PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11496 posts, RR: 62 Posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 15686 times:
Hello and welcome to the first in a series of three trip reports which document my travels to and from Chisinau in Moldova, a city which I visited in order to fly on that most illusive of aircraft; the Ilyushin Il-18. It is a type which I’ve wanted in my logbook for many years, so I was delighted to find that the German specialist tour operator Air Events were planning to charter an example for a Chisinau-Kiev-Chisinau set of flights. Unfortunately, this trip failed to attain the 30 bookings required to go ahead but, undaunted, Air Events re-launched the Il-18 trip for a later date, this time offering a return flight from Chisinau to Balti, Moldova’s second largest city. A few days before the booking deadline an email notified me that enough participants had come forwards for the flight to take place, so it was time to plan my trip to Moldova!
Chisinau is not the easiest of places to get to; Air Moldova offer twice weekly flights to London, amongst other destinations, but the timings were not convenient and the fares hideously expensive from all of their departure points. I decided quite quickly that I’d like to enter via Romania, spending a few days there in order to take some internal flights before continuing to Moldova. The Il-18 trip itself wasn’t cheap, so in order to afford the domestic flights in Romania, I would have to keep my international travel out and back from the UK as cheap as possible. After much deliberating I settled on Ryanair from Bristol to Bergamo, then MyAir onwards to Bucharest, splashing out a bit for my travel to Chisinau by taking Carpatair on the F100 from Timisoara. I then spent hours searching timetables of domestic flights and eventually found a way to fly Blue Air, Carpatair with the SAAB 2000 and the A318 with TAROM all in one day. For the return journey from Chisinau I would enter the Ukraine by bus, fly up to Kiev with AeroSvit and then take WizzAir to London before flying back down to the South West with FlyBe.
Due to the number of flights, I’ve split the report across three parts; the second covers the all important Il-18 flights plus the ramp tour at Chisinau, whilst the last documents my journey home:
It was still dark outside as my alarm clock sounded to tell me it was 5am - time to get up. Normally when I’m taking the early flight to Bristol I don’t bother with sleep, but as I would be spending the following night in an airport I thought it wise to get some rest whilst I could. Thankfully Plymouth City Airport is less than five minutes from my house by car at that time of the morning, so in no time at all I was sat in the terminal, boarding pass in hand. I was trying to keep cost of this trip to a minimum, but considering flying up to BRS cost just £10 more than the alternative combined rail and coach fare, taking the plane was a no-brainer.
Once all passengers on today’s flight, destined for Bristol, Manchester and Leeds (the latter via and aircraft change at BRS) had checked in, the security lane was opened, after which the ground staff were already in place to board passengers straight onto the awaiting aircraft, G-WOWB, which stood on the ramp under the first light of dawn beside two of its Sister ships, bound for Gatwick and Newcastle.
PLH-BRS Plymouth City Airport (Roborough) to Bristol (Lulsgate) International Airport
Carrier: Air Southwest (74th sector on airline) Flight: WOW 302 Aircraft: DeHavilland Dash 8-311(Q) (73rd sector on aircraft type) Registration: G-WOWB (19th sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: During 1992 Seat: 2D Block Departure Time: 06:30 Actual Take off Time: 06:37 Block Arrival Time: 07:05 Actual Touchdown Time: 07:08 Distance Flown: 90 miles Flying Time: 31 minutes Fare: £29 + £1 debit card booking fee
Runway 13 was selected for use today, the pilots utilising every foot of the turning circle to maximize the runway length available to them as they lined the Dash up to the centerline. The props beat furiously at the air as maximum power was applied, the aircraft dancing on the brakes until they were released and the plane lurched forwards like it had just been shot out of a canon, pulling gently up into the awakening sky after a 600m roll.
It was too dark during take off for my little video camera to capture any decent footage but, once we’d climbed above the dismal layer of grey cloud blanketing the West Country, the view outside became a little brighter. As the flight is pretty short I combined all of the footage, including landing at Bristol, into one video:
Of all the flights I take, this is probably the nicest when it coincides with sunrise – I love watching the ball of fire peep gingerly over the horizon, bathing the Dash in a golden light as it does. Today was in fact a minor milestone for me, being the 25th time that I’ve flown the route in this direction.
The route flown up to BRS was the same as always; after take off bank towards and then climb out over Dartmoor, maintaining a North-Easterly heading towards Exmouth, where-upon a left hand bank was made, heading almost due North in the direction of the former Hinkley Point power station. If runway 09 is being used for arrivals at BRS then it’s a quick and easy approach from here, but today we’d be landing on 27, meaning heading East above the Mendips towards the town of Bath, before executing a long 180 degree left turn to approach the airport. A benefit of landing in this direction is that you’re presented with an excellent panorama of Bristol below during final approach, today being no exception, with the touchdown following shortly after - just a few minutes behind schedule.
A bus arrived just after the Dash pulled on stand, picking up the LBA passengers at one end and BRS pax at the other, dropping us at the terminal first as the flight from NQY (which continues to LBA) had yet to touch down. It’s annoying that Bristol Airport doesn’t have any form of flight connections channel, as I now had to walk through the reclaim and arrivals area, then go back upstairs and pass through the whole security process all over again. Pleasantly it was very quiet and I didn’t have to queue, most of the morning rush having already subsided, but even so there was precious little seating in the departures lounge.
I took a guess at where my next flight, on Ryanair, would be boarding from and managed to find a spare seat. Impressively I was right on the mark, with boarding commencing at about 11:30, signaling a wave of people who leapt forwards towards the gate. So long as I’m one of the first 100 or so passengers to board then I don’t mind so much, as that’s about the cut off point for still getting a window seat, which I managed comfortably on this occasion, choosing a row in the mid 20s – although I forget which exactly, but you get a decent idea of where I was from this view:
BRS-BGY Bristol (Lulsgate) International Airport to (Milan) Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport
Carrier: Ryanair (16th sector on airline) Flight: FR 8262 Aircraft: Boeing 737-8AS(W) (20th sector on aircraft type) Registration: EI-DLC (1st sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: 16th December 2005 Seat: Free Block Departure Time:12:10 11:50 Actual Take off Time: 12:14 Block Arrival Time:15:15 14:55 Actual Touchdown Time: 15:03 Distance Flown: 691 miles Flying Time: 1 hour 49 minutes Fare: £10 + £4 credit card booking fee
Boarding took a little longer then anticipated, resulting in the pushback being 25 minutes late – spot on the original block time when I had booked the flight though, before the schedules were tweaked a little. The wind direction had stayed the same although the weather had closed in a little, so from stand three it was just a short distance back to runway 27 for take off, with about a 70% load factor onboard.
The roll seemed pretty typical of Ryanair with the power on an ‘economy’ setting to maximise fuel efficiency, resulting in a roll which used almost all of the tarmac, despite starting from well before the threshold of the 2011m runway. As someone who cares about the environment I really shouldn’t complain, but I do like to hear a good roar from the engines!
