FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 28 Posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 25071 times:
Here's yet another trip that started as the cheapest 29 EUR ticket to TXL on Air Berlin, booked some 8 months in advance. Berlin being my favorite city in Europe I first thought just to spend the weekend there, but at some point I discovered a number of carriers were running red eye flights to Turkey departing in the middle of the night and arriving early Sunday morning. This sounded like a good idea at the time, as it allowed me to spend the late afternoon and night in Berlin and avoid a hotel cost (not that they are particularly expensive in Berlin), so I started investigating more.
In the end I settled for Sun Express from Schönefeld to Sabiha Gökcen, the secondary Istanbul airport in the Asian part of the city, departing at 2.50 AM and arriving 6.30 AM for 69 EUR. Interestingly the booking emails came all from Condor and even my e-ticket printout was a standard Condor one with their logos etc. The early arrival allowed perfect connections to a number of European departures a few hours later, so I decided to try Pegasus, another Turkish LCC, both new carriers for me. They offered flights to a wide variety of European cities, in the end I settled for STN as that was the longest flight, was available for around 50 EUR and I hadn't been to the Essex low cost hub airport for almost 20 years.
Stansted of course offers tons and tons of alternatives for getting home, mainly in the low cost form. For whatever reason in the end I decided to just book a ticket to HEL on the later BA flight from LHR - I guess I felt a little lazy for taking another connection on the way home and this plan had enough buffer to cater for medium delays on the incoming flight. Price at a bit under 100 EUR also wasn't bad for a traditional carrier.
Later I was watching the potential BA cabin strike developments very closely as the my travel date had a high probability of being affected, but luckily they didn't announce the dates in time, so I was saved. If that had happened I'd probably ended up on AY 25 minutes before, but you never know.
With a nice afternoon departure for a chance I could spend a cosy morning with the family playing in the snow and fixing some lunch before leaving for the airport around 13.00. 20 minutes later I get off the bus at Terminal 1 only to be greeted by this sight:
The arrivals display confirms the the inbound is expected to be around 40 minutes late. Looks like some trouble in Germany, the weather probably acting up again.
Oh well, nothing I can do about it so I pass empty security and while away the delay with a few pints.
Around 14.25, five minutes before the original scheduled departure time I spot the plane landing:
A few minutes later the plane arrives at gate 23:
Finnish Air Force Casa C-295 passing by on the background:
It is carrying the registration D-ABBY which I think sounds vaguely familiar and sure enough, I've flown before with her, DUS-HEL back in December 2007. You tend to remember these funny registrations like D-ACNE and HA-LPA (That's Finnish for "cheap", happens to be a WizzAir A320 as well!) So my second flight on this one.
Boarding starts around 14.50, not too many people around the gate area and this is later confirmed onboard, the load is only around 40%. I'm the very first one to board the plane.
The OLCI seat map was showing a 737-700 the day before, where I picked 24A, a window seat on the last row after confirming with Markus that he wouldn't be on this flight. Well, the actual equipment turned out to be a -800, so I was nowhere near the last row, which was okay by me as the last rows were occupied by group of noisy teenagers on some sort of school trip.
Cabin shot taken later while enroute:
The captain explains the delay being caused by some weather issues at FRA where the plane came to TXL before operating the leg to HEL. Flight time today will be around 1h45mins. We push back 38 minutes late, no need to deice today so in no time at all we perform a rolling take off from runway 22R. Some nice views of the capital region and Gulf of Finland on departure:
Further we fly past the Estonian west coast, directly over the island of Saaremaa - the smaller island of Muhu in the foreground:
Some passing traffic, maybe inbound to TLL:
Kuressaare, the largest town on the island of Kuressaare. The runway of URE airport is clearly visible:
Passing the Latvian west coast near Ventspils:
Looks like they haven't bothered to keep the runway at VNT airport clear from the snow after BT as the single operator there withdrew their flights to RIX there last year - shame as I flew out of there back in 2008 and it was a great small flight and airport.
Service is the standard Air Berlin cheese or turkey sandwich, this time with a bagel-like bread:
Not bad, although they should really consider some other brand of beer than Warsteiner.
It's a quick flight, I don't even get to finish my newspaper before we start our descent around 1h15mins into the flight. Looks like we are coming from the west for a landing on the 08 runways (bugger, I picked an A seat for the great views over the city the more usual landings on the 26 runways offer).
The landing is very rough on runway 08L after some 1h40mins of flight and a few minutes later we dock to a jetway on the main terminal building - much preferred over the shack like terminal annex AB usually uses at Tegel.
I go outside, buy a day ticket for the public transportation system which will also cover my transfer to SXF later during the night and hop on the first convenient bus which happens to be the 109 to Zoo Bahnhof.
Ahh, Berlin - my favorite city in Europe. With shock I realize that it's been almost five years since my last real visit here - if you don't count a few transfers in the airport or between the train station and airport - sorry old friend, I promise to be back for a decent visit soon! The weather today is not bad, it is a bit cold with a bitter wind but most of the snow has gone even though it is snowing ever so slightly.
