Date: 1 November 2010
Route: Toulouse Blagnac (TLS) - Amsterdam (AMS)
Airline: KLM Cityhopper
Aircraft: EM190: PH-EZF
Flight time: 1hr40mins
Bonjour again readers. Thank you for your comments on the outbound trip report to TLS on Air France (see: Almost AF ATR72 Skyteam Skip: LHR-TLS). Here’s one of the return sectors, from TLS back up to AMS, where I then connected through back home to London.
Here’s the map
After a lovely long weekend in the South West of France, it was time to head back to London. A couple more pictures of the village I was staying in which was very quiet on the Sunday morning. Most people seemed to be enjoying a sleep in - either that, or they were all out and doing things long before I got up!
Azille Town Hall
Lovely autumnal colours here too
A main street in Azille
Another beach scene from the day before
The Brian Gorge, near Minerve
Farewelling my friends who were kind enough to drive me back to TLS, I made my way into the terminal building, having already completed OLCI the day before, I was in no particular hurry, but being a new airport (for me), I wanted to take some time to explore. It’s always exciting visiting a new airport for the first time, especially for us a.netters?
Front view of the terminal
I got the impression that the terminal has been modified or extended over the years - it all felt very “bitsy” - a bit added here, a new bit there but overall, it was a nice space, and although the landside check in areas may get a bit crowded during peak times, everything was moving efficiently and there weren’t any horrendous queues.
Printing my boarding pass out at one of the kiosks, I then followed the signs to where my KLM flight was checking in. Of course, this was in the Air France section, where a very nice Air France gentleman pointed me in the right direction to the shortest line. I was highly dubious of checking my bag in after the incident on the way down here, but as I was only going home, I was not overly worried if the bag was delayed in AMS (more on that later). The bag was checked in without any issues, and the nice Air France lady behind the counter directed me toward the gate area where my flight would be operating. I was a bit perplexed when she pointed me way down the other end of the terminal, as the lower numbered gates 1 - 6 (IIRC) seemed to be separate from the rest. I later found out this was because these were all remote gates requiring a transfer bus.
Not entirely sure why but I decided to chance going through security in the main part of the terminal rather than follow her instructions. From the signage it did not seem to matter which part of the terminal you went through, but knowing how CDG is set up, I was a little nervous that I was going to end up in an area that would prevent me from getting to my gate. Woops. Not such a good idea, but thankfully, once I was through security (not much of a line for this time of day), it was possible to walk pretty much through the entire terminal without restriction. Phew.
What I did like about TLS were the constant reminders that this was a centre for aviation. Some nice signs around the terminal reminding us of Pratt and Whitney’s relationship with Airbus, for example.
Another terminal (airside) shot
I wandered around for a bit, trying to find the best position to take some pics of the action, but sadly, I was unable to find anywhere decent. The Air Austral 772 (the same aircraft I saw when I arrived two days earlier) was at its gate, getting ready to push back for another trip to Reunion/St Denis, but I simply could not get a decent photo of it. There are large solid shutter like structures outside, which I assume are to block the harsh summer sun - but these also prevent getting any close up pics. Grrr.
This was the best I could do. Not brilliant, but the best part is all the nice new Airbuses in the background - yummy!
As expected, most of the action was courtesy of Air France, with a number of A320/319/321s present.
Here is a couple of views of F-HBNA, one of the newer AF 320s swinging into its gate. I believe this aircraft was then going to fly to Paris Orly.
Engines still spinning fast as she approaches here gate
Close up of the new AF titles
I headed down toward Gate 6 to see what regional AF flights there were and to try and get some pics of the smallest aircraft in Air France colours.
Two views of a dirty Em145 F-GRGL. Good to see Air France’s record of cleaning aircraft (or lack of) extends right down to the Em145s!
Note A380 in house colours in the background
However just to dispel that generalisation, here’s a much cleaner CRJ200 operated by BritAir
But a less than clean CRJ700 of BritAir…with oh wait, there’s my ride arriving from AMS in the background!
I watched the nice little blue E-jet taxi in but then it just kept going and going until it disappeared from view toward the cargo apron. What?
I wandered over to the gate area and sat down, watching the action, as several of the Air France regional flights started boarding - to Nantes, Strasbourg, Rennes. Again, there seemed to be small armies of unaccompanied minors heading off on some of these domestic flights. I don’t trust AF with my bag, how do people do it with their own children?
Buses pulled up, boarding calls were made, people milling at the gate - eager to be on their way.
Finally it was our turn, as boarding for KL 1312 was announced. It looked like it would be a full flight.
They managed to squish all of us on the bus, which by the time the last person had boarded, managed to be very uncomfortable indeed. Clearly there was no chance the bus driver was intending to do two trips this evening. To make matters worse, an older lady in a wheelchair was then pushed into the front section of the bus, where there was already no room. As they had waited for everyone, there were a couple of late arriving passengers, which meant our scheduled departure time of 1730 was looking unlikely.
