EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1215 posts, RR: 5 Posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 14392 times:
I was asked to edit my last trip report, and to put all the non-aviation parts of it in the non-aviation forum. I feel that I have failed to understand the political sensitivity and emotions about Cypriot cinflict. I apologize if anyone was offended from the previous TR, it was not my intention. I want to mention that I tried to be fair and balanced and not take side in the conflict. For all those who lost thier reply - I'm sorry, but there was nothing I could do. You are all welcome to reply again. Anyway, all the non-aviation part of this Trip Report is right here: Photographed Trip Report To Northern Cyprus (by EL-AL Jun 3 2010 in Non Aviation)
(I will add another link at the right place after the flrst flight)
I won a round trip flight to Cyprus for $1 US, what combined perfectly with my desire to visit Northern Cyprus. Welcome to my 7th Trip report.
As a political science student, I have long wanted to visit Northern Cyprus. I thought about going to a place that was isolated from the world for 30 years, in combination with the well known Turkish hospitality got me to search for options to visit the nearby Island, before all the tourists discover it and make it a over-developed magnet for tourists with bars and hotels that all look the same, like in the south. The opening of the border between both countries in 2004 is causing a fast development of the TRNC (GDP grew up 5 times since 2004), thus I didn’t have much time. I planned to go there around October, but Arkia were ahead of me:
On Thursday, May 6th, I was getting ready to go to the gym with the TV open in the background, then I saw on pre-time news show (מה קורה) that arkia open the summer season with special sale: 260 tickets to Larnaca (Republic of Cyprus) will be sold for 1 USD for the first 260 persons that will answer 2 questions correctly at arkia’s website, starting at Sunday at 18:00. During the weekend, there wasn’t another mention of the sale anywhere in the media, except for 1 economy newspaper website.
On Sunday, I called Arkia asking if the sale is still on, and I was told that yes, and it will start at 15:00. On 1500 I got online to www.arkia.co.il but there was no mention of the sale. I called them again (10 minutes waiting…) then I was told that it will start ‘sometime this afternoon’. Only at 18:45 I managed to see it online and till 19:00 I answered both questions and gave my name and my e-mail, so as other names and e-mails (family, friends…) to increase the chance of winning. Also called some friends who I thought may be interested. Since when I was done it was already 19:00, and only 260 tickets were on sale, I thought that I have no chance to win, it was on TV after all, and I forgot from it.
Arkia’s webpage about the sale:
Arkia’s PR were doing pretty bad job: no one I talked with know about this sale, and even on the same Sunday there was no mention of it on Arkia’s regular advertisements. On Wednesday, no less then 4 days after the sale started, I saw ad for it on Israel Hayom (Israel’s 2nd popular newspaper) then I understood that they don’t have 260 winners yet, and that I can start packing. TRNC – here I come!
The next Sunday I got an e-mail from arkia to both e-mails I used that I won the option to buy TLV-LCA-TLV tickets for 1 USD. I sent SMS to a good friend of mein, Anat, writing her something like this: "I won 2 flight tickets to Cyprus for this weekend. Google “North Cyprus”, if you are interested – let’s go”. 5 minutes later I got an answer “we’re going” (הולכים), then I faxed arkia the 2 forms they sent me, called the reservation center and got us the cheapest full fare plane ticket ever.
I got to the airport at 17:45 (SDT:19:20) to find a completely empty airport. On Friday night, El Al is not flying, and there are only the transatlantic night takeoffs (after 23:30) and the afternoon Europe takeoffs (which end at 17:30) so between those hours, on Friday evening TLV is empty.
Empty drop off area:
From the departure drop-off road, El Al jets getting ready for the Shabbat rest on D wing:
I passed security with no one but me in line, and then went to the check in desk with, again, no one but me in line. Empty check in hall:
At the check in counter I asked how full the flight is, expecting that due to the "flight for a dollar" sale the flight we be 100% full, but not – I was told that the flight has just 30 passengers! I had a small talk with the check in agent, told her that if I was Arkia's CEO I would fire public relations section – no one know about this sale!