After getting off the bus I walk around the Zoo station area for a while, before deciding to walk all the way through Tiergarten to Mitte.
Berliner Currywurst, always so good:
Siegessäule in the middle of the Tiergarten:
Brandenburg Tor in the far end of the Strasse des 17. Juni, bisecting the Tiergarten park:
The Soviet Second World War memorial, looking as intimidating as only a Soviet war memorial can:
Reichstag or the German Parliament building:
The impressive Berlin Hauptbahnhof in the distance:
Rotes Rathaus, looking errr.. red:
Later on the night I grab a great steak dinner at Block House near Unter den Linden and decide to start heading towards Brandenburg International, oh sorry, wrong year, I meant Schönefeld airport. A combination of U-Bahn from Alexanderplatz connecting to an S-Bahn at Hermannstrasse get me there around 22.45, way too early for my flight but I'm getting tired and want to see if I could find a place for a nap at the airport.
The last (and only) time I was at SXF was in 2005, looks like this place has grown since with a new terminal building for Germanwings next to the main terminal.
Oh dear, more delays - something I could do without at this late hour:
The check-in desks are not scheduled to open for another couple of hours, so I grab a final beer of the day at the bar upstairs and find a quiet bench on the top floor, set my mobile to wake me up in time and lie down for some shuteye. The bench is not very comfortable, but I still manage an hour of sleep.
By this time the check in has opened. Interestingly they are x-raying all luggage before the check in - something which I'm used to in the less developed nations but definitely not in Germany. There's a bit of a queue for this as there are three Sun Express flights to Turkey scheduled around the same time, with lots of Turkish families traveling and tons and tons of luggage as usual. The x-ray machines, photo taken before the rush.
After a while I get through the chaotic queues to the counter, where the girl is happy to give me an exit row window seat, concluding with "Here you go, there's an hour delay". Thanks.
Through security to the rather spartan airside part where pretty much everything is closed apart from the duty free stores. I buy a bottle of water, find another uncomfortable metal bench to sleep on, set my alarm and drift off to dreamland once again. Five minutes before the alarm is supposed to go off some German bloke wakes me up, asking "Istanbul?" and pointing to the flight status now showing "Go to gate" on the monitors. I tell him that I have an alarm but thank him anyway, try to clear my groggy head and aching muscles (man, those benches really aren't very comfortable) and join the queue for passport control taking place at the gate.
From the window I see that our plane has indeed arrived and is docked to a jetway, I can't make out the registration though. Well, it will be a new one for me, that's for sure.
Boarding starts around 3.40, is quite orderly at the gate but very chaotic onboard, with people stowing their carry on luggage here and there, yelling at each other, blocking the aisle and whatnot.
The plane is equipped with dark blue leather seats, quite comfortable. Leg room looks rather tight on the regular rows, of course no complaints on the exit row. It looks almost full with only a few empty seats - still they were selling tickets on this flight for 49 EUR two days prior... As already mentioned, mostly Turkish passengers with a few Germans here and there.
These cabin pictures were taken upon arrival at SAW:
The chaotic boarding takes its time, a couple of older men a few rows before seem to piss the purser off for some reason as there's a lot of angry rapid fire Turkish being shot back and forward between them, I guess it has something to do with their oversized pieces of luggage. Finally everybody's settled and we push back 1h18mins late. No explanation is ever given about the delay, actually the flight deck crew makes no announcements at all during the flight. The cabin crew does theirs only in Turkish and German, no English at all. Safety demo is from the drop down LCD screens and is also presented in English.
Taxi to runway 07 takes a good ten minutes past a number of night stopping Ezy and Germanwings Airbuses. After take off we fly straight to the northeast for a while before turning towards southeast towards Turkey.
BBI slowly taking shape:
Pretty soon after take off I fall asleep. I really have no idea about the service on this flight, while waking up for a while I saw a drinks cart and a number of people, including the couple next to me had some sort of snack box in front of them which seemed to contain at least bread, a pastry and olives but don't know if it was free or cost something - there is a menu card with rather steep drink and snack prices in the seat pocket though. Anyway it is lights out for most of flight for me - they seem to play something that looks like a Turkish sitcom on the overhead screens.
I'm woken up by the engines spooling down around 7.05 (Turkish time, one hour ahead of German time), and watch out the window to be greeted by bright sunshine, we are over the Black Sea at the moment:
The registration is also written on top of the wing, allowing me to log it, yay:
From here we descent towards the north coast of Turkey, pass the eastern part of Istanbul with some great views over this huge sprawling city:
Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet mosque clearly visible in the city centre:
As usual, lots of ships in front of the city. One can just about make out Atatürk airport (IST) in the distance hidden by the haze:
The two westernmost of the Princes' islands:
Over the Sea of Marmara a low altitude left turn follows to line us up with runway 06 at SAW, where we land after a flight time of 2h15mins.
