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European Capital Tour, Part 1: HEL-LHR/LCY-MAD-CDG  
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 10186 times:

Introduction

One day last autumn I was browsing the web, feeling a bit bored and checking out some airfares on various routes. I found some very cheap fares on the recently opened LAN Airlines fifth freedom route between MAD and CDG. I did the famous MAD-FRA flight last year (see here: Tight Connection For A340: HEL-CDG-BCN-MAD-FRA-HEL (by FlyingFinn76 May 31 2010 in Trip Reports) ), but quite fancied doing this route as well, widebodies and fifth freedom flights are always fun. Too bad it was operated by another A340, would’ve really liked to try one of their 767s with winglets! MAD-CDG was available for around 40 EUR, which is a bargain in any sense. The opposite direction was 20 or so Euros more expensive, due to the asymmetric airport fees. Too bad the service isn’t operated on Saturdays which would’ve been my preferred travel day. Instead I booked a Friday flight in late January.

Next step was getting to Madrid. There of course are plenty of options, but I wanted something which would allow me to have an (almost) full workday on Thursday. After a bit of searching I finally found a perfect combination: HEL-LHR on Thursday night on BA for around 100 EUR, an overnight in London and LCY-MAD on BA Citiflyer the next mid-morning for around 60 GBP. This itinerary sounded very good to me, it had me leaving HEL only after 17.00, gave me a chance to try to fix up an a.net meeting in London, had me flying BA Citiflyer and their new E-jets for the first time, had more than three hours of connection time to my LA flight and most importantly arrived at the very same T4S terminal the LA flight departed from - something which I now value very dearly after the adventures and near catastrophe I had there when flying to FRA (read the report for more information).

Then I got into work trying to figure out what to do from CDG onwards. As I was arriving there on Friday night, I had the whole weekend ahead of me to use for something exciting. Having been to Paris far too many times, spending the weekend there was out of the question. More airfare searches followed, and then I found another great fare, this time on Aegean Airlines to ATH. A new carrier for my log and a new place I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time sounded an unbeatable combination, so that was quickly booked for around 69 EUR.

Oh well, apart from the fact that it wasn’t! The A3 website refused to accept my credit card - tried it twice - so in the end I booked the very same flight using expedia.co.uk, it was even a couple of EUR cheaper, probably due to exchange rates. As usual, the booking process there worked flawlessly.

To get back from Athens, I of course wanted to give Olympic Air (or whatever it is called nowadays) a try. They were far more expensive than Aegean on any routes they both operated, which is quite interesting considered that they are supposed to be merged someday. Anyway I narrowed down my options to either AMS or LHR - both destinations were available for around 100 EUR and provided plenty of options for onward travel to HEL. In the end I decided to book LHR, as it had three flights that day and the noon flight was far more attractive than a departure before eight in the morning - the airport is a bit of a way from the city where I planned on staying and a departure time like that would have me leaving at OMG o’clock...

To close the circuit, BA once again won my business by having the evening flight available for under 75 Pounds. I wouldn’t have minded another ride on a KF 717 but the prices were far steeper, almost 150 EUR which I most definitely didn’t want to pay!

Here’s what the routing for the trip ended up looking like:



Now the inevitable surprise: a couple of weeks after booking I was checking my credit card statement online and what do I see? Apart from the charge from Expedia in Sterling for the A3 flight there were TWO charges from Aegean Airlines in Euros, matching the originally quoted price on their website, despite the site insisting that my credit card was no good and I should make amends for that. Bugger, this is what I hate about these countries you don’t usually associate with things like e-commerce, credit cards or anything like that...

Anyway I called the Aegean call centre in Greece, got an agent who spoke surprisingly good English with a genuine British note to it who after lots of typing delightfully informed me that she found three tickets in the system on my name for the same flight and asked which one of those would I like to keep? Well, since I was unaware of the other two bastard tickets I quoted the Expedia ticket number and asked that one to be retained and the other two to be canceled and refunded, which she promised would be done and I would see the refund “within 2-3 weeks, a month at the longest”. Foolishly I believed her, thanked and hung up.

Well, I guess you already know what comes next: currently it’s been more than three months since that call and so far no refund. I filed a dispute with my bank after waiting for a bit over a month, but even that thing seems to be taking forever and only the previous day before leaving for the trip did I get a letter back from my bank, stating that “the investigation has been prolonged, but for the time being we are refunding your account with the disputed charges”... Yippee.

Anyway enough of the complaining - let’s focus on the nicer things like getting and being on the road, shall we?

Thursday 27.1.2011

As the departure is quite conveniently timed I don’t have to leave the office too early. A quick drive home, last minute packing and by bus to the airport, getting to T2 at around 1h15mins before departure. The security setup has been changed since the last time I was here - now they have a separate area for putting your stuff on the tray and it seems to work quite nicely actually.

Airside they have introduced more construction and barriers, blocking the main part of the T2 departure area which makes the narrow corridors quite cramped and annoying:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_0.jpg

The whole T2 Schengen area is completely packed, there are masses of people everywhere so I decide to head to the non-Schengen part right away, hopefully things are calmer there. The passport control setup has been changed as well - I see they have now introduced automatic e-gates, not that those are any use to me with my ID card instead of a passport.

Well, things aren’t any calmer on the other side of the border, the main departure bank of AY’s Asian flights is between 17.00 and 18.00 and the whole place is very full of people, most of them Asians of various nationalities. More changes - a set of new shops which I guess are welcome, the shopping facilities here haven’t been that good:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_1.jpg

The new AY livery - butt ugly if you ask me:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_2.jpg

I spot our plane arriving a few minutes early while taking the above photo, to my surprise it stops at an apron stand. A quick check at the FIDS confirms this - all the jetways are occupied by various AY widebodies and we indeed have a bus gate downstairs.

