After a relaxing day spent at Funchal, Madeira, it is time to leave the island. I had prebooked a taxi for 8.00, which gave me just enough time to have a breakfast at the hotel restaurant before packing up and checking out. I could’ve taken the airport bus for much less money but felt spending a bit more (well, seven times as much, actually) for the convenience.
I’m at the airport at 8.15 which turns out to be way too early. There are some large queues inside:
But luckily those belonged to a pair of Condor flights to FRA and MUC. The Sata desks are almost empty, so I get relieved of my bag in no time at all - I ask for “An A seat on the left hand side of the plane so I can get a last view of the beautiful island of Madeira” which gets me exactly that and a very warm smile from the middle aged female agent.
Love these old fashioned departure boards:
Hmm, does this mean you have to attach a baggage tag to your pet and check it in:
The airside isn’t terribly interesting:
Luckily the top floor has a cafe, but more importantly a large outdoor terrace/viewing area - no doubt where I spend the next 45 minutes! It is rather chilly actually with wind from the north, but I don’t mind at all as there are quite a few planes here or just arriving.
Here’s White - love that tagline “Colored by you” - operating the DE flight to FRA:
Maybe this plane will operate my flight up to LIS:
The runway extension on top of the concrete pillars:
Oh, it’s Condor from MUC:
Oh wait, it’s actually Snoopy:
Something from the Air Force:
A Casa C-295, opening its tail ramp while still taxiing:
A Sata Air Acores Dash - sad to see the ATPs gone:
Oh, here’s another Sata Airbus, this turns out to be my ride:
“Diaspora”, that’s a weird name for a plane:
Boarding is called around 9.30, the progress is very slow as there’s only one agent handling the gate and he does not seem to be in any hurry.
A short walk across the apron to CS-TKO and I board via the back door:
“The Atlantic and You (TM)”:
I like this logo, very stylish:
FNC-LIS S4460 A320 CS-TKO Seat 19A 10.05 - 11.27
This plane has dark blue leather seats, a bit more modern than TAP:
But still with a similar kind of cramped legroom:
As is evident from these latest generation cabin controls this is quite a new plane, delivered new to SATA Internacional in April 2009.
Oh, I’ll drink to that too!
Boarding continues to be slow, and as the plane appears to be almost full it is finally completed a few minutes after our scheduled departure time. Right away the doors are closed, our flight time is announced as 1h20mins and we depart only five minutes late, not bad.
Turning around the far end of 05:
And then we go:
Just as on the flight over right after leaving Madeira behind there’s nothing but sea between us and Lisbon, so not much views until landing. They don’t play the airshow at all, instead the monitors constantly loop around the same SATA information, including their route network and information about their planes, kinda like the last few pages of any decent inflight mag:
Service is worse than on TAP, only a few biscuits are handed out, followed by drinks, not sure if they carry any alcohol as I prefer a coffee this time:
No word from the cockpit at all. The crew is a bit friendlier than on TAP, I witness at least two of them smiling . Speaking of the FAs, one of them is a real hottie - probably not in the classical hottie way but there’s something about her that just strikes exactly the right chords in me. Well, we can always dream.
Descent starts exactly one hour after take off, and the Portuguese coast soon comes into view. Here’s the westernmost point of continental Europe, Cabo da Roca (the peninsula further away):
Estoril - I once spent a holiday there:
Landfall over the sandy beaches of Costa da Caparica:
Torre de Belém, an UNESCO world heritage site:
The Jerónimos Monastery, the second half of the UNESCO site:
Landing is on runway 03 after a bit over 1h15mins in the air. The recently finished non-Schengen pier extension of Terminal 1:
I still find flying an 757 over the pond a bit weird:
That’s just beautiful:
We get an apron parking position, and surprisingly are bussed over to Terminal 1 instead of the domestic terminal - well I didn’t see any arrival facilities around there so maybe there are none. The baggage belts have signs for Porto and Faro as well, so I guess this is common practice.
