RobMEL From Australia, joined Feb 2010, 78 posts, RR: 0 Posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5593 times:
This is the third in an eventual five part series on my flights around Europe in the summer of 2010. The first part, detailing my flight from Australia is here: MEL-SIN-DXB-IST On SQ (by RobMEL Jul 2 2010 in Trip Reports)
My time in Turkey had come to an end, and I was to fly northwards to my old stomping ground in Estonia. I had picked up a dirt cheap ticket with BT from IST, including baggage allowance, so I was quite happy. The only problem…was getting back to Istabul from Cappadocia.
The solution- a marathon day of travel, involving a bus, a train and a ferry…and then the flights to cap it all off. My coach ride from Goreme took me to Ankara, where I was to get the overnight train. The drive itself was about 5.5 hours, and was reasonably bearable. For those that haven’t experienced coach travel in Turkey, it’s something to behold. Brand spanking new Scania’s and Benz’s ply the highways, with all the mod-cons, including in my case, a bow-tied conductor who provided complimentary tea, coffee and cakes for the passengers. It was better than some airlines I’ve flown.
I had a leisurely 8 hours to kill in Ankara. After visiting the museum of Anatolian Civilisations (quite good) and bumming around the hip district, I decided to do what I hadn’t done in some time- I went to the movies. Life in the fast lane!
Anyway, my train was scheduled to depart at 2230, and arrive around 7:30am the next morning. As I know some of you are interested in trains, here are a couple of photos:
Train at Ankara Station. Very new and modern rolling stock.
My bed folded down from the wall over the seats; it was an easy thing to do, but the conductor insisted on doing it for me.
In the cupboard was a little fridge, which had a couple of snack things and a tub of water, airplane style.
Arrival at Istanbul
Istanbul Haydarpasa station. The Asian side.
Overall, it was a great trip. I booked a single cabin, and it cost a paltry 85 Lira. The train left on time, but was 30 mins late in to Istanbul. Hardly a surprise. Recommended for anyone who likes train travel, or hates overnight buses.
A ferry ride, then a tram ride and I was at Sirkeci station where I dumped my bag before setting of for some breakfast. I met with a colleague who happened to be in Istanbul, drank more Turkish coffee than is generally considered healthy, and set off by tram and then metro for IST. I truly was trying to experience all forms of Turkish transport in as short a period as possible.
I arrived at IST and went to check-in. Only 2 desks open, 1 for economy and 1 for business, but as business was hardly busy, they were checking us economy plebs in as well. I seemed to be the only person who had read the website carefully and pre-purchased my luggage allowance, as the 5 people in front of me were all sent off to pay for their bags.
I’m pretty sure the guy at check-in was either having a bad day, or didn’t like that fact he couldn’t charge me extra. I asked for a window seat, and he gave me an aisle seat. I asked again for a window seat, and he said “aisle seat is better for you”. I thought perhaps this was code for something, like an upgrade or a premium seat…but wasn’t sure. I would soon find out.
As noted by a few people, IST is unbelievable expensive when it comes to food. A meal from Burger King, admittedly the large one, was 20Lira! Still, I stole wifi from a café (they used the same password as they did in the domestic terminal) and went about my business, before wandering down to the gate.
Here are a few shots of the airside terminal:
Spotting isn’t so good at IST I thought, as air bridges and secure lounges get in the way. I did get this shot of an IcelandicAir jet. Cargo, if memory serves me right.
This was the best I could do for my BT jet.
Boarding started, and after a loooong walk down the air-bridge, I boarded and found my seat. It was neither an upgrade, or premium, or even very good. It was the last row before the emergency exit, so it didn’t recline. There was no seat pocket, only this stupid plastic magazine holder that wasn’t big enough to put anything worthwhile in. The only saving grace was that the seat next to me was empty.
