Loran From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 538 posts, RR: 4 Posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 23761 times:
747-200 / 747-300 Transaero Airlines UN525/526: SVO-BKK-SVO from Upper Deck
This trip report covers two memorable flights on Transaero’s 747-200 and 747-300. Although the 747-200 ranks high in my top-ten of flown types, this was one of the last opportunities to ride the classic jumbo on a scheduled service and it was also a new engine type for both, the 742 and 743. I have to apologise that I took almost 6 months between announcing this report and actually getting it on paper. Too many other trips came in between so that my backlog of interesting types has severely outgrown my list of finalised trip reports.
Upfront I have to say that on both Transaero flights I was prohibited to take any photos at all, so unfortunately my photo yield of these flights is relatively poor. A contributing factor was that one of the two flights was overnight and the windows weren’t that great either. Nevertheless I hope you enjoy reading this report, and I am looking forward to your feedback. Questions & comments are as usual welcome.
When I was between 4 and 9 years old I had flown on many LH 742s between Germany and Brazil in the early 80’s, and coincidently some captains noted the registration in my LH junior logbook for some of the flights so I was lucky to pin down some tail numbers. Nevertheless I always had in mind to log another flight in full consciousness over 25 years later. Transaero was, or may still be, one of the last 747-200 operators:
In May 2010 I have had the opportunity to spot several Transaero classic 747s while in transit at Moscow Domodedovo (DME) to catch the last S7 A310-200 before retirement. There were numerous 747s departing early in the morning which I observed with great interest from the terminal. Upon boarding a bus to the remote ramp I was able to get up close with VP-BPX:
In 2011 the 747-200 has become a challenge to catch so some action was required. Reading my regular route updates newsletter from CAPA I noted that Transaero planned to base some 747-200 in Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) during the winter 2010 schedule, which is not their primary hub. Transaero’s main base of operation is Moscow Domodedovo (DME), though I have found earlier photos of Transaero aircraft in SVO. So it may be a regular course of operation to swap aircraft between the two airports. If I recall correctly the destinations served from SVO included Bangkok, Punta Cana, Ho Chi Minh and Goa. After checking their booking engine equipment type was noted as the 747-200 all the way into March 2011. Here is a screenshot of Transaero’s booking engine which I captured for a friend for the week after I took the flight:
I chose Bangkok as my target destination because I know it well from many previous trips and it was also a convenient location to do other stuff. In the course of planning the trip I also found out that Transaero is one of the airlines which offers cheap business class fares, eventually the fare difference between economy and business was only about USD 500 for a return trip to BKK. No doubt I would pick business, not only because it is a good way to avoid being squeezed between hundreds of tourists, but also a good chance to ride the 747 upperdeck which I had never experienced before. Everyone who has joined a (Russian) tourist bomber to a holiday destination knows that USD 500 for an upgrade is in fact more than worth the money. I had made my experience before on Aeroflot’s Il-96-300 and S7’s A310-200, both in economy class on long-haul flights.
A quick check in the GDS timetable confirmed equipment types on both ways as the 747-200 so I was all set to book, which unfortunately didn’t work as easily as expected through Transaero’s website. My credit card was rejected twice and I had to call their office to get it sorted. I also got an immediate call from my credit card provider, who expected some serious credit card fraud going on, but I was able to confirm the booking and the transaction eventually went through. Also the check on the GDS timetable revealed that Transaero in fact operated two parallel flights into BKK, both within 30mins and both listed with equipment 747-200. The booking page didn’t show the second flight though.
Having this sorted I looked for convenient ways of getting into SVO and back home to ZRH. SAS offered the best fare connecting through Stockholm Arlanda (ARN), both operated by a 737-600 which was also a new type for me. It also gave some 5h transit time in SVO which was more than sufficient in case of delays.
On the return ex-SVO it unfortunately wasn’t that easy. With a scheduled arrival time of 6:55pm into SVO on a Sunday evening meant I didn’t have many options. LOT still had a late departure at 9:00pm, but it required an overnight stay in Warsaw. At least I was able to get into the Schengen area and avoid obtaining a Russian visa or overnighting in the SVO terminal, which is an absolute nightmare. An onwards connection from WAW to ZRH the next morning was at 7:40am and schedule arrival in ZRH was 9:40am Monday morning, allowing me to go to work straight. Scheduled equipment type for LOT was the ERJ-175 and ERJ-170, both new types and LOT was also a new airline for me.
With this part of the trip booked I only had to find hotels in BKK and WAW. In BKK I usually stay in the Silom area, and this time the Sofitel had a good offer. In WAW I booked the Courtyard by Mariott which is right next to the terminal and very convenient for an overnight stop.
My scheduled stay in BKK was 3 days, so I had one more side-trip in mind. I had never flown a 767-200 non-ER, and Business Air in Thailand still operated one of the very early JT9D powered airframes between Phuket and Seoul. Some help from user airpearl resulted in me having contact details of a Business Air ticketing agent in Seoul Incheon (ICN), and through telephone I was able to confirm that their only 767-200 registered as HS-BIA was in fact operating on the HKT-ICN route. I kept hesitating whether I should throw this trip in, but three days before the departure to BKK I thought I rather do it now than waiting and regretting it later. However I will cover this trip in a separate trip report at a later stage.