I grab an adult beverage at the MyCity Helsinki restaurant which I’ve pretty much learned to hate - overpriced, usually packed and service tends to be slow. Of course I express my normal complaints about their lack of any decent beers on draft - come on, Lapin Kulta is not a beer for crying out loud!

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_3.jpg

I’ve never actually departed (or arrived) with a bus from the new terminal so am quite positively surprised by the bus boarding area downstairs:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_4.jpg

Boarding has just commenced when I get to the gate so it’s just a matter of joining the queue and getting to the annoyingly full bus. Of course as always with bus boardings we first wait an eternity at the gate, then drive to our plane and wait another eternity in front of it while the cleaners are still doing their business and a crew change is taking place.

I notice an Augsburg E195 taxiing for departure past the bus - I had now idea LH used them on the MUC route. I think I will look into possibilities for logging one...

To my disappointment I notice that the bird is Yankee India, a new A320 delivered to BA last June, but one which I’ve flown once previously from LHR to HEL.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_5.jpg

HEL - LHR
BA799
A320 G-EUYI
Seat 27F
17.19 - 18.08

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_6.jpg

We are finally released around fifteen minutes before the departure time. Interesting:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_7.jpg

I grab my window seat in the last row (gee, where did I learn to do that?) and exchange some chit chat with the friendly older FA in the back galley. The load is good, but like magic I end up getting one of the few vacant seats next to me - on the aisle seat there’s a Chinese girl whose English is not really up to the “having a chat” level.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_8.jpg

The ugly livery sticking out like a sore thumb:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_9.jpg

The captain mentions something about “a short delay as things took a bit of time with us on the remote stand and boarding by buses” compensated by “a short taxi time of only ten minutes” (well, ten minutes may be short for Heathrow, but for Helsinki it’s a lot!) and made even better by us “having a strong tailwind speeding us for a flight time of 2h30mins.”.

Departure is finally nine minutes late. While taxiing to 22R we tail a Transaero 737, definitely not something you see every day at HEL - I’m really wondering what it is doing here (and please tell me it’s not another dodgy carrier operating for KF!)? Sorry, this is the best I could do:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_10.jpg

We start our take off run twelve minutes after leaving the stand.

Not many views of the ground due to the low clouds and dark skies, but as a nice bonus we get a very pretty red sky following us on the right hand side all throughout the flight, thanks to flying southwest during the sunset hour:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_11.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_12.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Helsinki_Departure_13.jpg

The route is quite a bit more southern than usually, following basically HEL-URE-VBY-KLR-RNB-MMX-CPH-KEL-GRQ-AMS and across the North Sea to London.

Over the Baltic Sea the skies clear up and as the night is cold and clear the visibility is extremely good. I can clearly see the lights of the Stockholm are, for instance, despite it being more than hundred miles away.

Service is another standard BA sandwich - chicken salad this time, nice and fresh as almost always:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_London_1.jpg

I hadn’t noticed before that the glasses have the Speedbird logo embossed on them:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_London_2.jpg

Over Southern Sweden:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_London_3.jpg

Copenhagen, Kastrup Airport is the brightly lit area on the lower right corner:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_London_4.jpg

During a toilet run I ask if I could have another drink - the FA answers: “Of course - what would you like to have?” - that’s what I love about BA and their crews, always ready to serve and very friendly. Well, this seems appropriate for a flight to London:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_London_5.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_London_6.jpg

Descent starts over the North Sea at 1h55mins into the flight. Well, it wouldn’t be Heathrow if we didn’t spend some time in a holding stack over East London:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_London_7.jpg

At least there are plenty of other planes around us to watch. After two complete circles we head westwards, passing Heathrow - making it obvious that we are landing on the 09s.

Touchdown is on 09L after 2h37mins of flight time, 12 minutes early. Luckily the T3 BA stands are just next to the runway exits so no epic taxies for us today. Getting out of the plane does take some time, though, with the good load and the fact that they are only using the front door for deboarding. I pass time chatting with a Danish guy living in Australia in front of me - he is facing quite a journey to MEL with BA via BKK, but at least is traveling in WT+.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_1.jpg

London

Once we get out it’s a short bus ride and relatively short walk to the UK border - despite flying out of T3 plenty of times this is actually first time I’m arriving here - then a bit longer walk through the tunnels to the tube station and onto a Piccadilly Line Train.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_2.jpg

A tedious ride to Green Park, followed by a short hop on the Jubilee Line to Southwark station - total travel time from Heathrow an hour:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_3.jpg

My hotel, the Southwark Travelodge is just half a block away from the tube station and offered me a room for 35 quids, not bad at all for London and it will be a very easy commute to LCY the next morning. It’s not much, but then again with Travelodge you know what you get:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_4.jpg

I meet fellow a.net member Gabriel (gabrielchew around here) in the reception, and after dropping my stuff in the room we head out for some Japanese food:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_5.jpg

Followed by liquid forms of entertainment and of course lots of chat. The bank of the Thames offers nice views of the City across, although the wind is bitterly cold even for a Finn:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_6.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_7.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_8.jpg

Some time closer to midnight it is time to part ways at the London Bridge station and I spend a few unnerving moments not being sure which way the hotel is, but finally make it and crash for the night.

Friday 28.1.2011

Up around seven thirty or so. Despite the hotel being right next to some train tracks into Waterloo, you can’t hear any noise in the room so it looks like they really did their job right with the soundproofing, something which can’t be said for all hotels I will spend nights on this trip! Lovely view from the window:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_9.jpg

After getting ready I leave the hotel and head back to the tube - quite appropriately a BA Cityflyer E-jet is just landing overhead:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_10.jpg

Tube to Canning Town is always funny at this hour - as usual it is standing room only up to Canary Wharf and completely empty afterwards after all the suits leave for their work. Easy connection to DLR and soon enough I’m at LCY:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_2.jpg

Some breakfast at Pret follows, then an almost pleasant progress through security - too bad that at the last moment the girl tells me that my bag has been selected for “random” scrutiny and proceeds to pull everything out from there, leaving a mess.

