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Chasing The Sun: HEL-LGW-AGP-MAN-HEL  
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 22364 times:

Introduction

EasyJet started flying to HEL from LGW in October 2008. I flew this route a few weeks after its initiation in November 2008 (and have flown it one other time since). While looking for some interesting trips in July of this year I figured out I should celebrate U2's 1-year anniversary at HEL by booking another flight with them - and picked the very same weekend as last year. Fares were obviously very affordable booking more than three months in advance, around 40 EUR all-in. I didn't really want to stay in London either, so looked for some additional flights to take. I've always liked Aer Lingus and since they were now running a number of European flights ex-LGW didn't hesitate at all when I found a zero base fare (well, it still came out to around 35 EUR in total) for LGW-AGP. Besides Andalucia sounded like a very good break in the usually very depressing Finnish November.

AGP is the main airport serving the (in)famous Costa del Sol tourist area, and offers tons of flights to various European destinations - most of these on LCCs and charter carriers. So opportunities for flying something new for my log were great - in the end I settled for Monarch - the British charter carrier that the LCC competition has forced to turn into a sort of a scheduled carrier as well. There were a number of destinations available, but for the onward connection back home MAN was the best choice, so I booked AGP-MAN for the next day. Price was around 90 EUR after the various fees were added (Monarch seemed to be very bad in this regard!).

Finally to close the gap I decided to book the direct MAN-HEL AY flight, which was not very cheap at 140 EUR but at least would get me home in decent time. To make it more interesting I decided to burn 10K AY Plus points to upgrade this segment to business. I know the business class on the E-jets (which this flight would be on) leaves a lot to be desired - it's 2-2 seating and no seats are blocked so it's not very comfortable if the cabin is packed - but decided to take my chances anyway. I assumed the late Sunday evening flight wouldn't be too busy - most business class traffic on this route are connecting to the Asian fights (thanks to AY's very aggressive pricing campaigns in UK) and would be traveling on the morning flight.

7.11.2009

EasyJet's web check-in was not working for me for some reason - I wasn't sure if they even offered the possibility ex-HEL since the previous time I took this flight it was not possible - so I have no choice but the head to the airport uncomfortably early. I arrive around two hours and five minutes before the scheduled departure time only to find the check-in desks still closed, but already a long queue in front of them. Oh well - no choice but to join the end of the queue which keeps on growing. Some ten minutes later a sole agent arrives and starts checking people in.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_queue.jpg

There are a lot of people with tons of luggage, and it looks like some of them haven't even paid the baggage fees, so it takes some considerable time to process people. The agent is also giving hard time to people with large or multiple carryons, asking them to fit them inside each other and into the metal frame thingy for the "one bag" rule. Fortunately after 10 minutes or so another two agents arrive and the pace picks up. When it finally is my turn I get a boarding pass in group B - the very thing I tried to avoid by getting here early enough! Oh well, there's nothing I can do about it. The whole check-in process took almost 40 minutes, not a very good experience.

Security is rather quick, even though they want to take my IPod out of my bag and screen them separately. I ask if it is because my taste in music is bad but apparently this is not the case. Airside I grab my obligatory bottle of water from Stockmann (whoa, the price has gone down thanks to the VAT reduction!), dodge the mass of humanity boarding their AY "Leisure flight" (I'm not sure how much leisure it is to sit tight in a 227-seat 757-200 for six hours?) to LPA and pass the immigration controls to the non-Schengen side.

This is the first time I've in this part of the airport since the new longhaul terminal extension was opened, so it is time to explore. The place is very empty, even the new much advertised restaurant complex is still closed. The only flight in the new area is a heavily delayed FB charter to HRG and LXR - the next flight from here will be AY5 to JFK more than three hours away.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_extension_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_extension_2.jpg

This is where the new lounge and spa complex will open in December:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_extension_3.jpg

The beautiful A333 OH-LTN is already sitting at the gate waiting for the JFK flight:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_extension_4.jpg

The aforementioned AY 757 to LPA:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_757.jpg

Since our gate is in the older part of the non-Schengen terminal I retire back there, grab a sandwich and a coffee from the coffee shop and sit down to take full advantage of the free wifi. The inbound arrives some 20 minutes early, so I head to the gate rather early. I notice a good number of people are carrying the print outs from the OLCI in their hands, so it must've worked for some people. D'oh. Gate 31 is one of the few gates in HEL to have a "holding pen" area, so after boarding starts priority boarders (there are two), families with small children (there are quite a few) and group A are all crammed together into the area while us B-class citizens patiently wait at the other side of the gate agents, gazing at the promised land a few meters away. The jetway to the plane is still cordoned off and nobody wants to spread out or take a seat so all the 50 or so pax are in one large, tight queue. A very funny sight actually and tells something about the human nature.

Soon enough the jetway is opened and the mass moves forward and the rest of us are allowed to join the queue as well. It takes a while to get to the door of the plane, where I'm greeted by an older female FA - for a while I think she's a drag queen or something as her voice is so low and masculine - it definitely sounds like she enjoys whiskey and lots of cigarettes! Amazingly there are still vacant seats on the exit rows by the time I reach them, despite a half of the passengers having already boarded. I tell the cute young FA in the forward exit row "That window seat has my written on it, don't you see it?". She's a bit confused so I add "You need a big guy to open the emergency door", after which she gets the point and lets me there, giving me a small chuckle as well. A few minutes later a youngish woman asks me if the aisle seat is free - I answer that "Yes, all the seats with nobody on them are free", and tell her that this is the exit row so she needs to put her bag in the overhead locker. This seems to scare her and she mutters something like "Well, then I won't" and moves on. What's wrong with people - these ARE the best seats in the house (well, 1 ABC are probably a bit better yet but then you'd be facing the drag queen and her wrath!) and people are not using the opportunity. A guy in his late twenties finally sits in the aisle seat and the middle seat stays empty - despite a load factor that looks like to be around 90%, nice.

HEL-LGW
U28966
A319 G-EZII
Seat 11F
11.49 - 12.42

Today's ride is G-EZII, your bog standard Ezy A319 instead of the A320s they've been sometimes using on the Helsinki route due to increased demand (please, give us a second daily instead - maybe to LTN!). The plane is four and half years old, but is already showing some signs of aging - Ezy definitely puts these babies to work hard. Oh yeah, another new registration for me. Decent legroom on the exit row:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Easyjet_legroom.jpg

Our British captain (come to think of it the whole flight crew is British - unlike your usual FR staff who makes you feel like you are flying on some Eastern European carrier!) welcomes us onboard, advises us of a flight time of 2h45mins and a flight route of "Sweden, Denmark, across the North Sea to Gatwick". We push back one minute before the scheduled departure time, race an AY Embraer to the far runway 22R and perform a rolling take off.

