This trip involved flying 5 airlines: AR, LX, G3, JJ, LH routing EZE-SCL-GRU overland CGH-SDU-CGH overland GRU-MUC-LHR. The LX and LH legs were in F Class (apart from the Domestic European flight MUC-LHR which was in C), with the rest in Y.
I arrived at EZE Terminal B at around 06:00 for my 07:30 flight to SCL. This would be my first time flying AR so I was quite excited but also a bit worried about their poor reputation for punctuality and cancellations, especially as I had to connect in SCL onto the LX flight to GRU. For this reason I took the earliest flight even though it would leave me with over 4 hours in SCL. There was a flight 1 hour later but I wanted to give myself as much of a buffer as possible just in case. This was with good cause as when I looked at the monitors the 08:30 which I so very nearly booked myself on was delayed 2 hours. Had I been on this flight I doubt I would have made my connection.
As it was my flight was showing on time as I joined the long check-in queue. When I got to the front check-in was smooth and I was given my pre-assigned seat 15A. I proceeded to pay my departure tax before heading through security where there was no queue (where did all the masses queuing to check-in go?) once through security I took a tour of the terminal and walked to the other terminal too which had better shopping. I had some pesos left so bought some aftershave and topped up the cost with my credit card.
Boarding was called on time though gate A and we had to board a bus to a remote stand which is always good.
Boarding our 737-500
Another AR 737-500 at EZE
As boarding progressed it looked like it was going to be a full flight which is not surprising as it was probably full of refugees from the later flight. We finally departed around 30 minutes late. Legroom on AR was ample, on par with European carriers on short haul flights. All announcements were made in both Spanish and English, although I couldn’t really understand the English ones. Even on such a short flight breakfast was served which consisted of mixed fruit and a croissant. Not great but more than I was expecting. The view crossing the Andes was again spectacular before we touched down in SCL around 25 minutes late, which I didn’t mind as I had plenty of time to kill.
Crossing the Andes around 20 minutes before touchdown
I didn’t through check my bag so had to collect it and then go through immigration again and check-in as normal. We arrived at the same time as the AA flight from DFW, although this didn’t really affect the immigration queue as Chile makes Americans pay $100 to enter where as us Europeans get in for free, so most people on the DFW flight were in a different queue to me. Baggage claim was a little slow though but again I wasn’t rushing.
On clearing customs I went straight to the Swiss check-in desk where there was already a queue for Y and J class. When I got to the desk I was asked if I was flying to GRU or ZRH. She quickly found my booking and printed by boarding pass with pre-reserved seat 2K and handed my a lounge invite, again to the Admirals Club. I was also given a letter from the Swiss station manager at SCL, welcoming me on board their A340 and introducing the Captain and chief FA. It also contained info in the flying time and weather in GRU.
Boarding pass and lounge invite
After check-in I wondered around the terminal to kill time. SCL is a very nice airport, very airy and modern and quite a nice place to spend 3 hours.
Check-in hall at SCL
No this is not LHR T5 with bags piled up, but some lovely art.
I killed the rest of my time before boarding in the Admirals Club. This time they had sandwiches, although the bread was stale. The lounge was quite busy today with lots of people on my flight so I though F might be reasonably busy. Boarding for our flight was called in the lounge and I walked to the gate which was quite some distance.
HB-JMC ready for boarding
On boarding I was welcomed and settled into the familiar surroundings of 2A. I boarded quite late but I was the only person in F. When the doors were closed I still was. There was one guy who came asking about an upgrade to ZRH but I think the price put him off or they didn’t have availability, either way he didn’t stay long. So I had 2 crew for 1 very undemanding passenger. So it was going to be a good flight for all 3 of us then. Surprisingly I was handed out slippers and a Bally amenity kit, I say surprising as I didn’t think they handed these out until the GRU-ZRH sector which I wouldn’t be taking.
