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Topic: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Sabena 690
Posted 2005-09-01 11:15:29 and read 6087 times.

Rome Fiumicino – Brussels, SN Brussels Airlines, Monday 11 July 2005

Hi all,

Welcome to Part 2 of my Alitalia and SN Brussels Airlines experience to Italy!

For those who have missed the first part: feel free to read it here.


Rome Fiumicino, Monday 11 July, 2005

After a rush to security, I was delighted when I saw that the one-and-only security counter for transfer passengers to the B-Gates was empty (last year, I was stuck in a huge queue over here). Going through security literally took only a few seconds, and I was on my way to my first SN Brussels Airlines flight of 2005. I checked the flight information screens, and gate B1 was assigned for Estail 3182. So I proceeded to gate B1, where everybody was just being moved to another gate, namely B6. At this point, I knew that our flight was going to be delayed, as a gate change 20 minutes before departure indicated that the aircraft had only arrived by now (we would have known it earlier otherwise).

I used the opportunity to explore the terminal a little. Among the interesting aircraft were a Qatar Airways AB6, Emirates B773, Aerolineas Argentinas B744, and I saw an Air China B744 arriving in the distance. Photography is not recommended as you will most certainly get troubles with the Police, and the windows are dirty anyway (which makes photography registration spotting a pain).

Although we should have left 20 minutes ago by now, no delay announcement had been made yet. The flight was still shown as being on time on the information screens as well.


SN Brussels Airlines
Flight number: SN3182/AZ7064
Aircraft: Avro RJ100 OO-DWH
Scheduled block time: 17:50-20:10
Actual block time: 18:46-20:56
Flight time: 02h 09m 41s


A boarding announcement was made at 18:20, which resulted in a rush to the two ladies checking the boarding passes and passports. No queue or any order whatsoever, our gate had changed into a mess consisting of wild animals trying their utmost to get on board as soon as possible, even by pushing other people away. Most passengers on this flight were tourists I think, judging from their clothes for example.

Two very friendly female flight attendants welcomed us on board, with a friendly “Good evening Sir”, and by offering us a choice of newspapers (please SN, also add De Standaard or De Tijd to your choice of newspapers instead of only a tabloid like Het Laatste Nieuws!) and the inflight magazine ‘Connect’. Also available for free is Newsweek.

The cabin filling up with passengers on this full flight:


A funny coincidence: the Alitalia A321 on which I had arrived about an hour before, was parked on our left side! X-Ray Golf pushed back shortly afterwards, and I took the following picture of her:


(my apologies for the dirt on all pictures, caused by a very dirty window)

One of the female flight attendants wished all SN Brussels Airlines and Alitalia passengers welcome on board during her welcome announcement. She announced the name of the Captain (Joeri Van Leeuw??), the flight time, and wished us a nice flight.

Two remarkable things about all the announcements during the flight:
1) all announcements were in four languages: Italian, French, Dutch and English. No tapes or whatsoever, everything was fluently announced by the flight attendants);
2) when an announcement is made, the flight attendant making the announcement will always look at the passengers. They stand near the first row, and make eye-contact with the passengers. So you really feel being spoken to. This is one of the several little things which sets SN apart from lot’s of other airlines in my opinion.

Also important was the next announcement: an explanation of the delay. Instead of the usual ATC-excuse, they explained what really happened: due to two missing passengers on the BRU-FCO flight, a lot of luggage had to be offloaded before they had found the luggage of those two people. This was the cause of the 30 minutes delay on arrival.

Pushback was only a few minutes away, and one of the flight attendants walked through the cabin with an Italian newspaper to check whether any of us wanted one. Again a nice touch!

We were off blocks at 18:46, and started taxiing to the runway shortly afterwards:


We lined up on Runway 25 after the take off of I-JETA, a B732 of Air One, and started our take off at 18:58.

Rolling at RWY 25:


Rotating, with interesting aircraft like a BV B763, MK A343, CA B744, AZ B772 etc. visible in the background:


And climbing out above the Tyrrhenian Sea, almost immediately after take off:


We were 20 minutes into the flight, when the cabin crew started the meal service in Economy Class. Instead of the Alitalia-style (i.e. throwing some dry cake or sandwiches at the passengers), the SN crew really delivered an exceptional service to the passengers. “Please Sir, enjoy your meal”; “Alstublieft, smakelijk eten”… Those little touches make a big difference in my opinion.

The service concept in Economy Class on SNBA flights is called ‘Brussels Bistro’. You get a hot meal on flights lasting longer than 2 hours, and a cold option on shorter flights.