Lots of people in the departure area, but no problem finding a seat to wait. This turned out to be my ride, arriving some 45 minutes before from another flight:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_3.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_4.jpg

Boarding is called at T-30, a bit of a queue to get to the holding pen downstairs - a Columbian woman is heatedly discussing her and her family’s (husband and a very lively, cute girl) travel plans with one of the gate agents. From what I can gather from her rapid fire Spanglish is that the agents are unsure whether they have the proper documentation to be let on the flight, even though they are connecting to BOG on IB and are already holding boarding passes on that flight. Anyway after a while of discussions things seem to be settled down and they are given the option of boarding first - that’s the only child on this flight.

The funny older gate agent comes back in, asks me “Gold card, sir?” - “No, just dreaming about one” - after this he yells out “The one passenger with Executive Club Gold, you can board now!”. Nobody dares to announce themselves so he just shrugs and calls general boarding - since I am right next to the door I become the first person to walk to the apron.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_5.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_6.jpg

LCY - MAD
BA8753
E190 G-LCYK
Seat 25A
9.36 - 12.38

A very friendly, young FA greets me on the back stairs - she seems to be fluent in Spanish as well with the mostly Spanish pax, a nice touch. Last row window seat again. The small holding pen made the load look much better than it actually is - I think there are less than 30 pax in economy, not quite sure about Club Europe. Comfortable Recaro seats with okayish legroom:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_7.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_8.jpg

The low load is apparent in this picture:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_9.jpg

The cockpit crew stays mostly silent during the whole flight - quite atypical for BA flights, actually. No announcements about flight time, routings or just about anything.

Pushback is a minute late - CityLine E195 to FRA starting its take off run:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_10.jpg

Take off is towards the east from 09 after a taxi and hold time of seven minutes.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_11.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_12.jpg

VLM and CityJet:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_13.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_14.jpg

Very powerful take off and a nice angle of attack on this lightly loaded bird:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_15.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_16.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_17.jpg

LCY behind us:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/London_City_Departure_18.jpg


We fly quite a bit towards the Thames mouth before finally turning right and heading for the Channel. Sunshine glimmering from the water - quite pretty views:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_Madrid_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_Madrid_2.jpg

Hello, France, hold on for a few hours, will ya:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_Madrid_3.jpg

I was expecting some sort of sandwich on this flight, but am actually a bit surprised to get a hot breakfast instead - I think it is a bit late for a breakfast:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_Madrid_4.jpg

The crew take their time to serve the pax, with the low load there’s no need to rush. They are a great pair of gals, speaking with the passengers, holding the cute girl in their lap etc. At some point when clearing my trash the older purser tells me: “My colleague saw you taking pictures of the cabin earlier (busted!). If there’s anything you’d like to know about the flight or the plane just ask us!” - well my Finnish nature wins over and I shyly retreat from the chance by saying “Thanks for the offer, I really appreciate it but I’m fine like this.”. Well, I could’ve always asked for a flight deck visit...

During the first drinks run I ask the younger gal “Is it too early to have some wine?” - “Oh, absolutely not! Any time is fine, would it be white or red, sir?” - The good old BA attitude here again  http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Enroute_to_Madrid_5.jpg

Not many views during the flight, but from what I can see from the openings in the clouds we seem to be routing mostly over land instead of the direct routing across the Bay of Biscay.

While clearing the (empty) wine bottle I’m asked if I would like to have another wine. I’m not quite sure how far we still have to go so I ask the FA - she says that she doesn’t actually know but will call the cockpit to ask. Whoa, in my books that’s going the extra mile. I can actually overhear her talking over the phone right behind me and she comes back with the info that there are still 40 minutes to go - so plenty of time for another wine  . I do thank her and tell that I really didn’t expect that kind of treatment - she short of beams hearing this and says “No problem sir, we like to keep ourselves busy!”.

The only announcement during the flight comes around 1h30mins into the flight when the captain says that there’s some congestion at MAD and we’ll be holding for a while but should be on the ground in 20 minutes. Some very pretty clouds during the descent:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_2.jpg

By the time we break the clouds it’s apparent we are landing on the 18s, nice as that means a short taxi to T4S.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_3.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_4.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_5.jpg

Landing is on 18L, after exactly 1h55mins in the air. Looks like it has rained recently:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_6.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_7.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_8.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_9.jpg

Departure queue for 15L:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_10.jpg

A couple of minutes later we dock to a jetway at T4S - no LAN birds are yet to be seen. I really like this picture, with the “Jesus ray” touching the big bird’s tail:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_11.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_12.jpg

While waiting to get out I have a short chat with the younger FA - I’m a bit surprised to learn that they will be overnighting here and returning on the early morning flight tomorrow. Besides the plane will sit here for almost four hours before the return afternoon service to LCY - quite a bit lower utilization rate than with the Low costs! She also doesn’t really grasp the concept of flying from London to Paris via Madrid, even though I try to explain the point with the LAN flight... oh well.