We get an apron parking position. When deboarding I can't find my passport anywhere - I am pretty certain I put it in my shirt pocket at Berlin and get mildly panicked about it. I tell one of the crew members about this and they proceed to tear my seat apart trying to find it (well, my over analytical engineer mind is already working for a plan B - namely having to find somebody to help me to make an airside connection to my Pegasus flight instead of passing immigration - that's how my brain seems to work under exceptional situations). Luckily the purser comes up and tells me in stern voice to check my all my coat pockets again, and sure enough, I find the password in the chest pocket. I thank the crew and apologize a couple of times for the hassle, explaining it with the lack of sleep and grogginess.
Nice special color scene on this company plane on the next gate:
Sabiha Gökcen Airport
The bus for the rest of the passengers has already left, so one of the ramp agents gives me a ride in a regular car - I joke with him about it being a taxi, although I'm not sure how much he actually understands English. The hassle means that I'm pretty much the last one on the passport queue, but fortunately they have a lot of counters open and it doesn't take too long until I'm stamped into the country - fortunately Finnish citizens do not need any a visa for Turkey.
The way to the passport control:
First stop in the arrivals hall is an ATM to get some Turkish Liras, then I go outside to enjoy the sunshine and warmth (relative, I know) for a while. The new terminal building is quite impressive actually.
To access the check in counters one needs to go through a security check. The terminal inside is rather impressive as well, sorry for the blurry picture:
I find a self service machine and pick a seat on the second to last row on what looks like a well occupied flight, at least judging from the seat map. Then it's time for a bit of a breakfast at one of the numerous cafes:
It hits the spot nicely, but at around 10 EUR it is very overpriced by Turkish standards. Most of the prices at this airport turn out to be the same way.
Soon I decide to head to the departure area, passing passport control on the way. Total time spent in Turkey was around an hour. I do a bit of a shopping before heading for the toilets to refresh up a bit. I get a few funny sights from the other passengers, but a clean shirt, clean teeth and a fresh face sure make me feel a bit better!
Just like at IST airport, security check here takes place when entering the gate holding area. I hate this kind of setup, especially as it means I can't bring even a bottle of water to the plane - there's no vending machine or anything at the holding pen. At least there's a toilet, but I'm not really sure if the water here is good for drinking or not. After the security check I get interviewed by a security official. First he asks for my passport, eyes it suspiciously, including my Chinese and Saudi Arabian visas (don't ask) and asks if I have another ID - that's a bit weird but I show him my national ID card as well. Next he asks "Are you police?" - "No, why would I be?" - no answer, but finally satisfied he stamps the boarding pass and sends me off.
Turkish A319 arriving:
In the Greek mythology Pegasus was a flying winged horse - well today is probably his sick day as a shiny Boeing arrives at our gate instead around 40 minutes before the scheduled departure time. TC-AAN was delivered new to Pegasus in late August 2009, making it a bit over six months old by this time. Obviously a new one for me.
Boarding via jetway starts 20 minutes before departure, around 10.00. It's another rather chaotic affair with lots of cabin luggage, people yelling at each other and blocking the aisle, making it difficult to make my way to the second to last row. The thick dark blue fake leather seats are comfortable enough, although the seat pitch is a bit lacking. Lots of ads in the cabin give it a bit of a cheap look.
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 28
Reply 1, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 25057 times:
...and here's the rest:
Luckily the "back of the cabin" rule worked again, the few empty seats are all here in the back, including the middle seat next to me. Most of the passengers are Turkish here as well with a few Brits and at least a couple of Cypriots on the last row (yes, they were extremely loud in their English conversation so I learned pretty much their whole life story during the flight). The drop down screens are showing airshow (yes!), and a very modern one at that and are also used to the safety demo. Our flight time is given as 3h35mins.
Push back is a few minutes late, and we take off from runway 06 some five minutes later.
I like the Pegasus motif on the winglet:
That tail looks a bit funny without the rudder:
Suburbia, Turkish style:
Flight path is straight towards northeast past the Istanbul Park Formula 1 circuit:
The city in the distance:
Soon we turn towards the northwest and leave Turkey behind. Bye, I'll be back, I promise:
From here we route across the Black Sea towards Bulgaria:
Landfall between Bourgas and Varna. The city of Nesebar and its beach in the front, the Bourgas airport can be seen on the top of the picture
From Bulagria we cross the Danube to Romania. The Bulgarian city of Ruse on the left and Romanian city of Giurgiu on the left. The bridge in the picture is the only one spanning the Danube that connects Bulgaria to Romania:
We pass southwest of Bucharest. For most of the flight the headwinds are around 90 kilometers per hour - as shown on the airshow.
The Carpathians, very snowy:
Budapest down there:
The skies are clear and I spend the first hour and half mostly glued to the window for the nice views. Over Hungary it starts getting more cloudy, so I decide to take a power nap, waking up some 45 minutes later when we are approaching the German border over the Czech Republic.