I do not endorse this type of arrangement whatsoever. Put back the seat pocket! It should be noted that seats row 11 and backwards all had seat pockets. I saw them when I went for a bathroom break.
On the subject of seating, it was somewhat erratic in how they’d allocated seats. In the row next to me, there were 3 people, who as it turns out, were not connected to each other. The row in front of them had 1 person. So…why put someone in the middle when there’s a vacant aisle seat. A quick glance around the plane after the door shut showed similar things going on. Fortunately, everyone was smart enough to move around a bit and make use of the cabin…including the seat in front of me, which was promptly reclined after take off. Grrrrr.
Seat 10C (I think)
Load- 65%Y, 75%J.
Push back: 10 mins late
Arrival: 30 mins late
As with my domestic flight out of IST, we sat in a queue for take off. We were 12th. We had a 40 minute wait apparently. People started getting worried, as almost everyone had connections in RIX, some with very short times (25 mins for HEL pax I think). I had 2 hours so wasn’t overly worried. Cabin crew re-assured everyone we’d still be on time as flight time was 30 mins less than scheduled. But, as 4pm came and went it became clear that we weren’t going to be arriving on time, and that connections were going to be missed. Eventually it was out turn. As we turned on to the runway and rolled out, I counted 18 aircraft on the taxiway waiting take-off, and God knows how many were waiting to land.
There are no photos of the flight. I had to stash my camera in my bag as it wouldn’t fit in that demented little magazine holder; but then I promptly forgot about it. At any rate, I didn’t have a window seat.
Arrival in RIX was 30 mins late, and several flights were missed. I was shoved out of the way by one of these passengers as I stood up to get my bag. Im not exactly a small man, so to shove me takes some effort and decision, so it was no accident. When I looked at the person who had done it, it was a 40 something lady. I said “excuse me, but why did you shove me?” “I have plane to catch, you were in way” in a thick Russian accent. I said “well, it was quite rude, and it’s got you nowhere, as the door isn’t even open yet”. She glared at me.
I had the last laugh. I was well aware of the fact we were at a remote stand, and we’d be bussing it to the terminal anyway. She obviously was not. Indeed, on the bus ride over, she glared at me the whole time as if it was my personal fault that she missed her flight. We arrived at the non-schengen door (coming from Turkey) and she bolted…but went to the wrong queue. Foolish woman. I later saw her arguing with BT staff in a heated manner about something. Thankfully, she was not on my next flight.
RIX hasn’t changed much from my last visit in 2004. After clearing immigration in to the transit area, I got a bite to eat and had enough time for a quick visit to the men’s room before boarding my flight. A shorter transit time is a good transit time, and I didn’t feel bored nor rushed.
Load- 100% Y.
Push back: on time
Arrival: 10 mins early
My first flight on the F50. We bussed out to the aircraft and boarded in a relatively orderly fashion. I got a few snaps on the way.
RIX main terminal
BT 737 and 757
Aeroflot…something or other. Tupolev I think. Russian made aircraft are not my forte. Note the MiG in the background (I’m probably wrong there too)
Ilyushins (?) hanging about.
You know it. Not a lot of space…good enough for a short hop. Barely.
We taxied seemingly the whole distance around the airport before taking off. No queues here! I do love the sound of a prop on take off, very throaty and passionate roar. Flight time was about 40 mins, and before long we were out of the clouds and in to sunny TLL.
Somewhere over Estonia.
Estonian Air 737 at home.
TLL was extremely quiet on our arrival. We were the only flight in at that time, and there was literally no-one in the terminal waiting for a flight. I grabbed my bag quickly, and was out the door to meet my friend.
A solid experience on BT overall. They seem to be positioning themselves quite well as a respectable LCC link between Western Europe and the former Eastern Bloc, including flights to some pretty obscure spots in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 2810 posts, RR: 13 Reply 3, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 4718 times:
Nice report. Quite fancy a trip to Turkey. I've got a friend moving to Georgia this summer, so was hoping to get there by way to Istlanbul and Van.
