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A Snowy Ordeal: From Italy To Scotland And Back.  
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 12188 times:

Disclaimer: this TR, let me warn you in advance, will be rich of words rather than pictures. I love reading, and I love writing whenever I have something good to share and I'm in the mood for it, but I understand that many may not partake this pleasure, so I decided to warn you so that you won't waste your time!
But if you will stick on with me, you'll witness an adventure which took me through a sleepless night at an airport, endless train journeys and desperate rushes across snow-covered pavements.
It was, like a friend of mine summoned up yesterday, a “Top gear-style race”, the only difference being I wasn't up against Jeremy Clarkson in a fancy supercar, though.
I was simply trying not to miss the most important appointment of my life.


Hello A.netters, and thanks for reading this TR from mine!

It's November and, speaking about holiday, in Italy it's time for planning rather than going. I witness every time I stand up queueing at a travel agent's to buy a regional train ticket: fashionable people, sitting on comfy chairs in front of all-smiles sellers, flipping through the pages of glossy catalogues, trying to decide whether to book a chalet for the forthcoming Christmas holiday or, instead, going to a faraway beach to get their pale skin tanned. So, will it be Courmayeur or Thailand? Madonna di Campiglio or Santo Domingo? Will it be the Olympic mountains around Turin or Malindi, to enjoy the African wilderness in the safety of a Flavio-Briatore-approved resort?
Well, one thing is sure: Mr. I-own-an-Audi-and-I-wear-Hogan-shoes won't enjoy my company as he sunbaths in Madagascar. Indeed, November will be the scenery for a different, albeit smaller, trip: this time, in true let's-flee-the-autumn-misery fashion, I'm bound to Scotland.

PLANNING

This trip saw its light on a gorgeous mid-August evening, at the Kings of Convenience gig in Turin. A friend of mine, while we waited for the Norwegian chaps to appear on stage, told me he was due to go to Scotland for an university project. “Why don't you come visiting?” he said. “I know Interpol are gonna play at the end of November, it'd be cool to go seeing them”. I was immediately charmed by this idea and the invitation was still valid in October, when I drew up a plan: being my friend based in Dundee I had at least three airports to choose which one (or ones) to arrive to and depart from: Dundee itself, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Dundee was the first option to be axed since every flight arriving there was either ridiculously expensive or departing from a faraway airport, or both: seriously, AF Cityliner isn't cheap at all, even for Air France standards which, in my opinion, are way too high on one-way tickets. Edinburgh offered a safe (or so I thought!) alternative, Easyjet, while Aberdeen gave me the much-awaited thrill: a flight by BMI, on their gorgeous Embraer 145, from Heathrow. These birds are getting increasingly rare in Europe and, as A.net user Airpearl told me, they're really fun to fly with: I had to try them.
Finally, by mid-October, the plan was set:

The route as I planned it. As you'll read, things went developed in a quite different way...

  • MXP-LHR on the trustworthy Lufthansa Italia;
  • LHR-ABZ on BMI's flying pin;
  • EDI-MXP on the orange boys, hoping that the only low-cost segment of the whole experience wouldn't let me down as EZY seems alarmingly inclined to recently.


Booking was a relatively more complicated affair, including a misfire by BMI which, instead of an e-mail confirmation, sent a message telling me that my “booking has failed” and no other means of contact than an UK number to be called from Italy. Fearing of a phone bill as expensive as an heart surgery done at an American hospital I did not call: instead I pressed the “back” button on Mozilla, knowing already it wouldn't work. Instead, it did! I didn't like very much the experience, since BMI refused to acknowledge the existence of my Miles&More card and added some unwanted lines to my bill:

  • Credit card fee All credit card bookings are subject to a charge of 4.50 GBP per passenger (excluding infants) per booking.
  • Air Passenger Duty (APD) GB United Kingdom GBP12.00
  • Passenger Service Charge - GB United KingdomGBP13.60


Anyway, after some bickering my whole trip was finally as real as only a bank transaction and a “-” on my account could be. Everything left to organize was the boring part, i.e. getting to the airports. I decided to sort out the trip to MXP last, since I wouldn't know where I'd be the day before leaving until, erm, the day before leaving. Instead I focused on arranging the Scottish part of the ordeal but, I have to confess, I had little idea of the whereabouts of Dundee or, even worse, Aberdeen. All I knew was that Scotland looks something like a head wearing a hat, and that Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen were all lying on the “nape” of the “head” (cutting geography lessons from high school wasn't a good idea after all, Mr. Prodi or whoever was in charge back then). It was with great surprise, then, that I found that ABZ was actually farther from Dundee than EDI was. Brilliant operation, you idiot! Now what?!
Luckily, however, National Rail rushed to the rescue. Dyce station was just a short hop from ABZ airport, and a cheap (for British standards) £9.90 ticket allowed me to reserve a seat on a train to Dundee. The other way round, instead, was worse. Getting to Edinburgh took more or less the same time than the other, longer, leg and, at £20.20, wasn't cheap by any mean. So you can image how crossed I was when my friend e-mailed me on Facebook writing not to worry, because he had booked an hostel in Edinburgh city for the night of 27th when we'd have had a pub brawl after the gig. Gee.
Everything went on well until a couple of weeks or so before the trip, when I was told by the professor tutoring me for my final dissertation that the discussione would have been on Monday, 29th November. I don't know how it works in other countries, but in Italy every university student has to prepare an essay, or a thesis as it's called here, regarding a topic related to one of the subjects studied during the courses. My discussione would have been a very important one, since I was ending a 2-years masters' degree, which in Italy is called Laurea magistrale. I mustn't miss that chance, as it would have been difficult to postpone it earlier than March. I was quite anxious about that, never had such strict schedules to meet, but I felt confident. I would be arriving more than 20 hours before it and, being I the author of the 217 pages I was to discuss about, I knew the subject as well.

THE OUTBOUND LEG

Spirits were high as I carefully closed my home door, trying desperately to avoid any noises. Nothing to do, the bloody tool clanked as loudly as if I haven't tried to be gentle. Damn. I rushed to the lift, which was at my floor, and I literally jumped in, obliging to the ageless impulse which makes you say “Wasn't me!” after you, guilty as charged, have done something you shouldn't had.
However, I hit the road and started walking the two kilometres stroll which would have taken me to the bus terminus. It was awfully early, no bus around and no other choice than my own foot. Not a problem as it was just about half an hour and I only had a rucksack to carry on my shoulders.
I arrived to the bus terminus just to find the place deserted, with the exception of few lights from a 24H bar and a similarly all-day open kebab shop, where I went for a much needed caffé americano. The bus was nowhere to be seen, being I 30 minute early, but it seemed I was not the only customer on this shift: other sleepless souls were tottering on the pavement and inside the cafés. A quick glance revealed the usual bunch for the MXP-bound bus operated by SADEM: immigrants with heavy luggages heading back to Egypt, or India, or Morocco; Erasmus students going somewhere to get a little more wasted than they're accustomed to in Turin and, finally, people like me, travellers with no car.
The bus arrived and the driver swung into action; after a coffee break (hadn't started his shift yet but he had to interrupt it) he started to check the passengers' ticket with a palmtop while sending some orders down the line: “bags for Terminal 1 on the right side of the bus. Terminal 2 on the other”. I love the SADEM bus crews as they're clear, fast and not vulgar, unlike the yobbos from Autostradale, the rival company.
The general mood among the crowd was “Let's get seated and sleep”, and I did agree. After all, I knew every single petrol station, junction and overpass on the A4 motorway so I wasn't missing anything special. Predictably, then, I tried to snooze as soon as I get seated, but a bunch of American students and, worse of all, Italian chicks had other intentions. Indeed they kept on laughing and talking nonsense. I started to snort very loudly, but without success, until a Nigerian lady came to my help, shouting a “You lot! Shut up now, my boy needah sleep!” which blowed a cemetery-like silence into the back of the coach. I'd hug you ma'am, if you promise your husband won't knock me down as soon as I try to. 
Sleep lasted until the bright lights of the galleries of the SS336 awoke me up. MXP was glowing in the night, its newest addition, the Sheraton Hotel which AlwaysOnAPlane had tried and reviewed not so far ago, adding a fair share of coolness to the ensemble. I was among the first to get off the bus, sprinting towards the arrivals door through the cold air, then straight upstairs via the escalators. My beloved departure hall was really empty, and I was the only one toying with the Lufthansa check in kiosks. A quick blink to my passport and it was done, boarding pass for the first leg issued, seat 24F. Time to get down for security.