Everything was set to go and I ended up with the following (scheduled) itinerary:
A few days prior to commencing the trip I had asked user UK_Dispatcher to please check the timetable one more time if the equipment type is still a 747-200. The response I received was as follows:
** XX AIRWAYS - AN ** BKK BANGKOK.TH 7 WE 09FEB 0000
1 UN 523 J4 C2 DR L4 GR /SVO F BKK 2320 1145+1E0/772 8:25
2 UN 525 J3 CR DR L3 GR /SVO F BKK 2335 1200+1E0/744 8:25
NO MORE LATER FLTS 09FEB SVO BKK
CK ALT*ORIG BKA DME JQF JQO VKO XRK ZKD
** XX AIRWAYS - AN ** SVO SHEREMETYEVO IN.RU 11 SU 13FEB 0000
1 UN 526 J4 C1 DR L9 VR X5 GR /BKK SVO F 1330 1855 E0/772 9:25
2 UN 524 J4 C2 D1 L1 GR /BKK SVO F 1340 1940 E0/744 10:00
NO MORE LATER FLTS 13FEB BKK SVO
CK ALT*DEST BKA DME JQF JQO VKO XRK ZKD
Reading this I was shocked and considering cancelling the whole trip immediately, but luckily I was able to find out that this was a mean joke by UK_Dispatcher and in reality both flights were still uploaded as equipment type 742 . An opportunity for payback will come soon, Ian .
Part 1: Transfer to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) on SAS 737-600
I will make this part short since it is not the main attraction of the trip. As usual I checked the reg operating the flight ex-ZRH on the airport’s website which lists the regs many hours in advance. I was happy to see that in fact the baby Boeing 737-600 will operate my flight. Also on short trips I usually travel with carry-on luggage only to minimise the risk of lost bags and missed connections, though I admit the size and weight of my bags was border line but it went through the check-in without problems. The aircraft scheduled to operate SK606 was LN-RRO. Here it is arriving from ARN on a dull Wednesday morning in ZRH:
Shortly before boarding I was surprised to see a 737-500 in Kon Tiki colors:
It was registered in Macedonia and I later found out that it operated for Macedonian Airlines, but the first thought was that Kon Tiki now carries its backpacker tourists by air…
The SAS flight was uneventful, though I was once again stunned by the amount of traffic over Europe’s skies:
In Swedish airspace we crossed the flight path of this narrowbody heading east:
Here is the flight path we took into ARN:
Upon descend I was able to observe a typical Swedish landscape, also a novelty for me since I have never been in Sweden nor transited in ARN before:
We arrived on time so there was no hurry to proceed to the non-Schengen area. I was glad to find another 737-600 at the gate operating my flight into SVO. Initially I was a bit worried about the short connection time, but it turned out to be fine. The aircraft to operate SK730 into SVO was LN-RCT. Not a great photo but at least the reg is visible:
Here is the route we have flown from ZRH to ARN and onwards to SVO. Nothing unexpected I must admit:
The flight into SVO was also uneventful and it was getting dark outside. Upon arrival in SVO, LN-RCT was greeted by some heavy snowfall:
Recently the new SVO terminal had opened and SAS is using the new facilities. I was hoping the old SVO terminal would be shut down with the opening of the new terminal, but I was proven wrong. The logical question was then from where would Transaero operate. I couldn’t see any of their aircraft when we taxied in so I had to wait and see when I disembarked the SAS flight. We docked at gate 27 and I proceed to the transfer desk where the adventure would finally begin.
Part 2: 747-219B Transaero UN525, Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International (BKK)>
Arriving in the new SVO terminal will lead straight to the transfer desk which is occupied by SU staff. I enquired if they could issue me a boarding pass which the friendly lady tried, but eventually after a couple of minutes I was advised that I need to proceed all the way to the old SVO terminal to a Transaero office.
After a long walk I found a transfer desk in the old SVO terminal which I hate so much. As usual people didn’t line-up properly because there was simply no room for doing so, and there was a mob pushing forward to the poor guy who had to serve all these pax. When it was my turn I was advised that I should proceed to an office adjacent to the transfer desk. This turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Transaero had its own office in the SVO terminal which was totally empty, and a couple of ladies took care of my transfer. The staff was very friendly and I was able to pick my preferred seat from the computer monitor, which was 3G, the last row in the upperdeck:
The system also listed the tail number of today’s flight, it was VP-BQH, one of the ex-NZ and VS airframes.
I was also handed a lounge voucher which I took with pleasure, preventing me from spending 4h in the SVO terminal. The lounge turned out to be very basic but still way better than spending the time in the terminal. I was able to use free wifi and there was some well deserved food & drinks.
I can’t exactly recall if boarding was announced in the lounge but at some stage I proceeded to the gate only to see that hundreds of passengers had lined-up in front of the gate already, resulting in a queue which went around half of the SVO terminal . When boarding commenced I realised that I would have been one of the last in that queue and there was no designated business class boarding lane. Turning around and spotting the endless queue I did something I usually wouldn’t do, I went straight to the gate and asked the staff where business class boarding is. As expected I was allowed to bypass the queue and was one of the first to board VP-BQH.