While taking a final look at the cockpit through the glass jetway the captain meets my eyes and gives me a wave and a big smile - putting this very pleasant flight to an equally pleasant end. Bye, I had a blast:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Approach_13.jpg

Madrid Barajas Airport, T4S

First order of day is to find a transfer desk - I did OLCI but it didn’t really check me in, instead it just produced a “pre check-in voucher” with the flight details and my name which should be exchanged for a proper boarding pass. Interesting as the last time I was able to do the regular kind of OLCI just fine. The satellite terminal is deserted at this hour:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_1.jpg

I love this picture - the dark skies and the bright Iberia colors basking in the rare sunshine make for a really pretty view:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_2.jpg

From the infodesk I’m directed to somewhere that seems to be at least a kilometer away - it turns out to be an Iberia transfer desk where the agent is surprised to learn that LAN now operates MAD-CDG... Well, she can’t help me, instead giving directions to “the LAN desk”. Well, I retreat back to where I came from and there turn out to be two transfer desks, the other for AA which is just closing down and another labeled as “El Al Special Security Checkpoint” - bugger. They have this sign next to the AA desk, but the LAN Arrow points right back to the Iberia desk:



Luckily I notice the first one of the LAN South American arrivals pulling in to a gate just opposite and an agent working to set up the gate so I trundle there. It turns out to be my plane to CDG and he issues me a hand written boarding pass, explaining something about the computers being down (gee, how many times have I heard that one before?). I thank him and he asks me to be back for boarding in about one and half hours.

Off to the lounge upstairs - unfortunately not the nice IB one but the poorer generic one

31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 10235 times:

Off to the lounge upstairs - unfortunately not the nice IB one but the poorer generic one. Not a too bad place actually - the views are great. Here’s my ride, CC-CQE, luckily a different reg from last time. AA departing to DFW in the background:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_4.jpg

Sistership CQA arriving, flew this one to FRA last year:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_5.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_6.jpg

The lounge has two fridges full of prepackaged sandwiches, I grab a few for lunch and some beverages from the staffed bar. The two girls working the bar are great - very friendly and a very generous pour after I surprise myself at conducting my orders in pigdin Spanish.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_7.jpg

I eat the first half of the first sandwich, wondering about the vile taste. I then take a look at the other half - and guess what? The sandwich has several green spots of mold growing on it! Yuck! That sort of puts me off from having any more food here, not really acceptable at all.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_8.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_9.jpg

Feels weird watching an MS bird arriving while the TV right next to me has CNN in full blast about the situation in Egypt:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_10.jpg

At least the wine is not moldy at all and rather good. That, and the computers with Internet connection (surprisingly there’s no wifi) keep me busy and soon enough it is time to head back to the gate.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_11.jpg

Most of the passengers have already boarded, so there’s no queuing. The girl is a bit confused with the handwritten boarding pass, but after I point to her colleague and say “He wrote it!” he asks “Mr. FlyingFinn?” and after recognizing me tells her that it is okay.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_1.jpg

MAD - CDG
LA714
A340 CC-CQE
Seat 39A
15.29 - 17.19

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_2.jpg

For some strange reason I had an irresistible urge to pick a seat in the last row so that’s what I did... There’s already an old French woman next to me, with her traveling companions (equally old as well) spread nearby. Generally the load is very good, close to full I think. The legroom isn’t the greatest, I think it would be a bit painful for the long flight to South America:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_3.jpg

The PTV, still just as sluggish response times as I remember from the last flight:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_4.jpg

Even though only a few passengers are yet to arrive, they trickle onboard very slowly, and it takes almost 45 minutes to get pushed back after boarding - I knew I was early! Still we manage to push back a minute early.

The flight time to “Aeropuerto de Internacional de Paris” is announced as 1h30mins.

Hello, sis:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_5.jpg

My previous ride still resting there:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_6.jpg

The safety demonstration featuring cartoon characters:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_7.jpg

A bit of a queue to 15L:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_8.jpg

Due to the queue and some other planes being given priority over us we finally take off 17 minutes afer push back.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_9.jpg

The climb is as sluggish as one would expect from an A340 - but at least it gives me time to enjoy the nice views a bit longer before disappearing into the overcast skies:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_10.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_11.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_12.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Madrid_Departure_13.jpg

After reaching the cruising altitude the captain gives a small speech in almost incomprehensible English about arriving early at 17.20 and it being around two degrees in Paris with cloudy skies.

As the flight is too short to watch a movie I decide to watch an episode of House from the IFE - a shame as there are plenty of movies I’d definitely wanted to watch!

Soon snack boxes are handed out - nice design:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_1.jpg

My seatmate tries to explain me something in French, I think she’s saying that they visited the Easter Islands judging from the enthusiastic way she points at the cover of the snack box. Later, she actually collects at least five of the empty cardboard boxes from pax around her, including mine (she does dispose the garbage into the garbage cart, though) and stuffs them into her bag. I ask “Souvenir?” - “Oui”, followed by lots of French words I have no idea about.

Soon the drink cart arrives - my seatmate once again surprises me by ordering a whiskey - the FA looks at me and asks “Dos?” - I think she assumes I’m her son or younger lover (she is French after all!) or whatever. Well, I (almost) never turn down an offer for free whiskey, so I answer “Si, por favor.” and get a very generous pour. A cerveza to go with it is not a problem, either:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_2.jpg

The snack box turns out to contain a quite horrible sandwich (what is it with today and bad sandwiches!?) - the turkey inside smells and looks bad and I don’t dare to taste it. I eat the other half with cheese in it, it is passable. The best part is a tiny KitKat bar for dessert.

I teach the French granny a single word of Finnish - “kippis” which seems to be very much appreciated and easy enough to learn.

Around 50 minutes after departure I’m surprised to see that we are descending again. Soon the captain is on the horn announcing our landing in half an hour. Too bad they shut down the IFE right away, as it means I didn’t get to even finish my TV show. Bugger. I really wish they’d do like NZ and have gate-to-gate IFE.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_3.jpg

Our descent takes an eternity through some very thick clouds - I thought gravity does the hard work for you in this direction and even these four tiny hairblowers should be able to bring us down very rapidly!