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An empty departure hall and one of the ever-present Dolce&Something ads. I know Milan is well known for its role in the fashion business, but isn't covering every surface of MXP with such ads a bit too much?

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The only hub of activity this morning: some Spanish-speaking pilgrims en route to somewhere. Rome perhaps?

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I'm aware that almost every caption in this TR should carry an apology for my poor photographic skills, but it'd be a too long affair. The problem is my camera lacks a stabilizer and I'm hopeless at photography. However, this are LHI birds resting a little bit more before their morning rush.

There's not much to do once passed in the sterile area, especially if you're feeling tired. I headed to Satellite B for a newspaper to read on the chaise longues placed here and there across the terminal, and witnessed the boarding of today's shift for the SIA flight bound to Barcelona and, later, Singapore. The girls were chirpy, way chirpier than me in that cold morning, and perfect. No spots on their coats, no foldings on their kebayas, impeccable hairdo and make-up. Some, catwalking close to me, even decided to donate an heart-warming smile to that scruffy Italian pretending to be reading Internazionale as a desperate attempt not to doze off. Boarding a SIA flight to anywhere, that's the next thing on my must-do list.

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Malpensa has not been designed with people in mind. This row of FIDS is too high at approx. 2,5 meters, too small characters for anyone but eagle-eyed chaps, and are located right in the middle of a corridor, an obligated passage for those willing to reach Satellite B. Collisions are assured, I guarantee!

After a couple of minutes, instead, I walked back and headed downstairs to the newly refurbished area called 3/3, hosting gates from 26 to 30. Yeah, we're boarding remote, bah. It's cold, there, and I don't like the new outfit which, I believe, will sooner or later be given to the rest of the terminal: the floor is badly paved with grey and white stone and the general whiteness hurted my eyes.

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Borders! Here the past, there – maybe – the future. And, you know what? I'm not very pleased to meet it.

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One of the new boarding gates. I might not be too fond of the new floors, but I do like these installations. If only MXP had a laminated floor...

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Another old-new comparison: this is gate B13 on Satellite B, the one I used to board flight JL418 a year ago.

There were two flights due to board from there, an Alitalia for Cairo with his load of young males heading home and businessmen, and ours which looked quite packed: some members of the Blackberry-and-garment-foldable-bags tribe, tourists and a group of young Americans judging by the accent, but not those I met on the bus. Boarding was called, and the usual kilometre-long line inched forward; I joined them at last and still managed to grab a copy of La Stampa, Turin's major newspaper, and the Herald Tribune, on offer with other two Italian papers.

25/11/2010
LH 3770 MXP-LHR
Departure
7:10 AM (Scheduled) 7:10 AM (Actual)
Arrival 8:05 AM (Scheduled) 8:07 AM (Actual)
Aircraft Airbus A319-114 D-AILH “Norderstedt”
Seat 24F

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I was one of the very last to board and, as the pursuer Marco Gomez told us in a slightly German accented Italian, realised the flight was “full”. Indeed there was no storage space available in the overhead bins. I have to say that the last two rows of LH's Airbuses are quite disadvantaged since their storage space is occupied by a loudhailer, some life-saving equipment and some other unidentified stuff.

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The view from seat 24F

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Now this is an interesting one! Here you can grasp, rather than see, a C-17 Globemaster III in Qatar Airways livery. According to Boeing the Qatar Amiri Air Force operates two C-17s, both of them wearing the Amiri's airline livery.

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Waiting for our turn to leave the Italian soil, destination Heathrow. The flash of light you see in the second picture is an Air One 320 about to land on runway 27R IIRC.

We taxied along MXP's T1, catching glimpses of Thai A346, SIA 77W and a Qatar Airways C17 resting, then a quick turn left, a couple of minutes waiting for the EZY birds to take off and then it was our turn. The airplane creaked and squeaked as it ran down the runway but, eventually, lifted off, offering us a gorgeous sight as long as we flew over the Alps: here you have some pictures of the spectacle which managed to shut up my chatty seatmates.

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Up! Lake Maggiore, Italy's second largest lake, with its characteristic shape. Behind you can see some of the already snow-covered Alpine peaks.

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Alps. See that snowy peak just an inch left of the sharklet, the big one in the distance? Behold the magnificence of Monte Cervino, Matterhorn for the German-speaking friends on the other side of the border. We'll get a closer look later on.

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This is the reason why I love flying to LHR: after a gentle turn eastwards we use to fly over Biella, the town known for wool (Zegna and Cerruti anyone?), Banca Sella and, incidentally, the town I was born in.

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This is Val d'Aosta, unfortunately engulfed in a sort of sun-lit fog. However, on the left you'd see the black pyramid of Monte Cervino. The valley on the right is Lys Valley, the easternmost valley of val d'Aosta. It's also known as Walleschu in Walser dialect since this place, unlike much of the rest of the region, has been occupied by Walsers, people of Germanic origin. On the right, instead, lays Ayas valley, the place I've spent most of my childhood summers. Those two valleys run from south to north, ending up at the foot of Monte Rosa massif, whose highest peaks are already lit by the first sun rays. I wish I had better pictures to show you, sorry.

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Getting overcast and so it'll remain until arrival.

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The complimentary knee shot: I'm feeling quite cramped today, but I'm not complaining!

As soon as our airplane levelled up at cruising altitude the cabin crew sprang into action, pushing their cart up and down the aisle to hand over breakfast, consisting of some dull biscuits, a nice albeit cold pastry and one of those Actimel by Danone, of whom I'm not big fan but which I drank with pleasure. The weather did worsen over France and there was nothing to be seen apart from sun reflections over the clouds: a beautiful scenery but, after an hour or so of it, quite boring. I turned my attention on the LH magazin, as I had the chance to say before one of the best in-flight mags I've ever had my hands on. This time was no difference, with a special coverage about Africa.

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Slop time! The rather poor cookies, the tasty pastry and the Actimel. I also had a good, big cup of black coffee later: many passengers would have preferred an espresso, but I was just fine.

