but they haven’t found my charger and battery and it wasn’t on the table anymore, too. They really tried to help me, but it seemed like I had lost the device, too bad. Because my second battery was empty now, too, I had to use my small backup cam. So the picture quality isn’t that great in the next shots (until I reached Tokyo):

FIDS inside the lounge:

After breakfast I thanked Robert for his company and bringing me into all the lounges. I left the lounge and the terminal, too, so I could get on the bus running between the terminals. On normal days the bus should take like 10 minutes between terminal 2C and 2F, but the was a huge traffic jam on the airport roads. I got off at 2E after more than 20 minutes on the bus and took the elevator down to the arrivales level, where I walked over the parking area over to terminal 2F. This took 2 minutes and probably would have been another 15 minutes on the bus with all the traffic this morning.


At the 2F I went up to the departures level again and passed security in under four minutes. Looks like a AZ mini-hub:

The part of 2F where my flight left:

Only Asian passengers at my gate. I found that very strange at first:

My aircraft at the gate:

Boarding began 15 minutes later than planned at 9:45 instead of 9:30. I was stopped by the gate agent, who told me there is a problem with my boarding pass. I had to find the travel receipt I got at FCO two days before. After the agend had scanned the receipt she printed me a new boarding pass to FCO and to BRI, too, both with the same seats. Whatever happened here, it seemed to be related to the three switches of my routing.

FLIGHT CDG-FCO

Date: 25 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 319
Aircraft: Airbus A321-100
Aircraft Reg: EI-IXO
Departure Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Arrival Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Scheduled Departure Time: 09:50 / 09:50 AM
Actual Departure Time: 09:50 / 09:50 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 11:30 / 11:30 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 11:30 / 11:30 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 18F (window)

Despite I had been hold up during the boarding process I was still one of the first passengers on board EI-IXO, so I had time to take these cabin pictures of this A321-100. You notice the card readers on all seats? Did they ever get used by AZ? Did they ever planned on using them? What is the sense of having them without having a phone or PTV in the backrest? Seems rather strange…


Comfy seats, which seemed to be a generation of seats somewhere between “old and thick” and “new slimline”.

So this was a “normal” A321, not an enhanced version:

Overhead PSU, oldschool, but at least with vents:

Legroom was okay, but not great. Because the middle seat was empty, I still had an enjoyable flight:

Photo by Robert, taken from the terminal while my aircraft was pushed back:

Interesting thing about the comic-style safety video, it shows an A380 flightdeck. Probably AZ will order them soon, just to spend their last money left over:

F-HPJA, the A380 which took me to SIN and back just a few hours ago:

A small Bombardier CRJ taking-off in front of us:

Next photos: take-off, seen through the totally dirty windows. Cleaning did not help, because they were dirty on the outside and between the windows and just blended in with the whole aircraft. The interior looked quite dated, it seemed like a thorough cleaning hasn’t been done for month, there was chewing gum on the backrest of the seat in front of me, coffee stains on the polstery and my swimwest was lying on the floor.


The old terminal 1 at CDG, haven’t been to this place since 1994, loved it back then, want to visit it again in the future:

An AA 763 (or 772?) taking off on the parallel runway:


Streching out. But why is there an IFE box under the middle seat? There are not PTVs at all! It seems like the aircraft got prepared for a different carrier…

The load-factor on this flight was around 70-80 percent. And about 90 percent of the pax were from Japan. I talked to the young Japanese lady in the Aisle seat and she confirmed my assumption that this was one of the “famous” japanese travel groups doing a trip throughout Europe to multiple capitals. We had a good talk and a good laugh when I told her I was flying to Tokyo tomorrow, while she would stay in Europe for another 10 days.

My snack and two cokes (because I am not into that red OJ which AZ is offering):

Inflight view, somewhere over Nice (i had slept 30 minutes before):

Descend, spoilers extended:

Landing, back at FCO. The landing was very good and soft btw!


POST-FLIGHT:

Leaving my aircraft, via stairs again:

Like all AZ aircraft this one has a proper name, too: Piazza Plebiscito Napoli

Left-hand engine, it did a good job, well, at least it did not fail:

— FCO-BRI —

PRE-FLIGHT:

We got bussed back to the terminal and my first stop was the FIDS, my flight to Bari seemed to be on-time and would still leave from the designated gate, B19:

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Inside FCO’s domestic/european terminal for departures to destinations within the European Union:

I went to the AZ transfer-desk, tried to check-in for the next day, but I had no success with the self-service machine and the desk agents told me that check-in could only be done at BRI:

I also asked for a camera shop to buy a travel-charger for my SLR camera, but had no luck, so I went to my gate, which was on the ground level at FCO. This ment another bus-boarding:

At gate B19:


Boarding started before boarding-time at 12:45, that was one whole hour before scheduled departure time. I was one of the last persons to board the bus, feeling very tired at this point, being hunted by the last night without sleep. Some photos of my aircraft EI-IMT:


AZ E-Jet EI-RDC:

Now already defunct Carpatair, YR-KMC:

AZ A332 EI-EJN:

FLIGHT FCO-BRI

Date: 25 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 1613
Aircraft: Airbus A319-100
Aircraft Reg: EI-IMT
Departure Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Arrival Airport: BRI / Bari – Palese
Scheduled Departure Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Actual Departure Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 13:45 / 01:45 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 13:45 / 01:45 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 20A (window)

The loadfactor was close to 100%, the very early boarding paid out as it took the pax an eternity to take their seats. The trip with the bus, getting onboard and getting everyone seated really took longer than 50 minutes on this A319. Never happened to me before. So we pushed back about 3 minutes late!

Wing view from my seat 20A.

Lining up on runway 25:

Take-off, passing FCO’s terminals:



We climbed out to the West, flying over the Western coast of Italy again:

Okay legroom again, but even tighter than the A321 before, with one of the very few free seats beside me:

Cabin view:

After flying out over the Mediterranean Sea we flew a long left turn and got onto a southeasternly course to BRI:

Rome in the background of this shot. Have not been to the city itself, unbelievable, but true. It is on my to-do-list…

The service was minimal again on this domestic leg, just water, coffee and tea.

Enjoying the beautiful Italian scenery:




Overflying some nice South-Italian farms:

You know, when watching this photo, I hear the music of “The Godfather” and expect some old black car to be blown up inside the outer walls of this farm:

Landing at BRI:

The terminal being extended:

Arriving at gate 305:

Some LCC aircraft in the background at BRIs bus-gates:

As usual at a terminal gate I waited for all pax to leave the aicraft and asked if I could visit the flightdeck. Always a nice place to take some photos:

POST-FLIGHT:

My bag arriving. YES! It had made it back to Europe!

Palm trees, a sign of a warmer climate. Nice view when you leave an airport.

Waiting for the hotel shuttle to arrive:

Lobby of my hotel “Parco Dei Principi Bari”, which is just a 3 minute drive South of the airport. Was a very good hotel, worth its money. Great style, free wi-fi, free use of the spas pool area and free use of the public computers (which were actually working including the printer):

My room:

Bathroom:

The spas swimming pool, fantastic area, with whirlpool and a lot of other amenities. The windows are facing West and I swam there until sundown. The pool area has a magical look at this time as all light is coming from outside and the colour-changing lights inside the pool:

For dinner I had a steak, grilled medium. This steak was the only negative thing I noted about the hotel, it was listed as a filet steak, but had a large “fat-edge” like a rump steak.

FINAL WORDS:

It was a good start of this trip to Asia. Well, I am back at Europe at this point, but it did not feel this way as I was on the road (or up in the air) for three days already. That night in a proper bed was worth much more than the price of the hotel for one night. A good point for a resumé of the past days:

The airlines:
– AZ was great, at least in relation to all the bad press they get. The crews were either friendly or neutral, but never unfriendly or bad. The personell at the transfer-desk was useless, but probably they really had no chance to help me. Their OLCI is not working properly with the codeshare flights, so this is a negative point about the whole experience. But just focusing on the important things, the aircrafts and the staff, I can only recommend to fly on AZ, especially if they have another error fare available, what seems to happen quite often with them.
– AF was fanstastic, too. Legroom was excellent on this longhaul configured A380. The crew performed in an excellent manner on the outbound flight and on an exceptable manner on the inbound flight to Paris.

The airports:
– TXL: I can’t say a bad thing about my home airport. It always was and still is a fantastic airport for direct flights. It useless for connecting flights, but it is perfect for the purpose it was built for.
– MXP: Old, could need a refurbishment here and there, but overall I had a very good experience there, everything was working on time and as it should
– FCO: see MXP
– CDG: loved the new parts of Terminal 2, very modern, efficient, the ways between the Terminals are little bit too long, but the overall experience was excellent
– SIN: probably the best airport I have ever been, too, efficient, fast, friendly staff, built for connections, superb atmosphere
– BRI: lovely little airport, for an airport of that size you can not expect much more, nothing to complain here, too

Will be continued in Part 2…

TXL-LIN-CPH-TXL – Hunting The MD-82 (Y)

Click here to read the trip report on Airliners.net.