Speaking of the bags they sure take a while to arrive, but mine finally shows up. Then I try to find the bus that would take me to Oriente - very confusing as the Lisbon public transportation website showed me a route number which I can’t find on any stop, instead there’s something called an “Aero Shuttle” which actually is exactly the thing I’m looking for - only that they don’t use the line number anywhere but on the bus itself...
I’m staying at the Parque das Nações area near the airport - that’s the area constructed for the World Expo 1998 as a showcase of Portuguese development and modernity and one that I really like. Sure, it’s all modern with none of the charm of the older parts of the city but I’ve been there many times and want to hang around here this time. I’m staying at the Tryp Oriente hotel, a modern high rise facility just a stone’s throw away from the Gare do Oriente station and the huge Vasco da Gama shopping mall - a chain which I’ve had some good experiences with before:
My room on the 15th floor:
The window overlooks the platforms of the station:
The station building, very impressive architecture here:
The Vasco da Gama shopping mall - takes care of all the shopping needs one could have:
The Lisbon aquarium:
I took this cable car ride once - very nice views:
The impressive, 17 kilometers long Vasco da Gama bridge:
The rest of the day is spent just wandering around the area lazily, enjoying the sunny weather, doing a bit of shopping and finally almost killing myself by overdosing on meat at a Brazilian buffet.
Up at six to catch a taxi for the short ride to the airport, arriving there two hours before departure. The AY check in desks are almost the first ones when one enters the area, very convenient. A bit of a queue on the economy ones, but only one Chinese family before me on the business one. A very friendly older male agent soon asks if my preallocated seat 1A is fine with me (it is) and gives me directions to the lounge.
Security is almost empty but all the people seem to fall into the “flying once per year and not aware of any security regulations” category which makes it a bit of a wait, but once finally through I do a quick bout of shopping and head for the sanctuary of the lounge - this place is seriously busy even at this early hour! Well, I actually go to check the plane out before going as the gate is right next to the lounge - OH-LXA, Finnair’s first A320 spent the night here:
Only my second flight on this plane.
The Lisbon Lounge (if I remember the name right) is located right next to the large and quite fancy-looking TAP facility. A perfectly acceptable and decently-sized lounge, they have some breakfast offerings plus lots of drinks. I think all the other passengers here are Finns, there are actually surprisingly many, including someone I used to know from my work some years ago with his family, so I exchange a few words with him. Quite a few of my fellow Finns are hitting the booze right after seven in the morning... I stick to my capucchino and juice and the previous day’s Finnish newspaper - nice that AY makes a point of providing this lounge with them.
Looks like anything goes as “Art” nowadays:
Boarding is scheduled for 8.10, around that time I make my way to the gate where it starts five or so minutes later, with families with kids and business class passengers (and even business class passengers with kids - there are quite a few of those today!) given the priority.
LIS-HEL AY3694 A320 OH-LXA Seat 1A 8.50 - 15.15
A senior crew again, pretty customary with AY actually. Seat 1A has great legroom thanks to the bulkhead:
Looks like I forgot to take a picture of the seats, but the A320 features the newer slimline Recaro seats with light blue fabric covers, a decent seat but it’s quite hard so can give one some nasty back ache after a couple of hours of sitting on it. Just search for some other reports for pictures of the seats, I know I’ve posted some.
The load is completely full today (asked the check in agent actually), 4 rows of business are full as well, as mentioned a surprisingly number of kids here. From what I see all the business class passengers except for one Portuguese guy are Finns. There’s quite a bit of Asians onboard (AY strategy at work here!) but all are in economy (AY strategy failing a bit here!).
Five minutes before the scheduled time of departure the captain welcomes us onboard and announces that it will be another ten minutes for “organizing the flight”, which I assume means the paperwork, before we departure for our flight, with a speedy flight time of 3h55mins today due to some favorable tailwinds, and should be arriving somewhat ahead of schedule in HEL.