I went straight upstairs and I was the first in the upperdeck. The flight attendants were very friendly and I was offered drinks immediately. Over the next 20-30 mins a couple of more business class passengers arrived, but I think the load was no more than 6/12 seats. Here is the empty cabin seen from row 3:
I can’t exactly recall how long boarding took, but I remember it was long. When we eventually pushed back, I got to see the sister ship operating flight UN523 in parallel to us. This one was operated by a 747-300, so I had to consider myself as lucky to be flying on a 747-200. Due to the heavy snowfall which was still going on, a couple of de-icing vehicles started to get engaged on VP-BQH. I had a good view of the wing and observed the activities with great interest:
The deicing was lengthy and the leading edges were sprayed four times alone. The snowstorm outside was quite heavy and the de-icing procedure definitely took much longer than usual, lasting some 70 mins. This resulted us running about 90 mins behind schedule and it was already well past midnight. The 747-300 operating flight UN523 was done after only 20 mins of de-icing and I could observe it departing 75 mins earlier than us almost on schedule. Nevertheless the flight attendants took well care of us and I had plenty of drinks and nibbles.
Eventually we had the engines started up and I was able to hear the famous RB211 rumbling at start-up. We received a safety demonstration and all announcements were made in Russian and English language, although I was probably the only non-Russian speaking passenger on-board. We slowly taxied to Rwy 07R, which is the slightly longer Rwy of two in SVO. Lined-up on 07R and ready to go, let’s look at the flight details:
When take-off thrust was set the RB211-524D4 engines produced the distinctive rumbling noise one more time. I suppose VP-BQH was at max payload and due to the distance of 4416mi also well fueled, hence we would have been at MTOW or very close to MTOW. While thundering down Rwy 07R I could see that we were probably the last aircraft to depart from SVO, I couldn’t see any other activity around the airport.
Check out the long take-off run with the distinctive RB211 rumbling and fan noise:
We passed some layers of clouds and the seatbelt sign was switched off when cutting through 10’000 ft. The flight attendants started with their service and I was served a nice dinner:
With not much to do afterwards I tried to catch some sleep, although the business class seats showed their age and none of the buttons to adjust the leg rest or back of the seat worked. I had to arrange myself with sleeping in a fully upright configured seat, which was a pleasure given the fact that I was flying on a 747-200 in 2011 .
Maybe a couple of words on VP-BQH: The aircraft originally entered service with Air New Zealand in 22.05.1981 as ZK-NZV. In 1999 it was sold to Virgin Atlantic as G-VZZZ with whom it operated until 2005. G-VZZZ was then sold to Jumbo Finance, a leasing company which leased the aircraft to Transaero. Transaero took delivery in 2006 as VP-BQH. As of October 2010 VP-BQH had clocked some 105’827 hours and 19’293 cycles, not bad for a 747-200 but still lower utilized than some freighters which are approaching the 130’000 hours design life.
The night was uneventful and I was hoping to grab some good shots of the engines and wing during sunrise. I picked the right side because I thought the sun may shine directly into the engines when we would be somewhere over India early in the morning. I kept checking the light outside during the entire night to spot the sunrise early enough to prepare my camera. I was hoping for a scene like this:
Reality unfortunately turned out to be different on VP-BQH. Due to the scratched window there was no chance to get anything better than this view :
Here is a copy of the Transaero 747-200 safety card:
Approaching Burma we were served a breakfast and everyone was awake. I kept trying to grab some good shots of the wing, but even trying my best there was nothing better than this:
I also took some shots of the cabin, since it would be the last chance to capture the short upperdeck of a 747. I absolutely love the atmosphere in the short upperdeck of the 747, and despite its age the cabin didn’t have the 70’ies flare which I have seen on photos of other 747-200 operators. Maybe it’s due to the lack of colorful wall paintings and furnishings.
This was also the point when one of the two flight attendants came up to me and asked me in a very firm way to not take any more photos. The crew was two-fold, the younger flight attendant didn’t care at all and was very friendly whereas the older one appeared to be very grumpy and impolite. Nevertheless I respected their advice and stopped taking more photos – for a bit.
As usual I tagged the route with my GPS logger, unfortunately it disconnected several times so the graph is not complete. Nevertheless let’s look at the flight path. Like most flights to SE Asia we were bypassing the Himalaya on the southern side:
The speed/altitude graph is also not complete and not very accurate due to the disconnection, however we can see the initial cruise altitude was in fact quite low.
Over Thailand we commenced our descend into the Bangkok metropolitan area. We came in from northwest and headed straight south to enter a Rwy 19R approach pattern. Here VP-BQH is seen navigating around Bangkok’s northern suburbs with the slats fully deployed and intercepting the localizer of Rwy 19R:
And established on the localizer of 19R:
I have also recorded the landing on video, despite the poor window quality it is still interesting to see the wing and landing from the upperdeck. Similar to the 707 the slats are retracted during reverse thrust to reduce the exposure to FOD and jet wash. Once the reversers are disengaged, the slats revert to the fully deployed position. Also note that the reversers were engaged down to a very low speed, looks like less than 80kts:
The landing was not as gentle as the ones I have experienced on other flights with Russian crews, but still it was a great flight coming to a smooth end. You can hear the pax are all clapping upon touchdown, common practice in Russia. We vacated Rwy 19R and taxied back to the E concourse of Suvarnabhumi’s terminal.