Runway heading was followed until we were at about 5,000 ft and broke through the layer of murky cloud, emerging into a bright and sunny sky and immediately pulling a long right hand bank. From here the routing took the flight towards the South East of England then over the Channel towards Paris, providing an excellent overview of CDG and Le Bourget, then turning to fly South East towards Switzerland.
It wasn’t until midway through the flight that the crew ran out of automated sales pitches to play over the address system, no doubt coming as a relief to most passengers, but this is the compromise you have to make for flying so cheaply – I had after all paid just £10 for my ticket on this 700 mile flight. The crew were professional and polite, the seat comfort was average and the legroom acceptable, although the hard plastic backs of the seat in front dug into my legs when I tried to extend them but, as the middle seat next to me was free, space wasn’t a pressing issue. The plane itself was a newish aircraft which had been delivered just over three years ago.
An hour of so into the flight the landscape below began to change; the lumbering hills and valleys of France morphing into the jagged peaks of the Swiss Alps which thrust upwards, still crowned with the winters last snow.
Mid way over the mountains descent into Bergamo was initiated, dropping gracefully back down to Earth whilst presenting further stunning views of Southern Switzerland, including Locano and Lake Maggiore, pictured below:
The course then took us over Lake Como in Italy, after which the decent rate increased and a 180 degree bank had the plane lined up for final approach on the Westerly runway 28. There was nothing terribly elegant about the landing; little flare and a heavy contact of the main gear with the runway, jolting the cabin rather well, and then using two thirds of the tarmac to roll out along before exiting via the express taxiway just opposite the terminal buildings.
Disembarkation was far more rapid than the boarding at Bristol, with a good number of the passengers being out of their seats and in the aisle even before the plane had come to a halt, earning a scornful telling off from the cabin crew. Passport control took a very long time to clear – each passenger being scrutinized instead of the normal cursory glance from passport photograph to face, but despite having only a passing resemblance to my photograph these days I encountered no problems.
There were now some 15 hours before my next flight was due to depart so, not wanting to spend them all sat in the terminal and as Milan was too far, I headed into Bergamo; a travel pass on all the public transport in the city (including the bus from the airport) cost just a few Euros, which is very good value for money. I didn’t know what to expect as I’d not done any planning in advance for this bit of the trip, but what I found was a nice city with a very quaint walled Medieval hill top centre, perched high above the rest of the city which lies in the valley below. After catching some dinner at a Pizzeria I headed back to the airport on the last bus.
Luckily the terminal did, as I had presumed, remain open overnight – a good job, as it was literally packed with fellow travelers who had to arrive the previous night by public transport in order to catch early flights. The police weren’t so keen on the idea though, and rather enjoyed moving people around every hour or so, sometimes to aid cleaning, other times for no apparent reason. Come 5am I noted the first signs of life around the MyAir desks and, sure enough, check in began a few moments later. When booking there was no indication of which aircraft I’d be flying and even a picture search revealed that both the Airbus and the CRJ are used to Bucharest, but pleasantly today’s almost full flight would be flown by the CRJ 900. This was preferable for me, as I’ve only flown one -900 series before, whereas I’ve been on dozens of A320s, so I selected a seat in row 10 so that I might have a good view of the wing, but still benefit from the cabin being quieter up front.
Looking around, Bergamo airport appeared considerably underused; everything was ordained in Alitalia green, yet their presence is marked by just one destination – Rome, and is now vastly overshadowed by Ryanair, without whom the airport would appear almost deserted at times. The plus side of this is that you don’t feel overcrowded and that security was a breeze, taking barely a minute to pass through before I was in the equally empty departures’ lounge.
My flight would be departing from what I presume is the new LoCo wing of the lounge; situated at ground level so that passengers can walk straight out to their awaiting aircraft. With its metal seats chilled by the frosty morning air which seemed to be flowing in from somewhere and general sparse nature, it looked a little more like a prison waiting room than part of an airport, but if the carriers wish to pay lower and lower passenger fees, then airports have no choice but to economise - yet despite its apparent purpose built nature, none of the Ryanair (or other) departures were using it!
Boarding for the flight to Bucharest began right on time, arriving at the CRJ courtesy of a bus ride. It was dark and cold outside with a little rain beginning to filter through the mist, just to really set the mood, so there was a concerted dash for the stairs as soon as the doors were opened. Considering it quite literally ‘grew’ out of the comparatively tiny Canadair business jet, the CRJ 900 is a very long aircraft. My previous flight on the type had been almost empty but today, with a full load, it took some time for everyone to get onboard, partly because there was so little room in the overhead lockers that many passengers were struggling to find adequate space for their hand luggage. Even so, we moved off stand only ten minutes behind schedule.
BGY-BBU (Milan) Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport to Bucharest Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (Baneasa)
Carrier: MyAir (1st sector on airline) Flight: 8I 1600 Aircraft: Canadair CRJ 900 (2nd sector on aircraft type) Registration: EI-DUY (1st sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: Early 2007 (Delivered 2nd February 2007) Seat: 10A Block Departure Time: 06:40 Actual Take off Time: 06:53 Block Arrival Time: 09:50 Actual Touchdown Time: 09:42 Distance Flown: 803 miles Flying Time: 1 hour 49 minutes Fare: €30.45 + €5 credit card booking fee (£31.90)
Runway 10 was being used for departures this morning, just a stones’ throw from the stand, meaning with no other traffic the CRJ was soon lined up and ready to go. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting much from the -900 series performance wise, but no, this thing could move – accelerating quickly and using about 1500m of runway before easing back into the damp and overcast sky.
The shadowy foothills of the Alps receded into the distant murk, which itself reflected more of a pink hue the higher we climbed, signaling that dawn was imminent. After no sleep the previous night, and little the one before that too, I relaxed back into the comfortable seat and was soon in a deep sleep, awakening again on final approach to Bucharest’s Banesa airport. A gentle early reunion with the ground signaled some fierce breaking as the pilots did their utmost to stop on a sixpence, pulling up and drifting to one side of runway 07 to turn around in no more than 800m.
Amidst the aircraft parked in front of the hangers I’m sure I caught a glimpse of (now withdrawn?) UR-BVY, AeroSvit’s sole B737-200 which I flew the previous summer, whilst the main apron was busy with other aircraft - including several of Romania’s own LCC, Blue Air.
YR-BIA; a B737-8AS belonging to Blue Air:
The preparations for disembarking took a little while, so in the meantime I had a chance to reflect on the cabin and the seat comfort – I’m unaware of the (buy on board) in flight service because I slept right through it, although the crews were smiling and generally appeared welcoming during other stages of the trip. The seat itself was very comfortable and, despite being 6ft, I could fit my legs comfortably under the seat in front. What really let the cabin down though was the layout and position of the rows; each seatback is located directly next to the window, blocking much of the view out and giving the cabin a smaller feel due to letting less natural light filter in. The aircraft had been delivered new to MyAir in 2007, and I can’t think of another carrier who has this configuration on the CRJ-900, I’m sure others reading this can though, and I presume it’s been adopted in order to fit an extra row in.