Service is buy on board with very reasonable prices, but very chaotic manners. The carts are pushed backwards and forwards in seemingly random sequence, the friendly but a bit unprofessional flight attendants distributing drinks and hot meals here and there, dodging the many people who spend most of the flight standing on the aisle etc. I still manage to buy a few drinks off them. Duty free does a very good trade on cigarettes (well, we are flying to the UK, so I guess it is natural!) and a little less on booze.
Refreshingly, there are no tacky sitcoms or Just for Laughs on the overhead screens, instead they loop through ads for the various products available on board and the airshow, just the way I like it (well, you could remove the ads though).
Still very snowy in Bavaria:
We cross Germany from just north of Hof via Kassel to Düsseldorf. DUS airport and the Rhine river:
Not sure about this airport, looks like a military one:
Crossing to the Netherlands, here's EIN:
Not sure about this one:
We fly just south of Rotterdam towards the coast.
Descent starts right after leaving the Dutch coast for the North Sea.
Landfall is somewhere near Ipswich, where we continue towards Stansted:
Nice overview shot of STN during our downwind leg:
It appears to be a lovely early spring day in the UK with clear skies and sunshine.
Looks like a football match to me:
We fly quite far southwest before making a left hand 180 degree turn to line up with the runway 04.
The town of Bishop's Stortford:
Touch down is smooth after around three and half hours flight.
No doubt who rules here:
Taxi is fast and deboarding is done using both the front and back doors.
The captain waves at me after I take this picture:
UK Border control is checking everybody's passports and visas already in the jetway to the terminal. As we arrived at a remote pier we need to take a ride on the automated train thingy to the main terminal building. The real UK immigration here is completely deserted with many counters open, so getting through is very smooth. I'm actually rather impressed by the main terminal building and its design - whatever bad things they say about Stansted airport this terminal sure isn't one of them. It looks so much nicer than Heathrow (apart from T5 of course) and Gatwick.
Anyway to get to London I decided to try Easybus - tickets for the 13.20 service cost only a bit over four quid - a bargain by any standards. They allow one to travel up to one hour before or after the time on a stand by basis, so I try that with the previous, 13.00 service. It is fully booked, but two American girls are still waiting for their friend and the scary driver who resembles a female version of T1000 from Terminator 2 gives their place to me and another couple despite their objections - thanks, one mans' loss is another's gain I guess.
The Terminator has driving habits and especially temper to match her appearance, so we make good if a bit scary time on the M11 and M25 but from A1 onwards the traffic gets worse and worse (come on, I thought we were in the middle of a recession here!) so in the end the journey to the Baker Street (opposite to 221B actually) tube station takes an hour hand half.
As the weather is so nice I decide to walk to Paddington instead of taking the tube. I stop at an Indian restaurant (well, it's a bit too upscale for a pure curry house) on the way for a Sunday buffet and get entertained by the antics of some very drunken middle-aged couple who are the only patrons apart from me.
My preferred way of getting to Heathrow is the tube even though it takes a very long time, but as usual on Sundays they are doing some track maintenance work and several sections on the route would need a replacement bus instead, no thanks. So I have to settle for a train - choosing the lesser-known Heathrow Connect instead of the much more frequent but only marginally faster and horribly expensive Express. The train company surely doesn't want to promote the cheaper alternative as there are no signs at all in the Paddington Station for these trains. It takes a while for me to figure out that the Heathrow Express ticket machines actually dispense tickets for the Connect as well, but finally I get my prepaid ticket and sit down at the station pub for a quick pint as the next train is half an hour away.
At this point the lack of sleep and tiredness start getting to me, I almost fall asleep on the soft pub couch...
The Connect ride is very comfortable, and I arrive at Heathrow T3 already at 16.15, two hours and fifteen minutes before departure.
I check in using the self service machine, being delighted that there are still vacant exit row windows available so I pick one of those. Heathrow security is its usual mess, taking over twenty minutes to get through. Some sort of improvised passport control is taking place before the entrance to the duty free store (yes, in true BAA fashion you access the departure lounge through the store), but my ID card couldn't interest them less. Some other passengers from more distant lands do get a much closer scrutiny on their paperwork. I wonder what this is about - the UK still doesn't officially have exit passport control.
Not really up for any shopping I dodge the store, pick up the Sunday paper at WHSmith and retreat to the pub for a nice pint. Well, at the bar some drunken guy is making a total jerk out of himself by trying to loudly slur something about Orwellian society and government control to the bar maid who couldn't care less. Unfortunately I can tell from his first word that the guy is a Finn (yes, most of us do have a very distinct accent and way of speaking English), so I say him a few choice words in Finnish. This of course only gets him started, especially after his brain takes a few seconds to recognize the switch in language and the subsequent happiness (not a mutual feeling, I assure you!) in seeing a fellow country man. I have no choice but to wish him well and retire to the most distant corner table after getting my beer.
Half an hour later I leave the pub and the guy has only gotten more louder in the mean time. He still doesn't seem to have much of an audience, though.
Nice variety of tails:
The monitors are showing the flight status as "Boarding" already 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and lacking anything better to do I make my way to the gate 24, which is a new bus boarding annex downstairs from the main pier. I ask the gate agent how long till the REAL boarding, and he replies it should be another 15 minutes. I grab some more newspapers courtesy of BA from the gate and sit to wait.