When everyone got up in the upperdeck, I was the last one to stand in a queue of the business pax in the upperdeck waiting to de-board. This blocked the line of sight between the two flight attendants and me, who had their seats next to the cockpit door. Hence I was able to capture the cabin of this great 747-200 on camera before check-out:
All economy passengers had to wait until the upperdeck was empty, then around 480 people pushed behind us to de-board VP-BQH. With all those people behind me, I still held short for one last shot of VP-BQH. Unfortunately the air bridges in BKK don’t allow for a clean shot:
Upon walking to immigration along the D-gates, I looked for an opportunity to catch a clean shot of VP-BQH, but again the terminal layout didn’t allow for a clean shot. As usual in BKK I proceeded to the immigration counters of the east side nearer to the A, B and C gates which is usually much less crowded. Since I didn’t have any luggage to claim I was in a taxi within minutes of having proceeded through customs. In Bangkok downtown, I was greeted by this nice view of the Silom area seen from the Sofitel.
Part 3: 767-222 Business Air (8B865), Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Phuket Airport (HKT)
As mentioned earlier I committed myself to riding the super-rare 767-200 non-ER with Business Air only three days before departing to SVO. Since this trip report is meant to cover the Transaero 747 classics, I will keep this one short. I departed BKK on Friday night on Asiana’s 777-200ER to ICN, arriving at 7:00am in ICN. I then flew HS-BIA to Phuket where I would have some 2h to fly back to Bangkok’s Don Muaeng Airport (DMK) on a DC-9-80.
I had a small hope to ride OX’s newly acquired DC-9-81 which was still missing in my list, but I was unlucky and flew on HS-OMA, one of their DC-9-82s.
Having successfully logged the 767-200, I was lucky to be back in Bangkok Silom for another night in the Sofitel. Here is the nice view from my room:
I had a good night’s sleep since I didn’t catch a single minute of sleep on-board Asiana’s 777-200ER. The next morning I was scheduled to depart BKK at mid-day on Transaero’s 747.
Part 4: 747-346 Transaero UN526, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International (BKK) – Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO)
Arriving at Suvarnabhumi, I proceeded to the Transaero check-in area about 2.5h prior to the scheduled departure. I was stunned to see the amount of people lining up. As mentioned Transaero operates two parallel flights to SVO alone, both on the 747. Then there were other flights departing to Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg and Moscow Domodedovo, explaining while there were easily 1000 people lined-up for check-in. I can’t say how glad I was to have booked business class, because there was not a single person waiting at the designated check-in desk. Check-in was smooth and I was able to pick the seat I wanted. Again I chose seat 3G, the last row of business class. My carry-on luggage was well above the permitted limit, an out-of-control session at my tailor resulted in additional 10kg of clothes carried in a suit-bag, on top of my trolley and camera bag with laptop. Nevertheless the check-in staff said it is fine since I fly business class. Again I was handed a lounge voucher which I took with pleasure.
At that time I still didn’t know which type would operate today’s flight, but I was not too worried since I had nailed the 747-200 on the previous flight and I have flown the 747-300 before.
I made my way to the lounge which had just opened when I arrived. I was greeted with a nice choice of food and drinks, which I enjoyed with some free wifi:
About 15 mins prior to the scheduled boarding time I decided to proceed to the gate at the E-concourse to check-out the designated aircraft operating UN526. From the distance I could see that this time it was a 747-300. Again BKK’s airport architecture doesn’t allow for a clean shot, but here it is anyways:
In that moment sister ship VP-BGW arrived from SVO docking at the opposite gate over an hour behind schedule. So both flights today were operated by a 747-300, and looking at the overall performance this week, three of four flights were operated by the 747-300. I can consider myself lucky I got on the -200 on the outbound flight then. On some web pages VP-BGW is listed as a 747-300(SR), it would have been a nice addition to my logbook but I can’t ask for too much. On the other hand the 747-300s are still around well into 2012, so another chance exists to fly it.
Again the gate area was crowded like I have barely seen it before. Seeing that Transaero is able to fill four weekly flights each with 500 passengers, it really makes sense ordering some A380s. Boarding was called about 30 mins behind schedule, and I started to get a bit worried due to my limited connection time in SVO for one of the last flights out of Moscow that night.
Upon boarding I met the same crew again which also served me on the outbound flight, and friendly younger flight attendant was also happy to see me again, in contrast to the grumpy one who barely could spell out a ‘hello’ to me. In the course of boarding other passengers proceed into the upperdeck and the economy part of the upperdeck was fully occupied. The business class section was again not fully booked, I think it was about a 10 / 12 load:
You can see the flight attendants on the 747-300 are not sitting next to the cockpit door in the front of the upperdeck, but right behind me facing backwards. The small mirror above the exit door turned out to be trouble for me a bit later on. Here are the seats 3A and 3B, which are not much different to the ones installed on VP-BQH:
The characteristic shape of the 747 upperdeck requires to arrange the seats a bit off from the side panels, resulting in this space which can be used for storage of equipment:
Again boarding was lengthy, and we pushed back about an hour behind schedule. This reduced my transit time in SVO to under 90 mins. Still doable but there wasn’t much more room for delays due to the possibly long walking distance between the SVO terminals and slow transfer procedures. I also didn’t hold a boarding pass yet for my connection. Here is a great view of the JT9D motors while taxiing out to Rwy 19R:
We approached the holding point of Rwy 19R and held short. I grabbed a few pictures, discrete but apparently not discrete enough because suddenly the grumpy of the two flight attendants opened her seatbelt, jumped up and came up to me and firmly said ‘no more photos!’. I acknowledged but politely asked if I couldn’t just take a video of the take-off, and obviously the response was no . She also quickly advised her colleague sitting right behind me to keep an eye on me through this small mirror above us. This turned out to be a major disappointment, only seconds prior to sitting ahead of four JT9Ds spooling up for take-off thrust. There was nothing I could to but behaving and missing one of the last opportunities to record a video from this perspective.