— TXL-LIN —

Hello and welcome to my 5th trip-report!

***BACKGROUND-INFO:***

Last October, when I read that both SAS and Alitalia had planned to retire their MD-80 family aircraft until the end of the year (2012) I decided to go on another weekend-trip as I have never been on a DC-9 or MD-80 family aircraft. I managed to book a trip with SK from LIN back home to TXL via CPH. The first leg was scheduled to be an CRJ, another new aircraft family for me, the second one on a MD-82. I added a rather standard LH A319 oneway flight from TXL to LIN and a night at the Holiday Inn Linate Airport. I was ready to go, just had to wait two weeks.

This map and all other maps in this TR created with www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L. Swartz.

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

As this was a trip just booked for flying around, what seems rather crazy for normal people (that are the ones not spending their time on a.net), I thought I might go spotting before my first flight as this is another activity getting you strange looks. There is this famous spot just behind the end of runway 08L behind a highway offering great views of the whole airport in the street “Meteorstraße”. As I have never been there, it seemed like a good idea to include it in this trip. I went there around 16:30 / 4:30 PM and planned to stay there a good 2.5 hours until after sunset.
LH A319:



KL B738:


AB A319:


LH B733:

TXL apron view:

TXL airport overview:

LH A321:

AB A319:

Sun setting behind the airport buildings:

Bizjet departing:

After sunset:

After it got dark I brought my car to our company which is very close to the airport and took a taxi to terminal D, the small extension to terminal A, where my LH flight would depart today.

The famous Es-Bahn:

As I still had 60 minutes until boarding, I went to Burger King to have dinner. Got some hamburger plain, as usual.

After walking around the airport for some time I went back through the main hall of terminal A and through terminal D, passing security there…


Terminal D was packed, flights were leaving from all gates available in the first half of the small terminal and some were late, that added to the feeling of chaos post security:

At least my flight still looked to be on time, FIDS:

Waiting area in front of gates 72 and 73:

Pushback time was 20:40 / 08:40 PM, but at 20:39 / 08:39 PM I was still sitting at my gate, boarding had started one minute earlier:

***FLIGHT TXL-LIN***
Date: 26 October 2012
Airline: Lufthansa
Flight: LH 3492
Aircraft: Airbus A319-100
Aircraft Reg: D-AILU
Departure Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Arrival Airport: LIN / Milan Linate
Scheduled Departure Time: 20:40 / 08:40 PM
Actual Departure Time: 20:55 / 08:55 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 22:20 / 10:20 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 22:35 / 10:35 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 12F (window)

Boarding at gate 72 is either via bus or walking up to the aircraft, today it was the bus, so I had time to take this photo of another LH A320 waiting for the passengers of gate 73:

Boarding was done via both front and rear stairs, but as usual most pax rushed up the front stairs, I took my time and took some photos around the aircraft:




Wing view after boarding was completed:

Pushback and taxi passing terminal A:

Take-off:


And flying out in eastern direction over Berlins city center:


Excellent legroom thanks to LHs new eco cabin NEK:

The NEK slimline seats:

Food bag with Berlin design:


Contents, all very tasty:

Adding two cups of OJ made it an excellent second dinner before I slept for 40 minutes:

I woke up like 10 minutes before landing when the captain announced we would be landing at LIN in a few minutes and that we already had left our flight level of 39000 feet and had passed MUC and BGY on our way to LIN. We were having some real low hanging clouds and a lot of fog at LIN that evening:


Parking beside a company A321:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

Deplaneing and taking the bus to the terminal:

Passing the baggage-claim area as I was only travelling with hand-luggage:

Waiting for my bus to take me to the hotel. I expected it would not take longer than perhaps 10 minutes for the bus to arrive and the short drive back to the hotel. But no, the driver took his time, letting me wait there about 20 minutes (the hotel was no 5 minutes away and it was a hotel-owned bus). After the driver finally arrived I got into the bus and we started our short hop to the hotel. About 1 minute, still on the airport ground, the driver got a call, that another pax would arrive soon, so we went back to the terminal. It took 25 minutes for the italian lady to arrive outside the terminal. She told us she called the driver right after landing while still on the airplane and then had to pick up the baggage at the carroussel. I wanted to slap her right in the face or smack the drivers and her head against each other. At that time I could have been at the hotel already for 50 minutes. The idiot driver then drove us to hotel, it took us 4 minutes. Congrats for bringing me there on time. Not.

The departure hall of the terminal while waiting for the bus to arrive:

Hotel room at the Holiday Inn Linate Airport, clean and modern:


— LIN-CPH —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

Me in the airport elevator. Not looking very happy after the short sleep, made even shorter by the stupid driver:

Hotel lobby:


I took a taxi to airport, the price was fair. The hotel bus is not available before 8 AM.

Departure hall more busy now:

FIDS:

Check-In area:

Gold to go, like everyone wants to have some gold with him when travelling:

Passing security took about 5 minutes, very quick and efficient, but not many people leaving at this time, too:

On my way to the departure gate, walking through a rather empty area of the terminal, all shops still closed:

Gate area:

First time I got a boarding pass which was valid for more than one flight:

When boarding started we were first all squished into a very small area righ behind the gate counter before the bus did arrive and we were allowed to go on:

***FLIGHT LIN-CPH***
Date: 27 October 2012
Airline: SAS
Flight: SK 1690
Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-900
Aircraft Reg: OY-KFF
Departure Airport: LIN / Milan Linate
Arrival Airport: CPH / Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup
Scheduled Departure Time: 06:00 / 06:30 AM (on time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 08:35 / 08:35 AM (on time)
Class: Economy
Seat: 17F (window, exit row)

Taken before boarding my CRJ-900, a very nice looking aircraft, good asthetics. The -700 is too short and the CRK too long IMO.



Exit row seats, available at no cost at SK while booking your tickets when pre-selecting your seats (no cost, too):

Yep, CRJ-900, the safety card, small like this regional jet:

Before taking off in foggy conditions the captain greeted us via the PA system and announced an on-time departure and arrival at CPH. I was asked by the flight attendant to put my SLR away for take-off, so I took the first photos with my small backup cam:

The lowest cloud layer was illuminated by the lights from the city below, that was very interesting looking:

The whole cabin after service had started in the front, load factor was around 30 percent:

Lots of legroom in the exit row:

Tea, rather bad tasting. Only coffee, tea and water available for free.

The sun slowly rising behind the horizon:






Descending over the Danish coast:




Final approach:


Landing:


At the gate with a Primera B73G at the next gate:

Another legroom shot. It took some time until the door was opened, apparently the guy outside opening the doors to the terminal was late:

Another cabin shot while deplaneing:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

My CRJ after deplaneing:

Inside the very nice and modern terminal:

Lots of FIDS, my next flight not showing a gate that early:

Another view of my CRJ:

I went to the Grab+Fly and picked up some excellent chocolat croissants and a lemonade:

I settled down beside the Grab+Fly and watched the early morning traffic while having my breakfast, in front of the window the Primera B73G was getting ready for pushback:


After breakfast I started walking around the airport a little bit to watch the traffic and explore the terminals, Blue 1 MD-82:

SK B736:

QR A333:

SK A343s, including the Star Alliance special paintscheme:

Norwegian B378:

LH A319:

SK MD82:

Same aircraft again, out of the sun:

And a second MD-82:

A third one being pushed back:

And a fourth one at the gate. You see, this is my MD-82 trip, so please bare with all the MD-82 photos! ^^

LH Regional E-190:

Wonderful and modern CPH terminal, I have to say CPH probably was the best airport I have ever been to. Good looking, good atmosphere, relaxed, but still large enough for an a.nutter to feel at home:


LH A319:

SQ 77E:

Some more photos from the terminal, good places to eat there, too, had a nice lunch there later on:


SK CRJ-900 and TG B744:

TG 744 up close:

SK A333:

LO E-170:

— CPH-TXL —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

About 80 minutes before my flight the gate appeared on the FIDS:

As I still had some time to pass I went into the Dixons travel store. You would expect a normal Dixons like at hundreths of airports around the world. But not here at CPH. This shop is a complete camera store having all SLR models available and even well-informed employees who were able to discuss the pros and cons of the different models. I got my hands onto the Nikon D800, D600 and Canon 5D Mark III trying to find out which camera I would like to get in the near future.