My hot meal consisted of pasta with chicken in a vegetable sausage, Balkan salat, crackers and a Milky Way. The taste was excellent!



Drinks were served shortly after I received my meal, and I went for the red wine, a Côtes Du Roussillon. Have a look at the plastic cup, “Drinks are on the crew” is written on it – nice touch!



Throughout the meal service, I heard quite some positive feedback from passengers who had enjoyed the meal! I always like to check the reactions of the other passengers on SN flights, as positive/negative feedback is the only way to improve your product and to make necessary changes.

About 20 minutes later, the crew had collected all rubbish, and they came around for a second drink service. I know that SN serves several alcoholic beverages in C-class, but not in Y. An example is Baileys, so I asked the male flight attendant for a Baileys. “Sorry Sir, but we do not have Baileys on board, only red and white wine”. Wrong!  Wink He was very friendly, and correct as well: if you give a Baileys to one person, you have to offer it to the other passengers as well. Sorry to the flight attendant, it was only a little test to see your reaction  Wink

A third drink service (mainly for people wanting coffee or tea) followed about 15 minutes later, and I ordered a coffee, which was a great way to finish the nice meal. After I had finished my coffee, I relaxed a little bit to further enjoy the last 45 minutes of the flight, and 15 minutes later, the Captain announced that we were about to descend. He also gave us some information about the weather in Brussels, and finished with ‘bye bye’.

The weather was quite bad, when the Captain announced our descend:


Starting our descend, together with a left turn:


At this point, the flight attendants approached the passengers with connections (again a nice touch!). Not the passengers had to take the initiative to get more information about their connection, but the cabin crew did: good service! There were a few people on board with a very tight connection to Bristol for example.



So we had started our descend already, when the cabin crew came around with Neuhaus chocolates. A nice way to end your flight!





We were in our final approach right now for Runway 02:





You can see the new “Bocht van Nossegem” on this picture, allowing a fast train connection between Leuven and Brussels Airport from December 2005 onwards:



And… touch down!





The crew thanked us (in 4 languages) for flying SN, and wished us a very nice evening.

While disembarking, I heard several people thanking the crew for the nice flight. I did the same, and told them that I was going to write a report about the flight. I referred them to luchtzak.be and airliners.net, so I hope that they will see this report! I will also contact SN Brussels Airlines Customer Service, as a good crew deserves good points!

I hope that you enjoyed this trip report as much as I enjoyed this flight! All feedback is welcome as usual…

Kind regards
Frederic

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Kappel
Posted 2005-09-01 12:57:00 and read 6034 times.

Nice report, thanks!! I keep hearing good things about SN, I guess I should try them out soon! How is the seat pitch on the Avro's?
It is indeed a nice touch to get an explanation of a delay. On my last KLM flight they also explained the delay in detail (bird strike on take-off) and the captain even explained why there was so much turbulence!! Very nice. This in contrast to IB when they do apologise for the delay, they never explain anything.

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Continental
Posted 2005-09-01 23:50:22 and read 5875 times.

Excellent report! I flew SN last week VCE-BRU, and I was amazed by the service! It's probably the best service I ever had! I am going to write a trip report about it sometime this week.

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: TriStar500
Posted 2005-09-02 08:09:46 and read 5833 times.

Hi Frederic!
Thank you for finally finding some time to write the conclusion of your Rome report.  Smile My comments can only mirror the ones I have read before about your national airline: it is remarkable, how it is possible for an airline in such a competitive environment to offer a highly attractive short haul Economy Class product like this.
Do you have the latest financial figures about SNBA? I seem to remember that they are doing fairly well overall, but I suppose this is in large parts because of the profitable Africa network inherited from SN? How are the European operations going?

For the sake of some quality and dignified cabin service ewithin Europe, I keep my fingers crossed that SNBA will flourish and not get gobbled up by e.g. our "beloved" national carrier, which has the habit to really dumb down the products of their affiliates until they reach the same marginal level like itself.

... and now to some BD reports from you! I'll keep my fingers crossed for those.  Smile

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: ZRHnerd
Posted 2005-09-02 15:55:54 and read 5789 times.

I was waiting for this one since i read your outbound flight reports  Smile Great report as always, the service on SN really reminds me of LX, mostly the chocolate at the end or the announcements in 4 languages (on SWISS: English, French, German and Italian on European flights) Big grin

Looking forward to further reports

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Kappel
Posted 2005-09-03 12:24:56 and read 5742 times.

Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 3):
Do you have the latest financial figures about SNBA?