Loran From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 538 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 23757 times:
All set and ready to go the crew spooled up for take-off. I cannot say how much I suffered not being able to record it on video. I still fired up my smaller pocket camera, pointed it downwards to my feet to at least record the audio, which worked fine. If one of you could tell me how I can replace visual part of the footage with a photo, then I can upload it to YouTube and share it. The synchronized sound of four JT9D at takeoff is simply priceless. The inlets were also fogged with condensation patterns, what a great view it was…
Following a straight departure on Rwy 19R, VP-BGU turned right and headed straight over Bangkok downtown to establish a northwestern heading.
Being prohibited to take any photos at all, I subsequently had to restrict myself to meal and toilet photography .We were served a lunch and later in the flight also a dinner. The food and service were similar to the first flight quite good, here is the lunch served somewhere over Burma:
Nearing Russian airspace, the sun was about to set ahead of us and I once again got into a conflicting situation. I had to deal with a split personality, on the on side I didn’t want to create any further hassles by breaking the disappointing no-more-photos-rule, but on the other side this was probably the last chance ever to capture such a priceless sight of my favorite engine tpye. Eventually the left side won and I fired up my camera:
Apologies the quality isn’t that great, but I had to be prepared for the flight attendants approaching me at any second. At least the business and economy class sections were separated by a curtain, which blocked the view when the crew was in the galley in the rear of the upperdeck.
Unfortunately my GPS logger ran out of battery, so I logged the flight path with my Blackberry GPS but the software can’t handle an altitude of more than at 18’000ft, so the speed/alt chart is useless. Nevertheless you can see from the below purple line that we, to a large extent, joined the same airway of the outbound flight (red line). Only after exiting Kazakh airspace we chose a more southerly route compared to the outbound flight.
At this stage we also got served a dinner:
Also a few words on VP-BGU: It first entered service as JA8173 in 15.04.1986 with Japan Airlines. Transaero took delivery of it in mid-2007 through a leasing company. As of 31.10.2010 it had accumulated 95’669 flight hours and 15’765 cycles, so there is still some life left in the airframe. What I find interesting is that VP-BGU has a lower max take-off weight than VP-BQH. BGU is registered at 683’433 lbs whereas BQH is at 832’999 lbs. Is it possible that BGU is also a 747-300(SR)? Couldn’t find any evidence what exact subversion it is.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and we slowly approached the Moscow area from the east. Due to excessive wine & coffee consumption, I had one last pit stop prior to hurrying through the SVO terminal to catch my LOT departure. So here is a typical 747-300 lavatory .
Here is the Transaero 747-300 safety card, its backside is identical to the 747-200:
Active Rwy for landing in SVO was Rwy 07L, again in heavy snowfall. We arrived 49 mins behind schedule so I was still ok to catch my connection. Again as on the previous flight all eco passengers had to hold short for the upperdeck to check-out first. Complicated was that the rear part of the upperdeck, where the stairs are located, is configured as economy class. So the economy passengers had to vacate the aisle that we could get to the stairs. The same happened on the main deck, lots of ambitious eco pax blocked the 2L door where the air bridge was attached, so we only got out of the aircraft by pushing the people aside .
Anyways shortly after me again a mob of hundreds of people rushed out of VP-BGU. I headed straight to the transfer desk which was as usual in SVO unoccupied. At that time I was down to 60 mins until the scheduled departure of the LOT flight, so I made a fuss and asked some loitering staff if someone would come to check me through or not. Eventually after some additional 10 mins of waiting some grumpy staff arrived to check me into the LOT flight and I was ready to proceed through security. As expected no one seemed to care that I was carrying excessive amounts of carry-on luggage.
Part 5: Transfer home on LOT ERJ-170-100
The LOT flight boarded on-time and was about 50% full. We taxied to Rwy 07R behind a long queue of departures in heavy snowfall. Again I observed the movements with great interest since Russian airports still guarantee for interesting equipment. I spotted a SU Il-96-300 and also another Transaero 747-200, both ahead of us in the queue. Every time the 747-200 catched up with the queue by throttling-up the engines, a huge snowstorm engulfed our ERJ-170. Apologies for the poor photo quality:
The 747-200 by the way was heading to Ho Chi Minh carrying another full load of tourists. If I recall correctly it was VP-BPX, which is now noted in storage:
Here is the path we have flown from SVO to WAW and onwards to ZRH the next day:
This concludes two memorable flights on the Boeing 747 classics. Due to the restrictions taking photos I will probably try to fly the 747-300 one more time. I recently checked their schedule and some flights out of SVO are still operated by the 747-300 well into 2012. The affordable business class was more than worth the money due to many reasons: priority boarding & de-boarding, lounge access, no limitation on luggage, guaranteed upperdeck seats, better view and food.