In front of my gate, no seats available, only in the secured area behind the counter which was not accessable:


My aircraft, I love the T-tail:


Finally, 10 minutes late the gate agent showed up, went inside the secured area and let us wait another 5 minutes before boarding started:

***FLIGHT CPH-TXL***

Date: 27 October 2012
Airline: SAS
Flight: SK 1675
Aircraft: McDonell Douglas MD82
Aircraft Reg: LN-RMO
Departure Airport: CPH / Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup
Arrival Airport: TXL / Berlin Tegel
Scheduled Departure Time: 12:00 / 12:00 noon (on-time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 13:15 / 01:15 PM (on-time)
Class: Economy
Seat: 22A (window, exit row)

When boarding started I was the first person passing through, but was called back as the scanning of my boarding pass had not been succesful. My aircraft on the apron, what a wonderful unique looking machine:

Boarding the empty cabin:

Wing view:

MD-81/-82 safety card:

Wing detail:

Oldschool passenger service unit:


After pushback, passing the TG B744 and SK A333:

Line-up:

Takeoff, it felt like a rocket despite the aircraft being full:





Climb and cruise:


Lots of legroom in the exit row:

Oldschool thick seats, but very, very comfy!

Over the German coastline the clouds got very dense, did not look like a sunny day anymore:

Descend:



Approach from westernly direction passing south of the Tegler See (Lake Tegel):

Landing:





Crossing runway 26L/08R:

Passing Terminal C:

AB A333:

Terminal A:

We parked at gate D72/D73, from where I have left TXL one day ago, but this time directly at the stairs which lead into the departure area of the D/E-Terminal. Still busses arrived. Why? Not possible to enter the terminal from there directly when arriving? Seems like sub-optimal planning.

An a.netter?

***POST-FLIGHT:***

The bus took us over to the baggage claim area of the D/E-Terminal:

The End!

***FINAL WORDS:***

It was great to get onto the MD-82 and the CRJ-900. Both great aircraft and very comfy. LH was fine, the food-bag was great, the crew okay/professional. SK was okay, the crew not very proactive regarding the customer service, but still friendly.
TXL airport was the usual business, LIN was efficient, but not very good looking/feeling. CPH was great, my favourite airport so far, only negative point being the boarding area without seats for my flight to TXL. But as I saw no other boarding area like that one, so I consider this just bad luck.

TXL-FRA-MAD-LCY/LGW-MAN-MUC-TXL-DUS-TXL (Y)

Click here to read the report on Airliners.net.

Hello and welcome to my 4th trip-report!

***BACKGROUND-INFO:***

I started planning this trip, because I wanted to celebrate the opening of the new BER airport. I planned to take-off from TXL one last time on June 1st 2012 and return to the new BER airport on the first day of operation, June 3rd. As I was fascinated by the number of trip-reports about 5th freedom flights on intra-European routes I started investigating what routes could be flown on one weekend without having to take some days off from work. After making lots of travel-plans and weighing up which route to take I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t my first priority to take as many 5th freedom flights as possible. I prefered adding some new type to my list of aircraft I have flown and to stop in London to finish what I started with my 2nd TR in 2010. I ended up booking two 5th freedom flights, LA from FRA to MAD and SQ from MAN to MUC. Two days after booking the trip I was informed at work that I have to take part in a training course at DUS on Monday and Tuesday after coming back from my trip. As I would be arriving late on Sunday, I opted for flying to DUS and back and included these flights in this TR. As we all know, BER wasn’t opened on June 3rd and the opening is postponed until sometime in 2013. Here is the complete routing:

This map and all other maps in this TR created with www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L. Swartz.

— TXL-FRA —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

Despite the postponed opening of BER I was still very happy to go on this trip, it would be my 4th TR, but only my 2nd trip I just booked for the sake of flying, so I was still quite new to this a.nutter TR business. On a normal friday I work till 3:00 PM, but this day I called a cab at 11:55 AM and was picked up at 12:10 PM, arriving at the airport about 7 minutes later. I paid the driver and got out at my departure gate 6.

When I entered the fantastic building of TXL I just had to walk 20 meters from the curb to the waiting area at my gate. I had checked in online and just walked past the check-in desks.

GIDS? Gate Information Display? Whatever…

My aircraft D-ABGN waiting for me at the gate, just some minutes left until boarding…

Closer view, with a BA Airbus departing overhead:

***FLIGHT TXL-FRA***
Date: 01 June 2012
Airline: Air Berlin
Flight: AB 6555
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Aircraft Reg: D-ABGN
Departure Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Arrival Airport: FRA / Frankfurt am Main
Scheduled Departure Time: 12:55 / 12:55 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 14:10 / 02:10 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 16F (window)

While taking the last picture boarding was called, it took some time to get on board as the flight was very full. Still, at least they were prepared for a full flight and started boarding early, the fuel truck was still attached to our aircraft. An AB A332 in the background.

Modern cabin with slimline seats and drop-down LCDs, typical for AB on its short- and medium-haul fleet:

Closer view of D-ABXB, one of the AB A332s:

Window cleaning, I got a weird look by a FA, I think she isn’t into aviation photography…

Spoiler check on taxi-out:

TXL as we know it, BMI at the gate, at this point still part of LH group:

D-ALPG, another AB A332:

Take-off, some Russian Air Force heavies on the military ramp as Mr. Putin was in town to visit Mrs. Merkel:



Overflying the “Tegeler See” on climb-out with islands Scharfenberg (top), Bäumwerder (lower right) and Valentinswerder (lower left) visible as well:

What a wonderful day for flying and spotting:

Legroom was very good, the slimline seats are great if used the way AB and LH do it, get one more row of seats into the aircraft, but also giving more legroom to the passengers:

A full row of three seats for me, I think that was the only row that empty on the plane…

At cruise level:

I took the salty snack option and my standard airplane drink, OJ:

Descend, lots of contrails in the vincinity of FRA:

Banking hard right, right into the clouds…

…flying through them and coming out, again, beautiful weather:


Overflying Frankfurt am Main:



Final approach and touch-down on the new runway 25R:



As we were landing in western direction we had to taxi really long, more than 15 minutes I think, from the most eastern part of FRA to an apron parking position on the most western side, West of Terminal 2:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

I left the aircraft via the rear exit and took one last photo:

A bus picked us up and brought us to Terminal 2, I went to the first FIDS, but they only showed flights up to 06:10 PM, so I went on to leave the airside area to go to the visitor terrace:

Spotting at FRA:

















My airplane being prepared for its next flight:

More spotting:





















— FRA-MAD —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

At 3:40 PM I left the visitor terrace and went to the golden M just by the entrance/exit to the terrace to get some “hamburger plain”.

After I finished my lunch I went to the BA desks to check-in online for my flights on the next day. To my surprise it didn’t work. I tried multiple times until a BA desk-agent came to me asking if she could help me. I said yes and we proceeded to her desk. She tried to check me in, too, but had no success. She said it should work and she has no clue why it isn’t working. I gave up and decided to give it another try in MAD.

As I still had more than 1 hour left until my gate would open I went to the visitor terrace again, one last spotting session:

















Two hours before depature-time I left the terrace again and went through security, which took me no more than one minute, too bad only I was singled out for an extra security scan. “Bugger!” I thought, but it was no real hassle and it took them just 3-4 minutes. After they had scanned my camera backpack for explosives I proceeded to the next FIDS, now showing my flight and the gate, D8:

I proceeded to the gate, but it was still closed, here the GIDS:


It got boring after waiting for 30 minutes, so I entered the waiting area of gate D7, which was open and not in use, to watch some aircraft take-off and land, I took these pictures of the KE A380 and my LA A340-300X:



Finally, 50 minutes before departure our beautiful LA gate agent showed up and she started scanning everyones boarding passes and passports before letting us into the waiting area. Some 20 minutes later boarding was called. They boarded by rows, everyone followed the rules and those who didn’t were kindly asked to wait their turn. I was a little bit impressed to see such an orderly boarding procedure by a South American airline.


***FLIGHT FRA-MAD***
Date: 01 June 2012
Airline: LAN Chile
Flight: LA 705
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300X
Aircraft Reg: CC-CQF
Departure Airport: FRA / Frankfurt am Main
Arrival Airport: MAD / Madrid Barajas
Scheduled Departure Time: 19:30 / 07:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 22:20 / 10:20 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 17L (window)

Forward C class section while boarding:

I was greeted by two friendly flight attendants and turned into the right aisle:

Passing the smaller rear C class section:

I had picked a seat right over the A340s massive wings, I love wing-shots!

Pushback:

Taxi-out, passing a TG 772:

NH 77W:

Terminal 1, between A and B pier, LH land:

Mirror image of my airplane:

Passing one of the cargo ramps, LH MD11F:

Lining up on runway 18:

Climb-out:


PTV with video-on-demand showing the map and data pages under 10000 ft:


I have to say legroom and shoulder-room was awful, the aircraft is not made for tall people and the seat pitch was tighter than on tha AB short-/medium-haul Airbus aircraft.
See here, the curvature of the wall comes right up to the seats on floor-level, so I could only put my seat between the seats, not between seat and wall like on most widebodys:

At the height of my shoulder the wall curves again in my direction what was annoying to me, too. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been an issue if there had been more legroom available:

No gaspers, too, I hate airlines who do that:

Legroom, compare that to the AB shot from my thread-op:

Cabin shot:

A snack was served, a sandwich and OJ for me. The OJ was great, the sandwich smelled like it was a few days old, I put it back into the box, my seat neighbor had the same problem with his sandwich and put it back in, too.