Transport to the terminal was by bus, it appeared the airport officials weren’t too keen on photography, but I managed to take a couple of pictures without getting myself strung up, including the front of Baneasa’s rather unique design.
I had hoped for a passport stamp, but with Romania being in the EU and now operating under the Schengen agreement I had no such luck. The border control was reasonably quick and, with no checked bags, I made a hasty exit through the arrivals area - mainly to dodge the numerous taxi drivers who were insistent on yelling ‘No, no bus!’ and ‘No sir, there no bus to city’ at me. Anyway, despite their protests and having to pick my way through a chaotic traffic jam whilst crossing the road thanks to some road works, I was soon on the number 131 bus into the city center. You can get on the express bus which also serves OTP, but it costs almost three times more so I really couldn’t see the point; especially as the journey took barely half an hour in heavy traffic.
My destination was Piata Romana, from where I spent a good few minutes walking around in circles, or rather blocks, before finding the location of my accommodation – The Midland Hostel, which would have been really easy to find had I followed the directions from the right bus stop, but as it was the bus had missed it’s correct stop and dropped everybody off on the wrong side of the square! For just €11 a night, this was excellent value for money, having comfy beds and a safe and friendly atmosphere – just what you want from a hostel really. Today was my only free day in Bucharest itself though, so despite having no real sleep the previous night, I planned to see as much as possible – by foot!
Former Royal Palace, now home to the National Museum of Art of Romania:
The highlight of the day was, without a doubt, taking a tour through the monumental Palace of The Parliament - a building on a magnificent and omnipresent scale which is composed entirely from materials sourced within Romania. The palace was the brainchild (and ultimately the downfall) of Romanian leader Nicolae Ceauşescu, who specified a lavish finish to every inch – highly impressive now but, considering the living conditions of most Romanians at the time, totally irresponsible and a travesty of judgment. In a way the building is a little like an iceberg, extending further below ground than it protrudes above, ranking it as the largest, heaviest and most expensive civil building in the world according to Guinness Records. For 15 Lei you can take a guided tour, which was free for me as a student, although I had to pay an additional ‘photography fee’ for my camera.
Again, I didn’t want to fill this report with pictures of Bucharest, but others can be found in this collection: Bucharest & Romania
[Edited 2009-06-30 04:17:13]
[Edited 2009-06-30 04:19:05]
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11496 posts, RR: 62 Reply 1, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 15672 times:
Thursday 2nd April 2009:
Today I had quite an ambitious plan, which aimed to see me fly on all three of the major Romanian airlines; Blue Air, Carpatair and TAROM, whilst also taking my first flights on the SAAB 2000 and A318, plus a 737 for good measure. It took me hours of searching and cross checking flights and schedules to finalise my itinerary and reluctantly meant a very early start; leaving the hostel by taxi at 4:30am, as the busses didn’t start running for another hour or so. In a pleasant reversal of the trend, practically all of the LCCs flying to Bucharest serve the old Baneasa Airport, which is significantly closer to the city centre than the more modern Otopeni/Henri Coandă Airport where other carriers like TAROM and the major scheduled airlines fly from. As a result, its iconic luminous domed roof soon drew into sight – it was a pleasure paying just a few pounds for such an early fare to an airport, I’d have paid at least double the amount for just a one and a half mile ride to the airport back in Plymouth!
The riot of neon colors outside was mirrored more subtly by the dome inside. I find it a pleasure to be in such interesting terminals – a really nice change from the boring and sterile glass fronted boxes which have unfortunately sprung up all over the world to accommodate rapid airline expansion. They’re modern, well equipped and serve a purpose, but after a while you forget which was which, where-as something like this makes an imprint in your mind – even the terminal buildings themselves are laid out in the shape of a propeller. The downside is of course that Baneasa was designed in the late 1940s, when the passenger numbers experienced today (almost 1 million!) could never have been envisaged, hence it was pretty crowded. In fact, I later learnt that this airfield can trace its routes back to the early 1900s and is one of the oldest airports in the world, thankfully the original terminal is all listed, although it does inhibit development somewhat.
My first flight of the day to Arad would be operated by Blue Air, who take their name from the trademark color of the terminal building itself. Check in was a muddled and very cramped operation located at a bunch of desks sitting in an alcove of the main terminal area. There was lots of shouting between the handlers, who collected each hold bag by hand to be put through a scanner, yet despite an apparent lack of backstage organisation everything seemed to work smoothly and I had an assigned seat and my boarding pass within ten minutes.
Blue Air’s services to Arad are very spasmodic, with two flights on some days and none on others, as all flights to this city are simply dropping in en route to an international destination elsewhere. I was flying on the 06:30 service to Valencia, whilst at 07:30 there was another service to Arad, ultimately destined for Verona. These tag on services are the only national departures from Baneasa and all Valencia bound passengers were required to process through international departures, which is a good job too, as the domestic area after security is more of a glorified cupboard than a waiting lounge, very strictly no photography too, so I kept my camera well out of sight. During TAROM’s communist controlled days Baneasa handled all of the domestic flying, whilst the newer Otopeni airport was reserved for international traffic.
BBU-ARW Bucharest Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (Baneasa) to Arad International Airport
Carrier: Blue Air (1st sector on airline) Flight: JOR 113 Aircraft: Boeing 737-4C9 (12th sector on aircraft type) Registration: YR-BAD (1st sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: 30th January 1992 Seat: 6F Block Departure Time: 06:30 Actual Take off Time: 06:35 Block Arrival Time: 07:30 Actual Touchdown Time: 07:22 Distance Flown: 262 miles Flying Time: 47 minutes Fare: 128 RON o/w + 9 RON credit card booking fee (£29.46)
The international passengers had already been boarded to the rear of the cabin so, upon reaching the aircraft, we were ushered up the forward stairs where the first dozen or so rows of the cabin were vacant. Aside of knowing who is and isn’t supposed to be getting off, this must also make checking in passengers at Arad much easier, as I don’t believe they have a centralised computer system. Prior to departure a thorough and well spoken safety demonstration was carried out in Romanian and English, then dead on block time the doors were shut and the aircraft powered itself off stand. Take off would be towards the East along runway 07, which I had arrived on less than 24 hours previously, commencing a brisk roll from the starter strip and using just under half of the 3,200m length to become airborne.
Before joining Blue Air at the very end of 2006, the aircraft had previously been delivered (in 1992) to Luxair as LX-LGF with whom it remained until 1999 when it was operated by Blue Panorama Airlines for a couple of years as EI-DGN.
After executing a left hand bank during climb out, the captain made a bilingual announcement specifying a 50 minute flying time to Arad, with fair weather on arrival. The load between the two cities was around 30 passengers, not bad considering that most leisure travelers would probably have gone for the slightly more sociable departure one hour later. The cabin altitude made me doze comfortably for much of the flight, opening my eyes every few minutes to see how far the sun had progressed above the horizon, until the mountains and fields below had been replaced by the suburbs of Arad on our final approach to the airport.