I found Transaero’s service good, probably also a reason why Transaero is in talks with the major alliances for joining a network in the coming years. Their equipment is not the newest but it is considered as one of the safest airlines in Russia, if not the safest. To my knowledge Transaero has never been involved in any accident or incident in its 21 year history.
On the downside, I have taken many different airlines and visited many airports, but I have never been so severely restricted in taking photos on-board an aircraft. I am sure the main deck pax were taking plenty of photos as well (they did on the SU Il-96-300 and S7 A310-200 at least), and I am still not sure what Transaero has to hide. Without these restrictions I could have written a 100% positive report, but despite this disappointment it was still a great trip.
Nevertheless I can only recommend to everyone taking the opportunity to flying on the 747 classics, Transaero is still one of the best options around. I am glad I have taken the chance despite the photo restrictions
I hope you liked the report about this type, operator and airports. I will refrain from announcing further trip reports because I may take again several months to get it on paper. However I’d be happy about some recommendations on what to write next as I have logged a number of interesting types this year, including the following: DC-9-10, DHC-7-100 and F-28 in Kenia; DC-9-30 & 737-200 in Venezuela; 737-200 in Ecuador, DC-9-50 & BAC-111-400 in USA; the BAe ATP and ARJ-70 in Sweden; An-2, Mil Mi-2 & Mil Mi-8 in Moldova…and many more.
Here are the previous trip reports about some interesting & memorable flights:
debonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2427 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 23448 times:
GREAT and OUTSTANDING TR! Well done...
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): My scheduled stay in BKK was 3 days, so I had one more side-trip in mind. I had never flown a 767-200 non-ER, and Business Air in Thailand still operated one of the very early JT9D powered airframes between Phuket and Seoul. ... However I will cover this trip in a separate trip report at a later stage.
Can't wait to read this report!
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): Maybe a couple of words on VP-BQH: The aircraft originally entered service with Air New Zealand in 22.05.1981 as ZK-NZV. In 1999 it was sold to Virgin Atlantic as G-VZZZ with whom it operated until 2005.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): I also took some shots of the cabin, since it would be the last chance to capture the short upperdeck of a 747.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): Here are the seats 3A and 3B, which are not much different to the ones installed on VP-BQH:
No IFE at all?! For an ex Virgin B742 surprising- for a B747-300 strange...
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): I made my way to the lounge which had just opened when I arrived. I was greeted with a nice choice of food and drinks, which I enjoyed with some free wifi:
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1937 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 22915 times:
Very cool to see a report about Transaero! I have often wondered how they are ; I've read a few things about them, and seen a few photos of their super luxurious, Imperial First Class cabin. Looks like you had some nice flights with them; how great you got to be on the upper deck !
debonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2427 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 22264 times:
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): Some help from user airpearl resulted in me having contact details of a Business Air ticketing agent in Seoul Incheon (ICN), and through telephone I was able to confirm that their only 767-200 registered as HS-BIA was in fact operating on the HKT-ICN route.
No phone call necessary, as Business Air is publishing their full a/c rotation on their web-page- pretty cool!
SASMD82 From Netherlands, joined Mar 2007, 769 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 20982 times:
Congratz! Such a lovely report. I do not like the Boeing 747-400 and -8 but I do love the classics! Awesome pics. Especially the lay-out on the -200 upper deck. Was there actually a lavatory? Which engine do you like more, the RB211 or the JTD9?
tk747 From Australia, joined Sep 2009, 341 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 20452 times:
Great report! I have always wanted to fly Transaero after seeing their B742's at BKK. I hope that they will continue to fly them 2012. Not being able to take photos would have been horrible I have flown Aeroflot, Aerosvit, Dniprovaia, Iran Air, Mahan Air and took many photos and none of the flight attendants cared, its a shame about the Transaero older fa's.
I can't wait to read some more of your reports, keep them coming .
Our fleet of wide-body Boeing of 767-200s enables us to offer versatile solutions to our client's medium and long haul requirements in Asia Pacific and beyond. The B767's twin-engine design and ETOPS certification permits this aircraft to fly long distances across vast oceans in a fuel efficient manner.
EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1310 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 19638 times:
I was sue to write a report about an airline hardly covered here and we both made our UN reports in 24 hours! We need to adjust our trip reports schedule from now on.
I enjoyed your report very much, many stories reminded me my flights. I must say that going JCL on Transaero is a good move since their YCL is... well, just take a look at my report.
Lucky you got the -200, deep down I has hoping to catch one for myself, but i know there is no chance. Yet, since i was due to fly their B763 on the transatlantic legs, I can't complain.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): This was also the point when one of the two flight attendants came up to me and asked me in a very firm way to not take any more photos. The crew was two-fold, the younger flight attendant didn’t care at all and was very friendly whereas the older one appeared to be very grumpy and impolite. Nevertheless I respected their advice and stopped taking more photos – for a bit.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): We approached the holding point of Rwy 19R and held short. I grabbed a few pictures, discrete but apparently not discrete enough because suddenly the grumpy of the two flight attendants opened her seatbelt, jumped up and came up to me and firmly said ‘no more photos!’. I acknowledged but politely asked if I couldn’t just take a video of the take-off, and obviously the response was no . She also quickly advised her colleague sitting right behind me to keep an eye on me through this small mirror above us. This turned out to be a major disappointment, only seconds prior to sitting ahead of four JT9Ds spooling up for take-off thrust. There was nothing I could to but behaving and missing one of the last opportunities to record a video from this perspective.