He is dead right on his estimations, push back is exactly ten minutes later, five minutes late. Portugalia F100 next to us:
There’s quite a rush at this hour with plenty of landing and departing planes, so we spend the best part of 20 minutes queuing for the runway, and I keep snapping at the arriving planes:
Finally our turn:
Pretty soon after take off the service starts with the hot towel:
I keep watching the beautiful scenery of Portugal and Spain:
Finally the hot breakfast is served:
On the tray there is a fruit salad and a tub of youghurt plus some condiments and the actual breakfast:
...which turns out to be a major disappointment. Pretty much the only edible things are the single sausage and the potato thingy looking like a flower. The weird large lump in the middle is actually scrambled eggs, even though it has the appearance and texture of oatmeal - and the taste is horrible as well, the reheating certainly didn’t do it any good! The bacon is also very dry and bad tasting - I’m not a big fan of bacon even when it is good and this certainly isn’t, so one nibble is enough for me.
I’ve had some good breakfast on AY business, I particularly remember one with lots of fried potatoes and sausages, but I don’t know what happened today. Maybe it is because this meal was catered at HEL the previous day and only served some 36 hours later.
Some champers (ahh, the breakfast of kings!) and tea with lemon goes nicely with this breakfast.
My seatmate is showing all the symptoms of a heavy hangover, he proceeds to have a bottle of red wine and G&T with his brekkie, and falls asleep right after devouring them. Every now and then he wakes and requests another G&T, downs it and nods off again. During one of these moments he tries to talk to me but apparently he (re)started the drinking already in the lounge as I have a hard time understanding anything from his slur - pretty much the only things I gather are that they are celebrating some sort of deal they made for their company here. For whatever reason only two of their rather large entourage are in business, the rest of them are back in economy. Most of them look to be more or less in the same condition, though.
A dam somewhere in Northern Spain:
Right after entering the Bay of Biscay it gets overcast, staying very much so until somewhere north of Amsterdam when there are again some nice views. Our route so far:
Looks like Groningen:
The East Frisian Islands belonging to Germany:
We flew parallel to this Norwegian 738 for a long time, finally when entering the Danish airspace it started descending, most probably landing at CPH:
Flensburg in extreme northern Schleswig-Holstein, near the Danish border:
Sønderborg in Denmark. SGD airport, the home base of Danish airline Cimber Air is visible on the top - I’ll be flying out of there in October:
Kalundborg Fjord on the island of Zealand, Denmark:
The town and port of Frederiksværk:
Leaving Sweden for the Baltic Sea, soon home:
During the flight I manage to keep myself well hydrated with Champagne, what else - the tally comes to four mini bottles by the time we start our descent 250 kilometers out of HEL, around 3h30mins after take off.
AY displays connecting gate information on the drop down screens - a very nice feature. Too bad they are having some encoding issues today:
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1705 posts, RR: 42 Reply 1, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 12610 times:
The weather at HEL is announced as 28 degrees and sunny, actually much warmer than it was in Lisbon that morning!
Our approach is not your conventional one - we make landfall near the Hankoniemi peninsula, the southernmost point in continental Finland:
And fly over the southern half of Espoo:
My office is down there:
Past the airport on the southern side:
Looks like runway 15 is in use for landings:
Almost over my house, it is in this picture:
Before finally turning north and making a huge tour via Järvenpää to Nurmijärvi and commencing our final approach to runway 15 from there.
Usually when arriving from the south the path would just take one to the north of the airport and then onto finals from there, but not today. I guess this dog leg cost us some additional time since when we land we are only ten minutes ahead of schedule and have spent almost exactly four hours in the air.
A bit later we are at gate 26:
HEL luggage handling being nowadays what it is it of course takes another half an hour before I finally get my bag and can head home.
SATA Internacional, while a nice addition to anyone’s log didn’t again impress me that much at least on this short hop (and judging from some other reports here, neither are the long haul routes anything special). The plane was nice and new, but the seats not very comfortable and service quite minimal - sure the coffee was good but a small muffin or sandwich would’ve been much appreciated. A bit friendlier crew than on TAP, I give them that.