Unfortunately though, good things always come to an end: a brief spot of land between the thick clouds revealed the White cliffs of Dover and, seconds after, the 319 nose started to point down. In a matter of seconds the fasten-your-seatbelts sign pinged in and we were ready for another landing in London.

Circuiting over London offers some great sights.

Landing in London recalls, to my mind, a couple of things, not all of them positive: first there's the breathtaking view over the City, of which I weren't about to enjoy a single glimpse since it was overcast and, however, I was seating on the wrong site; then there's the holding pattern, which made us wander about for some time, eroding all the advance we had earned until that; third and last, turbulences: I don't know what's all about London, but every landing I made in the British capital had involved a little bit of shaking and twisting. This time was no difference, with some sudden bumps which maked girls scream until a man, after the umpteenth bump, says: “No worry everyone, it's just the pilot who's not good at changing gears!”.

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First glimpses of London: I don't know if those tower blocks are from Acton or not, but this certainly isn't the view of the City I had hoped for!

Landing occurred almost in tie, and then I was off, chasing the transfer desk to board my flight to Aberdeen: after some queueing, passport checking and another security check, I was free to enter the main hall of Heathrow T1's departures, wondering – as I'm sure many of us will do – whether all this Big Brotherly inspections are actually useful or not. Especially after we've all discovered that, while us passengers are asked to take our shoes off and have our orifices searched, parcels ending in the hold beneath our feet aren't given a second glance.
It's been a long time since I've been to T1 last and didn't like it very much. This time it was no difference, the usual overcrowded, overstuffed, overheated Portakabin on steroids. At least moquette hasn't been paved on every surface at disposal. I dodged crying infants, couples on the edge of a very nasty public quarrel and headed to the Tin Goose bar which, unlike the rest of the area, had some view on the outside. I managed to secure a table by the window and do what I love most: watching planes.
Heathrow is, I'm sure you all know, the planespotter's sancta sanctorum. In the hour or so I've spent there, downing two pints of bitter served by a very friendly mate from Krakow, I've spotted various birds such as BA 777s, American and Air Canada 777s and 767s, a lonesome 330 from Cyprus and an A300 arriving from Tehran. Still, I was missing the A380: I've missed every chance to see the double-decker whale I possibly had and this one was, by far, the best one. If not at Heathrow, where else without leaving Europe? Alas, it seemed I was damned and the only chance to see one was to board one. Tasting the bitter smell of defeat I headed towards the domestic departures where, oh joy!, another document check was waiting for me.
However, the gate area behind this last Caudine Forks held a much welcomed surprise: a calm, airy room with plenty of natural lights, wide glasswalls overlooking one of the runways and a refreshing fragrance of coffee. What an airport should be according to me.

The view from the holding area around gate 8s: El Al 747-458 4X-ELB, “Haifa”.

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Icelandair's Boeing 757-208 TF-FIP "Snæfell" taxing towards its gate, while a BMI 319 is deploying its brakes on the runway.

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A spotting-friendly area.

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My two favourite pictures of the whole trip: people staring as ship G-VIIU, a British Airways Boeing 777-236(ER), taxies by.

The waiting was cut short by an announcement: “Flight BD668 to Aberdeen ready for boarding at gate 8a”. Time to move.

25/11/2010
BD 668 LHR-ABZ
Departure
1:00 PM (Scheduled) 1:15 PM (Actual)
Arrival 2:40 AM (Scheduled) 3:00 PM (Actual)
Aircraft Embraer ERJ-145EU G-EMBJ
Seat 8A

“So”, I thought as the queue snailed towards the BMI lady collecting the boarding passes “will it be an Embraer?” I had high hopes the day before when, doing OLCI, I chose seat 8A in the distinctive E-145 layout, one row with one seat and another with two abreast. Now it was just time to see whether we had an equipment change or not: I was terribly excited, I'm not afraid to confess it, and stepped down the stairs as fast as I could without running over the bored businessman in front of me. It was cold outside, just a degree over freezing, and the poor BMI lady in charge of leading us towards the airplane was trembling like a leave inside her too thin coat. I thanked her with a comprehensive smile and she smiled back, her eyes saying “I can't wait to get assigned to our Amman base” or something like that.
G-EMBJ stood uninterested in the cold as she received the new load of passengers, all wealthy looking businesspeople, plus some other bloke dressed with North Face technical gear which, at a closer look, revealed several oil companies' logos. I was learning which was Aberdeen's core business: hydrocarbons. G-EMBJ was in all-white livery, with BMI logo painted on the fuselage, a leased bird from FlyBE, I think. The cabin looked spotless and warm, but not exactly spacious: I had some issues standing up, as my head kept on banging against the ceiling with Holly, the FA, great amusement. Well, glad to entertain the girls.
Anyway, my issues with the fuselage weren't replicated when I sat down. Ok, it ain't a first class suite like those I read about on other Trip Reports, but it wasn't bad at all. In true Embraer fashion, this seat was wide, comfy, soft and with plenty of space to stretch even if I'm as tall as the average Dutchman. If only it wasn't SO damn hot! I wore off my jumper within seconds, remaining my my tee, seemed like we were roasting in there.

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Knee shot on G-EMBJ (quite an appropriated registration, isn't it?) Great legroom anyway.

Seats 8B and 8C remained unoccupied, which gave me the opportunity for some seat photos.

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Definitely an Embraer.



I was anxious about leaving ground and, perhaps, settling the thermostat on 22 rather than 30°. Unfortunately neither thing happened, and we kept on waiting in tropical heat for about 15 minutes, when we finally relieved the brakes and started doing some queuing prior to take-off. Here's some pictures made despite the scratches disfiguring my window.

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Can anybody tell me what on Earth is that green thing near the Virgin Atlantic hangar? Looks like somebody had taken the Boeing-McDonnel Douglas merger too literally!

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American Airlines Boeing 767-323(ER) N368AA queueing on our left

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Stokesay Castle, the one which flew the last 757 flight for British Airways, now sadly parked on a remote stand, waiting to be transformed in a cargo aircraft. Against many thanks to those A.netters who wrote about this last epic flight, notably FlyingFinn76 and BA319-131.

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Delta, JAT and Kenya Airways @ LHR.

Seconds before take-off, however, I manage to spot an EK A380 parked at T3. I couldn't snap a picture of it but my mission was accomplished. Relieved, I enjoyed the powerful – and noisy, believe me – take off.

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The reservoirs off Heathrow, looking extremely similar to the rice fields so common in my region.

The captain came on the intercom as soon as we rocketed through the clouds, apologizing for our delay and promising that he and FO Nick Something would “peddle as fast as they can to make it to ABZ in time”. Faithful to his word, the man in the cockpit hit the throttle as the small Embraer dashed over the English skies. It was a rough ride, noisy and quite wobbling, but I did enjoy every second of it. The in-flight service was just for sale and prices were quite high, so I decided to kill time reading the airline magazine, with a very interesting interview to Paulie McCartney, and looking outside. Sooner than expected we started our approach to Aberdeen, which took us over the North Sea, in&out the clouds with their accompaniment of turbulences.

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A thick layer of clouds was our only view for much of the flight.

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Terra Firma!But..is it snow?

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IMG]http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/3535/72519483.jpg[/IMG]

...indeed it is.