I will simply never understand that. They don't let people take photos while they are going for vacation? I was also asked not to take photos on board.
By the way, I was also in Bangkok while you were there.
Thank you for shearing, our reports give good coverage of UN product on different classes and airplanes.
"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 15, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 19277 times:
Wow, talk about catching some classic birds! A most enjoyable read about your holy quest and I'm glad that you got both the -200 and -300 and survived SVO and did not miss your separately ticketed connections.
Transaero's service looks surprisingly good - I'd somehow expected them to be very crummy and cheap. Well, maybe they are in economy - I think flying eco on such a tourist route to BKK would probably be a once (and ONLY once, please!) in a lifetime experience - I bet most of the pax were getting horribly drunk on their own vodka .
I'll be transiting through SVO in February, hope everything goes as smooth as your experience - wouldn't want to get stuck in enemy territory without a transit visa...
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): On the downside, I have taken many different airlines and visited many airports, but I have never been so severely restricted in taking photos on-board an aircraft. I am sure the main deck pax were taking plenty of photos as well (they did on the SU Il-96-300 and S7 A310-200 at least), and I am still not sure what Transaero has to hide. Without these restrictions I could have written a 100% positive report, but despite this disappointment it was still a great trip.
Again something which I find so damn hard to understand - what harm is there photographing the plane and the beautiful views out of the window (plus the even more beautiful classic engines ). I guess it must be a memory from the Soviet times the elder FAs still carry around - back then it was somewhat understandable as photographing any bridges, train stations or airports was strictly forbidden as they were considered to be top military targets. But I guess that is no so obsolete with the modern satellites providing excellent photos thousands of miles away anyway....
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 3): Interesing UN have so many weekly flights to BKK with 747's, never know there was the demand, you learn something every day!
Thailand is full of very badly behaving Russian tourists, just like Egypt and Turkey nowadays.
SR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 38
Reply 16, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 19084 times:
Thanks for a great trip report. I have often wondered about the Business Class service on Transaero and your report was much appreciated. The upper deck is always a nice little treat and gets you away from the crowds below. Shame about the grumpy F/A on the return.
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 18, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 18449 times:
Great report - lovely to see those wingtips with the long needle - reminds me of my childhood!
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): Turning around and spotting the endless queue I did something I usually wouldn’t do, I went straight to the gate and asked the staff where business class boarding is.
Good way to avoid a long queue
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): She also quickly advised her colleague sitting right behind me to keep an eye on me through this small mirror above us
That was nasty of her! Lucky that you still managed to get some photos. I'd have loved to see a photos of the great circular stairs on the -200, but I understand this wasn't possible!
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): Complicated was that the rear part of the upperdeck, where the stairs are located, is configured as economy class. So the economy passengers had to vacate the aisle that we could get to the stairs. The same happened on the main deck, lots of ambitious eco pax blocked the 2L door where the air bridge was attached, so we only got out of the aircraft by pushing the people asi
Interesting that they made the upper deck Y pax wait for you to get off. Even BA doesn't make the Y+ passengers wait for F passengers disembark when using door 2. NZ the same with their 1/2 Y 1/2 C on the 744 upper deck. Top marks for UN for that!
Yes, and a good one I must admit. Since there were 4 departures on the Sunday morning alone it may in fact pay off for UN. The lounge was very empty though.
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 3): The upper deck on the 742 looks amazing, in an old sense, no overheads, here did you out your bags?
It really is a special place with its own charme, I really liked it, too. My carry-on luggage was right behind my seat, there was plenty of storage space.
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 3): I've never had problems taking pictures out of windows or even the cabin, though I tend to be more cautions with cabin shots.
Me neither, it was the first time I encountered any trouble at all. I am usually very discrete using a small camera. Learned my lesson and I will now pay even more attention.
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 4): I flew on TWA when the upstairs was just a lounge.
Lucky you, I'd love to have a time machine. No need to be worried about the plane's age, UN as an excellent safety record.
Quoting debonair (Reply 6): No phone call necessary, as Business Air is publishing their full a/c rotation on their web-page- pretty cool! http://www.businessaircenter.net/schedule.pdf
BTW. according to this schedule, it seems that HS-BIA is no longer operating for Business Air- HS-BIE took over the route ICN-HKT!
Interesting info, thanks for sharing. Their webpage was far less advanced when I booked. There was in fact no info whatsoever available about booking tickets. Only airpearl's advice and contacts resulted in the details of the Korean agent. I was initially advised that Business Air is charter only, so I was glad I could book a flight through this agent.
Quoting LXM83 (Reply 8): May I ask what kind of GPS logger you use? I'm interested in getting one, too.
Quoting reifel (Reply 9): What a thight schedule, and all this on seperate tickets... Glad it worked out fine, but this could go wrong one day
You are right, I had some close calls already where I had to run. I always have tight schedules to limit the amount of days I have to take off work. But if I fly Biman or so I usually cater for some extra buffer though .
Quoting SASMD82 (Reply 10): Was there actually a lavatory? Which engine do you like more, the RB211 or the JTD9?