And on the return leg AY business wasn’t really up to its usual standards, mainly because of the weird service concept on this flight with a scheduled flight time of 4h40mins - serving only a hot breakfast (and a very bad one at that!) on a flight that departs 8.45 Portuguese time (already 10.45 Finnish time) and is scheduled to arrive 15.25 Finnish time just doesn’t cut it - they should have either a second light snack like sandwiches served an hour or so out of HEL or just offer lunch on this flight, serving it a bit later into the flight (with maybe a coffee and a sandwich or muffin served right away as a sort of mini breakfast). With the larger and full business class cabin the service wasn’t as personal on the flight over either, but at least the call button was always promptly answered so that’s not a real problem for me at least - I actually prefer it this way than somebody coming over every few minutes to check on you.
Well, never the one to stop traveling I managed to squeeze in one more low cost trip just a few days after this one: TMP-STN-NCL/EDI-TMP. Stay tuned!
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6182 posts, RR: 79 Reply 2, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 12539 times:
another nice report, I was curious to read about SATA Int'l. As a niche carrier they should really offer a much better product. The new corporate identity is great, but the rest is not impressing at all. Well, I recently tried SATA Air Acores' Dash 8-200 and found it quite nice - but you cannot say much about a flight which only takes 11 minutes.
FLIEGER67 From Georgia, joined Sep 2003, 4387 posts, RR: 57 Reply 3, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 12500 times:
great stuff again.
I like you´re Lisbon pictures, well done and the others also, btw.
SATA is also here in the log on the very same route.
AY biz sounds not really worth it, but anyway 4 hours in coach with a 100% load, thats also not my very favourite.
So it is ok to spend the miles this way from my point of view.
The777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6079 posts, RR: 56 Reply 7, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 11574 times:
Hi FlyingFinn! Gret report with great pictures, especially from Lisbon. SATA seems very cramped on your flight. I agree with you that AY should offer a lunch on LIS-HEL flight rather than a breakfeast.
Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....GA, T5, CI and LX 777s
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8258 posts, RR: 56 Reply 8, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 11487 times:
Another good read, though the Sata experience sounds like it could be better.
I never understand why these kind if niche carriers don't promote themselves through warmth and hospitality, oh well, at least they were better than TAP - unlucky for me I have 2 sectors with TAP next year, one longhaul!
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): Luckily the top floor has a cafe, but more importantly a large outdoor terrace/viewing area -
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1705 posts, RR: 42 Reply 9, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 11300 times:
Hi and thanks for the comments!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2): Well, I recently tried SATA Air Acores' Dash 8-200 and found it quite nice - but you cannot say much about a flight which only takes 11 minutes.
FNC-PXO by any chance? I think I should have tried this route, I've never flown on the Dash 8 -200 series (nor the -100) and that would be a cheap and interesting way to catch it I guess. Maybe I need to look into the Azores, catching that A310 would be another nice opportunity on such a trip!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2): Most likely it is dedicated to the many Azoreans who have emigrated in the past.
That's what I thought as well, still a funny name methinks!
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 8): Food on AY looks pretty unappetizing, shame, I've always enjoyed my AY experiences.
Well, all carriers have good days and bad days. As I said I've had some perfectly good breakfasts ex-HEL in AY business before, so all is not lost! Doing one of these in three weeks, let's see how it will compare.
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 3): I like you´re Lisbon pictures, well done and the others also, btw.
Quoting akhmad (Reply 4): I like your Lisbon pictures as well. It brings back the nice memories while visiting this city.
A beautiful weather and an interesting area with lots of nice architecture and features - those surely add up to some fab images!
As for AY, I though the brekkie looked good, pity it didn't taste so good. I agree it does seem very odd serving it on a flight landing mid-afternoon. Nice to see you got the special runway 15 approach.
"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
Not only a great tag line but probably the most attractive mainly white livery I have ever seen!
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): They don’t play the airshow at all, instead the monitors constantly loop around the same SATA information, including their route network and information about their planes, kinda like the last few pages of any decent inflight mag:
With such a system not showing the airshow is stupid! Almost every passenger will appreciate it!
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 12): Seriously, coming from such a friendly country, I just don't get it.