The window was very scratched and the low evening sun wasn’t helping, so I pulled my shade down:

The snack-box including a Mars (tasty as always) and the “old” sandwich:

As the sun was hanging too low to watch out the windows, I opted for watching two episodes of Big Bang Theory:

Right over the Pyrenees we came into high-level clouds at FL370, I had never experienced something like this:




After passing the Pyrenees the clouds disappeared and I was treated by a wonderful sunset above the clouds:



Worn-out seats:

Descending into the Madrid area:

Ice forming on our wing, but only at this riveted area:

Approaching MAD in the last rays of sunlight:


Touchdown:


Taxi-in and parking beside an IB A340:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

Entering the terminal on the arrival level, lower level is the departure level:

On my long way to immigration:

Waiting in the queue, that took me about 10-15 minutes, despite three officers at work:

Taking the airtrain from Terminal 4S to Terminal 4. 4S is only a satelite terminal without an exit to the landside area of this airport:

I passed the luggage pickup-zone as I was only travelling with cabin luggage.

I went one level up to the BA desks to try checking in for my flights on the following day. Again without success. As there were no more agents around at this time of the day (11:00 PM) I gave up and went to the pickup-zone for the hotel busses, called my hotel, the Crowne Plaza Madrid Barajas Airport and waited long 20 minutes till my bus arrived. That the thermometer was still showing 32 deg C at 11:00PM wasn’t that nice, too.


The hotel room was very nice, no complaints about this hotel:

I went back to the lobby and asked the night clerk if I could get internet access somewhere in the hotel. He offered me a laptop, so I don’t have to pay for wifi-access, very kind. I went to the BA website and found the reason for my unsuccessful attempts to check-in. I had to enter my passport number. Still no explanation why the gate agent at FRA did not realise this.

After checking in I went back to my room, it had been a tiresome week of work and a long travel day with lots of spotting in the hot sunlight…

— MAD-LCY —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

As my flight was leaving at 07:40 AM, the hotel had booked a bus at 6:00 AM for me, much too early in my opion, but I was too tired to argue with them the night before, so I got up at 5:00 AM, showered, “packed” and went down to the lobby awaiting my bus. It arrived five minutes late and we arrived at the airport about 10 minutes later. I am 100 percent positve that the driver was a fan of Fernando Alonso, trying to break his own record from hotel ground to airport MAD Termina 4.

CIDS? Check-In Information Display? Only showing the check-in desks…

On my way down to the underground-airtrain:

Riding the airtrain:

Most shops were still closed at this early hour, only the book store was open, so I went straight to my gate:


As I had about an hour until boarding I walked around, picked up something to drink and took photos from the parked aircraft:

My gate and the aircraft which would take me to London:






Boarding:

***FLIGHT MAD-LCY***

Date: 02 June 2012
Airline: BA Cityflyer
Flight: BA 8752
Aircraft: Embraer E190SR
Aircraft Reg: G-LCYJ
Departure Airport: MAD / Madrid Barajas
Arrival Airport: LCY / London City
Scheduled Departure Time: 07:40 / 07:40 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 09:05 / 09:05 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 16A (window)

Overwing, window view from this Embraer E190SR. Don’t you love the sky at sunrise? Beautiful atmosphere…

Safety Card:

Taxi-out:



Line-up and take-off:



Climb-out of MAD:


I should really play a round of Golf in Spain some day, you see so many GCs from above:

Gaspers and reading lights:

Cabin view from the last row:

Small galley in the back:

Window view while in cruise:

Legroom was excellent, seats are wide, love the Embraer E-Jet!

Snack and drink service:

Me smiling (yes, that is my smile! ^^):

Breakfast and OJ:

Old yoghurt with mould on top, the FA offered me a new one, but I declined because I was a little bit afraid regarding an interrupted cold-chain in MAD.

More in-flight photography:


Descending through thick clouds over the Channel:

Approaching LCY through low hanging clouds:


Landing:




Cabin and wing-view while taxiing to our parking position:


BA A318, perhaps going to NCY via SNN later this day?

The dock-runway:

Lots of regional jets:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

Apron views after deboarding:



Landside at LCY, after taking this picture a police officer told me not to take photos on the airport ground, what a joke:

On my way to the DLR station:

DLR train arriving:

Some views from the train:

— LGW-MAN —

***LONDON:***

Part of my 2nd TR was a city tour through London. I did about everything possible you can do in two days regarding the touristic attractions of this wonderful city. I just missed out on passing the Tower Bridge on daylight and taking the Tower of London tour. While booking this trip I planned to have enough time between my flights so I could finish what I started about 18 months earlier.
Tower Hill Memorial:

Trinity Square:


The Tower of London:



Our tour guide, great guy, fascinating stories and a real comedian:

The tour:



















I have no photos from the crown jewels because it was not allowed to take photos in the Tower itself. Nevertheless I was really happy that my tight schedule worked as I had planned it. I landed at 09:05 AM, started the Tower tour at 11:20 AM, came out of the Tower at 12:40 PM and now had 20 minutes left to reach the Butlers Wharf steak restaurant at the other side of Tower Bridge to have lunch.
The Shard, still not finished at this day:

The Tower Bridge:

Passing the Tower Bridge:




Lots of ships on the Thames River preparing to the Queens’ Golden Jubilee on the next day:


TV camera being installed for the Jubilee:

The bridge opening for a larger ship to pass:

At the Butlers Wharf, having the beast steak I ever had my life. I had a lot of steak, because I love steak. If you are in London, go to this place and have a steak and try their self-made bread. Unbelievable! Prices are a little bit high, typical for a restaurant close the touristic attractions. But this one is so good, it is worth every cent. And they did not pay me to say this. haha…



Back over the bridge to the underground station:

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

My train to Gatwick:


At Gatwick airport station:

Airtrain to the North Terminal, the trains from London only stop at the South Terminal:

North Terminal airtrain station:


Inside the Terminal or should I say “Shopping Mall”? I hate airports like these, too crowded, shopping mall atmosphere, etc.

FIDS:


For the domestic BA flights it only showed “Gate opens” with no further information. So I asked at the information where my flight would leave and that all domestic BA flights leave from the Gate 55 area. I strolled around a little bit, exploring the terminal, then went to my departure gate:




My aircraft:

Boarding was called very early, about 35 minutes before departure, the load was very light, so we sat around in the aircraft for about 20 minutes before we taxied out:

***FLIGHT LGW-MAN***

Date: 02 June 2012
Airline: British Airways
Flight: BA 2908
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Aircraft Reg: G-EUPW
Departure Airport: LGW / London Gatwick
Arrival Airport: MAN / Manchester
Scheduled Departure Time: 15:50 / 03:50 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 16:50 / 04:50 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 19F (window)

I was the first person to board, so I had time to take this photo:

Old comfy leather seats, very thick:

Baggage or freight was still loaded:

The mighty bridge connecting the two piers of the North Terminal:

Aircraft taxiing by and at the gates:








Taxi to the active runway passing the Hongkong Airlines A332:

Old aircraft:

Lined up and ready for departure:

Takeoff and climb-out:



Legroom was okay, but not great compared to the new slimline seats:

Empty seats, so I could still stretch out after the fasten seat-belts signs went off:

The cabin:

Window views at cruise level:


Salty snack and OJ:

Cabin service going on:

Oldschool overhead-panel, like it:

Descending through thick clouds after a very short flight:


Approach and landing on runway 05L:




Thanks to the very kind cockpit-crew for letting me take these photos:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

Landside again:

It had started raining while arriving at MAN, so hurried to get to the bus-stop where the hotel busses stopped. I called my hotel, the Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport and the bus arrived five minutes later:

My room, total contrast to the hotel in MAD, very worn out and loud (with the airport 500m away), but at least it was clean:

View out of my hotel room window, that was the best shot I could take from a bypassing aircraft, the weather wasn’t on my side on that evening:

I hope the rooms will be renovated soon, because the rest of the hotel is very modern und just perfect. Friendly personell, great food, an excellent pan-asian restaurant, wifi-access in the room.

— MAN-MUC —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

That’s me after showering on the next morning. No further comment needed.
The lobby after checking out:

Bar, lounge and breakfast restaurant:

Scrambled eggs, cooked too “British” in my opinion:

After bus-transfer to the Terminal:

Thomas Cook and First Choice Check-In area, totally crowded:

After having picked up my boarding pass at the SQ desks:


Who planned this terminal? First you go up the escalators, pass over the departure level, go through security, then go back down?