We finally break the clouds to see some of the less prettier areas north of Paris:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_4.jpg

Oh yes, these definitely look like the infamous cités HLM:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_5.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_6.jpg

Best friends side by side:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_7.jpg

The captain was overestimating our speed a bit as we land on runway 08R 40 minutes after commencing descent, still 15 minutes early and after around one and half hours of flight time.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_8.jpg

Hello, big girl:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_9.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_10.jpg

A couple of minutes later we dock to T2C. Getting out from the back of the plane takes a bit time. While passing through the business class cabin I snap a photo of the comfortable looking seats:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_11.jpg

Bye bye:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_Approach_12.jpg

French immigration just waves me through at the sight of my ID card, and it’s just a short walk to the T2 RER station where I catch the next RER train to the city. How I hate these trains - old fashioned, dirty, uncomfortable, noisy, smelly, packed to the gills and this particular route goes through some very dodgy areas. At least this is some sort of express train as it skips half the stops en route which makes the journey a bit more tolerable.

Oh, I also hate the RER platforms at Gare du Nord - pretty much the same standards as the trains, but far more people, and lots of all kinds of riff raff around. Anyway I get out in one piece, reasonably sane to face a quintessential night view of Paris - this is one thing I do NOT hate:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_1.jpg

A short walk to the hotel although a bit of a confusion follows as my map doesn’ t exactly tell me that the two streets that appear to be crossing are actually doing so by a bridge, separated by hundred meters of air. Well, I soon find a way down to the proper street and arrive at my hotel, the recently opened All Seasons Paris 9 Lafayette - the name sounds much grander than the truth, though.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_3.jpg

It turns out to be some sort of new low end Accor brand, apparently this hotel was an Ibis before and was recently renovated into it’s new existence. The check in agent speaks about five words of bad English so conversation is a bit pointless but at least he manages to get the job done.

The room, if tiny looks quite decent at first:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_2.jpg

But soon one notices small annoyances and bits that are done very sloppily, like a gaping hole instead of a ventilation grill above the shower:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_4.jpg

And very bad paintjob in the door - a roll of masking tape too expensive for you, mate?

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/London_Paris_Athens_01_2011/Paris_5.jpg

Still, Paris isn’t exactly known for affordable hotels, and for less than 90 EUR per night including free wifi and breakfast (not that I got to use it...) a couple of blocks away from Gare du Nord is okay in my books.

Conclusion

The first part ends here. The next part will cover the rest of the flights CDG-ATH-LHR-HEL and contain the real conclusion part. Should be online in a few days, stay tuned!

Happy contrails!


User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From UK - England, joined Sep 2003, 5186 posts, RR: 55
Reply 2, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 10039 times:

Hi, P.,

I´am waiting for this one after you´re earlier statement.

Well done, nice pictures and a good idea to connect that BA CF ride with the new LA route to CDG.
Not that some people out there will see the higher end of this routing, but we know the way to go!.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I grab my window seat in the last row (gee, where did I learn to do that?) and exchange some chit chat with the friendly older FA in the back galley

Asolutely no idea!.

Looking for the second part now.

Greetings,
Markus(FLIEGER67)



Next: London City connections!.
User currently offlinesandroZRH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 9718 times:

Hey P!

Another enjoyable read, but i expected no less from your hand! I also tried LA on the FRA route a few years ago albeit i did the return which was pretty funny, it gave me enough time to actually finish a movie  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
Due to the queue and some other planes being given priority over us we finally take off 17 minutes afer push back.

lemme guess, those were all Iberia? Oh the joys of MAD ATC, did I mention i hate flying to MAD?  

Looking forward to part two!


User currently offlineBAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 9587 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The new AY livery - butt ugly if you ask me

Oooh, it's really not nice is it? The old livery is so much classier.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Southwark Travelodge is just half a block away from the tube station and offered me a room for 35 quids

Dude, "quid" is both multiple and singular...35 quid is fine!

FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
During a toilet run I ask if I could have another drink - the FA answers: “Of course - what would you like to have?”
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
During the first drinks run I ask the younger gal “Is it too early to have some wine?” - “Oh, absolutely not! Any time is fine, would it be white or red, sir?” - The good old BA attitude here again
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I can actually overhear her talking over the phone right behind me and she comes back with the info that there are still 40 minutes to go - so plenty of time for another wine

That's why I continue to love my national airline, even if others berate it!!   

Thanks for the report. Looking forward to the next installment.

Cheers,

Andy.



Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1965 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 9530 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Good report, FlyingFinn76!

Looks like you had some good flights! That's great you got to catch an A340 on such a short flight; I'd agree with you on that sandwich thing; looks very unappetizing!  

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlineRogerbcn From Andorra, joined Sep 2006, 1209 posts, RR: 20
Reply 6, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 9433 times:

Hola FlyingFinn76!

Another great report from you.

Great idea to hit European capitals in a couple of days with great combination of airlines and planes, from small E195 to A340s. Great!

I am really looking forward to flying those E jets to LCY as BA has a flight to BCN.

Looking forward to reading the next part.

Salut!

Roger



"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)
User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2500 posts, RR: 53
Reply 7, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 9243 times:

Hi P.,

I hope you are feeling better now.

I don't know why but this happens to be the best report of yours for me. I like it very much. The way you convey your experience makes me feel I was there with you. And yes, I completely agree with you about flying fifth freedom flights with widebodies.

Regarding A3, I can recall unimpressive Philip's A3 on-board experience. Sad to know about the glitches going beyond that. Unauthorized double credit card charge, unable to deliver on promises for refund. The call center agent was the sole bright spot. Bad marketing for A3!

On the contrary, BA and LA were impressive!

