I lost the pictures on the original TR, therefore I had no choise but to re-post it, because there was no option to edit the original TR. I hope the new photos links will work out well this time.
I would like to apologize for those who replied to my original TR and their reply was deleted - I'm very sorry, it's my first TR. I would like to thank ExFATboy and to Luftfahrer for helping my trying to solve it. I hope it will work this time. Here we go again:
I usually do not post trip reports since I only fly boring regular and charter flights from Israel to Europe (and not so often unfortunately, just once or twice a year) and I thought that this time wil be no different. But when I saw that there was no Sun Dor Trip report in here from a pssenger view and BOJ reports are also rare, I concluded that you may find it interesting, so there it is, my very first Trip report:
Myself and 2 good (female) friends of my were talking about us going somewhere for a week to relax. Since my last exam was in mid August and the Jewish holydays season start on September 20th, we understood that the best time to go would be in early September, when the kids are back in school and the prices go dawn, and before the prices going back up during the holidays. The weather for a beach vacation is perfect at that time of the year and my University year will start only in mid October.
We decided to go to a resort beach called Sunny beach in eastern Bulgaria, on the Black sea. An article about Sunny beach in an Israeli newspaper gave us the idea. This was my first visit to eastern Europe.
Our pakage included Sun Dor flights round trip; Sun Dor is the charter division of El Al, currently fly with 4 Boeing 757-200s, all ex-El Al.
We booked just 4 days before leaving (waiting for the last minute is popular in Israel because prices go dawn, like in our case). My friend still had a class in University, so we were limited for the weekend. We booked a vacation package on the website of Israeli travel agency with no problems. One of the reasons we choose it were the comfortable flight hours.
I came to Ben Gurion Airport about an hour earlier then I needed because my grandmother came back from Canada after 2 months the same day I flew, so I went to the airport to see her, and while my mother took her home I stayed at the Terminal waiting for the girls to come by train.
Arrival hall while waiting for my grandmother:
The girls came and went to check in our stuff, this was no less then 3 hours before the flight (you can come 2 hours before, but they wanted to go shopping).
Check in hall:
My flight in the middle: (notice 2 more flights to BOJ /
Security was very fast, young guy came, took our passports, asked the regular 3 questions, and told us to go directly to the check in desk. There was no waiting line and the hole process took no more then 1 minute.
Check in was a mess: we waited for no less then 25 minutes in check line. In TLV / LLBG), Israel">TLV all LY flights ( Sun D'or) using the same desks, with no flights devision. There were just 2 more flights: LY315 to LHR / EGLL), United Kingdom">LHR and LY007 to JFK / KJFK), USA - New York">JFK, but it looked chaotic:
At first, I tought it was worth waiting, since we were among the first passengers on out flight to check in, but not for long: I asked the check in guy for seats at the first section of the place (2U flights are all in single class) but the guy told us the the first section is empty due to weight balance - good, it means that the place is empty. We asked for 2 window seats not over the wing (my friend wanted a window also, we we asked for A B then A one row back) and I got 64A the the girls - 63A B. What does row 64 mean on 752? I will find that later. I asked seats to the right part of the plane (so I can see my parents house during take off ) and I got the left part. Oh well, at least I will fly in 2 hours.
Then we preceded Shahkim hall, an area after security and check in where you can farewell the passengers/relatives and to spot planes, or just to drink coffee.
West side of the hall:
Guess in which country this was taken:
Someone need help which the luggage?
Terminal 3 model in Shakim hall:
After Shakim, there is the security hand bag check (2 minutes) and passport control (2 minutes, there was no line at all). Then you go to the corridor which takes you to the gate area.
Myself (left) and my good freind Hofit in that corridor:
At the end of the corridor layes the promised land: the duty free area:
My plane: Boeing B757-258, 4X-EBM. My first flight on that bird.
LY315 to LHR in Gate D9 (Boeing B777-258ER, 4X-ECB):
LY007 to JFK in Gate B8 (Boeing B747-458, 4X-ELA, notice the "Tel Aviv 100 years" sticker):
I went to take some lounges pics for my fellow a.netters.
El Al King David lounge (Notice the lady the the left thinking "I'm too old for 11 hours flight!")
Ding David lounge second floor:
Dan lounge (for non-LY passengers):
I do not understand what is the big deal about lounges. They are so quite and boring, when I need to kill an hour or 2 at an airport I rether walking around looking for interesting airplanes then to sit down with diet cola and coockie.
Food area, not expensive like in other airports:
Time to go to the gate. Boarding was very fast, there were no more then 30 people at the gate, and I was sure that the flight is empty.
I boarded the place, and to my surprise there were people sitting at the pront section and that my seat was on the last row of the aircraft! I sat down and tought that if the plane is empty, I can more forward after take off, but as more and more people boarded i reallised that its not gonna happen, to my great diseppiontment. What check in guy need to thank god he wansn't next to me at that moment, I ckecked in early, and asked specifically for a seat in the front. Oh well.