Passing security took nearly 20-25 minutes, rather long, here the first FIDS I found airside:

QR A332:

My gate area, crowded:

The aircraft which will take me to MUC some time later:


When boarding was called I realised how full the flight really would be and because SQ didn’t bother boarding by rows or areas, I just went to the Business Class line as this line was empty and was allowed to pass on through. Saved me 15 minutes standing in a very long line…

***FLIGHT MAN-MUC***

Date: 03 June 2012
Airline: Singapore Airlines
Flight: SQ 327
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Aircraft Reg: 9V-SWO
Departure Airport: MAN / Manchester
Arrival Airport: MUC / München
Scheduled Departure Time: 09:10 / 09:10 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 12:15 / 12:15 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 46A (window)

Rainy window view:

Everything in my seat pocket:

Menu Card for the short hop to MUC:

Takeoff:



Climb-out:



Weather forecast for MUC, seems to be a sunny day:

PTV/AVOD – Krisworld, an amazing system:


Widow view at cruise level:

Legroom, excellent. What else? It is SQ!


Breakfast, excellent. What else? It is SQ! You get it? SQ is excellent! No, really, everything was tasty and the service was top-notch.

Watching some cartoons, flashbacks of the late 80ies:

Cabin view:

Watching more recent cartoons, Family Guy, love this episode:

Descending through thick clouds and rain, so far the weather report was wrong:


Approach and landing:





Pulling into the gate:

Catering trucks already awaiting the arriving aircraft for its journey to SIN:

Rear economy cabin:

Forward economy cabin (I was seated in the back cabin):

Business Class cabin:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

Airside, directly after leaving the airbridge:

My aircraft being serviced:

Lots of small shops, bars and restaurants on my way out of the terminal, but no shopping-mall feeling, I liked that.


As I had to change terminals coming from an Star Alliance flight connecting to an AB flight, I had to pass the MAC, the München Airport Center:

— MUC-TXL —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

After arriving in MUC I felt very tired and the long ways through the Terminals annoyed. I had more than six hours to pass until my next flight, but I wanted to try to get on an earlier flight, so I went to the AB desks. They wanted to rip me off and offered me an earlier flight for an additional 245 Euro. Lets say it this way, I really had to force myself to be a nice guy at this moment, as I knew it wasn’t the fault of the desk-agents.

After that shock I needed a good beer to relax and went back to the MAC for the airbräu, the airports own brewery. Great place, I had two “Kumulus unfiltriert” and stayed there for about 90 minutes before heading to the visitor terrace above Terminal 2.

View from the visitor terrace. I was disappointed as you always have a window in front of you, not a good place to take some photos. I stayed no longer than 20 minutes before heading back to the airbräu.

On my way to the airbräu I picked up a Döner Kebap, than settled down at the airbräu with another Kumulus…

Some impressions from the airbräu:



After I took these photos I went to sleep right there in the airbräu. It wasn’t on intention, I just fell asleep, while closing my eyes for some minutes. I woke up about 80 minutes later, more than a little bit shocked, checked my luggage, thank God everything was still there. Crazy experience! I grabbed my stuff and went to my gate, I had about one hour left until my scheduled departure time.

FIDS, Gate A11 for me:

Landside in Terminal 1 at Concourse A, busy evening:

Seating area at gates A10-A12:

As there were no power outlets around and the one I found turned off or broken I just went to the desk at the empty gate A12 and loaded my smartphone there. Ten minutes before boarding the AB agent arrived and made an annoucement that our plane would be arriving 20 minutes late. I asked here if we would still arrive on time in TXL and she told me yes, I should not worry. Let’s say I was worried as I only had 55 minutes between scheduled arrival and departure time in TXL. Not 20, but 30 minutes late our aircraft pulled into the gate…


Boarding was called 30 minutes late, everyone was in a hurry now:

***FLIGHT MUC-TXL***

Date: 03 June 2012
Airline: Air Berlin
Flight: AB 6202
Aircraft: Boeing 737-700
Aircraft Reg: D-AHXB
Departure Airport: MUC / München
Arrival Airport: TXL / Berlin-Tegel
Scheduled Departure Time: 18:55 / 06:55 PM
Actual Departure Time: 19:20 / 07:20 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 20:05 / 08:05 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 20:30 / 08:30 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 22A (window)

Boarding finished, doors closed, pushback started, time for a cabin shot…

Pushback:

It had started raining again while waiting at the gate, now with our departure slot gone, we were about number 7 or 8 in the line and waited very long until lift-off:


Line-up and take-off, 25 minutes after scheduled departure time:





Window shot at cruise level, lots of dark clouds surrounding us:

Salty snack and apple juice:

Legroo was excellent:

Cabin shot at cruise level, now that looks better with sunlight and no rain:

Dense blanket of clouds on this Sunday evening:

Descend:

Approach over Berlin, coming in from the East:

Final approach, overflying Kurtschumacher Platz:

Landing:


[img] [/img]
Taxi to gate, we arrived 25 minutes late, taking into account that the between departure and arrival time there is always some time for taxi and congestion factored in, it seemed like the flight crew was able to make up some time:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

FIDS after rushing off the aircraft, to my shock they had moved the DUS flight to Terminal C, now I had 39 minutes left until departure, 9 minutes until boarding time:

— TXL-DUS —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

When I arrived at Terminal C five minutes later it took me more than 10 minutes to pass security, I continued on and rushed to my gate just to realise this flight would be late, too. The postponement of the BER opening caused a major chaos at TXL and it seemed like all flights were late. Now I was happy I hadn’t missed my flight, but was afraid of missing my train in DUS…

Total chaos, three flights departing within 5 minutes from gates 38-40:

Boarding via bus:

Evening apron shot:

***FLIGHT TXL-DUS***

Date: 03 June 2012
Airline: Air Berlin operated by TUIfly
Flight: AB 6451
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Aircraft Reg: D-ABBB
Departure Airport: TXL / Berlin-Tegel
Arrival Airport: DUS / Düsseldorf
Scheduled Departure Time: 21:20 / 09:20 PM
Actual Departure Time: 21:45 / 09:45 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 22:30 / 10:30 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 22:55 / 10:55 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 15A (window)

Pushback, 25 minutes late:

Line-up and take-off:



The moon, fascinating…


Lots of legroom in the exit-row:

A bifi and double OJ:

Descend through a thick layer of clouds again:

Landing, again 25 minutes late:

We parked on an apron parking positon again and were transfered by bus to the Terminal:

***POST-FLIGHT:***

I rushed through the Terminal, trying to still reach my train. I missed it by about one minute, I saw it leaving the staion and had to wait one hour before the next train arrived. Great! Not.

— DUS-TXL —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***

After finishing my training course on Monday and Tuesday I went back to the airport at Tuesday around 3:00 PM, arriving thee at 3:30 PM. This is the airtrain from the mainline train station to the Terminal:


Inside the terminal on my way to the visitor terrace, I had three hours to pass until departure time:

Spotting at DUS:






















Back through the terminal, now later in the day, with mood-lighting:

FIDS, Gate B27 for me:

Passing the “landside mall”:

Passing security, that took about 5 minutes, still acceptable:

Passing the “airside mall”:

Seating area at Gate B27, I spent about 30 minutes sitting there watching the passing aircraft, then boarding was called on-time:

***FLIGHT DUS-TXL***

Date: 05 June 2012
Airline: Air Berlin
Flight: AB 6448
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Aircraft Reg: D-ABDR
Departure Airport: DUS / Düsseldorf
Arrival Airport: TXL / Berlin-Tegel
Scheduled Departure Time: 18:50 / 06:50 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 20:00 / 08:00 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 19:40 / 07:40 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 13A (window)

After boarding, watching the CA A332 taxiing in, while a KL F70 departs above:

Cabin shot:

Line-up and take-off:




Bifi and OJ and an interesting read about architect Meinhard von Gerken (company GMP) who was the architect of TXL, the Berlin Hauptbahnhof and is now the architect of BER.

Lots of legroom in the exit-row again, an additional empty middle seat made that flight very pleasant…

Cruise level photo, wonderful day for flying:

Approach to Berlin, again from eastern direction:






Landing:


***POST-FLIGHT:***

My aircraft after deboarding:

Manual GIDS, we landed 20 minutes early:

***FINAL WORDS:***

7 flights in 3 days or to be more correct 8 flights in 5 days, 2 new aircraft (A340 and E-Jet), 1 new subtype (77W) for me, 3 new airports (MAD,LGW,MAN), overall a great trip for me. No airline or airport have been a letdown for me, only the weather wasn’t on my side on Sunday, too much rain.