The last fiscal year (2004) they reported what I believe is their first profit of 1 million euros. And I believe this year is going better. Ever since they started up, each year has been an improvement ove the previous one.

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Sabena332
Posted 2005-09-03 23:18:19 and read 5697 times.

Excellent report Frederic!

I have never flown on SNBA but it seems that they offer a very good Economy Class product, the meal is looking excellent for a intra European flight.

Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter):
Have a look at the plastic cup, “Drinks are on the crew” is written on it – nice touch!

Great, I also like that!

Patrick

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Sabena 690
Posted 2005-09-04 10:39:36 and read 5670 times.

Thanks for the nice feedback  Smile

Quoting Continental (Reply 2):
I am going to write a trip report about it sometime this week.

I'm glad that you enjoyed your SN flight, and look forward to your trip report!

Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 3):
Do you have the latest financial figures about SNBA?

From their latest press release, issued on September 1, 2005:

The consolidated first half-year figures (January-June 2005) have been presented to the Board of Directors of SN Airholding. They represent a positive net consolidated result of € 15,2 Mio.

- These figures represent, after amortization of goodwill, the 6 months result of SN Brussels Airlines as well as the result of Virgin Express and its subsidiary Virgin Catering as from the 1st of April 2005, date of its integration in the SN Airholding group.

-This result also includes financial benefits of approximately € 10 Mio, linked to the dollar evolution , the positive fuel hedging effect of about € 4 Mio and € 4,6 Mio related to an exceptional dividend paid by SIC (Sabena Interservice Center) through aircraft lessors.

- From the figures it can also be deducted that the common ownership of SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express resulted in approximately € 12 Mio synergies, mainly achieved during the second quarter of 2005. This clearly demonstrates the validity of the acquisition of Virgin Express.


Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 3):
I seem to remember that they are doing fairly well overall, but I suppose this is in large parts because of the profitable Africa network inherited from SN? How are the European operations going?

I have no information about how Europe and Africa are doing in terms of profitability unfortunately  Sad

Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 3):
... and now to some BD reports from you! I'll keep my fingers crossed for those

Thanks! Expected trip reports:
1) BRU-LHR-MAN-LHR-BRU on BMI
2) BRU-LHR-BRU (not sure yet whether I'll write a report about this flight)
3) BRU-MUC-BRU on LH/EW
4) BRU-CPH-BRU on SN
5) CDG-AMS on RG (hopefully  Wink)

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 6):
I have never flown on SNBA but it seems that they offer a very good Economy Class product, the meal is looking excellent for a intra European flight.

Their service is good indeed!

Regards
Frederic

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: TriStar500
Posted 2005-09-04 11:26:29 and read 5666 times.

Looking forward to those reports!  Smile

Quoting Sabena 690 (Reply 7):
5) CDG-AMS on RG (hopefully )

LOL! Big grin Good luck anyway... this could become some kind of running gag, like me and my A318, which took me several attempts over more than one and a half year before I finally got that bird in July 2005.

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: FLIEGER67
Posted 2005-09-04 20:18:26 and read 5643 times.

Hi Frederic,
very interesting report, good to read and good pictures.
Never flown SNBA till now, it sounds like it is a good alternative on classic european services.
I will flying next month CTA-FCO on AirOne and hopefully catch one of these
rare B737-200´s. It will be one if OAG´s flight information system is correct.
Regards,
Markus (FLIEGER67)
PS: After my BD experience last week I agree with Jens/TRISTAR 500 and wait for some of your further stories!

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: SK601
Posted 2005-09-04 20:52:38 and read 5640 times.

The last time I flew with SN, it was still called SABENA. I flew them just before they went bankrupt. At that time it was like a LCC, we just got water or juice and a small (really small) bag with pretzels. I was not impressed at all, rather disappointed, the crew wasn't friendly at all, maybe because of the circumstances of SN at that time.
After reading this report, I think SN is on the right path. I hate more and more those companies that will give you the impression of a FULL service company, but are becoming more and more a copy of U2 or FR (for example KL, LH, IB, OS, SK, BD a.o.).

Let's hope SNBA will expand their network (AMS??), I like to try them out!


Edit: Forgot to mention: Frederic great report + pics!   

[Edited 2005-09-04 20:58:40]

[Edited 2005-09-04 20:59:56]

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Taichen
Posted 2005-09-08 13:16:56 and read 5576 times.

Nice report !!!

I'm , as the others, really impressed with SN service ! If only other carriers like IB could learn from them !

BTW, is KL still offering some kind of catering on European legs ?

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Apuneger
Posted 2005-09-10 01:06:56 and read 5526 times.