Amenities and welcome letter
With there being nobody else on board I had a free choice of where to sit. I thought long and hard about which side was best for the Andes and decided I was in the best place and as we departed it looked like I got it right. However we made a big turn and it turns out the best views were from the other side. The seat belt sign remained on as it was quite bumpy so didn’t want to switch. When the sign was finally switched off I darted across the cabin to 2A and I was soon joined by one of the FAs who took 1A to enjoy the view which was good.
Taken from 2A after seat belt sign turned off
Taken from my seat shortly after
Service for the rest of the flight was a lunch consisting of some sort of pasta which they had to get for me from business class as my vegetarian meal request didn’t go though and the menu only had meat on it. Also had cheeses and salad (sorry no photos I ate it too quick!)
Progressing towards GRU
After the Andes the flight dragged a little and I didn’t watch any movies, just a documentary about scenic Swiss railways journeys which had me planning a trip to Switzerland by the end! As the rest of the flight was uneventful I’ll just show a few photos instead of describing it.
Nice clouds descending for GRU
Seconds from touchdown
On the ground
On disembarking at the gate there was a sign with my name on it. This was my personal concierge who was to help me through the airport. However I didn’t really need the service but she walked me through immigration anyway (which was empty). I’d say judging my baggage claim there were only maybe 20-30 people terminating at GRU today as opposed to continuing to ZRH. Interestingly as opposed to the outbound flight, ZRH pax disembarked in GRU this time, probably as the layover is much longer (around 2 hours).
Now I had to get myself to CGH in preparation for my flight next day to SDU. This is very easy as there are several shuttle services between the 2 airports and I was on my way less than 1 hour from touching down.
After spending the night at the Ibis hotel at CGH airport (cheap and cheerful, just what I wanted) I woke early for my flight to Rio. This was the one I had been waiting for as I’ve wanted to fly into SDU since I saw an article in an airliner mag when I was about 15 years old, and obviously seeing the great photos on a.net.
When I arrived at CGH it was all a little chaotic with long queues for GOL check-in. I had pre-reserved seat 19F on the right hand side behind the wing in anticipation of a scenic approach into SDU and was duly given this seat at check-in. So far so good. GOL (and TAM) give you supermarket type receipts rather than traditional boarding passes which I don’t really like. After a quick tour of the terminal I went through security with ease and waited for my flight by the gate (I had gotten used to lounge visits but not this time).
Boarding was on time and thankfully it wasn’t a full flight and I had the middle seat empty with a gentleman in the D seat. Announcements were made in Portuguese and English. Leg room was ample for the short flight but a bit tight if I was going longer (at a guess it was 30” pitch). It was quite interesting to be at CGH as I remember that terrible TAM crash there. I was trying to work out where it happened which I couldn’t but when you see how confined the airport is you can see that the pilots didn’t have many options in terms of run off. My take off was powerful and we were soon on our way to Rio.
Take-off from CGH
Free drinks were served along with a snack bar. Nothing special but better than you would get from a UK LCC. With nothing lese to report from the flight I’ll get straight to the landing. WOW. I was hoping for the approach turning past the Sugar Loaf and that is what I got. It was a lovely clear day as well. These 3 photos say it all.
Descending downwind towards SDU
Beginning the turn
Turning past the Sugar Loaf
Touchdown was smooth and before long I was out of the terminal and in a taxi. After dropping my bags at the hotel I went straight to the Sugar Loaf hoping to get some good photos from the other side. However by the time I got up there the wind must have changed and aircraft were arriving from the other direction. Can’t complain too much though as I got what I wanted. Did get great views of the airport though.
View of SDU from the top of the Sugar Loaf
After 3 great days in Rio it was time to head back home. My routing from Rio-London was SDU-CGH overland GRU-MUC-LHR.
Having tried GOL on the way to Rio I decided to try TAM on the way back to Sao Paulo. During booking I could only pre-reserve seat 14F which was over the wing so I decided to arrive a little early to the airport to try to get an F seat further back so I could get some good photos on take off. Using the self service machine and guessing what the Portuguese words meant I managed to get myself 19F which was perfect.