The airlines:
– AirBerlin was nothing special, but I have flown them just too many times on their narrowbody fleet to get too excited about them. Nevertheless the service was good, the crews were very friendly and I can not blame them for the late flights, the reason was clearly the postponed opening of BER.
– LAN Chile was okay, the crew was friendly, the IFE was better than expected, the seat was acceptable, but I would not like to sit in that seat for a 12 hour flight to SCL, seat pitch is just too narrow for a long-haul-airplane. The letdown was the sandwich, but that was no biggie for me.
– British Airways was okay, too. Again very friendly crew, the E-Jet was great, the worn-out Airbus from LGW not so great. On-time and nothing to complain about, but nothing to get excited about either.
– Singapore Airline was excellent and I can’t describe you the reason why. The wole experience, even in Y was perfect. Excellent and super friendly crew, great breakfast and additional drink service, top-notch aircraft, on-time, no complaints.

The airports:
– TXL was okay, I am not blaming them for the chaos on Sunday, because of the same reason I am not blaming AB for being late: BER ! I am still hoping they would not close this wonderful airport in 2013.
– FRA was great, much better than what most people say about the airport. I have been through FRA now multiple times in the last year, have been to both terminals, I think the ways are not to long, passing through this airpot is hassle-free.
– MAD is a great and modern airport, the ways between curb and gates are a little bit long, there could have been more elevators between the airtrain stations and the terminals, but besides that point a good experience, too.
– LCY is great. Small and efficient airport. Security personnel is a little bit uptight and had a problem with me taking photos inside the terminal.
– LGW is a mall with gates, but still efficient, not too bad.
– MAN is a little bit too hectic, the path to and through security is a little bit weird, post-security feels too mall’ish again, but the waiting areas at the gates are fine. I liked that airport and would have liked to spend more time there for some spotting.
– MUC is not so great. I like the MAC and the airbräu, I like the beer there, the terminals are modern, but the ways from the end of one terminal to the MAC or to the end of the other terminal are just too long, they really need an airtrain IMO. The visitor terrace is a joke.
– DUS was great. Very efficient, short ways, modern, I have never been to the new terminal, the last time I have been to DUS was after the big fire when the gate areas were placed in large tents.

That was my first trip just for the sake of flying without visiting a city or country longer than some hours. Would I do it again? Yes, without question and I am already planning the next trips. But normally I would prefer not to just fly to some place, but to see something from the places, too. My next report will be more touristic again, but with lots of flying, too, 22 flights in 3 weeks, expect that report to be online at the end of december.

3rd TR: STR-TXL And TXL-STR On AB In Y

— OUTBOUND LEG —

Hello and welcome to my third trip report!

Click here to read the report on Airliners.net.

***BACKGROUND-INFO:***
As already mentioned in my first TR I fly home to Berlin regulary from MHG or STR. So this time it was STR. Btw the last time before I move back to Berlin in October this year (2011), I booked all flights for this year with C9 (Cirrus Airlines) from MHG.

***PRE-FLIGHT:***
I started my drive to STR around 01:00 PM and parked at the P2 parking-garage. From there it is a 5 minute walk to the terminals:

STR terminals:

As I had used online-check-in before I just went to the baggage drop-off as I had to use my larger bag for this 10-day-trip:

Passing through security, I love the analogue FIDS:

Digital FIDS after security:

I walked through the Duty Free shop to buy some christmas presents and then proceeded to my gate to find out the arriving flight was late:

NetJets’ Falcon 7X CS-DSA waiting as number 2 in the queue:

Contact Air Fokker 100 on short final with a Germanwings A319 waiting as number 1 in the queue:

Arriving AB Q400 D-ABQE:

My aircraft arriving, AB 738 D-ABBY:

CS-DSA lining-up:

D-ABBY taxiing to the gate:





Despite the arriving flight coming in late, boarding was on-time, beginning around 14:45/02:45PM:

***FLIGHT 1:***
Date: 23 December 2010
Airline: Air Berlin / AB
Flight: AB 6536
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Aircraft Reg: D-ABBY
Departure Airport: STR / Stuttgart Airport
Arrival Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Scheduled Departure Time: 15:00 (on time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 16:15 (on time)
Class: Economy
Seat: 15F (window/exit-row) (checked-in 16F)

Copyright gcmap.com.

As I was the first to board the plane I had time to go the back of the aircraft to take this photo:

Foggy STR:

A dead-heading captain:

Push-back:

As the exit-rows stayed empty I moved one row up:

LH 737 to HAM:

Lots of legroom in the exit-row:

Take-off:

While climbing through the fog and clouds dark spots appeared at the horizon and at first I didn’t realize these were the mountain tops south of STR coming through the very low hanging clouds:



In-Flight:


The sky started to get orange before 04:00 PM:

Drink and snack service, and because I couldn’t decide between the salty and sweet snack the friendly FA gave me both snacks:

Approach to TXL:

Visibility was under 200m/yds, I wasn’t able to see the parallel runway, I wondered why it is visible in this picture:

Arriving at Terminal C, Air Berlins’ low-cost-terminal, Terminal A was not visible in the distance, just the appron lights could be seen:

***POST-FLIGHT:***
Deplaning via stairs, followed by a 30 second bus-ride to the terminal:

Inside Terminal C, Picking up my bag:

Terminal C as seen from the parking lot:

— INBOUND LEG —

***BERLIN***
This time I am posting no photos from my hometown, if you want to see some touristic photos have a look at my first TR.

This last-week-of-december visit was just for Christmas and partying with friends:

***PRE-FLIGHT:***
New Year’s Day came too fast and I had to fly back, on my way to the airport through the “airport tunnel”:

I had checked-in the day before, online, but again had to drop-off my bag. To my disappointment this took me about 30 minutes as the baggage-conveyor-belt had a malfunction and it took them some time to fix it:

So after 30 minutes I could drop-off my bag:

Bye, bye bag:

Security, fast and efficient:

Boarding had already begun, so I got into the long queue:

***FLIGHT 2:***
Date: 02 January 2011
Airline: Air Berlin / AB
Flight: AB 6541
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Aircraft Reg: D-ABBY
Departure Airport: STR / Stuttgart Airport
Arrival Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Scheduled Departure Time: 21:00 (on time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 22:00 (on time)
Class: Economy
Seat: 15A (window/exit-row) (checked-in 16A)

Copyright gcmap.com.

The aircraft was packed, every seat was taken, except for the 12 seats in both exit-rows, so I moved one row up again, from 16A to 15A.

Push-back:

Line-up and take-off:


Relaxing with lots of legroom:

Cabin service started shortly after take-off while we were still in climb as our flight time today would be unter 60 minutes:

Approach and landing:


Arriving at the gate, but the airbridge was frozen and malfunctioning, so a Bus took us to the terminal:

***POST-FLIGHT:***
Willkommen in Stuttgart / Welcome to Stuttgart:

Waiting for my bag, took endless 15 minutes, what is rather long for STR:

On my long way back to P2 parking:

***FINAL WORDS:***
Two short domestic hops with AB, nothing to complain about regarding service or the aircraft itself (was the same on both flights). Airport STR really should think about changing their operator of the parking-garages as the fees are unbelievably high; one of the reasons why I try to fly from MHG, parking is free there.gcmap.com

2nd TR: STR-CDG-ORY-LCY / LHR-CDG-STR On AF In Y

— OUTBOUND LEG —

Hello and welcome to my second trip report!

Click here to read it on Airliners.net.

***BACKGROUND-INFO:***
Before I wrote my first TR in July 2010 which was just a test-run for this TR I read on the General Aviation forums that AF would be deploying the A380 on the CDG-LHR-CDG route, so I was eager to fly the whale on a cheap inter-european flight. As I have never flown into LCY either, and wanted to try it I thought I could combine both flights into one trip. Additionally I have never been to London, so the whole trip seemed to be a great long weekend-trip.
I booked the flights via the AF website and payed 170 Euros for all flights. I didn’t like the fact that I had to transfer between CDG and ORY, but that was the price I had to pay for this “unique” routing.
After booking my flight I searched for a cheap hotel with 3 stars or more and found the Sheraton 4-star hotel near LHR for just above 100 Euros for three nights. Step 3 was to book my train connections in advance, so I booked one Heathrow Connect one-way ticket for Friday evening and two round-trip tickets for Saturday and Sunday. Hotel and HeathrowConnect combined it was still much cheaper than to book a good hotel in inner London.

***PRE-FLIGHT:***
On Friday morning I got up at 07:00 AM, packed and got into my car at about 08:00 AM. I arrived at STR about one hour later and parked in the P2 parking garage for mid-term parking. After a 5 minute walk I arrived at the terminal area on departure level.

I proceeded to Terminal 3 to the AF express self-chech-in and realized checking in online would have been smarter. I only got an aisle seat and could not check-in for my 2nd flight from ORY to LCY.

While checking in an AF agent came to me and told me a had to get a approved-carry-on badge for my bag, so I had to go the AF counters.

