Last Saturday, on the 25th, we left for our school trip to Palma De Mallorca. Although I was pretty disappointed by the place (maybe it was too off-season), I had the chance to fly a foreign airline and compare it with my many flights onboard Olympic Airways...
Airline: Iberia Lineas Aereas
Flight: IB3887 Athens (Eleftherios Venizelos)-Madrid (Barajas)
Boarding Time: 17:40
I arrived at Athens airport at 16:00. At the check-in counters I just got my boarding pass from my tour leader and checked-in my luggage, as we were all flying as a group. I waited for some friends and proceeded to the duty free area where I bought cigarettes and a new eau de toilette. Our group was split in two other groups; half of us were flying via Barcelona (I wasn't one of them) and they had a delay of 30' which almost caused them to miss their connection. Our flight to Madrid left on time and we had no problems for our connection from Madrid, since we had to wait in MAD for 3 hours. After drinking a cup of coffee, I proceeded to the gates area to board the aircraft. I was asked by the staff to fill in a questionnaire about my opinion on the security of the airpot. I generally found it very satisfying since our hand luggage was thouroughly checked. I was even asked why I was carrying 1600 ISO film because I asked not to be passed through the X-ray machine but I think that the security guard was just curious. While walking towards gate B7, I noticed that there was no aircraft there and that the monitor displayed info about the flight to BCN. I figured out that there was some kind of mix-up at the checkin while printing the boarding passes and I walked to B5 where I boarded without any problems. I entered the aircraft, which was very clean and was greeted by the crew. I sat to my assigned seat (21A) but then moved to 18A to sit next to a friend. I had no problem doing that since I only displaced one of my fellow-students. I was anazed that a lot of seats were reserved for business class use since the curtain separating the two sections was behind row 10!!! I have to say that the seats were wide enough and the cabin looked more spacious than a 737 but the legroom was a farce!!! It was very narrow for my legs and I doubt that it was 32'' (What is the legroom in IB's A320s anyway???).
The pushback started and the LCD screens came down. It was a nice touch of thechnology since all safety procedures were presented in some kind of virtual reality and all that the crew did was to piont the exits. The announcements were made in Spanish, English and Greek! Bravo Iberia!!! Other than that, it was obvious that the Greek announcements were a playback for all destinations with a strange accent for Greek but it was worth an applause!!! There weren't many movements at the airport so we taxied and took off quickly. I was constantly taking photos from my window that will turn out great, since the wing is visible along with the scenery (I will post them as soon as I get them back from the lab). The flight was rather calm with no turbulence. The crew distributed earphones and the video programme started as soon as we reached our cruising altitude. Although I was listening to my minidisc music, I wasn't told to turn it off when I asked. The video program consited of a comedy show and then a spanish film in both English and Spanish. I didn't watch it because it was too boring. Iberia should consider playing American movies in their European flights..
I found out that Iberia was celebrating its 70th anniversary from the design on the headcloths on the seats.
The lunch was served 20' after takeoff. I found the disk to be rather small compared to that of Olympic Airways. The lack of ordeuvres was obvious! The salad was traditional Mediterranean and was accompanied by a mediterranean dressing. The mail plate was rice with meat. The meat had a brown sauce and looked like something puked. It wasn't very bad because it was tasteless!! The tiramisu dessert was also tasteless. I thought that Iberia was notorious for 3 things; bad meals, rude staff and lost luggage. I found out that the crew wasn't rude, although a bit bored and my luggage didn't get lost during my connection to Madrid. I was hoping to see some cute Spanish FAs but I was disappointed.
While flying over Italy, I asked a Flight Attendant for a visit to the cockpit. She went in front to ask an then came back and escorted me to the cockpit. It was just 'wow'! The cockpit was very roomy; in fact it looked roomier than the A300 cockpit. The captain was alone while the FO was in the galley chatting with some passengers. he greeted me in Spanish and I then tried to seak with him using all the spanish I knew. When I ran out of spanish, we talked in english. I told him that my father was a pilot and then he told me some things about his carreer. He used to be an A340 FO and we commented on the A340. He told me that he loved the A340, because its performance is great. He seemed to like the range of the A340 since he appraised it for the long flights he flew from Madrid like Sandiago in Chile and Tokyo non stop! On the other hand, he did mention that flying the A340 is like flying with 4 APUs, a comment that I have also heard from Olympic pilots. When the FO came in, he asked me where I was flying to and he gave me some good reccomendations for clubs in Palma, since he was from Palma hmself. He wrote all the info and drew a small map in the back of a paper printed from the cockpit computer which I intend to keep.
After that, I went back to my seat, ate a Toblerone chocolate with a friend and then chatted for a while. Before I knew it, we were approaching Barajas Airport and I started taking photographs again. Our landing was smooth and we reached a nearby gate in notime.