Air Åland Saab 340 landing on runway 15 in the distance:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_departure_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_departure_2.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Helsinki_departure_3.jpg

The weather being what it is - we got the first snow this week - we disappear into the clouds approximately three seconds after rotation, and it stays mostly this way until we reach the British coast - apart from a few openings along the way. I buy a couple of overpriced cans of Stella from the raspy voiced FA and spend most of the flight reading the newspaper.

Some 1h20mins after departure the captain comes on advising us that we have just passed to the north of Copenhagen, will be landing a few minutes early in Gatwick where the weather is very nice, nine degrees (plus, obviously) and partly cloudy. Through an opening in the clouds I spot the impressive Great Belt Bridge. Unfortunately my pictures come out bad.

Cabin view while doing a visit to the forward lav:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/EasyJet_Inflight.jpg

Some time later we pass the Dutch coast, with one of the entrances to the IJsselmeer clearly visible. The clouds give way as we get closer to the coastline, there are some nice views of the Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_1.jpg

Gentle descent starts around the same time. Afterwards we pass the Thames Estuary from the south and turn southwest towards Gatwick.

Southend-on-Sea:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_2.jpg

Chatham, famous for the historical dockyard:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_3.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_4.jpg

Or approach seems to take forever and we make quite a few S-turns to fit into our slot in the traffic flow. The weather is very clear, so I get a very nice view of central London from my window, apart from being obscured by clouds at times:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_5.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_6.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_7.jpg

We finally land on runway 26L after almost three hours of flight, and the cabin crew chirpily announces that "We have landed at Gatwick North terminal (I though we landed on the runway) 15 minutes early!". Taxiing to the actual North terminal takes some time, and we dock next to another company A319 in the satellite building.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_8.jpg

VS 744 departing for somewhere warm, undoubtedly:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_9.jpg

That's a nice lineup of tails:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Approach_10.jpg

From here it's a looooooong walk towards immigration, fortunately the way crosses the famous bridge from where there are some nice photo opportunities:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_2.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_1.jpg

An Emirates flight has arrived from DXB at the same time so there are quite a few people here, so I do a bit of powerwalking, determined to beat most of the folks and manage to do just that. There's almost no queue in immigration, and rather friendly young chap admits me in after a cursory glance at my ID card.

Gatwick Airport

EI departs from the south terminal, so the first thing is to drag myself there. The automatic people mover between the two terminals is out for maintenance (and will be for a long time!), replaced by frequent shuttle buses. This wouldn't be much of a problem if one could actually reach the driveway where they depart from - there doesn't appear to be any stairs, three of the four lifts going there seem to be out of order and the fourth one is slow and packed with people and tons of luggage. Ahh, nothing like Britain for top notch infrastructure. Finally I get onboard and luckily it's a quick ride (but still slower than the people mover would've been!) as it is very packed and not very comfortable.

I still have almost four hours at my disposal, so I head upstairs to Frankie & Benny's for lunch. I have some communication problems with the Polish staff, but eventually get sorted out. I then head outside to enjoy the sun (yes, it is November, it is Britain and the sun is shining!) for a while, but a very annoying British middle-aged man who tries to offer me free accommodation at his vacation house in Alicante if I join him (gee, I wonder what I'd need to do to him to pay for the "free" house) gets on my nerves and I head back inside and through security to avoid having to inflict bodily harm to this sleazebag.

The holiday season appears to be over or maybe the economic hardships have taken their toll - the South terminal is not as packed as I remember it to usually be. I retire to the upstairs pub for a few pints, and there are more (mostly Polish) staff than customers. 45 minutes before departure a gate is announced and having nothing better to do I head there.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Departur_1.jpg

Boarding passes are checked - I did OLCI 30 hours prior to departure - and we all are herded into another holding pen. At least the plane is already here.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Departur_2.jpg

After 15 minutes of sitting boarding is announced, first special assitance passengers and families with children - there are both groups present, but somehow the system is not really enforced at all and I end up being the first to board.

LGW-AGP
EI906
A320 EI-DVJ "Macarthain"
Seat 28F
17.01 - 20.23

This plane still has the new plane smell and looks very fresh - it turns out to be "Macarthain", the newest A320 in EI's fleet, having been delivered in April of this year. Since there's been more time than that from my last flight with EI, this is a new registration for my log. The Irish girls greet me happily, most of the cabin crew appear to be quite young.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Departur_3.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Departur_4.jpg

I picked a seat towards to back thanks to the common knowledge in this board to increase my chances of an empty seat next to me. A middle-aged lady sits in the aisle seat, but luckily the middle seat stays empty. Despite the gate holding pen not looking very crowded we seem to have quite a decent load of around 80%.

Just before pushback our Irish captain comes on, expecting a flight time of 2h45mins, and describes our route as "First 40 miles, no make that 80 miles, straight to the west before turning straight towards Malaga". Some turbulence is to be expected halfway through the flight and also on landing as it is very windy in Malaga. We push back one minute after the scheduled departure time, make a quick taxi to the runway 26R threshold and take off.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Gatwick_Departur_5.jpg

As the weather is so clear there are great views of the Greater London area, all lit-up. A while later we turn left, and soon enough pass directly over Southampton - the port looks very nice in its nightly flood lighting. Over the channel and further the Bay of Biscay it gets overcast (and besides there's not much to see anyway).

Just as the captain promised, around one hour into the flight there are some bumps, but nothing too bad - we'll save that for the next day  Smile. After passing the Spanish north coast the clouds give way, there are lots and lots of lights to be seen in the darkness. I don't recognize any of the cities, unfortunately.

I buy some red wine from the service cart and spend most of the flight finishing my book and enjoying music - I'm getting very fond of my noise-canceling headsets! Around 1h45mins into the flight the first officer comes on, announcing the remaining flight time to be 45 minutes and that we will arrive some 20 minutes before schedule due to some nice tailwinds. He describes our routing as "Gatwick-Southampton-Jersey-Bay of Biscay-Spain". Half an hour aftewards we start descending. Our approach takes us over the Mediterranean, followed by a very tight left turn. While we're turning there are some considerable bumps, a few people actually scream. During the final approach I see the lights of the city centre on our right hand side.