After fifteen minutes boarding starts in a stealthy manner, there's no announcement or anything, I just look up from my newspaper to see that the first bus is already almost full and people are queuing up. I make the second bus, and a short drive takes us to G-EUUC, a new A320 for my log.
LHR-HEL BA798 A320 G-EUUC Seat 11A 18.38 - 23.41
I took this very same flight back in December and this is almost an exact copy. Economy is completely full, with lots and lots of cabin luggage prolonging the boarding process and causing lots of bags needing to be shuffled around. Three rows of Club Europe seem to have four passengers. I don't see the drunk guy from the pub anywhere, so either he was on the earlier Finnair flight or maybe in the custody of Heathrow police.
The Airbus exit rows have a bit less legroom than the Boeing ones:
The leather seats are really getting a bit long in the tooth - maybe a cabin refit would be on order. Just don't give us any slimline LCC seats, please BA, ok?
Right at the departure time the captain comes on, welcoming us onboard and advising of an ATC restriction delaying our startup by ten minutes. Afterwards we should be heading towards Denmark, flying north (or actually "left" as he put it) of Copenhagen, south ("right") of Stockholm and straight towards Helsinki. Flight time today will be a lengthy 2h50mins due to the headwinds.
We start the engines eight minutes late and join the lengthy queue for runway 09R. This being Heathrow, there were plenty of planes in front of us, including a very impressive SQ 773, lots of BA Airbuses and a triple seven, KLM F50 (looking very tiny next to these heavies), SK MD-82, a Transaero 737 and IB A320. We finally enter the active half an hour after startup after the Iberia bird and depart.
Some nice views of the lights of the extended London area, but I have a really hard time staying awake so I decide to give in and fall asleep instead.
I wake up just in time to get the offered tuna sandwhich which is quite mediocre - it could use a bit more tuna and mayonnaise and less bread for its own good. I wash it down with mediocre white wine and fall asleep again. I stay pretty much knocked out up to our descent, where the temperature at HEL is announced as minus seventeen degrees (ouch!).
Landing is eleven minutes late on runway 15, followed by a weirdly circuitous taxi route bypassing the main apron to the new non-Schengen terminal extension which means a bit of a hike to immigration but gives one the welcome chance for stretching legs.
Catching the 0.11 bus I get home twenty minutes later and collapse to bed dreading the 6.30 alarm (which I end up oversleeping but that of course is another story).
While at the planning stage spending the night on a red-eye flight seemed like a good idea, and something I have done a number of times before. Well, I'm not so sure if it really was. A two and half hour flight just is way too short for any good sleep, so this trip definitely was very tiring. Not that I ever learn from my mistakes, I have another itinerary with an overnight flight on an LCC coming up in August... at least that's a four hour flight so should be a bit better.
Air Berlin offered its usual low fares and high quality service. Sure, the flight was delayed but it was weather related, not much to do with the airline. AB is a very good example that low fares doesn't have to mean nasty service and seeing the passenger only as a walking wallet where as much money should be squeezed out as possible. Now that they are increasing the HEL-TXL flights to twice daily in May I'll surely be using this service much more, I actually have a number of flights already booked.
Sun Express didn't impress me much. I have always thought it to be more a holiday carrier but this flight was mostly patronized by Turkish emigrants, maybe it was the route, I guess the flights to AYT etc. in the real holiday areas cater for a different clientele. As I slept through most of the flight I can't really comment on the service or any other aspects...
Pegasus was a very positive surprise. They have grown to have quite a large operation at SAW with lots of destinations in Europe and Turkey. Great fare, new plane, very friendly and young cabin crew (if a bit novice and unprofessional) and a very relaxed feeling onboard.
Finally BA demonstrated that is has a very good, solid and most importantly very consistent product. Hope they get over the current economic troubles without suffering too much or having to implement too draconian measures.
My next trip is three weeks away, to do some Southwest-style flying in the, well southwest of the UK and a bit of Ireland as well, with the routing HEL-LGW-PLH-NQY-DUB-RIX-HEL.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): We get an apron parking position. When deboarding I can't find my passport anywhere - I am pretty certain I put it in my shirt pocket at Berlin and get mildly panicked about it. I tell one of the crew members about this and they proceed to tear my seat apart trying to find it (well, my over analytical engineer mind is already working for a plan B - namely having to find somebody to help me to make an airside connection to my Pegasus flight instead of passing immigration - that's how my brain seems to work under exceptional situations). Luckily the purser comes up and tells me in stern voice to check my all my coat pockets again, and sure enough, I find the password in the chest pocket. I thank the crew and apologize a couple of times for the hassle, explaining it with the lack of sleep and grogginess.
Wow, I can imagine how you felt. Sometimes you put your stuff somewhere and just don't remember, has happened to me, too.
AYA333 From Finland, joined Aug 2008, 110 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 24666 times:
Wow, another interesting tr! You have good imagination when it comes to booking flights and finding routings!