After dropping my bag I proceeded with my customary self guided airport tour before heading through security. The new terminal is nice but looks like all the others and lacks character. I saw a sign for observation area but it was closed and there were no views anyway as the new terminal was built in front of it. Time to take that sign down I think.
New terminal at SDU after security
I got to my gate early as our A319 was already waiting 1.5 hours before departure. There were also several staff at the gate as well. Quite easy to see where TAM can cut costs if they need to. Boarding was called pretty early and it soon became clear that this would be a full flight. On boarding there was a nasty surprise waiting for me. My window (and the others I could see) were very dirty from the outside which meant I couldn’t clean it which meant my photos wouldn’t turn out very good. This was not very good news. I had the seat I wanted and the runway being used was the one I wanted for best photos but the window was dirty.
Take off was very powerful due to the short runway and I started taking photos but as suspected they didn’t turn out very well sue to the dirty windows. Here is the best of a bad bunch.
View of the Sugar Loaf on departure from SDU
I didn’t take any more photos on this flight after we left Rio. Service on TAM was slightly better than GOL with a free sandwich and drinks. Leg room was probably slightly better too, although the seats on this aircraft were showing signs of wear. Nothing worth mentioning happened for the rest of the flight and we were soon back on the ground in CGH.
A TAM A320 at the gate in CGH
At this point I had 5 hours before my LH flight to MUC but as it typical when you have lots of time there was a bus ready and waiting to take me to GRU.
I arrived at GRU around 4 hours before departure so I spent some time touring the terminal before checking in. I thought about going to the check-in desk and asking if I could take the FRA flight but concluded that this probably wouldn’t get me to LHR that much earlier and I don’t like the LH F class on the 744 as you run a very big risk of sitting next to someone which shouldn’t happen in F. Also before my MUC flight I looked at the seat availability and it was showing F7 which meant mine was the only F seat they had sold.
3 Star Alliance heavies parked up at GRU ready to head back to Europe
After my tour and taking some pics from the viewing window I went to check-in, once they had cleared the FRA flight. There was a bit of a queue for the F check-in as it is the designated Star Gold desk which is unusual as this is usually the business class desk. I soon got to the front though and was given my boarding pass in a nice first class ticket jacket and told to go to the Varig lounge. Next to me at the other F desk there were 3 guys insisting that they had been pre-assigned window seats and begging for their assignment to be changed to window seats (which I think they were). They then asked if there was any chance of an upgrade which pleased me as it meant they weren’t in F. Quite predictably this request was politely refused although they were informed that the load in Y was quite low tonight so they would be able to spread out.
Check-in area at GRU
After queuing to get my exit stamp and negotiating the duty free shop I took a quick tour around T2 which was quite busy with lots of flights heading to Europe and North America. There was a TP flight to LIS, AC to YYZ, CO to IAH and EWR, LX to ZRH, LH to FRA, AA to JFK and DFW that I noted. After my short walk I headed upstairs to the Varig lounge which was quite busy as it is used by LH and AC as well as RG and probably some others. There was a pretty good selection of drinks and they had some nice sandwiches and other snacks. I left prior to boarding being announced so I could get another look at all the heavies departing.
As expected our aircraft was an A340-300. When I originally booked the trip the aircraft for this flight was down as an A340-600 but got changed about 2 months prior to departure.
I boarded through door 1L past the economy queues and was quickly in my pre-reserved seat 2A. the LH F seat isn’t as good as the LX seat. The arm rest opens to reveal magazine / amenity storage and there is a compartment for your shoes but it is much better to have the consol that you get with LX. The seat itself was comfortable in seated mode. The FA soon came around to introduce himself and offer me the amenity kit and slippers and PJs as well as a pre-flight snack. They had noted my vegetarian meal selection and asked if I was Mr ABC to confirm. However I was not Mr ABC but Mr XYZ, Mr ABC was in 1K. They only had 2 names to remember tonight but got it wring which is disappointing but not something that bothered me at all. For the snack they offered me something without meat or fish but I forget what it was now. He also explained to me what they had loaded my special meal and that there were plenty of vegetarian options from the standard menu if that didn’t appeal which is much better than LX with no meat/fish-free options.