We touch down after 2h20mins of flight on runway 31, some 25 minutes early (which is also announced by the crew), short taxi to terminal 2 where we dock to a jetway next to a departing FR 738. I count four or five RyanAir birds, some other nice airlines including both Finnair and Air Finland 757s.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Arrival_1.jpg

Deboarding takes a while since I'm sitting all the way in the back, but eventually I enter the stuffy terminal. I again powerwalk to the immigration, bypassing most of the people where the girl admits me to the country with a smile. It's five minutes to the departure of the next train to Malaga city, so I try to be as fast as possible, but unfortunately the signs are very confusing and to access the train station one has to navigate through the parking garage complex. I make a few wrong turns and see the train pulling off at the same moment I finally spot the walkway over the airport road that one has to cross to access the station. Oh well, the next one is only half an hour away. I realize that it indeed is very windy here, but the wind is warm and rather nice, unlike the horrible weather I left in Finland this morning...

Eventually I catch the train for the short 15 minute ride to the new Malaga station. Luckily I booked a hotel right next to the station, the reception desk is less than two hundred meter's walk from where I step off the train - very convenient. The hotel is Barcelo Malaga - a pretty standard property if you ask me. The biggest advantage are the excellent location and some funky design elements in the public spaces.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Hotel_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Hotel_2.jpg

8.11.2009

The next morning after a quick breakfast at the deserted hotel restaurant it's time for a walk around in the nice, if still very windy sunshine. Some pictures:

Where's the water in this river?

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_2.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_3.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_4.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_5.jpg

Some big money yachts here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_6.jpg

Don't ask:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_7.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_8.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_9.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_10.jpg

Just as it starts getting warm I need to leave for the airport, so I head back to the hotel, pack everything up and check out. The commuter train platforms are shared with the high speed AVE trains, so everybody has to pass two (cursory) ticket inspections and have all their luggage x-rayed. At least there is no metal detector.

Is is just me or does the AVE train look exactly like a dolphin:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Trains_1.jpg

The commuter train is a bit delayed along the way as there are lots of infrastructure construction projects (stimulus package money well spent!) going on with some tracks closed etc. Closer to the airport the train tracks bisect something which will eventually turn into a new runway, taxiways and apron positions - I guess the train will be routed underneath the tarmac then.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Airport_1.jpg

The way from the train to the terminal is almost as confusing as last night, but at least it's bright daylight. Eventually I make my way to terminal 2, arriving some 1h30mins before the scheduled departure time.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Airport_2.jpg

Inside the airy terminal building is packed with people - there really are masses and masses of people swarming the check-in queues.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Airport_3.jpg

Departures board:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Airport_4.jpg

Having done OLCI already 7 days prior (way to go, Monarch!) I head directly to the security checkpoint. There are tons of people here as well, but at least they have a good number of checkpoints open so it doesn't actually take more than 10 minutes to get through, despite getting stuck in a line with lots of British pensioners (contrary to what George Clooney teaches at the "Up in the Air" movie trailer  Smile). Most of the folks here seem to be German, British and Irish - there being multitude of flights to all of these countries.

The airport feels a bit old fashioned and stuffy, and the many people cluttering especially the shopping and restaurant area upstairs don't help the feeling. Oh well, they are building a completely new terminal as part of the new runway and apron works, so this problem is only temporary. What annoys me to no end is the constant stream of automated announcements about various flights boarding and closing - all first in Spanish, then in English and finally in German if the flight happens to be to Germany. Most modern airports nowadays do not announce boarding over the PA any more, Malaga airport should learn from this. Oh well, with the average age of the travelers looking to be around 60 it might still be a good idea to keep the flights on time...

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Traffic_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Traffic_2.jpg

There's a constant stream of traffic outside, today looks definitely like British and German day here. I retire upstairs to the food court to grab a rather nice sandwich and a ridiculously overpriced beer and buy some Spanish wine from the travel value shop. Then it's off to the non-Schengen B-gate area, which turns out to be the lower level of the Schengen B-pier, quite a dump actually with no services apart from a few vending machines and a sorry attempt at a last minute travel value shop. At least the end of the pier offers a great view towards the runway.

I thought Ezy had already retired all the Boeings?

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Traffic_3.jpg

DY arriving:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Traffic_4.jpg

I didn't get a good shot of our bird due reflection and a jetway blocking it, but here's a twin sister:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Traffic_5.jpg

The Monarch A321 is already here, actually there are 2-3 other company planes at the apron as well. Boarding starts 35 minutes before the scheduled departure time at 12.10, and there is already a considerable queue at the gate. The passengers on this flight look to be quite senior, there are at least 5 wheelchair passengers and sorting them out takes some time. When I reach the podium, the Iberia agent has to enter my ID card information to the computer - I comment that I did fill it in advance through the Monarch website as they required before checking in, but apparently this has no effect and she has to do it again. Yay, great systems integration work.

AGP-MAN
ZB655
A321 G-OZBP
Seat 35F
12.40 - 15.00

A disinterested FA greets me at the door, the ones standing by the exit rows are a bit more friendlier and the two or three gossiping about their latest drinking activities in the back galley couldn't care less about anything. It takes quite a while to reach my seat in the back of the plane as the wheelchair passengers are getting settled and everybody seems to be taking their time to get on their seat. As soon as I sit down I noticed how uncomfortable the thick, cloth seat is. Legroom is not very good, the seat pocket is broken and the armrest sticks very painfully to my elbow and side. Not a good first impression. In general the cabin feels very stuffy, worn and old-fashioned, despite the plane being delivered to GB Airways only in 2001 and in Monarch service since February 2008.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Monarch_Cabin_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Monarch_Cabin_2.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Monarch_Cabin_3.jpg

Boarding takes again a long time, but after almost half an hour we are finally good to go. Luckily the middle seat stays empty, I don't know how I would survive if I had to stuff my large enough backbag under the seat in front of me. Load is maybe around 80% with some empty seats scattered around. I think I'm the only non-British person on this flight. The captain welcomes us onboard and advices of a long flight time of 3h5mins today due to very strong headwinds. The chav-looking guy with half of his teeth missing on the aisle seat asks me does that mean that there will be turbulence - at least I think that's what he's saying as his Mancunian accent is so thick that you could cut it with a knife. I reply that yes, it most probably means it - little do I know at this point how bad it will be.

There are actually drop down LCD screens on this plane, so they are used for the safety demonstration right after we pushback five minutes prior the schedule. Well, after the demo they are retracted, never to be seen again for the duration of the flight. I comment to the guy in the aisle seat "They shouldn't have bothered at all."