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): My next trip is three weeks away, to do some Southwest-style flying in the, well southwest of the UK and a bit of Ireland as well, with the routing HEL-LGW-PLH-NQY-DUB-RIX-HEL.
FLIEGER67 From UK - England, joined Sep 2003, 5186 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 24451 times:
another great example of you´re flying around Europe and sometimes also around Asia.
I´am looking forward to this one, particulary in good hope that the German weekend winter return doesn´t interrupt
It does, but at least not that serious.
My opinion about PGT is still the same like yours, friendly staff and nice metal there.
And also SAW, an interesting place to go.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): where I picked 24A, a window seat on the last row after confirming with Markus that he wouldn't be on this flight.
Well, in this case, I accept 24F without any doubts.
Reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1391 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 24410 times:
Thank you for this great report. This is the way I like to travel too, visiting a lot of places in one weekend. You would have been able to fly a little more farther east with Pegasus, SkyExpress, TK or Anadolujet or even to Northern Cyprus, i.e. with Atlas Jet, Onur Air or even Cyprus Turkish Airlines. There is a lot of good stuff around there and a nice country to visit. It would have allowed you to spend a night somewhere in Turkey and have a break. That said, it would have taken one additional day, maybe away from work...
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): The landing is very rough on runway 08L after some 1h40mins of flight and a few minutes later we dock to a jetway on the main terminal building - much preferred over the shack like terminal annex AB usually uses at Tegel.
I realized that AB is trying to operate most of the flights in this little shabby Terminal. The only nice thing is the easy way to make a flight connection, since connecting between the "old" and the "shabby" terminal - especially when it's cold and snowy is really no fun.
Interesting to see that acutally SU seems to be the only "legacy" carrier serving SXF. Did they ever left SXF since the German democratic republic is no more?
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): By this time the check in has opened. Interestingly they are x-raying all luggage before the check in - something which I'm used to in the less developed nations but definitely not in Germany. There's a bit of a queue for this as there are three Sun Express flights to Turkey scheduled around the same time, with lots of Turkish families traveling and tons and tons of luggage as usual. The x-ray machines, photo taken before the rush.
I just realized that no so long ago - maybe 3 or 4 years - this was not unusual: I remember a lot of times when I needed to scan my luguage in Frankfurt before being able to access to the check-in area, i.e. with Condor. Can't remember when/why this changed. Just 1 week ago in JFK with AF A380 to CDG the luguage was no proceed after checking it, but I had to take it off the counter (it was tagged), take it to a TSA screener in the middle of the check-in area, and they scanned and put it away then.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): The plane is equipped with dark blue leather seats, quite comfortable. Leg room looks rather tight on the regular rows, of course no complaints on the exit row. It looks almost full with only a few empty seats - still they were selling tickets on this flight for 49 EUR two days prior... As already mentioned, mostly Turkish passengers with a few Germans here and there.
I realized that this is the same with Sky Airlines. If you travel from Germany (and from some other cities in Europe as well) and you need a last minute ticket, most airlines will have raised the fares, even if they have a lot of space. Not with Sky Airlines. It's not unusual - at least as long it's not holiday season - to get fares aroung 50 EUR even on sectors like Frankfurt-Antalya.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): When deboarding I can't find my passport anywhere - I am pretty certain I put it in my shirt pocket at Berlin and get mildly panicked about it. I tell one of the crew members about this and they proceed to tear my seat apart trying to find it (well, my over analytical engineer mind is already working for a plan B - namely having to find somebody to help me to make an airside connection to my Pegasus flight instead of passing immigration - that's how my brain seems to work under exceptional situations).
I know this However I guess you would have no trouble, since you had a national ID. For Germans - and I think it's the same for Finns - you can enter Turkey with a national ID. They will stamp a paper form which you need to show when you exit the country.
However with a lost passport and without any ID you would maybe manage an airside connection in SAW, but would not be able to enter UK. No chance for an airside connection for a airport transfer from STN to LHR. Also if I remember correctly they usually check ID when boarding in Turkey.
Indeed. Last time I was in SAW the terminal was about to open. The old SAW terminal is modern too, but way to small, especially when 8 to 10 flights left to Germany in the middle of the night at the same tiem and you only have 3 gates. That was a mess. Incredible how this airport grew in just a few years.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): It hits the spot nicely, but at around 10 EUR it is very overpriced by Turkish standards. Most of the prices at this airport turn out to be the same way
Take a look at the Burger King Prices in Antalya Airport. Absolutely incredible... Seems to be overprized anywhere in turkish airports.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): Sun Express didn't impress me much. I have always thought it to be more a holiday carrier but this flight was mostly patronized by Turkish emigrants, maybe it was the route, I guess the flights to AYT etc. in the real holiday areas cater for a different clientele. As I slept through most of the flight I can't really comment on the service or any other aspects..
While they used to be a sole holiday carrier, now they have a big amount of scheduled international and domestic flight, offering connections etc. Just like Pegasus. That's a huge change, and therefore you will find a lot more local people on board.