The first glances of Scotland offered a not-so-welcoming sight: high cliffs and, behind that, snow-covered pastures, villages and woods. I thought snow wasn't so frequent at sea level up there, a belief that, as I'll show you as we proceed through the journey, turned out to be quite wrong. We did a good landing however, despite the white blanket and some flurries. ABZ was buzzing with activity, many blue and red Puma helicopters, probably doing some sort of shuttle service towards off-shore platforms, some FlyBE Dashes and Saabs, and two lonesome jets: a KLM one bound to Amsterdam, and a BA 320 due south.

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ABZ in poor light conditions. I'm intrigued by the ziggurat-lookalike control tower...

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A Puma helicopter, some props and two jets. Again, sorry for the poor lighting.

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Leaving G-EMBJ at Aberdeen-Dyce (Picture taken with my mobile)

TO BE CONTINUED!

[Edited 2010-12-10 07:59:49]

15 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 1, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 12173 times:

Nice report, I'm glad you where able to catch G-CPET on picture. How does LH Italia's service compares to LH's mainline service? Looking forward to reading your return.


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 12069 times:

AND NOW THE “FUN” BEGINS...

The trip went on just fine. I was based in Dundee for two days before moving to Edinburgh, and we also managed to visit St. Andrews on, guess when, St. Andrew's day. Every concert, every pint and every glass of single malt were moments of pure bliss, but all good things come to an end, sooner or later. And this time the end would be quite an abrupt one. But let's go with order, shall we?
Everything started in the morning of Sunday 28th. I was in Edinburgh and the first thing I noticed waking up wasn't the Spaniards snoring loud as chainsaws cutting baobabs, but the fat snowflakes floating towards the ground. Trying to ignore the typical symptoms of a particularly nasty hangover I told my mate, who was resuscitating just in that moment:
“It's snowing like in a Christmas film! And I see nobody gritting the snow away”. I had a bad feeling at that moment, not regarding the pints I've been swallowing the night before, but regarding an icy trek into ankle-deep snow 'till the bus stop. I didn't think about the airport being closed, this was Scotland after all, they had to be used to white stuff falling silently on runways. Some delays for de-icing perhaps but nothing more serious than that.
We checked out from the hostel, waved goodbye to the stoned-looking consierge and braved the snowstorm. Surprise: it was less than I thought, nothing more than a couple of centimetres. And it was quite wet, temperature wasn't low indeed. My shoes were in for a bad treatment, that was for granted, but everything else would have been safe; this mantra kept me working until we reached Weaverley, hugged my friend goodbye and hopped on the very comfortable airport double-decker bus by Lothians. It is a classy thing, really: leather (or something looking like) seats, laminated floor, LCD screens, the lot. I was already feeling OK and I started reading an Andy McNab's novel that I found on my hostel bed.

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An image worth of a postcard: Edinburgh castle under hardly a couple of inches of snow.

The run to the airport took something more than 40 minutes. By the time the last passenger took out his luggage from the rack I was already stripping myself bare to undergo security controls. People at the detectors were, if possible, less friendly than in Italy, which states a little record I think, but deeply professional: no one was telling the other who was dating who and those sort of things.
The sterile area inside looked packed, and I do really mean that. People was wandering everywhere, every socket had a MacBook plugged in, the 1-pound-for-10-minutes PC were steaming at full force, as well as cappuccino machines. The reason for that was simple: not a single airplane was leaving, delays were piling one on each other. Everyone kept bouncing their eyes to the FIDS systems while nursing their beers or lattes and I soon joined the general mood, after finding a good armchair which allowed me to check the infos and the taxiways. The scenery outside wasn't reassuring: some cms of snow, two Airbuses on parking and no-one gritting the white cover away. I tried to remember a similar scenery I've witnessed elsewhere: it was full of people driving big vehicles, tractors apparently stolen from a nearby field in MXP's case, with a big snowplow nailed to their front. There, nobody. I started to worry, and took a brief walk around: I could see somebody cleaning a BA bird and a couple of Range Rovers buzzing here and there, but not much else. The tracks left by the cars, as well as those left by a person walking by, told me that snow was not higher than 10 cm; and sun was peeping out of the clouds.

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BMI bound to LHR boarding under a snow shower.

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Will it be my ride?

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Gate 9, where my flight should have boarded, then changed for gate 11.

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Sun peeping out from between the clouds

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A BA bird getting cleaned.

I tried to persuade myself, “You're plane is going to lift off” I kept saying, while I read on the FIDS that EZY2686 was labelled “Go to gate”. Happy as a lark I rushed to gate no.11, where I was met by an ocean of mopers: why wasn't everybody smiling? We're boarding and just half an hour late after all!
“They did a mistake, our flight is cancelled. As everyone else's, the airport is shut down” told me a passer-by.
Bugger, I saw it coming, I told myself. Well, with other words which, I think, wouldn't be approved by Airliners.net administrators. I rushed downstairs at the EZY counter, hoping to outsmart the rest of the passengers, just to face a 600-strong queue who must have thought exactly what I just did. For what, anyway? A gentle lady in orange, passing by, told me my flight had been cancelled since the arriving airplane landed in Prestwick rather than Edinburgh. And there were no intentions to put us on a bus and drive to Glasgow, “It's not our policy” she said. All I could do was joining the queue, ask for a refund and re-book via internet. Screw it, I thought, I surely wasn't going to waste my day queuing for a bloody 20€ back.
I rushed out, jumping on the first bus back to Waverley. Once there I phoned to my brother, knowing already that calling anyone else in the family would likely ended up with an argument. He was reassuring and agreed on booking (with my credit card) a flight from London with Ryanair. Turin was full, so Bergamo it was, flight 4184 STN-BGY arriving at 9.30 local time, the day next.
The day I was supposed to graduate.
At 2 PM.
Once at Waverley I rushed to the ticket counter like a Viking towards a loot-rich monastery, grabbing a one-way for London for around 100£. There was an East Coast train arriving at platform 2 within minutes, already maturing a good 50' delay: was I allowed to board it? I didn't know, and did not care. An horde of people, many of them carrying airport-tagged bags, joined me in the rush to the platform, and then we boarded a coldish but nearly empty train. I sat on the first non-booked seat and let my emotions flow.
I felt disappointed by how both Easyjet and at the staff running Edinburgh airport had managed the situation. Easyjet had left pretty much everyone for themselves. I've seen Servisair providing hotel and food vouchers to the passengers of the airlines it served, while EZY didn't: I know this is standard LCC policy, but one thing is reading about it, another experiencing on your skin. And BAA Edinburgh, in my opinion, could have handled the situation differently. I'm not saying the whole 5-days closure could have been avoided, but I'm pretty sure that some snowploughs could have kept the runway and taxiway clear for a reasonable time, that Sunday. It hasn't been snowing hard from Midday on, and from 2 PM it was actually sunny. I also felt exhausted and quite anxious: less than when I read “cancelled” on Edinburgh's FIDS but, still, my pulse was way above its average. It was a feeling similar to the one you'd experience after running for 10 km. Yet, my ordeal was far from over.

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Glimpses from a journey of hope: somewhere in Northumberland.