QI:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_1.jpg

There's a bit of a queue to the single runway, so it takes another 15 minutes before we reach runway 31. Before us there is a Thomsonfly 737, U2 A319, a couple of landing IB and Air Nostrum planes and a small private prop plane:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_2.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_3.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_4.jpg

Tailing us are BE E195 to EXT and BA 757 to LHR:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_5.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_6.jpg

Finally we reach the active, and perform a very powerful and quite long take-off roll. Halfway through the roll I realize that I never actually fastened my seat belt - now this must be the first time for me this happens - fortunately we didn't have to abort the take off or something very nasty could've happened to me. The crew assigned to the back of the plane stayed in the galley gossiping for the whole duration of the boarding and pre-departure procedures - so they didn't spot the unfastened seat belt either. Oh well, would've made for a good lawsuit...

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_7.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_8.jpg

A section of the new runway:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_9.jpg

After take off we turn slightly to the right to pick up a northernly heading.

Bye bye Malaga and the Med:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_10.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_11.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Malaga_Departure_12.jpg

It is a bit bumpy at this moment, but not too bad. After half an hour in the air the captain comes on again, advising us that we are 10 minutes out of Madrid, where we will continue to Bilbao, over the Bay of Biscay to Brest, then the Channel Islands, Isle of Wight, passing west of London towards Milton Keynes (yes, he really mentions this!) and finally to Manchester. The headwind is very heavy at the moment, giving us a ground speed of only 400 mph with another two and half hours of flight time remaining. The next 30 minutes will be very bumpy as we are about to encounter some very uneven air.

Sure enough, some five minutes after this the turbulence starts and we spend the next half an hour bumping up and down, left and right. This is the worst case of turbulence for me for quite some time, probably ever since my flight on a MH 777 back in April 2006. That KUL-FRA flight featured almost two hours of nonstop bumpiness while crossing the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal - not a very nice memory even after three and half years. The uncomfortable seat makes the bumps even worse and I feel quite miserable for a while. Some time later it eases a bit, the captain advising us that they found a smoother altitude for us, it is worse both above and below us but it will stop after we leave the Spanish mainland in 20 minutes.

Things ease after 20 minutes as promised, and for the first time on this flight the seat belt sign is actually switched off and the crew commence the onboard sales, after a good 1h15mins of flight. I buy some drinks and concentrate on watching a movie on my Ipod. Some time later the crew comes again with some hot food for sale (or are these something you could preorder?) - all of these seem to go as an empty cart is rolled back.

The weather is overcast most of the time, there are some views of the Brittany and the French Atlantic coast through openings. The resort town of Les Sables-d'Olonne:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Monarch_inflight_1.jpg

Nantes:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Monarch_inflight_2.jpg

Hello EMA, see you in three weeks:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Monarch_inflight_3.jpg

Just after passing the London the captain comes on the final time, announcing the start of descent and landing in 20 minutes or so. Over EMA airport the seat belt signs come on and we disappear into a very heavy cloud base for quite a long time, after emerging lined up with the runway 05L or MAN.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_2.jpg

The huge Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_3.jpg

I never realized the two runways at MAN were so disaligned:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_4.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_5.jpg

We touch down exactly at 15.00 and taxi only for a few minutes to a stand in front of T1.

Nice spread of planes:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_6.jpg

For whatever reason they are not using the back door of the airplane for deboarding so it takes a good while before I'm out of there.

Hmm, not something you really want to see on a plane you just flew in:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_7.jpg

Bye Monarch, I don't think we will see again:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Approach_8.jpg

Inside it's another long trek to the flight connections centre - I decide to forgo immigration as I have no real desire going landside so I do the flight connections route. I just hate the UK obsession on separating arriving and departing passengers and rescreening everybody - it's just a lot of hassle and completely pointless if you ask me. Oh well, at least AY is departing from the same terminal so there's no hassle with the connection buses and the connections centre is completely deserted, giving me some time to joke with the security screeners there. The young ginger-haired guy who decides whether you should see the UK immigration officer at the next booth has some trouble looking up my flight on his screen so I kindly point it out for him. Satisfied, he points me to a mysterious door that turns out to open into T1 airside. The best part is that it dumps you after the duty free shop, saving one the tedious hassle of fighting through it.

Manchester Airport

Not really in the shopping mood I just grab a bottle of water and the Sunday paper from WHSmith's and make a beeline to the lounge.

Next to the toilets in T1 there are two doors labeled this:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Sign.jpg

What an earth are these!?

All the T1 lounges are now in their own floor, right next to each other. The Servisair lounge used by AY, SK, LH, LX and many others is actually quite a decent place, everything feels new and fresh. Food options are limited to prepackaged junk food and other nibbles, but at least there is a great selection of drinks.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Manchester_Lounge.jpg

I spend the next two hours taking full advantage of the free wifi, helping myself with some drinks in the process. The lounge has nice big windows towards the apron between T1 and T3, so it's great for plane watching as well. There's a constant stream of departing and arriving FlyBe machines, mostly Dashes but also some E195s - I never knew they were so big in MAN.

At some point I check the inbound flight from acarsd - OH-LEG will be operating today's leg (pun intended) to HEL. Oh well - I knew already from the OLCI (AY's opens 36 hours before departure so I checked in before leaving home on Saturday morning) that the scheduled E190 was downgraded to a E170 - bummer for me as I've flown almost all the AY E170s but only a few of the 190s. Sure enough, today's flight will be my seventh on this bird, and actually third time on this flight number. I see the plane landing 15 minutes ahead of schedule, so I start getting ready. At 17.15, 35 minutes before the scheduled departure time we get a gate number and "go to gate" is displayed, so I head out of the lounge - not before nicking a copy of every inflight magazine in their selection (hey, it says "Yours to take home" in it!) for my collections.

One again I'm pissed at the passenger separation as the B pier has the arriving passenger lane running down the middle of the pier - forcing one to access the gates on the other side using some steep stairs to go below the lane - our gate B22 is no exception. At the gate there are only a handful of people - it looks like a rather empty flight - probably the reason for the downgrade.

MAN-HEL
AY938
E170 OH-LEG
Seat 3F
17.45 - 22.24

After waiting for a few minutes boarding starts. Inside a middle-aged friendly female FA welcomes me in. There is only one other passenger in business class, after the speedy boarding is completed economy seems to have a 50% load factor. No wonder AY is in financial problems.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Cabin_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Cabin_2.jpg

Our captain welcomes us onboard, expecting a short flight time of 2h30mins due to some favorable tailwinds and an early departure since we are all set to go. Sure enough, we push back five minutes early, but this advantage is eaten up by the taxi time to runway 05L where we start our take off roll right at the scheduled departure time.