I found Pegasus always being a cheap looking airline. I don't like their color scheme and I always got old shabby planes when flying with them. Also, there are advertising everywhere, including bad looking logo jets (however, this is my opinion of course). I never tried Sun Express, but they seem more nice to me. Although they could put some new and more colorful paint on their planes.
eicvd From Ireland, joined Mar 2008, 2197 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 23977 times:
As usual an excellent TR. Didnt want to stop reading. I always look forward to reading reports from you but im more excited about the next 1 as it includes my home airport Thanks for posting.
lukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1148 posts, RR: 31
Reply 10, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 23915 times:
Really nice report. I am considering taking a cheaper airline out to SAW in summer as flights from Europe single to CPT are £390+ - however, take a nice little EZY £40 flight to Istanbul ( which I understand would also be a nice stop-off) and you can get a single with QR for only £267! Alot more exciting!
You don't get many red-eye European flights ( at least not in the Uk) so this was cool to see. You couldn't have descended into Istanbul at a better time - beautiful light...
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): o get the offered tuna sandwhich which is quite mediocre - it could use a bit more tuna and mayonnaise and less bread for its own good.
Arghhh from the country of the sandwich BA never seems to get it just right... and its a little extra effort...
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): Anyway to get to London I decided to try Easybus - tickets for the 13.20 service cost only a bit over four quid - a bargain by any standards. They allow one to travel up to one hour before or after the time on a stand by basis, so I try that with the previous, 13.00 service. It is fully booked, but two American girls are still waiting for their friend and the scary driver who resembles a female version of T1000 from Terminator 2
Easybus are by far the most superior option - quite flexible and very friendly. I like the wee buses too. Where they playing Magic FM? I had a woman driver once too and she was honestly the nicest ever - right cockney woman too!
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 28
Reply 11, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 23012 times:
Hi all and thanks for the many comments!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 3): I really have to admire you for that - I couldn't sleep on airport benches or similar places.
I used to be like that, but somehow I've learned to sleep almost anywhere when possible. Kinda like back in the army, you were always sleep deprived so you grabbed all the opportunities for some shut eye. It of course helps that my itineraries have become so weird and hectic that I rarely have that much time for sleeping in a regular bed.. :-/
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 3): Wow, I can imagine how you felt. Sometimes you put your stuff somewhere and just don't remember, has happened to me, too.
Heh, a bit later I clearly remembered putting the passport in the jacket pocket just before boarding at SXF to "make sure it doesn't fall off of disappear" - I still blame my fatigue for this.
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5): I´am looking forward to this one, particulary in good hope that the German weekend winter return doesn´t interrupt
It does, but at least not that serious.
Thanks Markus, luckily I had lots of buffer this time. And the Berlin weather was pleasant enough, luckily.
Quoting Reifel (Reply 6): You would have been able to fly a little more farther east with Pegasus, SkyExpress, TK or Anadolujet or even to Northern Cyprus, i.e. with Atlas Jet, Onur Air or even Cyprus Turkish Airlines. There is a lot of good stuff around there and a nice country to visit. It would have allowed you to spend a night somewhere in Turkey and have a break. That said, it would have taken one additional day, maybe away from work...
Yep, I thought about these possibilities but this itinerary was fine with me - not too expensive at all and good timings. I'm sure to be back to explore more of these carriers, Northern Cyprus sounds very fun as well - I've wanted to go there ever since somebody posted a report here about his trip there. That could be combined with EK LCA-MLA and and and... see, there are always tons of possibilities
Quoting Reifel (Reply 6): I nice thing is the easy way to make a flight connection, since connecting between the "old" and the "shabby" terminal - especially when it's cold and snowy is really no fun.
I connected there once, it was fine apart from the fact that they kept the transfer door locked and I had to find somebody to unlock it for us (was traveling with the family back then, they also had some trouble finding our baby travel pram).
Quoting Reifel (Reply 6): Interesting to see that acutally SU seems to be the only "legacy" carrier serving SXF. Did they ever left SXF since the German democratic republic is no more?
Actually there are a few more, of course depending on your definition of legacy carrier. For example:
Some of those might be charters, though. But anyway most of these airlines appear to be from countries that had strong ties to the former DDR, so I think they never left. AY used to fly to Schönefeld but sometime after the reunification they switched over to Tegel.
Quoting Reifel (Reply 6): For Germans - and I think it's the same for Finns - you can enter Turkey with a national ID. They will stamp a paper form which you need to show when you exit the country.
No, I think they do require a passport from Finns. The Turkish government seemingly has a policy where they apply the same kind of visa regulations and cost that the country applies towards Turkish citizens. Because of this US citizens have to shell out a hundred bucks for a Turkish visa, because that's the same the US charges (or at least used to) from Turkish citizens. I guess Germany and Turkey have a special relationship because of the masses of Gastarbeiters nad have quite relaxed mutual travel requirements.
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 8): You need some 'planespotting lessons'? or were you too tired?