It was quite a mess, but soon we were on our way.
The bus then drove us out to what looked to be the cargo or overspill area, and there stood PH-EZF looking gorgeous in the late afternoon light.
Although, she could do with a bit of cleaning herself.
My favourite picture of the trip
I was greeted at the door by one of the KLM f/a’s who was a guy in his mid 30s I guess, and he was very friendly, greeting everyone in French and Dutch.
Finding my seat quickly in the front section of Y (KL has a small premium cabin in the first few rows, which are separated by a cabin dividing curtain), I settled in and looked out the window at the action on the ramp.
See, parked with the cargo aircraft! Does anyone know why KLM park their EM190s here in Toulouse?? Brussels Airlines AVRO taxies for departure in the background.
My seatmate soon boarded - a girl in her 20s and I am sure she thought I was bonkers mad taking pics out of the window. However, she soon disappeared into her glossy magazine and chatted with her friend in the opposite seat.
Seat view (sorry for blurry picture, I had to snap this in between people boarding/passing through the cabin!)
Boarding was only up the front stairs, so it took a while for the full complement of passengers to get inside. Once the last of the passengers were up the stairs and inside, our preparations for departure were well underway. The male f/a made a couple of announcements about luggage stowage etc, and then came and spoke to the lady who had been in the wheelchair (who was seated in the row in front of me). He was very good with her - asked her if she was connecting in AMS, and whether she needed any assistance. He took away all the information she had given him and halfway through the flight, he came and explained what would happen in AMS. Great stuff KLM - this was really impressive. He then came and explained again to her before we landed in AMS what she needed to do and who would be there to help her.
Yes, we’re off to Amsterdam!
Sadly by this time, it was getting dark, so it was harder to take any decent pictures, so I only have a few of our departure. It was only a short taxi before we were ready to go. No other traffic really, so there was no delay - but all the faffing about at the gate meant that we were over 30 mins late departing. I hoped this would not impact on my short connection in AMS.
Some shots on departure. Good bye TLS, and thank you for a great weekend.
Just popped above the clouds
The captain gave us some information about the flight once we were enroute, with a flying time of 1hour 40mins up to AMS this evening.
The setting sun over Western France. Like FlyingFinn76, I am also a sucker for cloud and setting/rising sun pics from an aircraft window. An amazing sight I never get tired of….
The flight attendants soon commenced a drinks and snack service. Food was a sandwich - one cream cheese and one veal. Not being a fan of veal at all, I did not eat it. I thought it was a slightly odd choice of meat - in the years I’ve flown, I’ve never been offered veal in Y ever. I guess it’s OK to some people’s tastes however.
Not having much to do (there is no IFE onboard the KL EM190s) I just read for a bit and listened to some music. By now it was pitch black, as we began our descent toward AMS.
I looked at my boarding pass for the next flight and my heart suddenly skipped a beat. My LHR bound flight was due to start boarding some 5 mins after we were now due to arrive. I suddenly had visions of having to sprint through AMS in order to catch my next flight. Nasty.
Our descent and arrival into AMS was uneventful and I was very pleased to see that we were getting a gate with a jet bridge this evening - B23. Our neighbour at B24, was another E-Jet.
Whilst I would have loved to have savoured this lovely short flight aboard my favourite aircraft type for just a bit longer, I had no time at all, and found myself running through AMS to the D gates (D55) to board KL1013 to LHR. Needless to say, it was a long run, and involved having to pass through Dutch Immigration on the way through. Having said that, I’d rather run through AMS any day, compared to CDG. At least it’s impossible to get lost in AMS - they have designed the airport so well.
By the time I got to D55, I was panting madly but relieved to find PH-BXZ, a B737-800 glistening in the night air at the gate, awaiting her passengers to London. The flight had started boarding, but at least, I’d made it !
At the gate, ready to operate to London Heathrow
Once again, the EM190 did not disappoint. Having flown several operators’ EM190s now, I am always amazed at how well Embraer has designed this little jet. So comfortable, even when the flight was full. I’ve read reports where some people have said that they felt cramped in a full EM190, but I am unsure how this is possible. I am just over 180cms/6ft tall and have never felt cramped in any E170/190 before.
The service onboard KLM was great, and the flight attendants were very friendly. A passenger with special requests and needs was handled well and with a nice personalised touch. The absence of any IFE is not an issue on a short flight like this one, although it would have been nice to see a map and where we were flying over.
Catering on this flight was more extensive than either of the AF flights I had taken two days previously although the veal sandwich was not a preferred option.
Finally, and in contrast to my transit in CDG, KLM managed to transfer my bag onto KL1013 with me, so even though I was only in AMS for about 40 mins, they still managed to get my bag to the next flight - are you reading this Air France???
Thanks for reading. All comments are welcome.