Next to LH, I think BA is the only airline offering hot meal in Y on longer intra European flights. The cabin crew are mostly courteous and appreciating people like us A.nutters. While LA does generous flow of booze.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Lapin Kulta is not a beer for crying out loud!

That's why you prefer the Singapore one.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Sorry, this is the best I could do

Well done! How did you do that without any reflection?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
since I am right next to the door I become the first person to walk to the apron.

Did you get any trouble for photo-taking? I remember Eric's experience last year for instance.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
AA departing to DFW in the background:

And EK arriving from DXB.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
Hello, sis:

Who tailed who during the take off sequence?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
like a gaping hole instead of a ventilation grill above the shower:
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
And very bad paintjob in the door - a roll of masking tape too expensive for you, mate?

It looks like they were in a mad rush on finishing the redecoration work. Bad impression of All Seasons.

Thanks a lot for sharing and looking forward to the real conclusion part.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineinfodesk From Switzerland, joined May 2006, 1466 posts, RR: 33
Reply 8, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 9148 times:

Hi P,

A very impressive itinerary this time. Shame about the mess up with A3 and a very poor show on their behalf. At least your credit card company have taken over now.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The new AY livery - butt ugly if you ask me:

Just horrible. Why change the old one, there was nothing wrong with it.

What a great experience on BA. Really must get round to trying their Ejets on the LCY route. And of course the A340 LAN flight, always exciting on a widebody. Just a shame about the IFE again!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The sandwich has several green spots of mold growing on it! Yuck! That sort of puts me off from having any more food here, not really acceptable at all.

Eeeh, horrible. That really shouldn't happen anywhere, let alone in a business lounge.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
teach the French granny a single word of Finnish - “kippis” which seems to be very much appreciated and easy enough to learn.

Saving the other Finnish lessons for later in the trip then  

Happy flying
Infodesk   



"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1692 posts, RR: 30
Reply 9, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 9100 times:

Hello P.

You did it again: flying allover Europe for less than 100 Euro per flight  
How do you manage to search for these special fares ? Expedia and than book via the airline's website ?

Really like this TR: it's very informative (also regarding the hotels) and the pictures make it so much more lifely !!!

Good to see you enjoyed the E190; I think these J-jets are quite comfortable with good seats and window-sizes...

Looking forward to your next installment !

Kiitos,

P.



don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3360 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 9016 times:

I was waiting for this report. Looked like your BA flights were both pretty good. I think the BA Citiflyer crews are excellent. With low load factors and higher average fares, they can probably go the extre mile a bit more easily than the LHR crew.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Anyway I called the Aegean call centre in Greece, got an agent who spoke surprisingly good English with a genuine British note to it who after lots of typing delightfully informed me that she found three tickets in the system on my name for the same flight and asked which one of those would I like to keep? Well, since I was unaware of the other two bastard tickets I quoted the Expedia ticket number and asked that one to be retained and the other two to be canceled and refunded, which she promised would be done and I would see the refund “within 2-3 weeks, a month at the longest”. Foolishly I believed her, thanked and hung up.

Well, it's not just southern European airliunes that do this - I'm still waiting for bmi to refund me about 8,000 miles, owed to me since October.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The funny older gate agent comes back in, asks me “Gold card, sir?” - “No, just dreaming about one” - after this he yells out “The one passenger with Executive Club Gold, you can board now!”. Nobody dares to announce themselves so he just shrugs and calls general boarding - since I am right next to the door I become the first person to walk to the apron.

Thats a bizarre thing to shout out - I didn't think BA did much in the way of preboarding for Golds only. And how embarassing for the Gold pax!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
I eat the first half of the first sandwich, wondering about the vile taste. I then take a look at the other half - and guess what? The sandwich has several green spots of mold growing on it! Yuck! That sort of puts me off from having any more food here, not really acceptable at all.

Urgh, I hope you complained.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
While passing through the business class cabin I snap a photo of the comfortable looking seats:

Seats in Biz look good.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 11, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 8907 times:

Nice report as always!

I flew CC-CQE in LAN First MAD-FRA as the only pax... Those were the days! Well...this poor cognac and TK Y will have to do today.

Regards,

Lari



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 12, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 8422 times:

Hi guys, good to see the comments, thanks.

Quoting sandroZRH (Reply 3):
lemme guess, those were all Iberia? Oh the joys of MAD ATC, did I mention i hate flying to MAD?

Well, mostly Spanish, that's true  . I think you mentioned something about it. But hey, that's why the Spanish ATC are top earners in their country - always so professional!

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 4):
Oooh, it's really not nice is it? The old livery is so much classier.
Quoting infodesk (Reply 8):
Just horrible. Why change the old one, there was nothing wrong with it.

Well, my thoughts exactly. And now the bomb: apparently Finnair, financially struggling as it is (but then again which airline apart from Emirates isn't always so?) paid 10 million Euros for the whole project! Just insane, the reasoning was something like "to attract more Asian customers, according to market research blah blah blah...". Sure, it's not just a new paintjob, it involves new uniforms, corporate logos everywhere etc., but still money NOT well spent if you ask me.

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 4):
Dude, "quid" is both multiple and singular...35 quid is fine!

Thanks, I think I knew that, though!

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 4):
That's why I continue to love my national airline, even if others berate it!!

Does somebody berate BA? I don't think I've ever had a bad flight with BA. Many great flights and some bog standard ones, but not a bad one.

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 6):
I am really looking forward to flying those E jets to LCY as BA has a flight to BCN.

Actually I've never flown TO LCY, just from there a few times. I'll need to try doing so soon, would really love to experience the famous steep approach.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
I don't know why but this happens to be the best report of yours for me. I like it very much. The way you convey your experience makes me feel I was there with you.

Thanks, Suryo. We all like different things. You certainly are the master of the "being there" style.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Regarding A3, I can recall unimpressive Philip's A3 on-board experience.