LH F class amenities
Loading was soon completed and I was joined by 1 other passenger who sat in 1K so a nice and quiet flight in prospect. We pushed back on time and were in the air around 10 minutes later. Our climb was predictably slow which is always great, but quite bumpy as there were storms in the air and I could see lightning in the distance. After the seat belt signs went out another FA came around and wished me a happy Easter and gave me a Lindt chocolate bunny which was a nice touch.
Lindt chocolate bunny and bedtime chocolates photographed the morning after the night before
The chief FA (who was looking after the C cabin) came later to introduce herself and she was very nice and informal, telling jokes, and I generally found the LH service less stuffy than I had received on my flight from ZRH-GRU with LX which actually surprised me. I had dinner whilst watching Michael Clayton which is a good film, although I had to get the FA to reset my screen as the movie initially refused to play. The screens are very small, smaller than you would expect in Y on many carriers these days. For dinner I had salad, some sort of pasta and a nice desert (can’t remember what it was now). There were more options but I had eaten lots of sandwiches in the lounge so wasn’t that hungry.
Once the movie finished it was time for bed. By this time my fellow pax was already sleeping and the cabin lights had been turned off. I went to the bathroom to get changed and then came back and made my own bed with duvet the FA had left for me. The LH F seat is not a patch on the LX seat for sleeping and it felt narrow at the elbows and also quite lumpy. However I did manage to get some shut eye and didn’t resurface until around 2 hours to go to MUC, although I woke a few times as the turbulence was quite bad at times. Soon after waking for the final time I was served breakfast. I had scrambled egg with spring onion, some yoghurt with muesli and a croissant with assorted preserves. A very nice way to start the day. With the cabin now light I could take some photos.
View in front of me
Just in case you forget where you are
F cabin with airshow on main screen
Another shot of the F cabin
The famous Lufthansa rose
I just watched the airshow for the rest of the flight and enjoyed the views out of the window. The approach to MUC was quite bumpy but is was a clear day with no sign of snow as was promised.
Getting close to MUC
I think the touchdown was the smoothest I have ever experienced and it seemed we were travelling very slowly as we kissed the runway as it didn’t take much force to bring us to a halt. We taxied in slowly to the gate and I was the first one off the aircraft to be greeted by immigration checking everyone’s passport. With my EU passport they waved me through straight away though. I now had just under 2 hours until my flight to LHR. My luggage had been checked through and I had my boarding pass already so I took a tour of the terminal (this was my first time in MUC T2). I was impressed that there was free tea and coffee for all pax throughout the terminal. I bet the coffee shops love that! After touring the H gates I went down to the G gates where my flight departed from. However in doing so I ended up in an area that didn’t have a lounge and I was told I had to go through passport control to another area to get to the lounge. With around 1.5 hours to go I couldn’t be bothered so just sat by the gate and watched the movements drinking some free tea.
Boarding was called about 30 minutes prior to departure time and I boarded straight away and took my pre-assigned seat 3F. I chose this for the best views of London in the event we would approach over the city. There were 4 rows of business class today on the A321 with only 6 seats occupied. As with almost all intra-Europe business class, the seats are basically just Y seats with the middle left free with a handy table folded down from the middle seat. During boarding I could hear pax talking about what is the point is paying for C when you don’t get any more legroom. I didn’t mind though as I didn’t really pay for it and I agree anyway. I wouldn’t normally bother with short haul C in Europe. Only real benefit is the food.
We pushed back on time and made our way to the runway, although there was a bit of a queue and we weren’t airborne for quite some time. Once we were the flight went pretty quickly and the service was pretty good too. The meal was served very shortly after take off and it was quite nice too.