The train took AGES to rail south. First we stopped before Newcastle, where we hit congestion (i.e. we had to wait until there was a platform available for us to stop at, a thing which have never occurred me before!), then – between Newcastle and York - it was snow causing havoc; after that, our journey towards Doncaster was disturbed by some signalling problem which caused us to do a very mind-exhausting stop&gos in the middle of nowhere; finally, as we docked at Doncaster, we were informed that one of the five trains rumbling ahead of us had broken down and had to be pulled away.
I was worried about transferring from London to Stansted and some of my seatmates advised me to ask the railwaymen for help. I did so and a very friendly and helpful employee suggested to get off at Peterborough and transferring on the CrossCountry train arriving there and leaving at 9.18 PM to Ely, Cambridge and, finally, Stansted. He was the last one of a very helpful bunch of locals, who I'd love to thank, even if I'm aware they'll never know: first there were two police officers in Edinburgh, then the lovely couple with their beautiful 2-years old Freya, then an Israeli man who shared with me his snacks and Internet; finally, the railwayman from East Coast who ensured that I knew when to disembark the train. I was feeling relieved by then, as everyone guaranteed that the train for Stansted was bang on time; first, however, I had to leave the convoy I've been trapped in for much of the day, which reserved a last surprise.
I approached the door which had no handle on the inside and no button to be pushed either, so I thought it would have been a pssss-twwwww-zzzzzz automatic affair. How wrong. The train braked, and arrived to a complete halt in Peterborough. I had to get off, climb the footbridge, find platform 5 and wait less than five minutes as we were some 3 hours delayed. Yet, nothing happened. I started to worry, and turned my head in need of help: “Is this thing supposed to be automatic or what?” I asked the lady behind me.
“No sweetheart”, she said gently “You gotta open up the window and use the handle on the outside. Then push, and push hard”. My face truly came off and she laughed, but so I did, feeling like a junkie smashing through a Fiat Uno window to steal the car radio. Some pushing later I was free and ran upstairs without glancing back at the train. G'bye East Coast, hope not to see you again.
The Crosscountry train arrived in time as promised and got loaded with youngsters heading to Cambridge; after that, it was more or less empty 'till we arrived, oh-Glory, to Stansted. Never been so happy to see the ol' STN, never been happier to see a Flying Harp 737 rocketing through the night sky. Once again in my natural habitat I had a little washing-up in the bathroom, feeling much like a homeless I have to say, printed my boarding pass and booked a seat on the AV train between Milan and Turin, sending the ticket to my mobile. After that I realised that the local SPAR shop was still open, and would be so all night long, and invested some Scottish pounds in Strongbow cans. This caused a little bit of concern for the cashier who, after having checked every single inch of the note, emitted his verdict:
“Sure it's a pound, huh?”
“It is a pound, Scottish-made, I'll give you that, but yet it is a fiver”.
“Not sure if it's valid here Sir, I think I gotta ask my manager”. And off he went, leaving me reasoning on a country where there are at least three State-authorised mints. Seconds after my daydreaming was interrupted by a very ashamed cashier who solemnly delivered my cans of cider and some change. English pounds, I guess.

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Nightsleepin' at Stansted

THE INBOUND TRIP

Ring Ring! It's 7.00 AM!
Move y'self to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place


Well, replace 7 with 4 and you'd have an accurate description of JL418's awakening on the morning of 29th November. With the Clash singing in my brains – this is one of those days when I wake up with a song in my head and this time it's quite a good choice I have to say – I sleepwalked to the security gates, where the usual drama took place. No fuss this time, hardly anyone there as I thought if all that hassle will have lead me to board the airplane or to another cancellation.
Airside everything was quiet, some cafeterias were just opening, including Starbucks. I dodged all those odd-looking bacon-egg-and-cheddar sandwiches and headed to the coffees, asking for the all-time classic Caffè Americano grande to go, with just a squirt of milk. I was the first customer of the day and I got each one of those plushy armchairs for me, so I settled in one of those with a good view on the FIDS. After some time the first departures of the day got their boarding gates and, soon enough, it also was my turn: gate 37. Let the rush begin!

http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/9606/87755802.jpg

Coffee-sipping and FIDS-checking: an hour flew by like that.

25/11/2010
BD 668 LHR-ABZ
Departure
6:30 AM (Scheduled) 06:35 AM (Actual)
Arrival9:30 AM (Scheduled) 9:33 AM (Actual)
AircraftBoeing 737-8AS EI-EKX
Seat 2C

I was the first to step off the automated, VAL-style shuttle train which linked the main departure hall with gates 30 or so, and among the first ones to bounce along the moquetted corridors until I arrived to gate 37. Boarding commenced soon afterwards, priority first of course. A wealthy looking family with deep Bergamo accent got stopped, as it always happens, because their piece of luggage couldn't fit into Ryanair's racks and all the queue had to slow down to a complete halt. The gate agent wore his awarded Stalinist-Gulag-guard look and ordered them to hand the indicted suitcases to the ground staff who'd send them in the cargo bay and do please feel ashamed of your anti-social behaviour. Cleared that menace, he was ready to keep on checking people in, without any hint of a smile of course.
The airplane was parked just right in front of us, so we had to simply walk downstairs from the jetway and, well, board. Lukasz, the Polish pursuer, insisted on signing each one of the boarding passes, something which slowed down the process a bit. I already had my own one out, as many of other travellers were, so I could settle down in a second. Row 1 was already been taken, while rows 3 and 4 weren't available. I found that row 2 already had a British middle-aged businessman seating beside the window, so I went for seat 2C on the aisle. This, plus the empty battery of my camera, explains the complete lack of pictures for this segment, I do apologize for that. I kept on shooting with my mobile until I had to turn it off, then tried to sleep.

http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/9140/52bf.jpg

The businessman beside me had a hard time trying to read his broadsheet financial newspaper in the cramped Ryanair seats. Missing the old times in Club class, huh?

A ground crew member went into the cabin to say something to the pilots.

Open cabin, as it once was. Can you see, lying on the floor, a bulky ring binder? I'm no professional in this field, but I guess this was the check list as the pilots kept flipping through it while they pushed buttons and switches all across the cockpit. Quite an entertaining view, actually.

Boarding was completed a bit late, with 150+ people on today's shift. Us in the front rows enjoyed the spectacle of a lady, among the last ones to board, who managed to hide her over-sized item from the Cerberus at the gate and was sure she had made it. Ah-ha, you forgot about Lukasz, ma'am! His eyes scanned the suitcase, labelled it as “definitely oversize” and told 'er to get it downstairs to the loadies. She thought he was telling her to leave it on the tarmac and started complaining and pleading in Italian, but without success (and, judging by his looks, I bet Lukasz would have been happy to launch the precious suitcase on the icy tarmac, without a second thought). Anyway, as the borgs say, resistance is futile. She got separated from her bag and went marching down the aisle murmuring profanities in Italian. With much pleasure from both me and the businessman, our aisle seat remained empty and I settled down to sleep a little bit.
Ah, what a deceived fool.
After the usual health&safety informations and after a truly Ryanair-ish rude take-off, everything was looking promising for a good hour or so of sleep but I didn't keep in mind Michael O'Leary's attempts to extort even more pennies from you while in-flight! So I got woken up by the announcement of the in-flight service, then it was the smoke-free cigarettes, which were followed soon by the much-awaited Ryanair scratch cards and phone cards. Finally, as I was dozing off, Lukasz announced the passengers eagerly waiting to spend their cash on perfumes that, yeah, in a few moments they'd be able to do so. God, I forgot how much I hate to fly Ryanair.
Bergamo came all too soon with great disappointment of my rowmate, who had hoped to catch at least a glimpse of the Alps or Mont-Blanc, as he said. I tried to cheer him up by saying that, even if the sky wasn't overcast, we wouldn't have seen it since he should have been flying to Turin or Malpensa instead of Bergamo. The airplane, meanwhile, aligned to the runway and went in for a fast approach. As it always happen when I'm with Ryanair I found myself thinking “we're going down way too fast and way too high”: as predicted the 737 hit the tarmac hard, bounced once and then started braking with everything it had, linen included. We stopped after a while of frantic shaking and no one clapped. Buses were waiting for us in the freezing cold morning, but at least we had sun on our faces.