Quoting RobMEL (Thread starter): I was shoved out of the way by one of these passengers as I stood up to get my bag. Im not exactly a small man, so to shove me takes some effort and decision, so it was no accident. When I looked at the person who had done it, it was a 40 something lady. I said “excuse me, but why did you shove me?” “I have plane to catch, you were in way” in a thick Russian accent. I said “well, it was quite rude, and it’s got you nowhere, as the door isn’t even open yet”. She glared at me.
This reminds me of transferring from Seoul to Beijing via Dalian. I had a really short connection, so I'd deliberatley got a seat at the very front. We ended up taxiiing past the (empty) to a remote stand to be bussed. Very frustrating!
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1705 posts, RR: 41 Reply 4, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4094 times:
A nice little read of your multimodal trip from rural Turkey to less rural Estonia (if you stayed in Tallinn, that is...).
Quoting RobMEL (Thread starter): I decided to do what I hadn’t done in some time- I went to the movies.
Are foreign movies subtitled in Turkey?
Quoting RobMEL (Thread starter):
Overall, it was a great trip. I booked a single cabin, and it cost a paltry 85 Lira.
That's cheap. But considering the amount of LCC competition plying the domestic Turkish routes nowadays, especially a trunk route like Ankara-Istanbul I think you could've flown for the same amount of money if you had booked well in advance. Then again it saved you the cost for a hotel room.
Quoting RobMEL (Thread starter): I seemed to be the only person who had read the website carefully and pre-purchased my luggage allowance, as the 5 people in front of me were all sent off to pay for their bags.
This is my experience also, at least at HEL. There are always tons of people who either are very surprised that they need to pay for their luggage or even worse, they know it beforehand but still choose to do it at the airport (come on people, it is half price if you do it online!). This is very frustrating since it really slows down the check in process and blocks access to the ticket desk at departure times. Last time at HEL I noticed they had introduced a special luggage tag that all the "pending fee payment" bags got - I guess they separate these before loading and then hand the list of those pax who paid the fee to the luggage handlers to load in.
Quoting RobMEL (Thread starter): I do not endorse this type of arrangement whatsoever. Put back the seat pocket! It should be noted that seats row 11 and backwards all had seat pockets. I saw them when I went for a bathroom break.
Actually there are two slightly different seats on these BT 737s, as you noticed. The ones on the front, where you also sat have better legroom than the ones on the back which have the seat pockets. I guess it is to offer business class customers a slightly better legroom.
Quoting RobMEL (Thread starter): RIX hasn’t changed much from my last visit in 2004. After clearing immigration in to the transit area, I got a bite to eat and had enough time for a quick visit to the men’s room before boarding my flight. A shorter transit time is a good transit time, and I didn’t feel bored nor rushed.
Actually one thing that has changed is that the passenger numbers have about quadrupled since then. At peak hours you have a hard time finding a toilet with large queues everywhere - it got that bad that Mr. Flick, the CEO of airBaltic actually commented on it on the BT inflight magazine and the airport company quickly built some additional bathroom capacity in order not to upset their biggest customer too much!
RobMEL From Australia, joined Feb 2010, 78 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 3778 times:
Glad you liked the TR
To answer: yes, some movies are subtitled, some are dubbed. There's no logic to what gets subtitiling and what gets dubbing. Robin Hood, which is what I saw, was subtitled, but Prince of Persia, was dubbed.
I also have a soft spot for trains. Decent, affordable trains in Australia are hard to come by, so taking an overnight sleeper was just one of those things I had to do in Turkey. Fitted in with my plans quite well. It was the best of my overnight journeys. Each got progessively worse. But they were still all part of the experience.
As for the BT seats, I felt like the leg room was a little more generous than I would normally encounter, but that lack of seat pocket was really grating.
I did get in to the countryside for a few days. I love Estonia, winter and summer.