After being released by the captain the very senior FA from the back galley joins her colleague in the front one. Service starts w

21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineGabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3243 posts, RR: 12
Reply 1, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 22300 times:

Nice report with an interestiong selection of airlines.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
What's wrong with people - these ARE the best seats in the house (well, 1 ABC are probably a bit better yet but then you'd be facing the drag queen and her wrath!) and people are not using the opportunity. A guy in his late twenties finally sits in the aisle seat and the middle seat stays empty - despite a load factor that looks like to be around 90%, nice.

I flew GVA-LGW on EZ on Saturday, and the same thing happened. I got an exit window, and even though the flight was 95% full, everyone just kept walking past the exit rows. Unfortunately the two other seats in my row got taken at the very end when some of the last people realised that all the normal seats were full to had to 'settle' for an extra leg room seat!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I thought Ezy had already retired all the Boeings?

Nope, I flew on one from LTN-GVA on Saturday - I think they're all LTN based.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:STN-SNN-STN,MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-
User currently offlineAkhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2458 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 22185 times:

Hi FlyingFinn76,

Awesome trip report with lovely pictures of Malaga. I like the contrasting view of the snowy Helsinki and the sunny Malaga.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I tell the cute young FA in the forward exit row "That window seat has my written on it, don't you see it?". She's a bit confused so I add "You need a big guy to open the emergency door", after which she gets the point and lets me there, giving me a small chuckle as well.



Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
but a very annoying British middle-aged man who tries to offer me free accommodation at his vacation house in Alicante if I join him (gee, I wonder what I'd need to do to him to pay for the "free" house) gets on my nerves and I head back inside and through security to avoid having to inflict bodily harm to this sleazebag.

Being a good looking guy has its advantage and disadvantage.  wink 

Thank you for sharing.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineShamrock350 From Ireland, joined Mar 2005, 6333 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 22118 times:

Hi FlyingFinn76,

Nice report and pictures, interesting selection of airlines as well.

I remember easyJet creating quite a bit of publicity when they launched LGW-HEL so it's nice to see it still going strong. Doesn't seem like it's been going for a year already! Good to hear about your flight with Aer Lingus as well, I'm flying the route in March and I hope the move into Gatwick works out for them. Shame about your flight with Monarch though, the cabin does look really old fashioned from your photos and it sounds like the crew weren't particularly good.

Thanks for posting.

Kevin


User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 4, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 22108 times:

Hmm, something bad happened with the rest of this report. Here's the Finnair flight over again. Sorry for this, this board has been giving me lots of trouble lately.


MAN-HEL
AY938
E170 OH-LEG
Seat 3F
17.45 - 22.24

After waiting for a few minutes boarding starts. Inside a middle-aged friendly female FA welcomes me in. There is only one other passenger in business class, after the speedy boarding is completed economy seems to have a 50% load factor. No wonder AY is in financial problems.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Cabin_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Cabin_2.jpg

Our captain welcomes us onboard, expecting a short flight time of 2h30mins due to some favorable tailwinds and an early departure since we are all set to go. Sure enough, we push back five minutes early, but this advantage is eaten up by the taxi time to runway 05L where we start our take off roll right at the scheduled departure time.

After being released by the captain the very senior FA from the back galley joins her colleague in the front one. Service starts with hot towels in business class, followed by aperitifs - well, it's not very hard to guess what will be my choice:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Service_1.jpg

At the same time a very nice scent of food starts filling the cabin from the front galley and I realize that I'm very very hungry not having eaten a proper meal since the light breakfast. While the food is being warmed the FAs do a quick drink run in economy - the divider curtain stays open for the whole flight.

Soon it's time to eat, and I get a very nicely presented tray.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Service_2.jpg

Upon asking the FA what it will be today she hands me the menu card. Todays menu features:


  • Parmesan cheese salad
  • Reindeer and potato hash
  • Peach cake


I ask for red wine to go with the reindeer - another round of cost cutting seems to have been done as this Torres wine is the same one you used to get in economy a few years ago. At least it comes in a proper glass bottle, nowadays the economy class el cheapo wine is served in plastic bottles:



I like the AY dishware, Finnish design by Iittala:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Service_4.jpg

There are small satchels of Balsamico and Olive Oil for the salad, a very nice touch. Additional bread is offered but I decline.

The food is very nice, being a big fan of reindeer meat of course helps.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Service_5.jpg

I take my time eating slowly and enjoying - after all there's no hurry anywhere. I'm not sure what the folks back in economy are being served, but usually on the Embraers it is a cold wrap or a sandwich - hot meals are only available for the business class passengers (and fight crew!).

During the meal the captain comes on again, announcing that we are just leaving the British isles for the North Sea, and will continue from here across the northern tip of Jutland, towards GOT, ARN, MHQ and finally Helsinki where we should land around 10 minutes early. After Britain it gets completely overcast, with no views of the ground at all.

I finish the meal with coffee, the dessert cake is the worst part of the meal - it's a bit dry and tasteless. Well, I'm not that big fan of desserts anyway.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Malaga_11_2009/Finnair_Service_6.jpg

For the rest of the flight I continue taking full advantage of the free flowing champers, in the end I manage four small bottles of it which puts me in a rather jolly mood  Smile. A bit after 2 hours into the flight the captain comes on, telling us that we are already passing MHQ and will start descending towards foggy Helsinki in a few minutes. It definitely is very foggy as I have a hard time recognizing the runway where we land after 2h30mins of flight. In the end I catch a glimpse of the terminal lights through the fog and realize that we landed on the far 04L runway which means a taxi of five minutes to reach our gate. The whole place is deserted, so immigration is very fast. I have to wait around 15 minutes for the next bus home, where I am around 23.00.

Conclusions

Three new planes, one well-traveled one, one new airport, one new carrier and one very good reindeer meal. Sounds like a successful trip to me.

EasyJet and Aer Lingus are nowadays your standard, good quality low cost carriers. I prefer EI for the better seats and the fresh Irish attitude of the cabin crew. With the base at LGW I'll try to use them more in the future, DUB is a bit out of the way for me.

Monarch was a disappointment. I didn't expect much, but I think they delivered even less. From the disinterested cabin crew to the uncomfortable shabby seat to the multitude of different fees charged as part of their booking process it left a very mediocre feeling. I could've flown some other carriers for half the price with better equipment and service. Oh well, at least I don't have to fly them any more.

Finally the AY European business class product is still a very good one, highly recommended. Very friendly, if a bit elderly crew this time. If it were more packed it would've been uncomfortable but for the light load it was perfect. Full marks there.