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De-boarding the less than one-year-old EI-EKX at Bergamo

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Oi! I was on a special livery aircraft and I didn't ever notice that! Well, I have to confess I think that a “Visit Fuerteventura” sticker hardly constitutes a special livery...

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An almost-hopeless try: Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F bound to FRA diverted, for meteorological reasons I believe, to Bergamo

The rest of the journey was rather uneventful: a bus ride to Milan Centrale, then M2 for a couple of stations until Garibaldi and, finally, up into the comfort of Trenitalia hi-speed service which took me bang on time at Turin. It was 1 PM, plenty of time to wear my suit, grab a volume of my dissertation from the helpful hands of a friend, and discuss.
I don't know if you'd like to know it, but I got a high mark, 110/110 con lode e menzione accademica, slightly less than the magna cum laude that, I think, is awarded to students in Anglo-Saxon universities.

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Trenitalia rushing to the rescue!

CONCLUSION.

At the end of the day, I've been extremely lucky. And incredibly stupid. I shouldn't have left so close to date, but I didn't want to waste the 120 € I invested in this trip...but ended up spending almost three times as much. Next time...well, won't be another next time. I'll be back to do things with ample room for manoeuvre, just in case, as always. And I do think that I'll never fly LCC again, if viable of course. I'm not angry at EZY and I've asked them a full refund for what I've been through, but it made me think about what kind of service they're offering – or, at least, the lack thereof – in such cases. I'd rather spend some quids more on a legacy carrier but, instead, be granted an hotel overnight stay or some re-routing. I hope you've enjoyed my TR, hope I haven't bored you too much and I can't wait to write some more. Maybe something less adventurous, if possible!

Nice flights to everyone,

JL418.


User currently offlineAlwaysOnAPlane From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2010, 305 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 11762 times:

Nice to read your report JL418.

Interesting that a few reports are now showing on here from the troubled travel times in Europe over the last week or so.
Never good to have things not run as planned when it leaves you heavily out of pocket.

Nice to see you enjoying the E-145, a favourite of mine also. I love the single seat when traveling solo. Looking back at my log i also have Bravo Juliet in my log but on the MAN-ABZ route.

Glad you eventually made it home in one piece. Maybe something to look back on and laugh once the flames have died down?

Thanks for writing this up and i enjoyed your photos too.

Cheers, Lee



P.S



Quoting JL418 (Thread starter):
My face truly came off and she laughed, but so I did, feeling like a junkie smashing through a Fiat Uno window to steal the car radio.

The funniest line on any TR i have ever read  


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3202 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 11578 times:

Sounds like you had a fun trip up to Scotland! I just got back from Glasgow, lots of snow, but no weather related cancellations/delay for me!

Quoting JL418 (Reply 2):
Yet, nothing happened. I started to worry, and turned my head in need of help: “Is this thing supposed to be automatic or what?” I asked the lady behind me.
“No sweetheart”, she said gently “You gotta open up the window and use the handle on the outside. Then push, and push hard”. My face truly came off and she laughed, but so I did, feeling like a junkie smashing through a Fiat Uno window to steal the car radio.

Ha, yes, the good old fashioned UK trains. I actually prefer these older ones than the newer trains - feel more spacious. The the door thing is pretty cool! Doesn't the metro in Rome (or was it Paris or Vienna?) have those funny levers you have to pull up to open the doors?

Lucky you made it back eventually, even if it involved a trip on the dreaded FR!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-GVA-LHR-TXL-LHR-VE-PRN,SPU-OSL-LHR, LGW-DXB-BKK-DXB-LHR
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 11396 times:

What an adventure, thanks for sharing. Glad that you made it back alright. This trip reminded me of my scotland trip in May. Boat to Edinburgh was delayed by 5 hours, missed last train to York and all hotels where overbooked in EDI, found a B&B, but payed at least twice as much as than my original ticket.


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 11095 times:

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 1):
Nice report, I'm glad you where able to catch G-CPET on picture. How does LH Italia's service compares to LH's mainline service? Looking forward to reading your return.

Hi MSS658, thanks for replying! Well, I have random memories of a mainline LH flight I have to say, but they look pretty much similar. You know, same seats, same FAs attire, somebody told me that even the lounges at smaller airports have pretty much the same scheme. However, I have to say that LHI offers a better catering than LH-Deutschland as they don't hand you those dreadful sandwiches that LH does (the one portrayed in this picture: http://www.lufthansa.com/it/it/Ghiot...hiottonerie%20in%20Economy%20Class ). They do try hard, however, to conquer every passenger and I think the effort is starting to pay back. I've flown them six times, three last year and three this one, and load factors were increasingly on the rise.

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 3):
Nice to see you enjoying the E-145, a favourite of mine also. I love the single seat when traveling solo. Looking back at my log i also have Bravo Juliet in my log but on the MAN-ABZ route.

Glad you eventually made it home in one piece. Maybe something to look back on and laugh once the flames have died down?

Hi AlwaysOnAPlane, many thanks! I loved the E-145 but my all-time favourite on short haul remains the E-170/175 especially the one with folding headrest like those serving on LOT. It's quieter and the seats are absolutely gorgeous. However, we were already laughing about it from the very moment I arrived in Torino, about one hour before the university thing began. I phoned my mom and told her "Hey, I'm in Turin with plenty of time to spare!" and everyone laughed at it. I'll feel better, however, when EZY will refund me!

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 3):
The funniest line on any TR i have ever read

Glad you appreciated!:D

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
Doesn't the metro in Rome (or was it Paris or Vienna?) have those funny levers you have to pull up to open the doors?

Hello Gabrielchew, thanks for replying. Honestly I have no clue. I've been in Rome three times and I used to peddle around, using the tube just a couple of times as it's always incredibly crowded. However I've always find those modern CAF trains, with automatic doors. Italy's regional train use to have an handle to be pulled in order to open the door, but it's located inside and, if it doesn't work, breaking the window won't help either.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 5):
What an adventure, thanks for sharing. Glad that you made it back alright. This trip reminded me of my Scotland trip in May. Boat to Edinburgh was delayed by 5 hours, missed last train to York and all hotels where overbooked in EDI, found a B&B, but payed at least twice as much as than my original ticket.

Thanks MSS658 again. I'm glad I made it in time otherwise I'd be quite screwed.. Why was your boat delayed (and where were you departing from?). I think I'll get back to Scotland soon, but it'll be in summer, that's for sure.