My seat - a pillow and blanket for 2 hours charter flight!
Seat pitch was 32", LY economy standart. It was OK for me (I'm 1.86 m), unlike the Turkish charters which I flew that you can't put their seat even a 10 year old.
Airline: Sun Dor International Airlines
Flight: 2U 5551
Routing: TLV-BOJ, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Israel to Burgas Sarafovo Bulagaria.
Aircraft: Boeing B757-258, 4X-EBM (ex-El Al, built 1987)
Seat: 64A (last row to the left)
Date: Thursday, September 3rd 2009.
Runways: 26 -> 22.
Class: Single class.
Wheels off: 11:27
Full stop: 13:26
Airborne time: 1 hour 57 minutes
Once in my seat, there was no one at the middle seat, and a nice guy from Northern Israel at the aile seat. The girls were one row ahead. We pushbacked right on time, the captain welcomed us, interduced himself and the crew, explained us about the route and told us about the weather at our destenation.
Terminal 3 after Pushback:
Continental B772, Arkia E195 & Uzbekistan A310.
We taxied on RWY 12 to RWY 26, the longest in TLV. LY315 & LY007 which I saw at the Terminal took off before us, and then we took off from Runway 26. While taking off i felt as if the plane is zigzagging on the runway, and not going forward - that's the first time I felt like that!
Runway 30, taken during taxi to 26:
Terminal 3 after take off, as you can see, the window wasn't the cleanest:
Cabin, taken from my seat at the last row. the plane is pretty full as you can see, so I stayed at my seat till the end of the flight.
Food: Very good for charter flight. Tasty muffin was given together with drinks, which included regular light drinks, juices and water. Good looking sandwiches were sold at 5 Euro/20 NIS.
Notice the Napkin: "No Place Too Far - Direct EL AL Flights To South America"
Entertainment: headphones sold at 2 Euro/10 NIS. The (old schools) showed channel 2 news from last night, followed by an Israeli comedy which is not funny even on ground (רמזור).
10 Audio channels were available for those who bought headphones.
Safety Card and (boring duty free) inflight magazine:
The safety card is only for the EBM & EBT planes, that's because in the past Sun D'or operated the EBY & EBO 757s without overwing exits. Today all Sun D'or cards can look the same. In any safety card collector is interested at the cards please contact me.
Some flight views - southern Turkey coast line:
Beautiful canyon in Turkey:
While flying we had a view of Istanbul, The photo doesn't show it because I'm crappy photographer ( the dirty window and the hazy day) but this was really amazing:
We began our decending at 12:59, heading to Bulgaria. There was a lot of sea traffic below us. The air breaks on:
I guess for most passnegers this was first time in Bulgaria too, look how curiously they are looking out of the windows:
Landing was very very hard, the hardest I can remember. We flew about 3 meters over the runway, and then just "fell on it" at once.
There are no air bridges in BOJ, so after the short taxi we were taken to the Terminal by bus. I like it that way, I miss that days that it was the way in TLV too.
Notice that the bus has no air condition! I wonder how it's like taking it on a hoy July day.
4X-EBM tail after landing: (EI-DEA behind it)
The bus dropped us we we went to the passport control hall. This hall is very small, and it took us no less then 20 minutes to pass it - while we were the only landing flight in the airport! In the restrooms there isn't enough toilets %u2013 just 1 for men and 1 for women, with long line next to both.
Baggage claim hall is too small also, I waited 25 minutes to my luggage. When the last passengers on my flight left the hall, the first passngers from the next flight, also from Tel Aviv (Bulgarian Air Charter MD-82) passed passport control.
Welcome to Bulgaria!
Arrival hall from the outside:
Then the 3 of us spent great time in sunny beach, very nice place for a weekend, exellent beach, great food, everything is very cheap and the Bulgarians are very warm and welcoming (and they all speak english, at least at the tourists area).
My Hotel room view:
Hey, this sea is not black at all!
My Hotel (Globus****):
After great long weekend it was time to go back home. We left the hotel at 10:40 and arrived to the airport 25 minutes later.
Security and Check in:
We were the last 3 to board the bus, so we were the first to take off the luggage and to go to the check in and security, we were lucky for that, I'll explain in a minute.
We entered the check in hall, and asked to pass security questioning, as usual in LY flights. A Bulgarian guy in his 20s (who know few words in Hebrew) asked us the regular questions, but when he saw my passport, he went to his supervisor then came back, asking if the luggage was with us all the time, and I said yes, and that we packed it this morning.
Guy: Before breakfast?
Me: I think so.
Guy: I need you to open you luggage.
Me: (giving a surprised face)
Guy: Someone might put something in you luggage while you went to eat.