Next trip is a BT inaugural flight with a bit of AY thrown in in a few days, stay tuned.


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6757 posts, RR: 77
Reply 5, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 22054 times:

Very interesting report, I enjoyed reading about Monarch. Hadn't noticed such a report here before.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The plane is four and half years old, but is already showing some signs of aging - Ezy definitely puts these babies to work hard

One could also argue that they don't maintain the interiors properly.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I thought Ezy had already retired all the Boeings?

No, 13 73Gs left.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I like the AY dishware, Finnish design by Iittala:

Indeed, very pretty.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The food is very nice, being a big fan of reindeer meat of course helps.

What kind of meal is that, how is it called?


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5162 posts, RR: 55
Reply 6, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 21990 times:

Hey, P.

what a nice Monday evening read after some four hours on the wet, but thanks god, not snowy german motorways.

That hotel sounds somewhat well known to me, but looking to your picture it seems I was upgraded during my stay there.  Wink

I prefer EI anytime in comparison to EZY, especially with that fixed seating there.

And without any experience on Monarch, I´ve expected something better there,
especially when we know that they fly for example the AB6 what seems really interesting for me.

Great pix beside and detailed story, nothing else expected.

Greetings,
Markus (FLIEGER67)



Next: The eastern Intersky!.
User currently offlineShamrock321 From Ireland, joined May 2008, 1597 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 21894 times:

Great report most enjoyable with a glass of wine! Seems your quite fond of it aswell! Its a pity DUB is so out of the way for you, as is HEL for me, Ive always wated to visit, maybe next year!

Best regards Shamrock321.


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6557 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 21705 times:

Very nice report; the reindeer meet hash looks very tasty!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
I like the AY dishware, Finnish design by Iittala:

Yes, very nice design; my parents have the exact same glasses.

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 9, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 21579 times:

Hello everybody and thanks for the comments - really appreciated!

Quoting Gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Unfortunately the two other seats in my row got taken at the very end when some of the last people realised that all the normal seats were full to had to 'settle' for an extra leg room seat!

And to consider some airlines (Monarch included!) even charge extra for prebooking exit rows!

Quoting Akhmad (Reply 2):
Awesome trip report with lovely pictures of Malaga. I like the contrasting view of the snowy Helsinki and the sunny Malaga.

Oh yes, there's a bit of a contrast. And no, I don't really like winters at all so I could've stayed in Spain for a far longer time. BTW it is snowing again here this morning with a big snowstorm expected later today.

Quoting Akhmad (Reply 2):
Being a good looking guy has its advantage and disadvantage.

My other nick name isn't "Quasimodo" for nothing, you know!

Quoting Shamrock350 (Reply 3):
I remember easyJet creating quite a bit of publicity when they launched LGW-HEL so it's nice to see it still going strong.

I just checked it and was a bit mistaken, the inaugural flight was on November 3rd 2008 and not in October. Which actually means that I flew the route the first time just five days later. They recently issued a press statement that the route had exceeded 100K passengers during the first year, far better than the 90K target Ezy had set to themselves when launching the route. Apparently they already hold a 13% market share of the HEL-LON market.

I'd definitely like to see a second daily flight, but by looking at their activities at ARN (which has some of the same disadvantages as HEL - i.e. being an additional hour or so of flight time away from the core Central European markets) I think we will eventually see GVA-HEL and MXP-HEL. Not that I'd complain about either of those.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 5):
One could also argue that they don't maintain the interiors properly.

Oh well, you might have a point there! Too busy working - no time for maintenance.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 5):
No, 13 73Gs left.

Thanks for the update. I guess those will be gone pretty soon any way.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 5):
What kind of meal is that, how is it called?

Err. That's "pyttipannu" in Finnish, basically smoked reindeer meat, potatoes, pickles and a dash of creamy sauce. It is actually a traditional Swedish dish if I'm not mistaken. Very good if one likes reindeer meat - some people have problems with the fact that they are eating Rudolph.

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 6):
That hotel sounds somewhat well known to me, but looking to your picture it seems I was upgraded during my stay there.

Oh yes, I remembered the hotel from your report some time ago and the Tripadvisor reviews made it look a far better one. There was nothing really wrong about it, but nothing exceptional either.

Quoting Shamrock350 (Reply 3):
Shame about your flight with Monarch though, the cabin does look really old fashioned from your photos and it sounds like the crew weren't particularly good.



Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 6):

And without any experience on Monarch, I´ve expected something better there,
especially when we know that they fly for example the AB6 what seems really interesting for me.

Well - I expected it wasn't going to be anything distinctive and sure I was right. A very mediocre experience. But if getting to still fly an AB6 means having to endure yet another flight on ZB I guess I could survive that!

Quoting Shamrock321 (Reply 7):
Great report most enjoyable with a glass of wine! Seems your quite fond of it aswell!

The report? Or the wine?  Smile

Irish, Finnish - we do have a reputation to uphold, right?

Quoting Shamrock321 (Reply 7):

Its a pity DUB is so out of the way for you, as is HEL for me, Ive always wated to visit, maybe next year!

Yep, the basic problem is the distance, HEL-DUB is around 1260 great circle miles, more than three hours of flight time. Not very good for LCC-style operations. EI did run flights here for a couple of years, but seem to have stopped at least for the winter season. The AY flights are seasonal summer flights as well and even FR has suspended TMP-DUB for this winter.

Don't get me wrong, I've been to Ireland about ten times (hell, we even went there on our honeymoon!) and love the country a lot, but nowadays most of my travel is just short trips and very often including DUB in those plans is a bit hard due to the not very optimal flight connections.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 8):
Very nice report; the reindeer meet hash looks very tasty!

Thanks, it was. Burp.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 8):
Yes, very nice design; my parents have the exact same glasses.

Those Ultima Thule glasses were originally designed exclusively for Finnair to serve as a showpiece of Finnish culture and design, together with the launch of their crown jewel JFK route. Eventually they became so popular that Iittala decided to start producing them for consumer use as well - and success has followed ever since.


User currently offlineANITIX87 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 3303 posts, RR: 13
Reply 10, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 21200 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Did you land in MAN with the landing gear doors open????? Or is that normal for the A321??

Can anyone shed some light?

TIS



www.stellaryear.com: Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 5DMkII, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Canon 100mm 2.8L, Canon 100-4
User currently offlineAirbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4268 posts, RR: 51
Reply 11, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 21058 times:

Hi P.!