User currently offlineeastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 742 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 10949 times:

Hi,

your writing style is great. too bad for you that EZY cancel your flight from EDI

Quoting JL418 (Thread starter):
G-EMBJ was in all-white livery, with BMI logo painted on the fuselage

your were lucky to board one

Quoting JL418 (Reply 2):
and we also managed to visit St. Andrews on, guess when, St. Andrew's day

good man, did you visit anything for free?

Quoting JL418 (Thread starter):
grabbing a one-way for London for around 100£

ouch, that dire,

Quoting JL418 (Thread starter):
25/11/2010
BD 668 LHR-ABZ
Departure 6:30 AM (Scheduled) 06:35 AM (Actual)
Arrival9:30 AM (Scheduled) 9:33 AM (Actual)
AircraftBoeing 737-8AS EI-EKX
Seat 2C

As far as i know, BMI does not have any 737's  


East African Spotter



Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 684 posts, RR: 21
Reply 8, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 10823 times:

Hi JL418,
thanks for this very well written report. Seems like you had quite an adventure but fortunately it worked out at the end. Most important you arrived in time for your graduation, of course congratulations for passing    .

I was looking forward reading about your experience on the EDI-MXP flight with easyjet since I have just done the same route a few weeks ago, but winter this year really seems to disturb quite a lot of Europe. Still hard to understand that they closed down the whole airport.

Quoting JL418 (Thread starter):
Can anybody tell me what on Earth is that green thing near the Virgin Atlantic hangar?

Most probably some training device for the airport fire brigade.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 2):
Edinburgh castle under hardly a couple of inches of snow.

That is indeed a great picture.

Thanks again for sharing your trip with us
CaptainRed


User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 10318 times:

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 7):

your writing style is great. too bad for you that EZY cancel your flight from EDI

Hi East-African Spotter, glad you liked my TR! I'm a great fan of yours, I love reading about the Great Lakes region of Africa - I'm going to read your latest one in a couple of minutes indeed.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 7):
good man, did you visit anything for free?

Everything that was for free! However I did spend quite a pleasant day in St. Andrews, there was a sort of festival with great cask beer for sale - an uncommon view as many Scottish pubs offer more or less the same draughts - and a free concert with the Red Hot Chili Pipers, a group of bagpipes who were real fun.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 7):
As far as i know, BMI does not have any 737's

Ouch, what a shame. I pasted&copied the template I used for putting in the details of BMI flight and accidentally forgot to correct it. Sorry!

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 8):
thanks for this very well written report. Seems like you had quite an adventure but fortunately it worked out at the end. Most important you arrived in time for your graduation, of course congratulations for passing .
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 8):

I was looking forward reading about your experience on the EDI-MXP flight with easyjet since I have just done the same route a few weeks ago, but winter this year really seems to disturb quite a lot of Europe. Still hard to understand that they closed down the whole airport.

Hi CaptainRed, glad you liked my TR, thanks for replying and for your congrats. I was looking forward to try EZY as well since it's the last main LCC I still have to board in the EU (and I did want to eat some warm meals on BOB), but that was not to be. I think they closed down the airport since they didn't have anything to clean it up with, or the manpower they had was too small to face the problem.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 8):
Most probably some training device for the airport fire brigade.

That's what I thought, but every door seemed to be nailed..


User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 10, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 9658 times:

Hey JL418

Thanks for an enjoyable and nicely written trip report - bravo - and what an ordeal you went through trying to get back in time for graduation. And congratulations too! I'm glad you got to get aboard the ERJ145, a plane that I'm finding difficulty catching in my neck of the woods now. I really liked the rich detail in this write-up, and it does look like you had a good boozy few days in Scotland, as it should be  

This is also an interesting snapshot of this year's early European winter - that is still wrecking havoc in many places including London, as I can see from the news. I am headed for UK and Europe soon with some tight connections to boot; judging from what's happening now, I hope the end-result wouldn't turn out to be as adventurous a trip as yours  
Quoting JL418 (Thread starter):
I started to snort very loudly, but without success, until a Nigerian lady came to my help, shouting a "You lot! Shut up now, my boy needah sleep!" which blowed a cemetery-like silence into the back of the coach.

LOL I can just imagine that happening! I can think of many awkward occasions in life when an assertive Nigerian lady would do quite nicely!

Quoting JL418 (Reply 2):
"No sweetheart", she said gently "You gotta open up the window and use the handle on the outside. Then push, and push hard".

Haha... lovely British trains. I remember these as a student there years back, and thought they've done away with them by now - obviously not!

Apologies for the late reply. I have been away from the forum for quite a while and am only now catching up with the backlog haha.

Thanks again for the report.

Cheers
airpearl


User currently offlinetrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3225 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 9548 times:

Thank you JL418, it was a great trip report indeed. It was a shame that so much disruption hit your trip but that is what happens in the UK whenever it snows. This country is not really used to dealing with snow and grinds to a halt whenever the white stuff makes its way down. They closing of EDI is not bad in my opinion - it is necessary - but U2 handled you horribly. You were right to forget about the refund and just try to get home by any other means. Yes the flights are cheap but come on, decent customer service brings rewards far greater than the inherent costs!

I am reminded about a trip I took last year, to MXP in fact. I came over for a conference in May and June 2009 and decided to fly LH Italia ffrom LHR, which went very well and I was extremely impressed by everything - great service, friendly staff and immaculate plane. They are definitely outstanding. Many of my friends and colleagues who came across flew with U2 from BRS (there being no direct flight to Milan from CWL). Alas U2 cancelled their return flight, leaving all of them stranded! Some - as you did - switched to FR from BGY while others took another day out there and returned later but had to hunt for hotels. Many had driven to BRS and left their cars there so flying to LHR was not an option - that's quite a slog to get to BRS from there! Somehow when things go well with U2 everything is fine - and that has been my experience with them on the 2 round-trips I have flown with them - but when things go wrong, well, that's when the underbelly is there to be seen. (Incidentally U2 have ended MXP service from BRS - and FR have ended BGY from there too.)

I will still maintain I prefer U2 to FR, FR is just too garish and in-your-face with their nonstop selling tactics.

Your railway experience in the UK was not great either but that is exactly what happens when bad weather strikes! Services get cancelled, speeds are reduced, trains fail, signals fail, stations become overcrowded and delay-prone - a total mess. At least the employees were very helpful - kudos to them. Britain's rail system is fragmented due to the privatisation of the 1990s so many operators have come and gone since then. East Coast (which you used) is now actually Government owned once again. As for the train, I would assume you were on a High Speed Train or HST, which are diesel powered and travel at over 200km/h. Their doors are however archaic as they indeed have to be opened manually via an outside lever. These trains are expected to remain in service for many more years - especially on the routes to Wales and SW England operated by First Great Western. Paris is the Metro system you are referring to - on some lines the train doors have to be opened manually by moving the lever once the doors are unlocked. There, though, the doors are unlocked a few seconds before the trains stop - so you could actually open the doors with the train moving! That does not happen in the UK. (I know that East Coast also have some electric trains but I have never been on those.)

Scottish bank notes are issued by 3 banks there while (Northern) Irish pound notes are produced by 3 banks over there. Bank of England notes are produced at the Royal Mint in Wales - Wales itself has no money issuing authority and shares England's. Scottish and Irish bank notes are officially legal tender throughout the UK but outside the relevant jurisdictions acceptance is still a problem - and the Scottish and Irish notes are virtually impossible to exchange outside of the UK. All the same it sounds you enjoyed the fabulous atmosphere and drinks in Scotland - it is a great place to go partying.