After check in (I asked for a flight on the right side of the plane with a window and got 25F, I was told that I can move after takeoff anywhere I want) I went, via Shakim hall, to the passport control area. Coffee with a view at Shakim hall:
At passport control I found myself alone in line, again. After passport control, heading for the gates:
Empty airport all over. Empty duty free:
Empty B wing:
Empty C wing:
Empty D wing:
2 American B772s that will cross the Atlantic later tonight:
El Al land:
End of B wing:
My ride for today – E195 4X-EMA, my second ride on this plane this week:
We heard the boarding call, and on our way from B wing to C02 gate we already heard the last call, meaning that boarding took something like 5 minutes. We pushback 22 minute before scheduled time and landed 25 minutes ahead of scheduled.
Airline: Arkia Israeli Airlines
Airplane: Embraer E195 4X-EMA (built 2008).
Route: Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Israel -> Larnaca International Republic of Cyprus.
Gates: C02 (T3) -> 68
Runways: 30 -> 22
Seat: 25F -> 5F
EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1215 posts, RR: 5 Reply 1, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 14333 times:
Happy that we found a way to get to the airport, we hopped on the 17:00 bus and got to the Terminal at 17:45, with SDT at 22:45. Since we had some time to kill, I bought myself "Airliner World" and "Airport" magazines, I sat down with Anat, reading some and taking some photos. There is nice view of the runway from the departure hall, and I had both my camera and binoculars. Who needs more?
Taken from the departure drop off area:
LCA control tower:
Bus parking area:
I took a daylight pic of the arrival hall:
Check in hall:
The check in counter opened at around 20:00, we passed security questioning and checked in. I asked for window and middle to the left in A section, the check in woman (local from southern Cyprus, not Arkia employee) said OK, but when I got the BP I saw that we were seated in row 22. I hate when that happen, but since it was a short night flight I didn't want to start an argument.
In passport control hall there was just 1 counter open for EU and 1 for non-EU. We waited for around 7 minutes, but while we stood there a long line began behind us – there were 4 flights to Tel Aviv so as flights to Amman and Beirut, what created a long line next to the sole non-EU counter.
After passport control we proceeded to the impressive shopping ceter area (good prices for non-EU residents):
Gates area – very nice, the only bad thing I can say is that the iron ceiling looks cheap:
Gates area for remote stands:
FIDS – no less then 4 flights to Tel Aviv in 65 minutes:
2 Greek speaking airlines: Cyprus Airways and Olympic Air:
Our plane arrived – Boeing B757-300 4X-BAU, built in 2000 and sent new to Arkia together with it’s twin BAW. My first B753 flight, and probably the shortest B757 scheduled route:
Bording was called only at 22:30 (STD: 22:45) I have no idea why, since the plane was at the gate already at 21:45.
Airline: Arkia Israeli Airlines
Airplane: Boeing B757-300 4X-BAU (built 2000).
Route: Larnaca International Republic of Cyprus -> Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Israel.
Gates: 47 -> D05
Runways: 22 -> 12
Airborne time: 37 minutes (my shortest international flight!)
Gate to gate time: 50 minutes (scheduled 50 minutes).
Boarding completed, and I found out that this flight is pretty empty too. Considering that not all passengers on the flight were on the 1 USD sale, Arkia didn’t sell those 260 tickets, or (the more likely option) people booked the flights since they had the chance to buy ticket for dollar but didn’t show at the airport after checking hotel prices. View from my seat:
Arkia ATR 72-500 4X-AVU park at gate 11:
We taxied to RWY 22, took off then headed south-east. Flight time was just 37 minutes. Service was a muffin and water.
Load factor was just 150/265 (56.6%), and not all passengers bought tickets at my sale.