Touch down on Arad’s concrete runway 27 was gentle, although the pits and bumps in the surface certainly weren’t, jolting the cabin as the spoilers and reverse thrust were deployed. The adjacent taxiways are not of a suitable quality for civil aircraft to use, possibly because of lose gravel on them, so after rolling out down the entire length we turned and rapidly backtracked the 2,000m down runway 09 to reach the terminal.
Only the front section of the cabin would be disembarking, so air stairs weren’t attached to the rear door, and it only took a couple of minutes for everyone to get off and board the awaiting bus for the short drive to the terminal. During 2008 Arad handled around 130,000 passengers and would have expected many more if an argument between Ryanair and the local council hadn’t resulted in the airline pulling its thrice weekly service to Bergamo midway through the year. Blue Air is obviously carving itself a niche in this region, so I would expect Ryanair to be back again in due course, once they see there are profits to be made.
The terminal itself was compact and modern inside, but with such infrequent flights there is no public transport to and from the city, hence I needed to take a cab to the centre, heading straight to the railway station. It was a mistake to tell the driver that I was taking a train to Timisoara, as he proceeded to spend the entire journey thinking up different prices and incentives to try and get me to direct him straight there, but his efforts were in vain. I’d checked the timetables in advance using www.bahn.de and, sure enough, trains ran to Timisoara every few hours. I bought the ticket, costing 18 Lei I think, before heading into the city so that I knew exactly when to be back, otherwise I could end up missing my next flight.
My main reason for flying to Arad wasn’t to add another airline to my logbook; there were several other cheap international flights I could have taken to do that, instead I hoped to investigate a strange structure which I had seen on Google Earth. It appeared to be a huge multisided fort located on a meander of the River Mures, as pictured below, yet there was no documentation of it online. This was hardly surprising once I reached the location though – it’s a fort alright, but still very much in use by the Romanian army and surrounded by dozens of watchtowers with armed guards, complemented by prominent signs advising you that photography was not permitted. Still, my curiosity was at least satisfied and maybe in the future the military will vacate the premises, allowing it to be opened to the public.
It certainly wasn’t a wasted journey though as Arad is by no means a dump, meaning there was plenty to look at during the remainder of the morning, before my train left around midday.
The railway station might have appeared a little dilapidated in places, but the rolling stock was modern, clean and comfortable and my train departed right on time – almost to the second. Timisoara is just a 50 minute ride away from Arad and along the way I took quite a lot of video, this being my first opportunity to see the Romanian countryside close up. The only thing I was surprised to see was an oil field – I had no idea that Romania possessed oil reserves on any scale.
I arrived at Timisoara Nord railway station a good two hours before my flight was scheduled to leave but, even though there was an airport bus here, I decided not to risk it and hence caught a cab instead. This driver wouldn’t stop talking about the UK town of Brighton, apparently during the summer he was going to be employed by a hotel there, and was looking forwards to the money and the nightlife. Perhaps I should have forewarned him about Brighton’s infamous ‘scene’ – but I guess if he’s there now he’ll have realised!
Timisoara’s Traian Vuia airport is named after the Romanian inventor who, in 1906, became famous for designing and then flying the first powered aircraft in Europe. Situated about 10km from the city itself, it is the third busiest airport in Romania and home to the hub of Carpatair, with whom I would be flying onwards to Cluj-Napoca. Check in was already underway so, once I’d received my boarding pass, I took some pictures and walked back outside to photograph the terminal exterior and a couple of parked aircraft which were just visible through the fence.
HA-LAZ; a LET-410UVP-E Turbolet belonging to ABC Air Hungary:
HA-FAJ; a Beech 1900C belonging to Farnair Europe (Hungary):
Considering how many internal flights operate from TSR, the domestic lounge isn’t that large, although most passengers enter just prior to departure via the transfer lane, having arrived on flights from international destinations. On the plus side though it’s modern and appears refreshingly bright thanks to numerous windows which, aside of letting daylight in, also provide great views out over the tarmac. Timisoara is definitely a Mecca for anyone who likes the SAAB 2000!
Today’s flight to Cluj was going to have a very light load; barely a dozen people mustered at the gate when boarding was called, it seemed I was the only passenger not to have transferred from another flight.
With everyone present the bus departed on a tour of the ramp, passing down one long line of SAABs, then making its way down the next line parked on the more remote stands, drawing up alongside YR-SBE in the end. The metallic cone of the propeller glistened under the warm Spring sunlight and reflected everything around it, myself included as I snapped a picture whilst waiting to board. Aside of giving a smoother ride, I think six bladed propellers look far better than those with four blades – more aggressive and ‘businesslike’.
I was given a warm welcome in Romanian and then English upon entering the cabin, which is arranged in a 1-2 configuration, meaning the A seat I chose was both a window and an aisle seat – the best of both worlds! It didn’t have much in the way of room for baggage, but the plane was barely a quarter full so I stowed my rucksack under the seat opposite the aisle. From studying seating plans I figured that sitting in row five should give me a pretty good view out from behind the propeller and, sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed.
TSR-CLJ Timisoara Traian Vuia International Airport to Cluj-Napoca International Airport
Carrier: Carpatair (1st sector on airline) Flight: V3 2372 Aircraft: SAAB 2000 (1st sector on aircraft type) Registration: YR-SBE (1st sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: 24th October 1996 Seat: 5A Block Departure Time: 15:15 Actual Take off Time: 15:19 Block Arrival Time: 15:55 Actual Touchdown Time: 15:48 Distance Flown: 131 miles Flying Time: 29 minutes Fare: 356 RON o/w (£76.54)
Right on block time the chocks were pulled away and a drone from the engines signaled that they had awoken, spinning the props into life and idling for a minute or so, before they gripped the air and pulled the plane off its parking stand towards runway 11. Once in position the engine power was gradually increased until the drone of the Rolls Royce ‘Allison’ AE-2100A turboprops morphed into a dull roar, where-upon the plane pulled smartly away down the tarmac, lifting off about 1,000m along the 3,500m of available runway.
The pitfall of purchasing a cheap video camera is that the image sensor scans from side to side to capture each frame, resulting in some rather ‘funky’ affects with the propeller – one day I’ll get around to investing in a decent HD Camcorder.
Aside of the occasional spot of turbulence, climb out was smooth and rapid, reaching the low cruise height of 9,000ft in just a few minutes and leveling off. Like most of the 54 aircraft built, this example had started its flying career with Crossair as HB-IZX, remaining with Swiss International Airlines under the same registration for a couple of years, before joining Carpatair in July of 2004. At just 13 years old, this aircraft and its sister ships can hopefully expect a long life ahead.