Thanks for this facinating report. You're once again here with an interesting choice of routing. Down south takes some time from Finland, of course, but you managed well!
I've indeed been thinking about ZB too. Would love to fly the AB6 or B752 someday again, but I'm not always sure what routes they serve on, and usually, they don't fix well in my schedules.
FlyGlobespan is also a carrier I want to fly on someday.. , but I've not heard so much positive on them either.
The city of Malaga doesn't attract me, to be honest, when judging from the pictures. It wouldn't be my choice for holidays, then I prefer to take the 6 hours on a B752 and fly further south to the Canaries  Silly
Good to read the positive experience on AY. Never flown on them yet, but from my expectation and impressions so far, I rate them among the better European airlines at this moment.

Hope to read more of the travels soon, and good luck with the snow overthere. Amsterdam is still 'warm' with +8°C and some rain. See you in 2 weeks  wave 

Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineEZY320 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2009, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 20888 times:

Hey there.

Great TR, really enjoyed the read. I've got to say though that I'm extremely surprised by your bad experience with Monarch. I use them 5-6 times a year between MAN-AGP and they are always very professional and really focus on their customer care. I think maybe you were just unlucky on this occasion. ZB are actually the number one choice for the majority of British ex-pats travelling on this route, which explains why there were so many pensioners on your flight! This is mainly because of their frequent flyer programme and also what I perceive to be a better onboard service. They offer more than their LoCo competitors such as allocated seating, hot meals onboard etc. They were the 1st low cost scheduled airline to fly MAN-AGP on a daily basis and despite massive competition from numerous other airlines, they still have more frequency on this route than anyone else. In fact, I believe they are now the biggest scheduled operator out of MAN. They are very popular here in the UK. I sound like I work for their marketing department don't I, but I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be put off by one bad flight. They are in my opinion a very good airline and, after all, they've been around for 40 years. That's gota count for something!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed yourself on the Costa del Sol. Malaga itself is a little scruffy as it's an industrial city but there's some really nice towns and villages on that coast.



EZY320
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 13, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 20747 times:

Hello all and thanks for the further comments - keep 'em coming!

Quoting ANITIX87 (Reply 10):
Did you land in MAN with the landing gear doors open????? Or is that normal for the A321??

Well, I was inside the plane so can't be sure  Smile. But no, I don't think we did, and it is definitely not normal. Maybe it's connected to the maintenance guy doing some work on the engine as the plane stayed there for the whole duration I was in Manchester airport - some sort of small maintenance check or whatever I guess.

Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 11):
Thanks for this facinating report. You're once again here with an interesting choice of routing. Down south takes some time from Finland, of course, but you managed well!

Yep, looking at the Great Circle routes I was surprised that the detour via UK doesn't really add that much to the flight distance. Of course the airport time does - but who's counting  Smile

Always trying to come up with something out of the ordinary and new - to avoid getting bored!

Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 11):
The city of Malaga doesn't attract me, to be honest, when judging from the pictures.

Well, as mentioned above, it's mainly an industrial and commercial city, not really a tourist hotspot as such. I did like the Spanish charm although there were some not very pretty districts outside the old town. All the tourists go south to the Costa del Sol - the train to Malaga had only a handful of locals and me riding it, while the train going south to Fuengirola via Torremolinos was packed with foreign holidaymakers.

Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 11):
Good to read the positive experience on AY. Never flown on them yet, but from my expectation and impressions so far, I rate them among the better European airlines at this moment.

It definitely is. The European business class product is at the moment among the best ones in Europe (as long as you don't get stuck on a packed E-Jet!), shame the prices are out of this world. And a sad fact is that this isn't really due to them being that exceptional - more because the competition has cut more than AY!

Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 11):
Hope to read more of the travels soon, and good luck with the snow overthere.

So far pretty manageable. Another short domestic hop (via RIX of course!) with a cancellation and an inaugural flight coming up tomorrow.

Quoting EZY320 (Reply 12):
and they are always very professional and really focus on their customer care. I think maybe you were just unlucky on this occasion

Could've been. My main gripes were the crew and the general shabbiness and uncomfortability of the cabin and seat. Crew can definitely be accounted for by just having bad luck, but not sure about the rest. Are these seats standard on all the planes? Are all of them so old-fashioned and not very well maintained?

Quoting EZY320 (Reply 12):
They are in my opinion a very good airline and, after all, they've been around for 40 years. That's gota count for something!

Yes, but I guess the real competition has existed only for the last ten years or so with the proliferation of LCCs and regular flag carriers etc. having to turn into sort of LCCs as well.

On this trip I can't help but to compare ZB with U2 and EI - U2 wins by newer planes, a more comfortable seat (although a non-exit row one is a bit different) and young and perky crew (apart from the drag queen). EI on the other hand is even better by offering assigned seating, new and fresh planes and usually young, motivated and very Irish (in a positive sense!) crews.


User currently offlineDunaA320 From UK - England, joined Feb 2009, 613 posts, RR: 8
Reply 14, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 20728 times:

Thanks for posting! Nice report and cool pictures!

Nice to see the new terminal and runway works taking progress.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
In general the cabin feels very stuffy, worn and old-fashioned, despite the plane being delivered to GB Airways only in 2001 and in Monarch service since February 2008.

I had the pleasure of flying this very aircraft from AGP-LHR when in service for BA/GB airways back in 2007. Certainly doesn't look as good without those nice BA seats!


User currently offlineEZY320 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2009, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 20691 times:



Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 13):
My main gripes were the crew and the general shabbiness and uncomfortability of the cabin and seat. Crew can definitely be accounted for by just having bad luck, but not sure about the rest. Are these seats standard on all the planes? Are all of them so old-fashioned and not very well maintained?

I haven't flown on that particular aircraft so can't really comment but certainly the earlier ZB A321 regs (G-OZBE - G-OZBI) were delivered new and are immaculate. I have noticed some issues with the aircraft delivered to Monarch from other airlines though so perhaps OZBP isn't a good one. The purple and yellow seat covers were phased in around 2005 to replace the existing blue ones so they are probably due an overhaul. With regards to legroom, there's been a few comments on a.net about poor legroom on ZB but it is the same as TCX, TOM and other UK Charter carriers which I believe is 29 inches. I don't know how this compares with EZY & EI. I admit that they are a bit of an 'old skool' airline with generally an older crew but this helps to attract their 'fanbase' of frequent flying ex-pats and they market this well. In my profession I deal with EZY at MAN and their MAN-AGP flights have a wider demographic of passengers, including many stag and hen do's which you generally don't get on ZB. Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your experience, maybe you will appreciate them more when you're over 65!!