Hi Fred,

Thanks for the excellent report. Good to read that SNBA continues to keep its economy product on a high quality level. I still remember our flight last year, also FCO-BRU.

As already mentioned, SNBA has an excellent quality product, when you're travelling in economy!

Keep up the good work, SNBA!

Greets,
Ivan

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Sabena332
Posted 2005-09-10 01:57:01 and read 5518 times.

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 6):
I have never flown on SNBA

I have to correct myself. I already flew on SNBA, a few A.netters can confirm that because they were on the same flight. Big grin

Patrick

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Sabena 690
Posted 2005-09-10 11:04:56 and read 5503 times.

Hi all,

Thanks again for the nice feedback  Smile

I returned from Copenhagen yesterday evening, again a fantastic SN-experience.

Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 8):
this could become some kind of running gag, like me and my A318, which took me several attempts over more than one and a half year before I finally got that bird in July 2005

Another 'funny' Varig story: I called them last Thursday to ask where my ticket was (they were going to send me a paper ticket). "Euh... ow yes, actually we hadn't issued your ticket yet. Will do it as soon as possible". They had forgotten to print my ticket and mail it to me. If I hadn't phoned them, I would never have received my ticket before September 13. I got it yesterday.
Difficulties all the way to get on an MD11  Wink

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 9):
I will flying next month CTA-FCO on AirOne and hopefully catch one of these
rare B737-200´s

I hope it for you as well! I did a "Mission B737-200" on Ryanair together with Apuneger and Turbotrent back in 2003, and we were succesful on both flights! Our flight from DUB to EDI was even operated by the Vodafone B732. Good luck with the AP B732!

Quoting Taichen (Reply 11):
BTW, is KL still offering some kind of catering on European legs ?

Yes they are. A full bar service, together with a sandwich (and a few other items, depending on the flight time and time of the day). Check http://www.airlinemeals.net for some examples.

Quoting Apuneger (Reply 12):
Good to read that SNBA continues to keep its economy product on a high quality level. I still remember our flight last year, also FCO-BRU.

All other SN flights I had till now had the same high quality level. PS: guess who was the purser on my flight; a small hint: think about the MD11 and Qantas  Wink Big grin

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 13):
I have to correct myself. I already flew on SNBA, a few A.netters can confirm that because they were on the same flight

... with me being one of those a.netters! Big grin

Regards
Frederic

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-B
Username: Udo
Posted 2005-09-10 18:42:48 and read 5492 times.

Hi Frederic,

highest Belgian trip report quality, as usual! Great pictures too!  thumbsup 

SNBA's service is very impressive, good to see that in these days of LCCs (including certain very crappy ones) conquering Europe.

Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter):
Photography is not recommended as you will most certainly get troubles with the Police, and the windows are dirty anyway (which makes photography registration spotting a pain).

What the hell is the Italians' problem? I have heard several times before that they don't even tolerate registration spotting at FCO. Some kind of annoying "I behave more important than I am"-mentality.  embarrassed 

Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter):
the SN crew really delivered an exceptional service to the passengers. �Please Sir, enjoy your meal�; �Alstublieft, smakelijk eten�� Those little touches make a big difference in my opinion.

Wow, I can't even remember any longhaul flight where I ever heard that...

Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter):
The service concept in Economy Class on SNBA flights is called �Brussels Bistro�. You get a hot meal on flights lasting longer than 2 hours, and a cold option on shorter flights.

I'm wondering how many airlines still serve hot meals on European services?

Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter):
My hot meal consisted of pasta with chicken in a vegetable sausage, Balkan salat, crackers and a Milky Way. The taste was excellent!

And it looks excellent, too!  biting 

Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter):
Have a look at the plastic cup, �Drinks are on the crew� is written on it � nice touch!

Sounds cool like "jetblue-ish"!  bigthumbsup 

Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter):
Sorry to the flight attendant, it was only a little test to see your reaction

You mean person, you!  Wink


Regards
Udo

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: Apuneger
Posted 2005-09-13 00:45:04 and read 5416 times.

Quoting Sabena 690 (Reply 14):
All other SN flights I had till now had the same high quality level. PS: guess who was the purser on my flight; a small hint: think about the MD11 and Qantas

Hehe, if that wouldn't be our Anderlecht-fan  Wink I hope you didn't give him a hard time lol...

Ivan

Topic: RE: Italy Trip Part II: SN Brussels Airlines FCO-BRU
Username: IFLYMCO
Posted 2005-09-13 03:02:03 and read 5420 times.

Great report!

I was in Italy the same time as you (not earth shattering news, I know!)

Cheers!


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