Cluj-Napoca is one of the nearest airports to Carpatair’s base; just 131 miles from point to point so, considering how fast the SAAB is, flying time was never going to be long. Despite this, the crew still found time to provide a full snack and drinks service consisting of a chocolate bar and a large roll, washed down by my choice of a coffee. Luckily there wasn’t a great choice of food back in the terminal because the size of the roll made me glad I’d not eaten; even when flying intra EU on full service carriers these days, you’re normally handed a miniscule bun with something mechanically reclaimed in between its dry halves, but on the contrary this was filling, tasty and made a good late lunch for me. Congratulations to Carpatair for providing this level of service even on a flight scheduled to last just 40 minutes – although that said, considering the base fare on this route, you do want as much value for money as possible!
Descent towards Cluj-Napoca began just twenty or so minutes into the flight, if it had been full then the two cabin crew would certainly have had their work cut out to serve 50 passengers and then pass back through the cabin to collect the rubbish again. A light touchdown brought the flight to an end just under half an hour after it had started, taxiing in to the end of the apron to park.
I liked the cabin of the SAAB, my only issue being that, due to the supports, luggage and legroom was not something you could comfortably have at once when sitting in the A seats. Headroom would also be at a premium if you were much over 6ft, but on regional aircraft this is in fact excellent, as having enough room to stand up in isn’t a pre-requisite of aircraft designers, hence creations like the Metroliner.
A few pictures of my aircraft and others on the ground were possible once I’d disembarked, as the crew would also be leaving the stand on the same bus. The way Carpatair operates intrigued me slightly: They have a very efficient and well timed hub operation at Timisoara, yet (as far as I could make out) most aircraft perform only four flights a day; operating into TSR early in the morning from a domestic airport, then making a return trip to an international destination, before returning each afternoon to a domestic outpost where the plane and crew overnights. Obviously it works for them, but the aircraft utilisation must be incredibly low – I should think they could quite easily double it should they wish.
HA-LAV; a LET-410UPV-E Turbolet belonging to ABC Air Hungary:
YR-BGI; a B737-78J belonging to TAROM:
Arriving passengers exit the baggage reclaim area into the newly constructed wing of the airport, a good deal of which is still being built. The exposed metal frame is painted a striking yellow, standing out as a bright contrast to the dated appearance of the older terminal which is colored in browns and gold.
At present this older building is still being used for all departures, with international flights checking in from the main hall on the right – signified by a larger triangular protrusion which overlies the drop off zone, whilst the domestic hall is represented by a smaller triangular foyer. There were almost three hours before the flight back to Bucharest left, so I headed for the café above the check in hall. Looking down it was evident that main terminal becomes overcrowded when any more than one flight leaves at the same time, which they do now that WizzAir has increased their frequencies and destinations on offer.
The domestic check in area is just as small; containing a few rows of seats and two counters, so it soon began to fill up as the flight time neared and more passengers arrived. Fortunately I’d timed it right, arriving just as the last passenger for the previous flight had been checked in, so the helpful member of staff opened the next flight and checked me in straight away, meaning that I didn’t have to queue up when check in officially began, an hour before departure.
Reaching the lounge took an incredible amount of time; there seemed to be one continuous queue which stretched from the gate, through the security lane, through check in and right back out into the foyer and almost out the door. Because of this, nobody could progress towards the next stage until the ground staff had started boarding passengers onto the bus – taking so long that the flight was delayed by 20 minutes. The departures lounge itself was rather bland and stuffy, so after taking a picture I proceeded straight to boarding.
Thankfully all my meticulous planning had not been in vain, as an A318-100 had arrived and was now sat patiently on the tarmac outside. This would be my first flight on the ‘baby’ bus, my first impression being surprise at just how short it was – to me it felt almost like walking into the cabin of a more spacious and airy six abreast RJ100.
CLJ-OTP Cluj-Napoca to Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (Otopeni)
Carrier: TAROM (1st sector on airline) Flight: RO 648 Aircraft: A318-111 (1st sector on aircraft type) Registration: YR-ASB ‘Traian Vuia’ (1st sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: 23rd November 2006 Seat: 18A Block Departure Time: 18:40 Actual Take off Time: 19:02 Block Arrival Time: 19:30 Actual Touchdown Time: 19:42 Distance Flown: 192 miles Flying Time: 40 minutes Fare: 267.43 RON o/w (£57.50)
The aircraft moved off stand almost twenty minutes late thanks to the painstaking way in which all of passenger checks are handled, but I’m sure things will be much better once the new terminal, pictured below next to the old building, is fully operational.
After backtracking along runway 26, the aircraft turned through 180 agrees using the circle and lined up towards the east with 08. Because the surface was constructed from cast concrete slabs I knew that it would be a bumpy roll, but I didn’t realise quite how rough it would be – getting airborne following around a 1,300m roll couldn’t come soon enough!
Despite it being hot and sunny on the ground, the mountains still echoed winter by their white peaks which peeped through the cloud. Flying time to Bucharest was expected to be no more than 50 minutes and, once at cruise, the crew offered a complimentary light refreshment service which gave you a choice of drink and a choice of full sized chocolate bar.
The flight was entirely uneventful, the first signs of descent coming after less than half an hour in the sky. Despite ultimately being a ‘boring’ Airbus, it was at least a new type for me, plus a new airline and, upon landing, would signal my first time at Otopeni - Bucharest’s main airport. In 2004 it was officially renamed Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport, after the namesake who developed the first jet powered aircraft almost 100 years ago in 1910, but even so it’s still widely known by it’s original name. Following several minutes of dropping casually down towards the dusky Earth, the pilots established themselves on approach, which has to rate as the longest lasting continuous straight approach I’ve experienced, holding the heading towards runway 08R for some 20km before touching gently down onto the tarmac and rolling out.
The rose tinted evening light was rapidly fading, but just enough remained to capture some of the aircraft lying derelict around the remote stands – many being BAC or ROMBAC 1-11s.
AP-BFC; the first ROMBAC 1-11-561RC ever built, wearing the faded colors of AeroAsia whilst behind sits 5N-SEO; the only BAC 1-11-487GK freighter ever built, still wearing the colors of Chrome Air:
The military ramp, featuring BAC 1-11s, a B707 and some BAe 146-200s of Romavia:
The aircraft pulled onto stand next to its sister ship, YR-ASA, being met by air stairs at both the front and rear doors, along with two busses on the ground. With no checked luggage, once the busses had delivered their passengers to the arrivals area it took me just a few minutes to be stood outside the terminal building, waiting for the next bus into the city. When accessing Bucharest from OTP your choices are more limited than BBU as it’s further away from the city, but instead of the train, which I had wanted to try, I decided to take bus 783 straight back to Piata Romana as I knew my way from there to the hostel. By the time I’d found some dinner and chatted for a bit with fellow travelers, it was almost midnight, so I asked for a wake-up call at 4am and headed to bed!
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11496 posts, RR: 62 Reply 2, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 15668 times:
Friday 3rd April 2009:
The morning came round far too quickly, reluctantly heaving myself out of bed to have a quick wash and get ready to leave. The hostel manager had found two other people who were traveling on the same flight as me to Timisoara, so we shared the cost of a taxi out to Otopeni which saved us all money, although the fare was pretty reasonable at about £7.