EZY320
User currently offlineInfodesk From Switzerland, joined May 2006, 1451 posts, RR: 33
Reply 16, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 20565 times:

Hi Flying Finn,

I really enjoyed this report and loved your chosen routing and the combination of 4 airlines in 2 days. Nice idea to get some Spanish sun after seeing that snow at HEL!

I'm surprised that you couldn't check-in online for ezy and can understand your frustration at being at the airport so early yet getting group B. Still, at leats you were lucky onboard and got one of the best seats.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
We have landed at Gatwick North terminal (I though we landed on the runway)

This is one these phrases I love. Question "Where do the pax from XXX land?". Everytime I get asked this I should say on the runway and not Arr 1/ 2. After the 867th time though it loses its appeal......

It seems you had a good trip on EI. They do have some very attractive fares, lucky you getting the flight for 35E, bargain.

That turbulence didn't sound too much fun on Monarch, hope there weren't any more screams!

Interesting to hear about the transfer procedure at MAN. I've often seen the signs and wondered where exactly they take you. On the one occasion I treated myself to C-Class I was a bit disappointed with the food in the lounge -as you say all pre packaged stuff nibbles.

Still, the return on AY looked very civilised. Love the dish, but is it common to get served reindeer on their flights? I'm guessing quite a few passengers might not like it.

Thanks for hard work & happy flying
Infodesk



"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
User currently offlineContact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 13
Reply 17, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 20438 times:

Hi Flying Finn,

Great report, very detailed and written in an entertaining way. I enjoyed reading a lot. What a coincidence, I flew to London on Saturday 7th November as well, on BA from STR to LHR. I remember the great weather in London on that day.

Your experiences on Finnair Business Class seemed to be very good; interesting to hear that they offer a high quality product. The meal looks very good indeed.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The jetway to the plane is still cordoned off and nobody wants to spread out or take a seat so all the 50 or so pax are in one large, tight queue. A very funny sight actually and tells something about the human nature.

Yes, you can watch this on nearly every low-cost flight with free seating.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
What annoys me to no end is the constant stream of automated announcements about various flights boarding and closing - all first in Spanish, then in English and finally in German if the flight happens to be to Germany.

I remember the same from PMI - really annoying if there are several flights leaving at the same time.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
There's a constant stream of departing and arriving FlyBe machines, mostly Dashes but also some E195s - I never knew they were so big in MAN.

I think they grew that big at MAN (and BHX) when they took over the activities from BA Connect.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Three new planes, one well-traveled one, one new airport, one new carrier and one very good reindeer meal. Sounds like a successful trip to me.

Indeed a successful weekend of flying.

Regards
Christoph


User currently offlineRP TPA From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 852 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 20416 times:

Re the photo of the "Ritual Washing Facilities"....my guess is that is has something to do with Muslims and prayers.

User currently offlineDLBOIFIN From Finland, joined Jun 2006, 165 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 20184 times:

Hi,

I always enjoy reading your reports and this one makes no exception, great reading! I was very happy to see that Easyjet is doing so well on their HEL flights, hopefully they are here to stay unlike so many other foreign carriers which have left the market.

You really must enjoy flying as you do these quite long trips in just few days!

Keep the reports coming,

DLBF


User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8534 posts, RR: 54
Reply 20, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 20138 times:
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Hi P,

Nice report and pictures, always good to fly just for the sake of it.

Your comments on Monarch were interesting, I nearly booked them for a quick trip to my dads Villa, however the bolt on's amre it so expensive we decided not to go.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
For the rest of the flight I continue taking full advantage of the free flowing champers, in the end I manage four small bottles of it which puts me in a rather jolly mood

- No kidding!

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 21, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 20095 times:

Hi and thanks for the additional comments.

Quoting EZY320 (Reply 15):
Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your experience, maybe you will appreciate them more when you're over 65!!

Who says I'm under 65? Heh, just kidding, that's still over 30 years away. The sad fact of course is that by that time flying like this will probably be not possible at all - or at least it will cost an arm and leg.

Quoting Infodesk (Reply 16):
I'm surprised that you couldn't check-in online for ezy and can understand your frustration at being at the airport so early yet getting group B..

Yep, I read some confusing information about whether OLCI is available ex-HEL, and assumed the system error was Ezy's way of telling me that it isn't. Oh well, live and learn - next time (booked for March 2010!) I'll try harder.

Quoting Infodesk (Reply 16):
That turbulence didn't sound too much fun on Monarch, hope there weren't any more screams!

Not that I could hear, at least. I think the difference was that the turbulence when landing in AGP was very sudden and came out of the blue, this time we were warned before - and it started gradually.

Quoting Infodesk (Reply 16):
Interesting to hear about the transfer procedure at MAN. I've often seen the signs and wondered where exactly they take you.

It is sort of a funny procedure as they employ at least four people at that T1 transfer point - two security screeners, a guy whose job is to see which terminal your flight departs from and call you the transfer bus if needed and to decide if you need to pass immigration (i.e. continuing on a domestic or Ireland flight), and if so a fourth person to do the immigration formalities.

Quoting Infodesk (Reply 16):
Still, the return on AY looked very civilised. Love the dish, but is it common to get served reindeer on their flights? I'm guessing quite a few passengers might not like it.

They try to serve Nordic food, this is the first time I've had reindeer. Quite often the offering in business class is salmon (lax) in some form. They do different themes every now and then as well.

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 17):
What a coincidence, I flew to London on Saturday 7th November as well, on BA from STR to LHR. I remember the great weather in London on that day.

Oh yes, and I just read your report and admired your pics of it  Smile. Indeed a very pretty day.

Quoting RP TPA (Reply 18):
Re the photo of the "Ritual Washing Facilities"....my guess is that is has something to do with Muslims and prayers.

Assumed something like this - it just felt a bit out of place.

Quoting DLBOIFIN (Reply 19):
I always enjoy reading your reports and this one makes no exception, great reading! I was very happy to see that Easyjet is doing so well on their HEL flights, hopefully they are here to stay unlike so many other foreign carriers which have left the market.

Thanks and nice to have more Finns here. I definitely hope Ezy will open some additional routes from HEL - the demand at least is here.

Quoting DLBOIFIN (Reply 19):
You really must enjoy flying as you do these quite long trips in just few days!

I'd love to stay for a longer time, but nowadays I'm just too pressed for time. And well, flying - I think that's something we all in this board enjoy. Even when it is bad it's still rather good, I reckon. Applies to flying and... well, something else as well  Wink

Quoting DLBOIFIN (Reply 19):
Keep the reports coming,

Will do, siree. Have another trip under my belt but feeling too lazy to write it up just yet.


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