LH C class vegetarian meal MUC-LHR
As we began descending into LHR I became clear we were making the approach over London. Luckily there was no holding either and we came straight over the city without spending 20 minutes in the stack as is more common. It was a pretty clear day and the views were quite impressive, although I’ve seen them lots of times now.
Canary Wharf, as seen on ‘The Apprentice’
The stunning St Pancras International seen on approach to LHR.
Tower Bridge and the City of London
We touched down smoothly 27R so had a long way to taxi to get to T2. Not really noteworthy these days but the Captain was female and so was the first officer I think. I also only saw female cabin crew. On disembarking there was again a lady with a sign with my same on it waiting in the jetway. This was my personal concierge to guide me through immigration. She welcomed me, asked if I had had a good trip from GRU and escorted me to immigration. As opposed to my GRU concierge this one was very useful as there were queues for immigration and even for IRIS which I usually use. However she just pushed me in to the front and I was on my way. Didn’t really help in the end though as I was just left waiting longer for my bag. However this is a nice touch and the lady was very nice and friendly and interested in my trip. She even recommended transferring in FRA next time so I could use the F class terminal, which she described as better than a hotel whatever that means.
So that is it, end of trip. My bag arrived, priority tag worked and I was on the tube in no time heading home. I hope you enjoyed both this and my outbound report and welcome your feedback
Hardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 46
Reply 2, posted (7 years 4 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 23064 times:
Thanks for another great report.
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): ee drinks were served along with a snack bar. Nothing special but better than you would get from a UK LCC. With nothing lese to report from the flight I’ll get straight to the landing. WOW. I was hoping for the approach turning past the Sugar Loaf and that is what I got. It was a lovely clear day as well. These 3 photos say it all
No doubt, SDU has an amazing landing! Indeed, SDU does not let Rio down and has the landing of a "wonderful city"
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): Having tried GOL on the way to Rio I decided to try TAM on the way back to Sao Paulo. During booking I could only pre-reserve seat 14F which was over the wing so I decided to arrive a little early to the airport to try to get an F seat further back so I could get some good photos on take off. Using the self service machine and guessing what the Portuguese words meant I managed to get myself 19F which was perfect.
IT service in both TAM and GOL are very developed.
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): After queuing to get my exit stamp and negotiating the duty free shop I took a quick tour around T2 which was quite busy with lots of flights heading to Europe and North America. There was a TP flight to LIS, AC to YYZ, CO to IAH and EWR, LX to ZRH, LH to FRA, AA to JFK and DFW that I noted. After my short walk I headed upstairs to the Varig lounge which was quite busy as it is used by LH and AC as well as RG and probably some others. There was a pretty good selection of drinks and they had some nice sandwiches and other snacks. I left prior to boarding being announced so I could get another look at all the heavies departing
GRU is booming with flights and is a great terminal to view airlines from all over the world. Around the MUC departure KE will now join this same departure bank offering ICN as yet another destinations from GRU. Towards the evening GRU is even busier.
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): As expected our aircraft was an A340-300. When I originally booked the trip the aircraft for this flight was down as an A340-600 but got changed about 2 months prior to departure.
LH replaced the A346 with the A343 in MUC-GRU and the flight schedule will also changed for red-eye flights both directions. Currently MUC-GRU is daylight. I guess the A346 will be back for the busy Winter period at the end of the year.
ManchesterMAN From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 1244 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (7 years 4 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 22789 times:
Quoting Stylo777 (Reply 5): your ability to take photos out of aircraft windows is quite high if not the best I ever came across very impressing and with much quality!
Thanks. Shame they keep getting rejected by the mods here!
Quoting Avianca (Reply 1): MUC is my home and of course favourit airport, Terminal 2 is IMO the best terminal arround the globe!
Your food on the short MUC-LHR looks really yummy.
Yes it is a good airport. This was my second time at MUC, the first was a disaster though as it was a diversion en route to INN which ruined my photography day trip as Thomas Cook insisted on bussing us to INN from MUC, getting us there just in time to fly back. Not the airport's fault though and this time was a much much better experience.