I put it there to see if anybody's paying any attention . Maybe they leased one of the Ezy A319s with the two overwing exits?
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10): Really nice report. I am considering taking a cheaper airline out to SAW in summer as flights from Europe single to CPT are £390+ - however, take a nice little EZY £40 flight to Istanbul ( which I understand would also be a nice stop-off) and you can get a single with QR for only £267! Alot more exciting!
Hmm, sounds like a good deal to me. Just remember that SAW and IST and really far apart from each other (yes, actually located in different continents) and traffic in Istanbul can get really horrible (I once spent one and half hours on a 20 kilometer taxi journey there with a plane to catch!) so preferably have an overnight connection to avoid any nasty surprises.
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10): Easybus are by far the most superior option - quite flexible and very friendly. I like the wee buses too. Where they playing Magic FM? I had a woman driver once too and she was honestly the nicest ever - right cockney woman too!
It wasn't bad at all - I expected something a little more well... cheap. Not sure about the radio station, sounded like a regular playlist radio for me.
Actually we might be talking about the same gal, she was nice alright, her appearance was just very striking, the jackboots, riding pants, short military type haircut and sunglasses sure made her look like Robert Patrick. Oh and I couldn't understand anything she said, so could've been some cockney influence...
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 28
Reply 12, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 22956 times:
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 8): Valkenburg (Leiden) you mean Suryo? No...
It more like Woensdrecht AFB/Hoogerheide. The flight went south of Rotterdam, so this seems a better conclusion, don't you think?
Spent some quality time with Google Maps and Wikipedia and identified the two airports.
The first one is De Peel Air Base NE of Deurne.
The second one is Gilze-Rijen Air Base between Breda and Tilburg.
Interestingly Google Maps is now blurring close shots of any military airports in NL.
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3400 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 22285 times:
It looks like you walked right past my office in London - I work 2 mins walk away from 221B! I'm really liking all your reports - you seem to be away almost very weekend. You must be exhausted, especially with all those redeyes.
signol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3032 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (4 years 10 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 22008 times:
Another superb report - yours are some of the few I actively look out for
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): Sundays they are doing some track maintenance work and several sections on the route would need a replacement bus
Sometimes, tube tickets are accepted on the Express if there is engineering work on the Picadilly line - I used it last year, just discreetly showing the Express ticket inspector my Oyster card. I was ready to repeat, verbatim, the tube driver's announcement, but they just nodded and passed on.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 13
Reply 20, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 21175 times:
Thanks a lot for this great story about your weekend trip - it was an enjoyable read once again.
Great routing and amazing for less than two days on tour. I agree with you, I'm also not a big fan of these red-eye flights. Especially the "second" part (the return leg for the airline that arrives at 6:00 or 7:00 am) can be quite inconvenient.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): we dock to a jetway on the main terminal building - much preferred over the shack like terminal annex AB usually uses at Tegel.
Yes, the "low-cost terminal" used by AB isn't very nice indeed. It shows that it is just an interim arrangement until BBI will be ready.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): It looks almost full with only a few empty seats - still they were selling tickets on this flight for 49 EUR two days prior
Amazing - I wouldn't have expected such a good load factor regarding the nightly flight time.
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 28
Reply 22, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 19814 times:
Quoting Contact Air (Reply 20): Great routing and amazing for less than two days on tour. I agree with you, I'm also not a big fan of these red-eye flights. Especially the "second" part (the return leg for the airline that arrives at 6:00 or 7:00 am) can be quite inconvenient.
Yep, when ClickAir flew BCN-HEL the flight left from BCN around 1 AM or thereabouts and landed a bit after 5 AM in HEL. I did that once and was very tired afterwards. Luckily it was during my summer holidays, so I could just go home and continue sleeping in my own bed. If I had to work arfter that it would kill me.
Actually I once was on a business trip to KUL, flying Austrian HEL-VIE-KUL. The flight left VIE in the early afternoon and arrived at KUL around 5 AM local time. As my body clock was still on European time I got maybe an hour's worth of sleep on that flight, and it didn't help that most of the other passengers were wide awake and noisy. Actually that flight continued to MEL, and most pax would sleep on the KUL-MEL leg. Fortunately my hotel allowed me to check in around 6.30 so that I could grab at least a few hours of sleep before showing up at the client site.
Quoting Contact Air (Reply 20): Sounds nice. Spring is awaited by all of us - interesting that you find it in the UK. Might be a reason to visit again soon.
Well, I'll be there in two weeks. Let's hope it stays that way!
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): as usual on Sundays they are doing some track maintenance work and several sections on the route would need a replacement bus instead
- Always seems to be the case, and always when we need to go to London!
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): I have to settle for a train - choosing the lesser-known Heathrow Connect instead of the much more frequent but only marginally faster and horribly expensive Express
I guess this proves my point of the train company marketing HEX instead! It's a great alternative, not that much slower (esp. on weekends as it skips some of the enroute stops it calls at during the work week) and less than half the price. Service frequency is seriously lacking, though, but with a bit of planning it is fine.