The B753 was in bad shape. There wasn’t enough legroom (I could move to the empty exit seat row but since this flight is so short I passed), the cabin looked as if this plane is 20 years old and not 10 years old. Just take a look at this old screen:
Same service as last time – muffin and mineral water + safety card:
We flew along the Israeli cost line from north to south, and then descended over Tel Aviv:
Park in D5 (15 minutes behind scheduled time):
We landed on RWY 12, and taxied to gate D05. Disembarking was done fast, and we went towards the baggage claim hall:
Those ancient mosaics over the entrance to passport control hall were donated to the Airports Authority but the Antiques and archeology authority to the opening of T3 in 2004:
daviation From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 500 posts, RR: 2 Reply 2, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 13495 times:
This is a funny coincidence. My niece, who is a dual US-Israeli citizen, and her boyfriend, who is Israeli, also won this $1 trip to Cyprus. I couldn't believe it, and I'm sure they couldn't believe it either. They sent many pictures, and Cyprus certainly looks like a beautiful place to visit. I really don't know too much about the political conflict there, except that the Greeks and Turks have been fighting over it for many many years.
reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1264 posts, RR: 1 Reply 4, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 12955 times:
Thanks for the great report. New LCA terminal is such an improvement! I've been there a few years ago and the old terminal was so bad. Especially the departure "waiting rooms" and also the rental car arrival areas where completely outdated. And there were no jetbridges. This airport tremendously improved!
I went to TRNC for one weekend a year or so ago. However I took the plane via Turkey. My passport was stamped without even asking if I prefer the paper sheet, but this wasn't any problem in all the other countries I visited afterwards, even not in the US, not in Southern Cyprus and Greece (when I entered those countries from a non-Schengen state). So that's fine for me. If you're interested, here is the report: Northern Cyprus With KTHY/Pegasus/XL Germany/TUI (by Reifel Dec 29 2007 in Trip Reports)
Thanks again for posting, also for the nice pictures in the non aviation related part. I enjoyed it a lot.
EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1215 posts, RR: 5 Reply 6, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 12453 times:
Quoting daviation (Reply 2): This is a funny coincidence. My niece, who is a dual US-Israeli citizen, and her boyfriend, who is Israeli, also won this $1 trip to Cyprus. I couldn't believe it, and I'm sure they couldn't believe it either
Excellent, now no one think i made it up
According to what I heard, everyone who answered both questions on arkia's website won the $1 flights.
Quoting daviation (Reply 2): They sent many pictures, and Cyprus certainly looks like a beautiful place to visit
Where in Cyprus have they been?
Quoting semsem (Reply 3): Thanks for the pictures.I enjoyed Cyprus
You welcome. Have you been there now, with this sale?
Quoting reifel (Reply 4): Thanks for the great report. New LCA terminal is such an improvement! I've been there a few years ago and the old terminal was so bad. Especially the departure "waiting rooms" and also the rental car arrival areas where completely outdated. And there were no jetbridges. This airport tremendously improved!
Thank you. LCA terminal is nice, but I was reading here that in the summer and holidays its too small. There are only 66 check in counters at the new terminal - in a country with 4 million tourists every year, most of the come in the summer, I'm not sure that's enough. Is the old terminal closed?
Quoting reifel (Reply 4): I went to TRNC for one weekend a year or so ago. However I took the plane via Turkey. My passport was stamped without even asking if I prefer the paper sheet, but this wasn't any problem in all the other countries I visited afterwards, even not in the US, not in Southern Cyprus and Greece (when I entered those countries from a non-Schengen state). So that's fine for me. If you're interested, here is the report: Northern Cyprus With KTHY/Pegasus/XL Germany/TUI (by Reifel Dec 29 2007 in Trip Reports)
I was reading your trip report before going myself, I liked it a lot. I rented a car, so I had no problem with local transport. Ercan airport is located in the middle of nowhere! I have to say that even though I was taking photos within the terminal, no one told my anything, and I didn't see 'no photography' signs.
If it was up to me, I would fly TLV-IST-ECN since it's more interesting from aviation point of view, but -
A. KTHY flights are very expensive! IST-ECN-IST flights are around 250 YTL (~130 Euros), thus round trip flights from Israel is something like 470 USD, which is way too much just to get someplace which is just 350km away from my home.