Upon reaching the airport check in had already begun, although the domestic terminal looked completely deserted with only a handful of passengers present. Once again I selected an A seat on the left side of the aircraft, but this time a little further back and, boarding pass in hand, headed to the café for a coffee. I was hungry but, as expected, everything was insanely overpriced, so knowing that I’d get a decent roll to eat on the flight I made do with just a caffeine boost.
Security was thorough to say the least; I don’t think they liked the look of my camera gear when they x-rayed it, so every single lens, battery and camera card had to be unpacked and examined before I was allowed to continue – which basically meant turning my entire bag upside down. All the while I could see the line for boarding getting shorter and shorter, until nobody was left and they put out a final call for passengers. I didn’t bother repacking my camera, so took a picture of the empty domestic departure lounge, where my flight had almost fully boarded through gate four.
Part of the reason I’d gone to great lengths in order to fly Carpatair and the SAAB 2000 the previous day was that both of my flights today were initially scheduled for operation by the Fokker 100. Typically though, this changed just a couple of weeks before my departure, probably because of insufficient passenger numbers as even the SAAB wasn’t completely full this morning.
OTP-TSR Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (Otopeni)
to Timisoara Traian Vuia International Airport
Carrier: Carpatair (2nd sector on airline) Flight: V3 203 Aircraft: SAAB 2000 (2nd sector on aircraft type) Registration: YR-SBJ (1st sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: 16th May 1995 Seat: 9A Block Departure Time: 07:05 Actual Take off Time: 07:13 Block Arrival Time: 08:05 Actual Touchdown Time: 08:03 Distance Flown: 247 miles Flying Time: 50 minutes Fare: 246 RON o/w (£52.90)
Once the doors were closed the crew wasted no time in firing up the engines and moving off stand for the taxi to the runway, only a few minutes behind schedule. It turned out that the row I’d chosen wasn’t particularly good; being neither in front of nor behind the wing, but even so I could still see what was going on well enough. One further criticism of the SAAB is that its tiny wheels, retained from the SAAB 340 I think, tend to make it ‘stutter’ over even slightly rough surfaces, of which there are many at Eastern European airports. The runways at Otopeni aren’t too bad though, with the plane needing only 1,200m of 08R’s length to become airborne, even though it was almost full.
During climb out the golden rays of dawn sunlight stroked the blades and reflected intensely off the prop cone, creating a wonderful view out of my window. Then a long left hand bank redirected the plane onto a westerly heading pointed at Timisoara, continuing afterwards to climb up to cruise. The SAAB 2000 is renowned for being a fast flying, high cruising prop, and from the perspective of passengers comfort I can’t fault it either; I just wish I had more opportunities to fly the type. Like the aircraft I had flown yesterday, this plane had also been delivered to Crossair, but didn’t join Carpatair from Swiss until 2005.
After flying for about a quarter of an hour the crew embarked on the service which, as I’d expected, was identical to the previous days’. It seemed that all of the crew members could speak at least three languages; Romanian, English and German or Italian, flipping from one to another depending on the nationality of the passenger they were speaking to.
Once more the noise outside abated, indicating that Timisoara airport lay a short way ahead, the fields, houses, roads and trees growing ever larger until finally the wheels met the tarmac with a jolt. This time we had landed on runway 29, as a result I don’t think the pilots bothered to brake at all, choosing to make the most of the momentum and roll out along its entire length, finally turning off towards the parking stands at the far end. Within moments a bus was waiting outside, swiftly transporting everyone into the terminal, where I was once more one of the few passengers not heading for the transfer channel.
I was however transiting, just not on the same ticket. Whilst checking fares, I found it was cheaper to book OTP-TSR and then TSR-KIV separately than to book OTP-TSR-KIV all in one go. It seems completely back-to-front to me, as fares are normally cheaper in this circumstance when booking multiple flights together, so I made two bookings -traveling on two tickets when I had such a long layover really didn’t concern me. With seven hours to spare I decided to head into the city; I’d seen nothing of it the previous day but, before doing so, I was able to check in for my flight onwards to Chisinau later that day and select my seat.
I had to wait about half an hour for the bus to arrive, but once in the city I found it to be relaxed and clean, with lots of open public spaces to sit in – certainly far nicer than passing the time cooped up inside the terminal.
Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral:
Time though soon dictated that I catch the next bus back to the airport, as my flight was due to depart in just a couple of hours. Security was quiet, so I made my way straight through into the departures’ lounge where I could relax, sit down and still have a great view out over the apron. The international lounge is basically a larger version of the domestic area, albeit with more opportunities for some pre-flight retail therapy!
YR-FKB; a Fokker 100 belonging to Carpatair:
D-ACPO; a CRJ-700 belonging to Lufthansa City Line:
YR-SBA; a SAAB 2000 belonging to Carpatair:
I was aware that several other participants of the Il-18 flight were going to be traveling onboard this flight, and a short while before departure Servaas, better known as MEA-707 on these forums, spotted me and came over to say hello. He’d just flown in on one of Carpatair’s Fokker 100s, whilst I just had to hope that the Chisinau flight did not also suffer from an equipment change, but I’d find out sooner or later as boarding commenced a few minutes later. When the bus arrived at the departure stand we were both happy; it was definitely a F100 operating the flight, and it was a different registration to the one which had operated Servaas’ previous flight.
TSR-KIV Timisoara Traian Vuia International Airport to Chisinau International Airport
Carrier: Carpatair (3rd sector on airline) Flight: V3 129 Aircraft: Fokker 100 (10th sector on aircraft type) Registration: YR-FKB (1st sector on aircraft) Date of First Flight: 27th November 1991 Seat: 20A Block Departure Time: 15:20 Actual Take off Time: 15:43 Block Arrival Time: 16:40 Actual Touchdown Time: 16:42 Distance Flown: 371 miles Flying Time: 59 minutes Fare: €94.20 o/w (£87.23)
The previous night I’d spent a few minutes on the net, double checking which seat provided the best view at the back of the Fokker, settling on row 20, although it was a bit of a gamble as I didn’t know the pitch or configuration onboard Carpatair. Luckily I’d got it just right, and ended up with exactly the view which I’d wanted:
There was a slight delay in moving off stand but, twenty or so minutes late, the engines spooled up and pulled the aircraft off towards runway 11 for departure. Following a long pause on the piano keys, power was applied to the engines – slowly at first, then quickly increasing, sending a wonderful ‘buzz-saw’ noise ringing through the ears of everybody sat in the back of the cabin. Compared to my other F100 flights this was quite a long roll, using around 1,700m of runway before the nose pulled gingerly skywards.
The Fokker 100 is without doubt one of my favorite aircraft, so I never turn down the opportunity to fly on them, especially with different carriers. This particular example was delivered to American Airlines in 1991, passing to Jetsgo in 2004 and then making its way over the pond to Romania in 2005 after Jetsgo ceased flying, plus for a short while it was leased out to Portugalia.