Me: We opened them later because we changed close, and the room was locked.
Guy: Maybe the cleaning lady know you are from Israel.
What a bad excuse. Maybe the passport photo scared him. He took us aside and searched through my stuff, while doing so I asked: This is only for El Al passengers?
Me: So I should fly Bulgarian Air Charter next time.
Guy: Its for you own safety sir.
Me: Of course.
I am the last person on earth to complain about security, i'm an Israeli after all, I know why its been done, but I am always proud that while other look for bombs, the Israelis look for bombers. I am an Israeli, Jewish, with Jewish-Israeli name, I served 3 years in the Israeli army (just like my friends) %u2013 am I really the guy the security is looking? Well, I guess he was just doing his job. I have to say that he was kind and polite during the hole process. My perfume scared him from some reason, and he asked me in terror if its mien.
Then, finally, we went to check in. I Bulgarian lady in her 60s served us, I told her that during our flight here we were at the last row, and we ask to seat at the first section of the plane now.
Lady: Thats where the Children sit%u201D.
Me: Children?! (WTF?!), OK, so can you just give us window which is not over the wing?
Lady: You have too many demands.
At that part my friend took me back because she know that if I would told her what I wanted to say we all will get arrested.
Eventually we got row 27, seats A, B & C. When we looked back, we were shocked from the long line, that%u2019s why we were lucky to get of the bus first.
The line outside the check in hall, all are passengers on my flight:
Inside the check in hall:
The condition on other flights wasn't better:
Larger check in hall, used for other flights, very very busy:
If the Bulgarian Government wants to make Burgas area a major resort in Europe, a series airport renovation is needed, ungently.
After passport control you I enter to small and overpriced duty free shop:
Then, a nice surprise: when exiting the shop you go directly to an observation deck:
On the dech itself there were not enought seats and toilets. This observation deck is nice on a beautiful summer day, but what about the winter passengers? They are going right outside too?
LZ-BOW, from the deck:
HA-LPW of wizzair:
Deck view: Airport buses, Air VIa A320, Bugarian Air Charter MD-82 X 2:
My plane landed, seen here taxing. It was 4X-EBS this time. This B752 is the latest addition to Sun Do'r fleet. It was built in 1990, and flew with LY till earlier this year. On March (09) it joined 2U. I flew it once, on LY348 from ZRH to TLV back in september 2003.
The gates area, under the deck. As you can see, it's very overcrowded, many people had no place to sit.
These are spider webs, on the stairs from the deck to the gate. Time to clean up, guys!
A Black Hawk helicopter (USAF I think) which landed while we waited for the flight:
The girls and I passed the time on the deck with some other Israelis which we met there, till it was boarding time.
Boarding to 4X-EBS. I like boarding planes that way, you can look around and to get an impression of the jet before going up. I still remember my first International flight, when I was 9 years old, standing next to LY B747-258 and just been stunned from it's size.
Airline: Sun Dor International Airlines
Flight: 2U 5552
Routing: BOJ-TLV, Burgas Sarafovo Bulgaria to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Israel.
Aircraft: Boeing B757-258, 4X-EBS (ex-El Al, built 1990)
Seat: 27A (4th from from the bulkhead, second section, to the left)
Date: Sunday, September 6th 2009.
Gates: 6-> B4
Runways: 04 -> 30.
Class: Single class.
Wheels off: 14:01
Full stop: 15:57
Airborne time: 1 hour 52 minutes
I sat down. Row 27 is the 4th row from the builkhead. It's not over the wing, but the engine blocked some of the view. Still I was lucky, because the row ahead had no window at all...
Terminal view while taxing:
We taxied to Runway 04, and waited 5 minutes till Bulgarian Air Charter MD-82 land and clear the runway. Burgas skyline: (communism? Anyone?)
Our route was a bit to the west comper the the flight to BOJ. During the flight we had a spactacular view of Istanbul, again:
Safety card: 2 versions of LY B757 card.
Food and entertainment: Pretty much the same like last flight. Food was the same, on the entertainment part there was the news from the day befure (the Israelis are addicted to news, it's not that strange) and after that 2 episods of a polical comedy which I like very much (פולישוק).
Descending began at 15:24. Approaching, Tel Aviv coast line:
Overview of Ben Gurion Airport while approching from east to runway 30:
Ben Shemen junction, nice to see this place from something a bit different then a bus:
This time landing was smooth, just like takeoff. After landing, Austrian B763 & Swiss A332:
Turkish Airlines A332, TC-JNF:
Cabin during disembarking. The first section is newer then the rest, put in place insted of LY biz class just few months ago. The back was standart LY economy (32").
Home sweet Home!
It's amazing - in Burgas small airport we needed an hour from landing till we were out of the Terminal. In the much larger Tel Aviv airport I was out in half the time.
This was my very first Trip report. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Comments and feedback are welcome.