There is a lavatory in the upperdeck, I also cheked it out but forgot to take a picture. The cockpit crew used it as well and it was right next to the cockpit door.
Btw, if I was an engine, I would definnitely be a JT9D, most likely a very inefficient -7A version. How about you? Also a JT9D? The sound at spool-up is priceless, for example from this great 747-146B(SR/SUD): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfOc9940jV4
Quoting tk747 (Reply 11): I have flown Aeroflot, Aerosvit, Dniprovaia, Iran Air, Mahan Air and took many photos and none of the flight attendants cared, its a shame about the Transaero older fa's.
Also my experience, I even took shots in the cockpit of Iran Air and I had the crews permission:
Quoting je89_w (Reply 12): Yep, HS-BIA recently went to JetAsia of Thailand which now sports an almost all white livery. At least there's still a chance to fly this non-ER B762 though.
True, when I chased the 762 in late 2010 / early 2011 there was only Gabon Air and Business Air. Since Jet Asia will come online soon with three non-ERs alone it will be quite easy. Two of them will be the former HS-BIA sisterships from Skystar which were stored in ICN for years I will definitely try to ride this type one more time. HS-BIA was quite worn out, I spent over 2h in the cockpit during this flight and the crew said it goes tech all the time...
Lol! Love it, who nowadays is so stupid to believe such a marketing bla bla?
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 14): I was sue to write a report about an airline hardly covered here and we both made our UN reports in 24 hours! We need to adjust our trip reports schedule from now on.
Hey mate, just saw yours but I couldn't fully read it yet, but it looks very interesting. You are right, it really is a coincidence since UN is hardly covered here. Our itineraries are very different though so I both reports complement the forum .
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 14): I was also asked not to take photos on board.
By the way, I was also in Bangkok while you were there.
You, too? So it wasn't just my FA. Coincidence you were also in BKK in Feb 2011. Did you see any of the UN 747 classics at that time?
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 15): I think flying eco on such a tourist route to BKK would probably be a once (and ONLY once, please!) in a lifetime experience - I bet most of the pax were getting horribly drunk on their own vodka .
Exactly I have made the experience already twice on SU's Il-96 and S7 A312. The alcohol consumption was just rediculous. I definitely don't have to make the eperience again .
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 15): gain something which I find so damn hard to understand - what harm is there photographing the plane and the beautiful views out of the window (plus the even more beautiful classic engines ). I guess it must be a memory from the Soviet times the elder FAs still carry around - back then it was somewhat understandable as photographing any bridges, train stations or airports was strictly forbidden as they were considered to be top military targets. But I guess that is no so obsolete with the modern satellites providing excellent photos thousands of miles away anyway....
Totally agree, must be some relict from the old times. The older the equipment the more rediculous I find the restriction is...What do they have to hide?
As mentioned the Holux M-1000C, but I think there should now be newer versions with a higher sensitivity. Mine is already 18 months old but does its job well...
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 18): I'd have loved to see a photos of the great circular stairs on the -200, but I understand this wasn't possible!
It would have been a great photo, one of the last chances. Lets hope Baltia Air Lines takes off soon, then we get it all in one package: a 747-200, JT9Ds, circular stairs and hopefully no photo restrictions. Can't wait .
I must admit they really take care of the Business pax (including photo restrictions ). Got the same service on Ethiopian Airlines 763 two days ago, there are 2 or 3 rows of Y pax between Business and the 2L door which had to remain in their seats until we de-boarded.
Thanks again to all of you for reading and commenting.
Loran From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 538 posts, RR: 4
Reply 22, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 16329 times:
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 20): The 742 upper deck is one of the cosiest cabins!
Hi MSS658, thanks for your positive feedback. I fully agree, you totally forget that there are some 500 additional people a few feet below you. What a great design the 747 classic is....
Quoting N178UA (Reply 21): I would be a little upset if the seat didn't recline at all. But I guess even complaining won't be much use on Russian Airlines.....?
Hi Sam, thanks for your kind feedback. You are right, it was a bit touch finding rest in those seats. I eventually didn't bother complaining with the crew as there were no free window seats left, so the choice was either a window seat or a possibly working seat recline mechanism I chose to stick with the window seat and I had the feeling the mechanism didn't work on the other seats either.
Quoting N178UA (Reply 21): Do you know where about UN is flying their 742 now? I look up their site and it shows 744 on SVO/BKK
When I checked a week ago their 747-200 did not appear in any schedules any more, although they are still listed as active in most fleet lists. My experience in early 2011 when beooking the above flights was that UN does not distinguish between a 747-200 and -300 in their system. In my case they loaded all flights up as equipment 742, although 3 of 4 flights were opb the 743.
I am in BKK at the moment and today I saw a single 744 at the gate (EI-XLH), though this may be the service to DME and not SVO. UN still has based some 743's in SVO this winter.
Btw I was surpised to see a Hellenic Imperial A343 in ABKK today, it still carries the Gulf Air reg A9C-LH but it looks like they finally took delivery of the A343.
abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5090 posts, RR: 55
Reply 23, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 15707 times:
Thank you very much. You and I need to do a report together . This was such a pleasant read because of the exotic routing, and airline. Flying the 742 UD is such a pleasure these days. Keep up the excellent work.