Actually part 2 will show them in a far better light!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Next to LH, I think BA is the only airline offering hot meal in Y on longer intra European flights.

Actually breakfast is the only hot meal BA nowadays does in economy in intra-Europe - heck, you still get on UK domestics as well. Later during the day any flight with a block time of two hours or more features a sandwich,

But once again, part 2 will prove you wrong  .

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Well done! How did you do that without any reflection?

It took a couple of tries, turned out surprisingly good. Dimming of the cabin lights for take off helped as did fiddling with the settings of my camera.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Did you get any trouble for photo-taking? I remember Eric's experience last year for instance.

Nope, no problems. There were several ramp agents who saw me taking pictures, no probs.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Who tailed who during the take off sequence?

I think she went before us, although not sure as I was on the wrong side of the plane.

Quoting MH017 (Reply 9):
How do you manage to search for these special fares ? Expedia and than book via the airline's website ?

Actually they weren't really any special fares on this trip, apart maybe from the LAN one. The BA fares are pretty much standard ones on these routes - they are very competitive nowadays. The same for the Greek carriers, well the A3 was surprisingly cheap but they offer similar fares on other comparable routes to e.g. Germany.

But generally speaking, I use Skyscanner a lot - I like it a lot as it gives you a good and fast overview of what's available on any given route and as an added bonus comes up with some interesting low cost connections. Besides that I have quite a good general idea of what fares should be on a certain route, so I use that as a guide.

For booking, I do not use Expedia that much actually - the US one used to offer certain airlines like BA much cheaper than the European sites, must have something to do with the currency conversion ratio, but lately it hasn't been that good anymore. Usually I try to stick to the airline websites, apart from *A and AB flights, usually you get those cheaper and with better routings etc. via wideroe.no. I especially like them for two reasons: you can preselect your seat, it works fine with all SK group carriers, and moderately well with others and they have a great customer support who is fast, and can be reached via email or an online chat on their site. Far better than calling dinky call centres around the world, sometimes in India (*cough* BMI *cough*).

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Well, it's not just southern European airliunes that do this - I'm still waiting for bmi to refund me about 8,000 miles, owed to me since October.

Yeah, it happens from time to time. It took BT around six months to refund a few volcano disrupted flights.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
And how embarassing for the Gold pax!

My thoughts exactly.

Quoting Lufthansa747 (Reply 11):
I flew CC-CQE in LAN First MAD-FRA as the only pax... Those were the days! Well...this poor cognac and TK Y will have to do today.

Cheers, mate! When did they had first on the route - or do the still have - I turned right at the plane entrance...  


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 13, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8270 times:

That was absolutely wonderful.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this abroad, and the cold weather, dark mornings made me feel very glad to be avoiding this.

Your sunrise views were superb, and your observations superb - especially the two bastard tickets, and the direct speech from the flight crew. Superb. London and Paris looked cold and lovely, and as ever I was so happy to see your BA experience was above par. They will hopefully begin to earn their good reputation back once more... it was never tarnished for me. I had noticed their shares were rallying, but have not been keeping track of the new shares for the combined company.

LAN looked fine. I would prefer to fly a 5th freedom on something a little more luxurious. I think you should try MAN-MUC on SQ, maybe go via BRR. Haha.

Again, I thoroughly enjoyed

Luke



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineNQYGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 8177 times:

Thanks for sharing your report, you've done a fabulous job. I'm planning a trip on the LA A340-300 between MAD/CDG, it's quite spooky that your TR suddenly appeared.  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
we head out for some Japanese food:

Looks lovely!


User currently offlineBAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 8077 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 12):
Quoting BAViscount (Reply 4):
Dude, "quid" is both multiple and singular...35 quid is fine!

Thanks, I think I knew that, though!

I'd noticed that you had a habit of saying "quids", so thought I would check, just in case it wasn't deliberate!  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 12):
Quoting BAViscount (Reply 4):
That's why I continue to love my national airline, even if others berate it!!

Does somebody berate BA? I don't think I've ever had a bad flight with BA. Many great flights and some bog standard ones, but not a bad one.

I have a very good friend who is a chauffeur based at LHR. The majority of his passengers are EK and VS customers, but he often has to pick up corporate clients who have flown in on BA. Apparently all they ever do is whinge about the service they receive on BA. It's been a while since my friend has flown BA himself, so I have instructed him not to speak to anyone who complains about their service, and to make them remove their own luggage from his boot! 



Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6671 posts, RR: 55
Reply 16, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 7988 times:

Hi FlyingFinn!

Very nice report with nice pictures! It looks like the EMB-190 has better legroom than the 343 of LAN......; looks quite cramped on the 343.

Looking forward to part 2.

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 7900 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 12):
Cheers, mate! When did they had first on the route - or do the still have - I turned right at the plane entrance...

After the flat J, there's no more F. But my MAD-FRA was quite extraordinary being intra-European, old seats but fantastic service in F. As luck would have it, I also flew in from London, but it was a 757 from LHR



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineoa260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27296 posts, RR: 60
Reply 18, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 7831 times:

Hi great report so far looking forward to the next parts. Sorry about you too had issues with Aegean their back office marketing and accounts depts are a mess. I have experienced it myself. They really need to be consistant with customer care and admin. I had to cancel tickets a few weeks ago with another airline and had the refund in 7 days to the credit credit. Thats how it should be done !

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Regarding A3, I can recall unimpressive Philip's A3 on-board experience. Sad to know about the glitches going beyond that. Unauthorized double credit card charge, unable to deliver on promises for refund. The call center agent was the sole bright spot. Bad marketing for A3!