Security took me about 10 minutes which is a rather long time for STR. It was the first time they wanted me to put my parfum into an extra bag, so I had to buy one.

After security, view towards Terminal 1 and 2:

Boarding area:

The A318, never flown this type before. Btw this TR will feature 3 new types for me on 4 flights.


Germanwings A319:

Information screen:

***FLIGHT 1:***
Date: 27 August 2010
Airline: Air France / AF
Flight: AF 1409
Aircraft: Airbus A318
Aircraft Reg: F-GUGK
Departure Airport: STR / Stuttgart Airport
Arrival Airport: CDG / Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
Scheduled Departure Time: 10:30 AM
Actual Departure Time: 10:50 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 11:50 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 12:10 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 09D (aisle)

Open cockpit door while boarding:

View down the aisle, we had to wait 20 minutes for push-back after boarding was complete because no available slots on the assigned airway. At least that is what the captain told us.

Generous legroom in the exit-row, picture taken after take-off:

Snack and drink service:

MIGHTY TASTY:

After landing we taxied about 10 minutes or longer to arrive on a hard-stand:

Pax deplaning via stairs:

***TRANSFER TO ORY***
Inside busy Terminal 2:

I proceeded to the AF Correspondance desk because I was told in STR I would get a free “Cars AF” ticket their for my connection to ORY. To my disappointment I was told that this is only true for pax continueing on a long-haul flight from ORY and I would have to my for the bus-ticket myself.

I left the terminal to get to the “Cars AF” bus-stop just 2 minutes away. The bus came after 10 minutes, I bought my ticket from the bus driver and searched for an empty row. What came now was an unbelievable scandal. How can AF take 20 Euro for a 40-minute drive from CDG to ORY and offer a seat-pitch of about 25″ ??? I had no room left between the seats, my knees were hurting after we arrived at ORY. I advise everyone to take the metro/tube/underground between CDG and ORY.

That seat didn’t stay empty, bus had a load factor of 100% after we left the last bus-stop at CDG.

Full bus:

Traffic on the motorways around Paris:

***PRE-FLIGHT:***
Self-check-in machines at ORY just printed out a piece of paper which advised me I had to check-in at a check-in-desk. As some hundred tourists to Carribean destinations wanted to check-in at the same time, I first thought about waiting the 20 or 30 minutes in the extreme slow moving queues.

That was when I discovered that there were more check-in desks at ORY “Hall 03” (I was in “Hall 04”, about 100m/yd away). Too bad the desks all had closed already for a flight leaving in about 10 minutes, just one biz-class check-in was open, so I tried my luck and the agent gave me my boarding pass without having to wait an endless time at the economy check-in desks. Strike!

I went through security and wanted to take a picture from the small check-point, but a police officer told me that it is forbidden in France. So I bought something to drink and searched for a seat near the windows to watch the arriving and departing aircraft as I had to wait short of 2 hours till departure.

The Fokker 50 of AF CityJet opr by VLM which would take me to London later this day:

Both boarding passes:

More spotting pics:







Seating area for gates 30, 31 and 32 (and subsequent sub-gates like 32A etc.):

More spotting:









***FLIGHT 2:***
Date: 27 August 2010
Airline: Air France Cityjet / AF operated by VLM
Flight: AF 5022
Aircraft: Fokker 50
Aircraft Reg: OO-VLN
Departure Airport: ORY / Paris-Orly Airport
Arrival Airport: LCY / London City Airport
Scheduled Departure Time: 16:45 AM CET (on-time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 16:50 AM BST (on-time)
Class: Economy
Seat: 09D (window)

As you could see in photos above it rained for about 30 minutes, but while boarding the sun came back out:

Unique nose of the Fokker 50, the “Spirit of Reenstar”:

Good legroom, I think about 32″:

Cabin:

Taxi out:

Take-off:



Climb:


Paris from above, can you spot the Eiffel tower?

Flight:

Snack (ham-sandwich, a good one!) and drink service:

Over the Channel:

Descend:




Approach and landing:






***POST-FLIGHT:***
In contrast to my flights with C9 (Cirrus Airlines) between MHG and TXL you don’t get your larger hand-luggage back after deplaning, despite the “delivery at aircraft” tags, so I had to wait for my luggage to arrive on the belt like normal checked bags. Afterwards I proceeded through the small LCY terminal to the DLR station.

Terminal with some construction going on:

DLR station London City Airport, from here I took the DLR to Monument, from there Circle Line to Paddington station and onwards with Heathrow Connect to LHR and last but not least the free bus to the hotel:

Hotel room:

— LONDON 1 / SATURDAY 1 —

I drove back into London on Saturday and Sunday and I went everywhere by foot.

This is route I took on Saturday:

With Connect to Paddington and Circle to Notting Hill Gate:



Notting Hill / Portobello Market / down Ladbroke Grove:


































With Circle Line and Picadilly Line to Picadilly Circus:




Me having lunch in the Devonshire Arms Pub:



— LONDON 2 / SATURDAY 2 —

Saturday continued…

From Picadilly Circus via Regent St, Conduit St, New Bond St, Oxford St to Hide Park:























Through Hide Park via Wellington Arch, Constitution Hill, Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Marlborough Rd, St James St, Picadilly back to Picadilly Circus:


























— LONDON 3 / SUNDAY 1 —

Sunday Route Part 1:

From Picadilly Circus via Leicester Sq, China Town, Long Acre, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Market, The Strand to Trafalgar Square:
























Down Whitehall via Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, to the London Eye:






















— LONDON 4 / SUNDAY 2 —

Sunday continued…

After Lunch at a Turkish restaurant up the Thames’ eastern waterside via Waterloo Bridge, Strand, Middle Temple Ln, Tudor St, up to Ludgate Hill and St. Pauls:




















Sunday Part 2:

Down Cannon St via Queen Victoria St, Bank, Cornhill, St. Mary Axe, The Gherkin, and back, down Gracechurch St to The Monument:








From Monument down to the northern Thames waterside and eastwards till Tower of London / Towerbridge:


























— INBOUND LEG 1/2 —

***PRE-FLIGHT:***
Monday came too fast, I really wanted to spend more time in London, but as I had to be back to work on Tuesday this had to be a short trip.

Leaving my hotel:

With the free bus service around LHR to terminal 1,2,3 central bus station:

With the free Heathrow Express from terminal 3 to terminal 4:

I used the self-check-in machines and got an aisle seat for first flight and an window seat for my second flight. Passing through security:

Inside terminal 4:

Arriving in the 4-Deck-Lounge, I had booked the ticket in advance for a 50% discounted price. All cereals and cofee/tea were empty, a/c was not working, except for the main floor and the quite-zone on floor 3. I first watched the arriving and departing aircraft from the 4th floor, then proceeded to the quite-zone on 3rd floor, to drink some coke and eat pretzels:



















15 minutes before boarding time I started my long walk to gate 6A at the other side of the terminal:

***FLIGHT 3:***
Date: 30 August 2010
Airline: Air France / AF
Flight: AF 1981
Aircraft: A380
Aircraft Reg: F-HPJC
Departure Airport: LHR / London Heathrow Airport
Arrival Airport: CDG / Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
Scheduled Departure Time: 12:50 AM BST
Actual Departure Time: 13:05 AM BST
Scheduled Arrival Time: 15:05 AM CET
Actual Arrival Time: 15:15 AM CET
Class: Economy
Seat: 33A (window) (checked-in on 32C)

Boarding:

Still empty cabin, but the purser told me later only 9 seats remained empty:

We had to wait 15 minutes for missing passengers, as they didn’t show up the row behind us stayed empty. “Us” in this case is me and the french couple I already met the day before at Tower Bridge. The world is really small. Btw, nice a.net-anecdote, the guy was totally surprised that I had chosen to fly via CDG just to fly on some special airplane. Why on earth would someone do this? A.nutters…

Waiting for missing pax & push-back:



Waiting for line-up and watching other aircraft take-off:



See the Olympic a/c passing by on the TV screen:

And taking-off afterwards:

Take-off and climb-out:




In-Flight and playing with the IFE system:





Drink and snack service:

Generous long-range economy leg-room:

And really comfortable seats:

In-Flight and visiting all economy sections of the whale:



Approach and landing (we overtook the AF 747 which had just started its take-off roll and then it overtook us again):






Taxi:



Me in business class:

Staircase to the upper deck:

— INBOUND LEG 2/2 —

*** CONNECTING IN CDG ***
They offered everyone the chance to get into the cockpit and to visit the upperdeck, but I had no time as I had to get my connecting flight from the other end of terminal 2!!! About 25 minutes by foot and I only had 15 minutes left. On my way I passed an AF agent and told him I had to get my plane to STR, he told me should not worry, took his walkie-talkie and called the departure gate to wait for me. Till this point everything seemed to be going fine…

After deplaning:



I don’t know at which part of terminal 2 I had arrived, perhaps you can see it by the photos, everything I know is I had to go through some sort of security check-point and had a very long way to Terminal 2D. And as luck wasn’t with me that day, there was a bag without an owner and French soldiers were stopping everyone between my part of Terminal 2 and Terminal 2D. I asked the nearest AF agent for help and she said there is nothing she can do, I should try to take the Inter-Terminal bus to Terminal 2D. I had to wait 10 minutes for my bus and when I arrived at Terminal 2D boarding was closed already. So I went to next AF desk and they rebooked me without problems on the next flight to STR in the evening.