Thanks again.
TrinToCan.



Hop to it, fly for life!
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 9440 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Thanks for an enjoyable and nicely written trip report - bravo - and what an ordeal you went through trying to get back in time for graduation. And congratulations too! I'm glad you got to get aboard the ERJ145, a plane that I'm finding difficulty catching in my neck of the woods now.

Hey Airpearl, thanks for replying despite your work commitments (you'd think about going on strike!) and thanks for your congratulations.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
it does look like you had a good boozy few days in Scotland, as it should be

Well I don't usually drink a lot at home and most of pubs in Scotland used to offer the same draught beers but, when you're given the chance...  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
I am headed for UK and Europe soon with some tight connections to boot; judging from what's happening now, I hope the end-result wouldn't turn out to be as adventurous a trip as yours

I genuinely have no clue but I know that some UK airports are getting more and more prepared: Glasgow, for instance, coped better than Edinburgh and Heathrow has a lot of tools to play with in order to get the runways free and passengers happy. Sure, if it snows really hard... bring your lucky rabbit tail if you got one!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Apologies for the late reply. I have been away from the forum for quite a while and am only now catching up with the backlog haha.

Nevermind, I hope you'll catch up with your TRs!

Quoting trintocan (Reply 11):
I am reminded about a trip I took last year, to MXP in fact. I came over for a conference in May and June 2009 and decided to fly LH Italia ffrom LHR, which went very well and I was extremely impressed by everything - great service, friendly staff and immaculate plane. They are definitely outstanding. Many of my friends and colleagues who came across flew with U2 from BRS (there being no direct flight to Milan from CWL). Alas U2 cancelled their return flight, leaving all of them stranded! Some - as you did - switched to FR from BGY while others took another day out there and returned later but had to hunt for hotels. Many had driven to BRS and left their cars there so flying to LHR was not an option - that's quite a slog to get to BRS from there! Somehow when things go well with U2 everything is fine - and that has been my experience with them on the 2 round-trips I have flown with them - but when things go wrong, well, that's when the underbelly is there to be seen. (Incidentally U2 have ended MXP service from BRS - and FR have ended BGY from there too.)

Hi Trintocan, thanks for your lenghty reply! Do you know if EZY refunded your friends and colleagues of the expenses they needed to face to get back to Cardiff? 'Cause I've filed for a similar refund and I'm currently waiting. EZY staff is brilliant, it's the second e-mail I've been sent asking to be patient since they're drowning under a pile of similar requests, but I wonder if I'll ever see my cash back. I don't know why they keep on providing such a poor customer service. I guess that re-routing passengers, or sending them to an hotel for the night, would be cheaper than paying them back.

Quoting trintocan (Reply 11):
I will still maintain I prefer U2 to FR, FR is just too garish and in-your-face with their nonstop selling tactics.

I have the same impression even if I have never boarded U2, this should have been the first time! However I understand what you mean and, speaking about LCCs, I am much more inclined to fly WizzAir whenever I fly eastwards since they don't make such a fuss about selling goods on board.

Quoting trintocan (Reply 11):
As for the train, I would assume you were on a High Speed Train or HST, which are diesel powered and travel at over 200km/h. Their doors are however archaic as they indeed have to be opened manually via an outside lever. These trains are expected to remain in service for many more years - especially on the routes to Wales and SW England operated by First Great Western.

Yes it definitely was an HST with a odd nose which reminded me of the wooden sabots used by villagers on the Alps (or the Dutch clogs). It wasn't a bad ride apart from the delays and some problems with heating. However my happiness with Italian railway after the trip has ended again. We had snow in the past days and frost every morning but this resulted in some minor delays (in my region at least). Yesterday, instead, the train I was on stopped and remained still for about 20 minutes since we had a... cow on the tracks who refused to go elsewhere. This animal sit-in (well, standing-in I'd say) caused us to arrive late at our destination and resulted in me losing my connection which, of course, didn't wait for us and left moments after we arrived. So I spent one hour stranded in the "gorgeous" Santhià station, a place I'm sure you've never heard about - with a reason.

Quoting trintocan (Reply 11):
Scottish bank notes are issued by 3 banks there while (Northern) Irish pound notes are produced by 3 banks over there. Bank of England notes are produced at the Royal Mint in Wales - Wales itself has no money issuing authority and shares England's. Scottish and Irish bank notes are officially legal tender throughout the UK but outside the relevant jurisdictions acceptance is still a problem - and the Scottish and Irish notes are virtually impossible to exchange outside of the UK.

Interesting, thank you! So is every note issued by Scottish bank no. 1 different from those issued by no.2 and 3? I've seen notes printed by the Bank of Scotland and Strathclyde bank, which is the third?


User currently offlinetrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3225 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 9253 times:

JL418, I do not know whether my friends got refunds from U2 - perhaps because shortly after that conference I had gone to Paris for the airshow! I took the Eurostar for that journey.

The Royal Bank of Scotland is the third issuer of Scottish bank notes.

A cow on the line! An interesting cause for a delay indeed.

Regards,
TrinToCan.



Hop to it, fly for life!
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 14, posted (3 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 8693 times:

Hi Fabrizio,

Quite an epic read on quite an epic adventure. Snow and UK don't really seem to mix too well, this winter so far has been quite a difficult time. Still, you managed to work out an acceptable (if tedious) plan B, very good work with that!

I kinda like your sense of humor. Hoping to see more reports in the same style in the future.

PS. Congratulations on your graduation! Now the only thing you need is the job market to pick up again!

PS2. Thanks for the name dropping.


User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (3 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 8596 times:

Quoting trintocan (Reply 13):
JL418, I do not know whether my friends got refunds from U2 - perhaps because shortly after that conference I had gone to Paris for the airshow! I took the Eurostar for that journey.

The Royal Bank of Scotland is the third issuer of Scottish bank notes.

Alright, thanks for the info anyway!

Quoting trintocan (Reply 13):
A cow on the line! An interesting cause for a delay indeed.

Yes, interesting indeed. Been commuting for 5 years now and I've experienced everything as a cause of delay: snow, ice, cars on the tracks, sit-ins... we've even ran over some sheeps, but never found a cow blocking the line. I wonder what will happen next, and UFO perhaps?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
Quite an epic read on quite an epic adventure. Snow and UK don't really seem to mix too well, this winter so far has been quite a difficult time. Still, you managed to work out an acceptable (if tedious) plan B, very good work with that!

Hi FlyingFinn,

thanks for replying! I'm a big fan of your TRs and I'm glad you liked mine. My plan B worked out fine, luckily, but it was quite costy, I hope I won't have to draw any such plans for a looooong time in the future!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
I kinda like your sense of humor. Hoping to see more reports in the same style in the future.

Unfortunately, no reports scheduled until May, I'll be super-busy until that time and, even if I'll manage to fly somewhere, it'll be just another hop to the British Isles. I'll do my best to make it a little bit more interesting however!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
PS. Congratulations on your graduation! Now the only thing you need is the job market to pick up again!

Thanks! Well I'm actually due to start an MBA for one year, I'll give to the job market yet another 10 or so months to pick itself up, even if - speaking about my poor country - this will mean shifting from "hopeless" to "mmmh...bad".


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