Well, the Portuguese service culture is often a bit weird, especially outside the real touristy areas where they have learned through the nose to suck up to the tourists. And as you mentioned, once you break the ice the people are super friendly, so yes, it is a mystery. Actually come to think of it, the best ever visit to a police station (of all places!) I ever had was in Lisbon when my wife lost her purse, we had a helluva good time joking and laughing with the tourist police officer while filling in the paperwork. It took a long time to do, but nobody was in a rush and we sure covered lots of ground along the way!
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 12): PS: The AY meal on LIS-HEL looks like HEL(l). Haha, I am funny .
Touche, but you do have a point here, it looked bad and the taste wasn't much better! When AY used to fly to SIN (a route which will soon be restarted!) the baggage tags from SIN to HEL were quite funny!
Quoting ChrisCruise (Reply 13): Jaja, the famous Brazilian churascaria! Gotta love that concept and meat they serve! Yummie!
Yes, that's it! I think I ate around a kilo of the five different meats they had on offer - you bet I had some interesting dreams the next night!
Quoting ChrisCruise (Reply 13): Having worked in a restaurant during my student time I can inform you that is called a 'pomme duchesse'.
Thank you. I've heard that one before but somehow couldn't connect the dots!
Yeah, they are quite good actually. I don't think I've ever had a bad experience with them. Sometimes the rooms have been a bit small, but always decently priced, clean, modern and with very good service from the staff.
Good heavens NO! Who knows how many people have worn those before!
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 16):
btw, AY dissappoints a lot. I would say, this is their only offering foodwise on this long flight?! No additional sandwich or snack? Maybe it was better to order some special meal here.
Yes, nothing else foodwise was offered - drinks of course were always free flowing . I don't know if they have anything in stock if one would ask for some food - I guess they could give you some extra bread at least as those are given from the basket. But as I mentioned, there definitely should be some sort of snack service an hour or so before arrival - I was very hungry by the time I got home.
I thought about experimenting with a special meal, but I had this idea that "it is impossible to mess up a hot breakfast" and decided not to do it, but apparently it certainly is possible. I think the biggest problem was that it was indeed catered in HEL the previous day, so by the time it was reheated and served it had already spent quite a long time onboard.
Let's see what kind of breakfast they will serve me in business class in two weeks.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1050 posts, RR: 20 Reply 19, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 6908 times:
FF - interesting to compare your SATA experience last year with mine a few weeks back. I flew 3 other sectors with TAP on this trip (LHR - LIS return and FNC - LIS) and I'd have to say that SATA was a much more pleasant experience than TAP. Although TAP food offerings were more substantial, much of it was inedible (for me), and the warmth and friendliness of the SATA crew was not matched at all by any of the 3 TAP crews. Great to read your report - I had lots of feelings of deja vu!!! P/jet
Indeed. Love that sound as the letters move around. Probably more reliable than the modern FIDS too.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): Luckily the top floor has a cafe, but more importantly a large outdoor terrace/viewing area - no doubt where I spend the next 45 minutes! It is rather chilly actually with wind from the north, but I don’t mind at all as there are quite a few planes here or just arriving.
Straight where I would be heading also. Well if you're saying its chilly then I guess it must be freezing cold to us Southerners.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter): Service is worse than on TAP, only a few biscuits are handed out, followed by drinks, not sure if they carry any alcohol as I prefer a coffee this time:
Very poor offering. No presentation either, though im not sure how good you could make 4 small biscuits look if they tried.
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1705 posts, RR: 42 Reply 22, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 5396 times:
Hah, it's always interesting to see how somebody manages to bump an old thread up and how people start reading and commenting on it. Thanks anyway, comments are always welcome, no matter how late!
Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 20): Straight where I would be heading also. Well if you're saying its chilly then I guess it must be freezing cold to us Southerners.
Well, it wasn't anything the 30 degree heat in Lisbon wouldn't fix!
Quoting parton87 (Reply 21): Madeira looks like a nice place to spend your holiday on and some really nice pictures of your approach to LIS.
Yes, Madeira is quite a nice place, although don't go expecting a beach holiday. There aren't proper, sandy beaches at all and the weather can get interesting - the Canaries have much more sunshine than Madeira.