Here my new boarding pass:

I proceeded through security and relaxed in some kind of angled-lie-flat-seat near my boarding gate.

More than three hours passed and it was time for boarding:

***FLIGHT 4:***
Date: 30 August 2010
Airline: Air France / AF
Flight: AF 2508
Aircraft: A319
Aircraft Reg: F-GRXC
Departure Airport: CDG / Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
Arrival Airport: STR / Stuttgart Airport
Scheduled Departure Time: 19:00 AM (on-time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 20:20 AM (on-time)
Class: Economy
Seat: 18F (window)

Boarding:

Push-back:



Taxi:

Take-off and climb:





In-flight:


Near the French-German border it got darker with every minute, large stormcell cloud-formations could be seen:

Approach and landing:





Cockpit, thx to the crew for letting me in:

And so I finish thir TR where I started it:

***FINAL WORDS:***
It was a pleasure to fly with AF. Their service was good on all four flights, the cabin crew was friendly and very talkative on the A380 flight. Would I fly AF again? Yes, without question.
Problematic is the transfer with “cars AF” between CDG and ORY, I would not use these busses again. And selling a connecting flight with a transfer time of 35 minutes is no problem if we would have arrived on-time and at the planned Terminal. But as we arrived at Terminal 2E or 2F I had no chance of getting my connecting flight, even without the abandoned bag this seemed to be a bit over-optimistic.

And I am sorry for the huge number of photos. I had 1500 pics and deleted more than 1000. So this is already my best-of collection and I am far above my own set maximum number of 150 photos for a best-of collection.Click here to read it on Airliners.net.

1st TR: MHG-TXL and TXL-MHG on C9 in Y

1st TR: MHG-TXL and TXL-MHG on C9 in Y

View at Airliners.net Trip Reports Forum.

— OUTBOUND LEG —

Hello and welcome to my first trip report!

***BACKGROUND-INFO:***
I was born in Berlin and see myself as resident of Berlin, despite the fact that I don’t live there currently. Due to my degree course which is a special form of business administration and is only available at one university in Germany, I am currently living in a small town in northern Baden-Württemberg. (Info: Baden-Württemberg is the state in the South-West of Germany, the capital is Stuttgart.)
While living here I usually fly back home once a month for a weekend to visit friends and family. So this first trip report is just a basic round-trip between Mannheim and Berlin. To spice it up a little I added some pictures from Berlin I took on two photo-tours with two friends.

***PRE-FLIGHT:***
I got up at 4:00 a.m., showered and packed my bag for the weekend. Then I drove 30 minutes to the Mannheim City-Airport. I arrived there quite early and decided to take some pictures from the parking deck. Btw, parking for Cirrus Airlines customers is free on the parking deck, no matter how long you stay. Great service and one of the reasons why I always choose to fly from Mannheim instead of Stuttgart where they have totally unrealistic prices (50-60 Euros for 4 days).

The new airport building and new tower as seen from the parking deck:

The apron, lots of bizjets there today, because of the Formula 1 race at Hockenheim (15min by car):

D-CCIR, the aircraft which took me to Berlin:

The old Tower:

New Tower, now viewed from the entrance to the terminal:

Terminal entrance:

Check-in deks:

Nice view of the small apron from the check-in hall:

Blurry pic of the very small post-security seating area at the one and only gate:

***FLIGHT 1:***
Date: 23 July 2010
Airline: Cirrus Airlines
Flight: C9 1560
Aircraft: Dornier 328-100 (Prop)
Aircraft Reg: D-CCIR
Departure Airport: MHG / Mannheim City Airport
Arrival Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Scheduled Departure Time: 6:00 AM (on time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 7:15 AM (on time)
Class: Economy

In Mannheim you just walk over the apron the aircraft, which gives you the opportunity to take some pictures, but on that day boarding happened very fast, so i just took one picture from the prop while going up the stairs:

The small cabin while boarding as 3rd pax:

Engine started, another Learjet taxiing by:

Pictures from taxi-out and take-off:








In-Flight:

Lots of legroom, despite the fact I didn’t got my favorite seat 9A (exit row) this time:

The very comfortable seats:

More In-Flight pics:


A waffle and OJ (I miss the days when C9 still served a small sandwich on every flight):

More In-Flight pics:




Descend, approach and landing (bad weather in Berlin). Coming in from the west over Tegeler See (the name-giving lake of this borough and airport) and landing on 26L:









Engine shut-off … and yes, rain was greeting me:

***POST-FLIGHT:***
Deboarding, there they have my red bag in their hands. Handle with care!!!

More pictures while walking to the terminal (never happend to me that they pulled directly up to the gate, always have to take the bus, perhpas becuase it is the 6am flight):


Baggage claim:

I walked up the stairs from E-wing to the main hall at TXL (Terminal A), from there i took a taxi back home. I love the airports which are build like TXL, from gate to curb in 90 seconds:

More in reply 1 & 2 …

— BERLIN —

Like mentioned above some pictures from my hometown Berlin will follow in this part of my TR. Besides taking pictures of airplanes I like taking pictures of buildings, monuments, city live and interesting landscapes as much as all other sorts of photography. I’ll start with the photo-tour from that weekend which is covered in this trip report and finish it off with some pictures from a photo-tour I did in June with better weather.

Friday before going out i took these pictures from a friends’ flat inside the Sony Center at the Potsdamer Platz:


The next day around noon:

Deutsche Bahn Tower:

Beisheim Center & S-Bahn station Potsdamer Platz:

Deutsche Bahn Tower as seen from the other “round” side:

More pictures from buildings at Potsdamer Platz:



Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe:

US Embassy between the Memorial and the Brandenburger Tor:

British Embassy:

More buildings around Potsdammr Platz:

Now i’ll continue with the pictures from my photo-tour in June:

Olympia Stadion viewed from the “Glockenturm”:

Funkturm at the ICC / Messehallen:

View to the East from the Funkturm, Tiergarten & Potsdamer Platz in the middle near the horizon:

View to the West, Glockenturm near Olympia Stadion:

Europa Center and Gedächtniskirche:

Potsdamer Platz:

Tiergarten with the Siegessäule and the Fernsehturm in the background:

In the middle: HFT-FT building at the TU Berlin campus:

Me above Berlin:

One last view to the East (was so hot that day, too much heat flare):

The still new Hauptbahnhof (main station):

Kanzleramt (chancellery):

Paul-Löbe-Haus (office building for the politicians of the Bundestag):

Connection between Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus above the Spree river:

Reichstag building where the Bundestag resides:
?

Brandenburger Tor:

One last view to the Kanzleramt (chancellery):

More in reply #2…

— INBOUND LEG —

Now back to pictures which are more directly connected to a.net…

***PRE-FLIGHT:***
This weekend I was staying till Monday which gave me one more evening in Berlin to got out, but nevertheless the the day of departure came too fast again.

The large electric sign in front of TXL showing all departures:

Driving up to the D concourse:

(At that newer enhancement of terminal A you depart at concourse D (upper level) and arrive at concourse E (lower level).)

Main building above terminal A and the tower:

An old S-Bahn wagon serving as diner:

Check-in desks at concourse D:

Directly after passing security, not a very nice place to wait for your flight, the air is always sticky:

***FLIGHT 2:***
Date: 26 July 2010
Airline: Cirrus Airlines
Flight: C9 1567
Aircraft: Dornier 328-100 (Prop)
Aircraft Reg: D-CCIR
Departure Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Arrival Airport: MHG / Mannheim City Airport
Scheduled Departure Time: 4:00 PM (on time)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 5:15 PM (on time)
Class: Economy

Boarding, down the stairs again and over the apron to the aircraft:

Again not 9A for me (must be the TR), but two seats for one person are also acceptable: ^^

Pictures before take-off:




Take-off:






Cruise:

We got a refreshment towel as soon as seat belt signs were off:

Nice clouds:

Cabin:

Empty seat beside me giving me lots of leg room:

The seats again, very comfy:

In the middle of Germany it got darker and darker:

Snack & 2 OJs:

We flew right into that dark clouds:

Cabin ceiling:

Descend, it was a very bumby ride after leaving our cruise level:




Landing:










The mini-galley:

Inside the departure- & arrival-hall:

Some last rainy pictures from the parking deck, again it was D-CCIR:

Documents:

Thank you for reading my first TR, feedback is always appreciated.

CARST