As the aircraft leveled out in cruise the crew initiated the service, although by this time I took little notice of what I received, preferring to stare intently out of the window at the landscape below, which slipped by minute by minute.
I don’t often bother with cabin shots in flight, but as I was in the aisle anyway, I figured that I might as well take some. The seats were very chunky and nowhere near the most comfortable which I’ve experienced, the headrest just seemed to be the wrong shape for me to be relax my neck.
Roughly after we’d flown over the border with Moldova the left wing dipped and descent towards KIV began. Although this wasn’t the first time I had visited Chisinau, it was the first time I had flown to or from the country, having only passed through by road the previous summer. The flaps were extended to 15 degrees as the suburbs of Chisinau appeared through the dirty haze, I could just about make out a couple of the locations before they were reabsorbed by the murk. Flaps extended to 25 degrees, then finally to their maximum of 42 degrees in anticipation of touchdown, making firm contact with KIV’s runway 08 and braking sharply.
The total flight time had been a little under an hour, delivering me safely to Moldova, ready to fly the Il-18! Chisinau has a modern terminal building capable of handling over a million passengers each year – far more than it currently receives, although it doesn’t possess air bridges meaning that all passengers had to disembark via the front door and then board a bus to be driven to the terminal.
Unlike Romania next door, Moldova still gives you entry and exit stamps in your passport, which on the downside takes a lot more time at passport control, so it was fortunate that I happened to be first off the bus and well ahead of most passengers in reaching the border control point. I didn’t have to wait for luggage either, so emerged from the arrivals hall a short while later and was greeted by Alex Marcenco, part of the Air Events team for the weekend, who was coordinating the arrival of everyone at the airport and providing us with minibus transport into the city centre, for a reasonable price. One bumpy ride later and I was outside the Hotel Cosmos, where most of the group was staying, although in line with my own view of budget accommodation, I’d arranged my own bed for the night at a rental flat/hostel in a city suburb. To reach it I needed to catch a bus from the city centre, so picked up some fast food on the walk in, before hopping on the trolleybus for a 25 minute ride out to Ciocana, although the exact location of the flat took some ingenuity to find, I eventually I arrived and was greeted by my host.
In conclusion – well I was exhausted, but it had been an amazing and packed trip so far. I especially enjoyed Romania and would like to go back and see more of it soon, perhaps on a trip which ties in seeing some of Bulgaria as well. I was especially impressed with the service provided by Carpatair, they were certainly expensive, but the experience was worth it. Blue Air and MyAir were both encouragingly like Easyjet in my mind, and seem to have restrained themselves from becoming too much like Ryanair, whilst TAROM were good, if not anything particularly amazing. In short; I would fly all of them again, but Carpatair is the only carrier which I would particularly go out of my way to fly.
Coming up in the next two installments are the following flights:
04.04.2009 ... KIV-BZY ... Grixona/Tandem Aero ... Ilyushin 18D
04.04.2009 ... BZY-BZY ... Grixona/Tandem Aero ... Ilyushin 18D
04.04.2009 ... BZY-KIV ... Grixona/Tandem Aero ... Ilyushin 18D
05.04.2009 ... ODS-KBP ... Lugansk Airlines ... Antonov 24RV
05.04.2009 ... KBP-LTN ... WizzAir ... A320-200
06.04.2009 ... LGW-NQY ... FlyBe ... DHC8-Q400
Many thanks for taking the time to read my report, I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far, and do feel free to pick up the next part(s) to read below, or visit my travel websites for more photographs:
Debonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2236 posts, RR: 4 Reply 5, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 14821 times:
Quoting PlymSpotter (Thread starter): but that I’d have to pay £10 should I wish to reselect a different seat, as it would mean printing out a new boarding pass. ... A major step backwards there in my opinion and apparently not even company policy – so maybe I was fed incorrect information?
Quoting PlymSpotter (Thread starter): I still found the FlyBe experience lacking and quite disappointing overall, not least because the number of charges now in place (such as the £10 fee for even a slightly misprinted boarding pass)
Hi, first of all, it's a loooong story! I first came across this very strange charges flying on AIR SCOTLAND- they had a penalty for not having a printed booking confirmation(!!) at check-in of (I think) 5GBP (or was it even 10GBP).
However, Flybe is only having this 10GBP charge, if you can't show your boarding pass at the boarding gate! Any change of seats (except emergency exits) at the airport, or even the re-printing of the boarding pass at check-in should have been clearly free of charge.
So, even it's a while ago, I would notify Flybe Customer Relations department on your LGW-experience.
BAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 4 Reply 6, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 14750 times:
Loved all three reports Dan, excellent work! Although I would of course expect nothing less!!
Quoting PlymSpotter (Thread starter): The pitfall of purchasing a cheap video camera is that the image sensor scans from side to side to capture each frame, resulting in some rather ‘funky’ affects with the propeller
Wow, those are some weird-@ss special effects you've got going on there!! I reckon 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' would make an excellent soundtrack for your prop vids!
Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11496 posts, RR: 62 Reply 12, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 13888 times:
Quoting AlexEU (Reply 3): Did you have any issues with photography in Romania, as other a.nutters? It's very weird that you had to pay fee for photography.
Hi Alex. At BBU they were a little edgey to say the least, ad at TSR one guy told me to stop, but at the others I was ok. Better than in the UK these days!
Quoting AlexEU (Reply 3): What's the demand between Timisoara and Chisinau?
I think it's mainly connecting traffic via the hub in TSR, Chisinau is not a well connected destination, with limited and very expensive service by just a few airlines, so Carpatair has good and reasonably priced coverage.
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 4): Impressive, I´am counting 13 legs on STR-TXL as the most flights on one route.
Congrats to that couple of new planes, real good.
For a year or so I used to commute back and forth between Plymouth and Birmingham, so I'd often fly up as far as Bristol and then take the train from there - hence I have quite a few flights on that route.
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 4): Time now for me to deal with one of that Online-Ticket sellers which send me a
change of flight time notice some minutes ago for my booked TS A310 leg to YYZ in August.
I hate schedule changes - especially as I like to take trips with many airlines on the same day, meaning that one schedule change can ruin everything.
Quoting Debonair (Reply 5): However, Flybe is only having this 10GBP charge, if you can't show your boarding pass at the boarding gate! Any change of seats (except emergency exits) at the airport, or even the re-printing of the boarding pass at check-in should have been clearly free of charge.
Yes, I found that out when I read BE's customer service details on their site. I'm sure the on screen message stated that it had to be machine readable or I would have to pay for a new one though, which was the bit I was most disappointed to see.
Quoting BAViscount (Reply 6): Loved all three reports Dan, excellent work! Although I would of course expect nothing less!
Thank you - they were quite a mammoth task to write!
Quoting BAViscount (Reply 6): Wow, those are some weird-@ss special effects you've got going on there!! I reckon 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' would make an excellent soundtrack for your prop vids!