The fares are up and down at the moment Olympic Air has a very good offer Weekend specials where they email every Friday weekend special fares and the bargains can be very good.

http://www.olympicair.com/SpecialOffers.aspx?a_id=599


OA260  


User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4277 posts, RR: 51
Reply 19, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 7349 times:

Hi P.,
nice report once again and an interesting routing again. Congrats on the BA Ejet. Nice birds, for sure. Haven't found the chance to get their 190's, but flown the 170's before already a few times. I'm surprised to see the LH E90 on the deck, used to be RJ85 and ATR before.

I remember now my connection from IB to LA at MAD. I needed to pickup a boarding pass also, so went to that IB transfer desk. IB/LA are both partners, so that should be possible, basically. In MAD, it's not apparently. So I ended up by sending out of the secure area to the regular check-in desks and redo security on my way back to the gate. Very annoying but doable for you and me. Other people might find themselves short of time or get lost etc.

So, LA service went down a bit further. I got a much better meal on MAD-FRA, you know. Also the seats seems different then the ones I got on CQF.

Looking forward to the next one,

Take care,
Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6937 posts, RR: 77
Reply 20, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 7312 times:

Hi FlyingFinn,

interesting routing and good choice of airlines/types. LA is still missing in my log, maybe I'll finally get it on the FRA-MAD route one day. I'm disappointed by the tight pitch, must be horrible on a long-haul flight to/from SCL.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The snack box turns out to contain a quite horrible sandwich (what is it with today and bad sandwiches!?) - the turkey inside smells and looks bad and I don’t dare to taste it. I eat the other half with cheese in it, it is passable. The best part is a tiny KitKat bar for dessert.

Wow, what's that? I once got similar "sandwiches" on Spanair (awful stuff!), probably LA bought them from the same catering company.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 21, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 7307 times:

Hi folks, good to see more comments. Thanks and always appreciated!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 16):
Very nice report with nice pictures! It looks like the EMB-190 has better legroom than the 343 of LAN......; looks quite cramped on the 343.

Good point, this was exactly so! Of course made only more apparent by the light load on the Cityflyer flight and the packed LAN one...

Quoting oa260 (Reply 18):
Hi great report so far looking forward to the next parts.

Thanks Phil, I know you always are if there's something about Greece or Greek carriers in a report!  
Quoting oa260 (Reply 18):
The fares are up and down at the moment Olympic Air has a very good offer Weekend specials where they email every Friday weekend special fares and the bargains can be very good.

Yeah, I noticed that when doing OLCI at their web site. They had some really nice offers.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 19):
I'm surprised to see the LH E90 on the deck, used to be RJ85 and ATR before.

I guess they are getting more of those, so are deploying them on additional routes. And the Avros are slowly going away, aren't they?

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 19):
I remember now my connection from IB to LA at MAD. I needed to pickup a boarding pass also, so went to that IB transfer desk. IB/LA are both partners, so that should be possible, basically. In MAD, it's not apparently. So I ended up by sending out of the secure area to the regular check-in desks and redo security on my way back to the gate. Very annoying but doable for you and me. Other people might find themselves short of time or get lost etc.

Yes, I was afraid I'd have to do something like this as well. Luckily the gate agent was a very helpful and pleasant chap. I had plenty of time, that was not the problem, but the trek through the automated train to the main T4 building, additional security checks etc. is just a huge hassle I'd much rather avoid.

And as I said, I'm very confused why the OLCI didn't work this time, it did last spring with the FRA flight.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 20):
Wow, what's that? I once got similar "sandwiches" on Spanair (awful stuff!), probably LA bought them from the same catering company.

Quite probably. Might be the same one making those moldy sandwiches in the lounge as well  


User currently offlinesandroZRH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 7181 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 12):
But hey, that's why the Spanish ATC are top earners in their country - always so professional!

Yeah! Among at times borderline english skills, total unwillingness for any assistance in flight optimisation and often very questionable traffic handling, I've also had my two only TCAS RA's to date in Spanish airspace, and talking to collegues i seem not to be the only one. But yes, other than that, they're totally professional  


User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8588 posts, RR: 54
Reply 23, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 7128 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi P,

Another good read, nice pix too.

The BA flights look up to the usual standard though I am impressed by the hot breakfast on the flight from LCY, nice surprise indeed.

The mouldy lounge sandwiches are not so good, that aside free drinks and a great view is something not to pass up - the views are better than the IB lounge I used in MAD a year back or so.

The LAN experience sounded pretty ok too, nice big whiskey measure and a beer, can't complain  

Nice shot of the LAN J product, looking forward to trying it at the end of the month, I'll be on a 767, hopefully it has winglets!

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlinemt99 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 6674 posts, RR: 6
Reply 24, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 7075 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
French immigration just waves me through at the sight of my ID card,

Great report!... Quick question.. if you were coming from MAD, why did u have to clear French immigration?



Step into my office, baby
25 FlyingFinn76 : Hi, good to see more comments. Oh, that sounds very bad! I thought the TCAS almost never get used. Or well, they get used all the time but never issue
26 Post contains images parton87 : Hello Petteri! What a nice story with good pictures! Shame I couldn't´t join you. Especially on the A340 flight which I think is the most beautiful w
27 Palmjet : Hi FF - very nice report and also part II as well. Again, thank you for spending your hard earned cash in Blighty - we do appreciate your business. We
28 abrelosojos : Ok. I must admit to being a mix of mesmerized and jealous with your Euro-itineraries. I have been given an offer to return to the old Continent and re
29 MSS658 : Nice trip report, glad you made it on to the LA A340 on the MAD-CDG sector.
30 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi guys, good to see more comments trickling in. Well, I still prefer the triple seven - it is just an awesome piece of engineering and those GE engin
31 sfflyer123 : I was thinking that you were about to say cockroaches or bugs. I'd take a gaping hole over vermin any day!
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