The food was nice yes.
Quoting AirAmericaC46 (Reply 3): One of the best trip reports here in A.net. I can say landing in SDU is one of the top 5 amazing views from a window seat!!
Absolutely and I was very lucky with the wind direction and weather. Definately worth the extra trouble I went to to fly in there. After all it would have been a lot cheaper and quicker to have flown GRU-GIG but where's the fun in that
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8697 posts, RR: 54
Reply 7, posted (7 years 4 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 22711 times:
Great report, really enjoyed the read and excellent photo's - love the Sugar Loaf pictures, always wanted to visit there, I guess because of James Bond!
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): Service for the rest of the flight was a lunch consisting of some sort of pasta which they had to get for me from business class as my vegetarian meal request didn’t go though and the menu only had meat on it
- Pretty poor that out of 2 F pax, they can't get it right.
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): They had noted my vegetarian meal selection and asked if I was Mr ABC to confirm. However I was not Mr ABC but Mr XYZ, Mr ABC was in 1K. They only had 2 names to remember tonight but got it wring which is disappointing but not something that bothered me at all
- Again, surely they have a manifest to see who is sat in what seat?!
The Apprentice just started last week, have you seen the first chapter?
Btw, LCY, very convenient if you have business in Canary Wharf, is one of my favourite airpots in Europe: very efficient and practical, especially if you compare with the nightmare of LHR. LH operates FRA-LCY flights so it is easy to connect to LH's FRA network.
Quoting AirAmericaC46 (Reply 3): One of the best trip reports here in A.net. I can say landing in SDU is one of the top 5 amazing views from a window seat!!
Quoting Avianca (Reply 4): its so a shame that my CGH-SDU flight 2 months ago was diverted to GIG due to weather...
Another reason to go back to Rio!
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Reply 6): Absolutely and I was very lucky with the wind direction and weather. Definately worth the extra trouble I went to to fly in there. After all it would have been a lot cheaper and quicker to have flown GRU-GIG but where's the fun in that
On the other hand, you would need to get a taxi ride from Rio to GIG located in Ilha do Governador. If you fly SDU-CGH, by contrast, you can use CGH's convenient and efficient CGH-GRU bus shuttle service running every 30min or so. In addition, because SDU-CGH air shuttle is frequent, you will never have to worry about late flight. Flights GIG-GRU are not so frequent and if your flight is late you may run into trubble - you would most likely have to go all the way to SDU to get a flight to Sao Paulo meaning you run the risk of missing the connection from GRU.
ManchesterMAN From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 1244 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (7 years 4 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 22113 times:
Quoting Hardiwv (Reply 8): The Apprentice just started last week, have you seen the first chapter?
Yes, it was a great start to the series. A £5 lobster is enough for me to start eating Seafood!! I hope the colourful woman who claims to be the best sales person in Europe wins. Then again if she was so good she wouldn't be on the Apprentice.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 7): Great report, really enjoyed the read and excellent photo's - love the Sugar Loaf pictures, always wanted to visit there, I guess because of James Bond!
Yes, I did think when going up on the cable car about Moonraker. Wouldn't fancy having a fight up there that's for sure. 007 flew concorde to Rio as well IIRC.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 7): - Not keen on the seat designs, looks quite cold and mechanical.
Yeh they are not the best but I've flown in much worse!! I hear LH are going to introduce a new F seat with the A380 / 748 so hopefully they go for something closer to the SQ F seat on the 77W (I don't expect them to copy the Singapore suites).
Quoting Hardiwv (Reply 8): Btw, LCY, very convenient if you have business in Canary Wharf, is one of my favourite airpots in Europe: very efficient and practical, especially if you compare with the nightmare of LHR. LH operates FRA-LCY flights so it is easy to connect to LH's FRA network.
I've flown from there a few times but I actually prefer LHR, mainly because I live in West London and it is a lot quicker for me to get to. I find LHR only to be a nightmare if I am flying BA which I try to do as little as possible.