Yeah it's kind of mesmorising the way the blades slicker and morph into different shapes, then fly off into mid air. I once looked a such a video after a few too many drinks, and it gave me the worst headache ever.
Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 7): Hey Dan,
Really glad you liked Arad! It's my home town Smile I usually go at the airport on Saturday's with a friend to spot the arrival of 2 Blue Air 737's
I thought Arad was really nice, seems to be getting an overhaul of the tram system which will make it even better. Do you know what exactly it is that they do in the army base, and if it ever opens - I found it very interesting.
Yeah I do - they're cheaper That's only part of the reason though - I used to fly IB a lot, but their service degraded and then disappeared, then I used to fly AF/KLM a lot, but my experiences with Air France have never been good and recently KLM have been charging for extras and refusing milage on the cheap fares, so really there's no point me staying loyal when I can just take a LCC and save myself money. Plus, by getting to a destination as cheaply as possible, I can then spend more money (on rare aircraft or unusual airlines) in that location or country.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 11): Whoa. Another great report - and very interesting to me as I just returned from this part of the world.
Thank you, and I look forwards to reading your report on the trip It's a shame I hadn't quite finished the text before you left, I'd gotten all the pictures and videos online a few weeks ago, just didn't have time to finish the writing.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 11): I'm very impressed on how you manage to combine so many different airlines and plane types into a single trip - and everything seems to be done under a tight budget as well.
It takes a lot of planning, days and sometimes weeks depending on the length of the trip, but it's all worthwhile when things come to plan. Most of my planning is in the budget, I prefer staying in hostels anyway and they are cheap, and I always look for the lowest fares. I probably spend 80% of the trip budget on flying, leaving 5% each for food; accommodation; sightseeing and other transport. I also don't mind skipping sleep, I normally only sleep 1 night in 2, so spending a night in an airport is easy and free, two nights of no bed is pushing it though, as I found with this trip!
Thanks again for all the comments,
All the best,
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
AirlineBrat From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 639 posts, RR: 1 Reply 13, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 13840 times:
I am really enjoying your trip report. I am thinking about including Romania on a RTW trip and this trip report did it. I have to visit that part of the world. All your pictures and video clips are nonstop eye candy. It has taken me almost 30 minutes to read through this report and soak it all in. I don't know how you can get up before sunrise so many consecutive days......
Better get started on Part 2.... Flying on Russian built aircraft, Oh My!!
I'm leavin on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again....
DAL763ER From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2008, 437 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 13640 times:
Quoting PlymSpotter (Reply 12): I thought Arad was really nice, seems to be getting an overhaul of the tram system which will make it even better. Do you know what exactly it is that they do in the army base, and if it ever opens - I found it very interesting.
I think they train and that's about it. They come out with tanks and such on National Day and Military Day. I don't know, however, if they will ever allow people to visit (unless you know someone, which I do not) considering it's been a military base since long before I was born...
BTW, in the video you made on the train between Arad and Timisoara, you can see my street right before the tractor at the rail crossing at the beginning.
[Edited 2009-07-02 07:44:41]
Where aviation is not the side show, it's the main show!!!
PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11496 posts, RR: 62 Reply 21, posted (4 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 11863 times:
Sorry for late replies...
Quoting AirlineBrat (Reply 13): I am really enjoying your trip report. I am thinking about including Romania on a RTW trip and this trip report did it. I have to visit that part of the world. All your pictures and video clips are nonstop eye candy. It has taken me almost 30 minutes to read through this report and soak it all in. I don't know how you can get up before sunrise so many consecutive days......
Hi AirlineBrat, well I'm glad that it's made up your mind. Romania certianly gets a lot of negative press regarding its image, which is pretty unfair considering what a great country it is. Hope you enjoy it on your RTW
Quoting AirlineBrat (Reply 13):
Better get started on Part 2.... Flying on Russian built aircraft, Oh My!!
It's normally quite an experience
Quoting Akhmad (Reply 14): Wow! That was quite a trip! Wonderful pictures as well!
Thank you for sharing.
No problem Suryo, thanks and glad you enjoyed it.
Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 15): I think they train and that's about it. They come out with tanks and such on National Day and Military Day. I don't know, however, if they will ever allow people to visit (unless you know someone, which I do not) considering it's been a military base since long before I was born...
Thank you for the information. I guess it's a 'historic' establishment then, and so is likely to ramain so for generations to come.
Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 15):
BTW, in the video you made on the train between Arad and Timisoara, you can see my street right before the tractor at the rail crossing at the beginning.
Now that is a cool coincidence! I'd never have guessed that I was so close to an A.netter at that point
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 16): Great report and very interesting, I've learn so much about Romania, looks like a place worth visiting, I had visions it was a pretty grim place, amazing!
It's portrayed as such so often by news reports, but on the contrary, it's a really nice and welcoming country.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 16):
- Yikes, that's serious, but you wish Air Southwest would get some more machines!
They've had a good few as spares and replacements, but I've not caught one of these stand ins yet. With any luck I might get on the AerArann ATR72 they are hiring in for a month or so as a Dash goes off for maintainance.
Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 18): Once again, a boring ,over imaginative report, with just things you wanted to do... do you rally think people like reading all this baloney...?
Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 18): Just kiddin' mate.. an absolutely cracking trip report...did you really go to uni to study, or just take time out to write TR's..?
Thanks - you'll find my course director frequently asking the same question, as I reorganise my study schedules to take another trip. Mind you, everywhere I go I'm always looking for precedents and there's not a trip I've been on which hasn't influenced my designs, so it all helps my studies quite nicely!
Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 18): must say really looking forward to the Wideroe multi stopper..
You know I really thought about doing that this summer, take the two week ticket and try and fly every single route on their network. Even the UK-Norway flights are included in the price or it, so it's exceptional value and gets better the more you fly!
Quoting DALCE (Reply 19): This is one of the most interesting report online here. It is simply stunning!
I absolutely loved it very much!!!
Many thanks Joost, I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Comments like that make spending hours writing these reports worthwhile
Quoting Palmjet (Reply 20): Loved this report and your pics are the usual very high standard. Glad you had some good flights. Have now read Part 3 as well.... have I missed Part 2 somewhere?
Thank you! Part 2 was actually published first as it documents the Il-18 flight itself, but because I got it online before the other sections I didn't call it 'Part 2' in the title because it would have confused people... which it's doing now anyway!
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6498 posts, RR: 78 Reply 22, posted (4 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 11567 times:
you really know how to create exotic itineraries - and you know well how to post high-quality reports. I really enjoyed reading - and many of your pictures are absolutely stunning.
Quoting PlymSpotter (Thread starter): What really let the cabin down though was the layout and position of the rows; each seatback is located directly next to the window, blocking much of the view out and giving the cabin a smaller feel due to letting less natural light filter in. The aircraft had been delivered new to MyAir in 2007, and I can’t think of another carrier who has this configuration on the CRJ-900
Very odd. But the days of MyAir are gone anyway. You were lucky that you could add the carrier to your log before it ceased operations.