Airline: Iberia Lineas Aereas
Flight: IB772 Madrid(Barajas)-Palma De Mallorca International
Boarding Time: 23:10
We arrived in Madrid at 20:45 local time. We had more than two hours in front of us so we were very bored. The good thing was that smoking was allowed. The airport didn't look very 'international'. Although it was big it was empty, like an airport of a ghost city. We were told to meet at the Transit office at 22:30 to get our boarding passes for our next flight. We never kept our boarding passes in order not to loose them; this soon proved to be a big mistake. Many interesting shops were closed so we decided to go meet a spanish friend's friend who was waiting for us at 'room 6'. We talked to a guard almost in sign language (almost all employees there didn't speak english and this made our following adventure more difficult), we explained that we were waiting for our transit flight and we got directions for room 6. The stupid thing we did was that we didn't mention that we did not have ou tickets and passports with us....
After cruising all the labyrinth of Barajas ( Barajas IS a labyrinth!!!) we arrived at room 6 which was at the arrivals level. We spent some time there and after a while we decided to go back and meet with our other fellow-students. But we realised that it was a big 'no-no'!! In order to get back in we had to show our boarding passes (what boarding passes???) which were inside. We were sent from one security point to the other and from one office to the other. No matter how much we explained, we were asked for our boarding passes or our tickets. Finally, we called our tour leader who managed to bring our boarding passes to us and take us back inside.
After waiting for a gate to be dispayed for our flight, we boarder the MD87 of Iberia. It had a 2-3 configuration and I sat at my assighned seat that only had another seat next to it. I sat with the same friend from the previous flight. It was a night flight with 55' duration but the plane was almost full of passengers. After takeoff, we were offered candies that displayed the '70th Anniversary of Iberia' and drinks. The seats were a bit narrow and so was the cabin but the legroom was good, even bigger than the A320!! There was no IFE in that aircraft and all safety dem,onstrations were made from the cabin crew. I asked again for a cockpit visit but it wasn't worth it. I spent a few minutes inside the cockpit sice it was so small and cramped. Our flight arrived on time in PMI. PMI was a big and clean airport and was nothing like the one I was expecting; small, dirty and smelly. I found out that PMI is one of the busiest airports in Europe, serving alomst 20 million pax per year. There were a lot of charter carriers, mostly german, which explains why there were so many Germans on the island and most of them in the age range of 50-70 years old.
Airline: Iberia Lineas Aereas
Flight: IB1713 Palma De Mallorca International-Barcelona (El Prat)
Boarding Time: 11:05
I woke up at 8:00. before the 9:00 wakeup call from the hotel. I wasn't very tired because there was no clubbing during the last two evenings. No clubs in Palma open on Mondays and Tuesdays except a nasty club+stripshow that was full of drunk Germans in their 40s and had auful drinks.I ate breakfast at the hotel, packed my suitcase and has a shower. We met at the lobby at 9:30 and took a group photo outside the hotel. Some of us were still sleeping so we had to wait a while. I was so happy to go home. Palma was great but nightlife was either auul or inexistent because it was probably off-season. Our hotel was close to the airport and it only took us 4' to get there. We had to wait for check-in since there we were 70 people. We got again two separate flights to BCN with a time interval of 30'. After check-in, I had a cup of coffee and I went straight to the gate since the boarding had already started. We boarded the MD88 that was obviously longer than the MD87. My seat was towards the back and it was again noisy. During taxi I had the chance to take some photos of charter carriers and during climbing I got a nice shot of 'Playa de Palma' which was the biggest beach in Palma. Unfortunately I was seated in the left side and I didn't get a view of Palma and its famous cathedral. Our flight was short and we arrived at BCN in notime. Again, I didn't have a view of the city.
Airline: Iberia Lineas Aereas
Flight: IB3966 Barcelona (El Prat)-Athens (Eleftherios Venizelos)
Boarding Time: 13:05
I was expecting to find a lot of interesting places to shop with my remaining Euros At BCN but they had nothing more than the usual stuff. I only bought some menthol cigarettes and some chocolate. The group from the second flight from PMI arrived and we boarded the aircraft. We had a delay of about 15' until all the luggage from the second flight from PMI were loaded. I was hoping to fly a 757 but we were flying an A320 again. It was a nice flight. The lunch constisted of chicken and rice under a strange yellow sauce and a tasteless dessert again. I asked for a cockpit visit and the FA informed me that the specific captain doesn't want passengers in 'his' cocpit; oh well...
The IFE was the same but our group offered entertainment by putting things on other students' heads and in their mouths and then photographing them. The passengers were laughing their @$$es off but the crew found this to be very annoying. After that they kept giving us angry looks and weren't that happy when we asked for something. We started our descend over Patra city in Greece. We then flew past Hellinikon Airport and I had the chance to take some aerial photos. Then we flew over The new airport but I ran out of film!! Our landing was far than smooth and when we reached the airport I was happy to see that my luggage came out safe and sound.
Although disappointed from this trip, it was the last time that all the students of my class were together. Until now, I don't feel very happy because I know that I won't be seeing many of them, whether I like them or not .