B. For Israeli, it's stupid to fly all the way to IST, just to head back south to ECN.
C. - I did get those TLV-LCA-TLV flights for free (well, almost) and it's pretty simple to get from LCA to the border, since there are regular buses from the airport to Nicosia for just 7 Euros.
Arkia totally failed with this sale! If the point was to make good public relations they failed, and if the point was to fly 260 passengers to Cyprus for dollar - they also failed. I was very surprised, since IZ is a big advertiser in Israel, with advertisements in the Israeli media on a daily basis (they advertise themselves way more then El Al, for comparison).
Quoting B747forever (Reply 5): Quite nice that Arkia serves their passengers something for such a short flight
Arkia's service was very good, both on those flights and on the domestic flights. Still, I have no idea how are they doing on longer flights, like TLV-BCN or TLV-CDG.
"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.
Quoting EL-AL (Thread starter): My ride for today – E195 4X-EMA, my second ride on this plane this week:
It still looks very similar to the Air Europa E-Jets. I'm wondering when that paint scheme will be replaced.
Quoting EL-AL (Thread starter): The B753 was in bad shape. There wasn’t enough legroom (I could move to the empty exit seat row but since this flight is so short I passed), the cabin looked as if this plane is 20 years old and not 10 years old. Just take a look at this old screen:
ODAFZ From Afghanistan, joined Jul 2004, 355 posts, RR: 5 Reply 8, posted (3 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 11493 times:
Thank you for another great report
You should have seen LCA airport in 1987, there was not FIDS and departures were written on a blackboard with a piece of chalk!
In my other travels to BEY through LCA , I saw the airport change , my last trip in 1998, we had to board the planes through buses, the flight to BEY and return took exactly 19 minutes and 22 minutes respectively (on CY A320) and we were served a juice and a piece of cake on both legs.
I am rather disappointed of the architecture of the new airport it seems that modernity has killed originality. I could swear it was Athens Airport, same tubular roof.
Indeed. Arkia's B753s are usually flying short haul flights with many passengers enter and exit the plane - on Thursdays and Saturdays, IZ's B753s fly TLV-ETH-TLV about 8 times, round trip, which probably donate to the poor condition of the cabin. Arkia's other main destinations are also pretty close - LCA, RHO & HER. 'Long haul' flights like CDG and BCN are usually done just twice a week, thus those planes had a lot of work during the years and cabin renovation is needed.
Thx ODAFZ, I'm always glad to read your kind comments.
Quoting ODAFZ (Reply 8): In my other travels to BEY through LCA , I saw the airport change , my last trip in 1998, we had to board the planes through buses, the flight to BEY and return took exactly 19 minutes and 22 minutes respectively (on CY A320) and we were served a juice and a piece of cake on both legs.
There were 2 flights to BEY when we were there - CY & MEA (A320 & A321) which is even shorter then TLV flights.
Quoting ODAFZ (Reply 8): I am rather disappointed of the architecture of the new airport it seems that modernity has killed originality. I could swear it was Athens Airport, same tubular roof.
I agree with your opinion about Athens new airport - it's dull, gray and boring all over. Not a single try was made to use unique Greek architectural features to make Greece's main entry gate just a bit unordinary airport, you can copy ATH new airport to any medium size city in the US and it would seem just right.
Quoting ODAFZ (Reply 8): You should have seen LCA airport in 1987, there was not FIDS and departures were written on a blackboard with a piece of chalk!
Well...In 1987 I could see it, but I guess I counldn't remember it Don't forget that LCA was built in a rush, and was never supposed to be Cyprus main gate - Nicosia international airport was the Island's main airport till 1974, and during the war it was bombed by the Turkish Air Force and at the end of it the airport remained in the buffer zone between the north and the south, therefore out of service. Both parts had to build new airports, and fast (it is an Island after all).
"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.