Originally planned to be opened in 2010, Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) has encountered a shameful series of delays due to poor construction planning, management and execution. So far, four official opening dates could not be met. One of them was Sunday, June 3rd 2012 - and things looked promising for a long time. Some A.netters suggested to meet there in order to experience the grand opening of BER and the closure of Tegel and Schönefeld Airports. Within the following weeks and months, dozens of members decided to take part in the meeting, including me. Most people would arrive on Saturday and leave again on Sunday. I decided to join the party on Sunday, though.
Of course I didn't want to take a nonstop flight to Berlin from MUC or NUE, but tried to create an itinerary including new airlines. After searching for a while, I booked a Munich-Berlin and Berlin-Milan combo on Air Berlin, with a "transit time" of almost 7 hours - plenty of time to join the meeting. Then I added a Milan-Catania flight on the meanwhile vanished Italian low-cost carrier Wind Jet and a Catania-Munich flight on Air Malta, both departing on the next day. Both were new airlines for me and both were in trouble - so I kept hoping for the best all the time.
Several weeks after booking, the BER opening was postponed and my Air Berlin flights would now arrive at and depart from Tegel. Well, I didn't mind so much. I was still looking forward to the meeting and the journey.
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Munich (MUC) - Berlin (TXL)
Air Berlin AB6188, operated by TUIfly
Scheduled times: 10:35-11:45
Actual times: 10:33-11:44
Flight duration: 00:52 (hrs)
Distance: 298 miles
Economy Class (single class), seat 22A
D-AXHA (s/n 2202),
Delivered in 03/2007
I had already checked in online on the day before, so I could walk straight to the gate after arriving at the airport. Module A of Terminal 1 wasn't overly busy on that Sunday morning. My plane from Berlin-Tegel arrived on time:
It turned out to be D-AHXA, operated by TUIfly:
Boarding commenced on time, friendly flight attendants welcomed me at the door. As usual, newspapers and various magazines were available free of charge.
The plane was equipped with AB's latest seats which aren't bad at all...
...but they are lacking a classic seat pocket. This is what you get instead - not suited for storing camera or binoculars:
Legroom was acceptable for this short flight:
The middle seat remained empty, so I could stretch out. Unfortunately, the captain informed us about ATC delays and announced that we wouldn't be able to take off earlier than 25 minutes from now. "But we are in negotiations for an earlier departure time!", he promised.
Interestingly, we were pushed back two minutes ahead of schedule, much earlier than expected. But we still had to wait for a while on various taxiway positions. Meanwhile it had started raining:
D-AHXA finally took off 7 minutes earlier than originally announced by the captain. What a nasty weather:
Leaving Bavaria for the Czech Republic - my hometown is not too far from this position:
White 737-400 instead of an Air Berlin 737-700:
Inflight magazine and shopping guide:
Mistakes anywhere? Everything looked okay:
I had picked up a "Focus" news magazine during boarding - but I'm not a big fan of it, to be honest:
Gourmet meals designed by the Sansibar restaurant are offered on all routes with a flight time between 60 minutes and 6 hours:
Some more common stuff:
Non-alcoholic drinks and snacks are available free of charge on all short-haul and medium-haul routes. On domestic routes, even beer and wine are served free of charge. I guess that's because the percentage of overly thirsty holiday makers is rather limited on domestic flights... I ordered orange juice and a salty snack - and I found it a bit disappointing that potato chips were handed out instead of pastries on such a late morning flight:
This is the former Brand-Briesen Airfield, a redeveloped military air base located about 60 km south-southeast of Berlin:
The former airship hangar once used by the liquidated logistics company CargoLifter AG has been converted into a leisure resort.
Approach over countless lakes and ponds...
...and countless houses:
Rather unattractive housing blocks:
This is a small museum run a club called "Alliierte in Berlin" (= Allies in Berlin):
We touched down after a flying time of 52 minutes and I spotted a very interesting visitor in the distance...
...a Wind Jet A319, registered EI-ECY - I'd get a different one on the next day, though:
"Actually we should have landed at the new airport today, but now we are still using good old Tegel Airport!", the captain said after landing.
Unfortunately, we taxied to a remote position belonging to the infamous provisional Terminal C:
The obligatory cabin shot:
Well, arriving at a remote position at least gave me the chance to take some apron pictures:
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7009 posts, RR: 77
Reply 1, posted (2 years 1 month 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 12116 times:
The A.net Meeting
After stepping into the terminal building, I called volvair to find out more about the A.netter crowd's current position. volvair told me to come to the "Ess-Bahn", a famous "Currywurst" stand near the main terminal entrance (featured in other reports about the meeting). On the way through the terminal, I ran into SloAir who was also looking for the others. Some minutes later, we discovered the crowd and it was great to see familiar faces again and to meet others for the first time in person.
The whole group then went to the observation deck where it was quite cold and windy. Willy Brandt welcomes the world? Not yet...and nobody knows when.
Several A.netters can be seen in this picture:
The other side:
Luxair747SP on the way back to Frankfurt:
JU-1011, one of MIAT's two 767-300ERs, was the highlight of the afternoon:
Several users had to leave during our spotting session and the rest of us finally went to a terminal restaurant after it had started raining. We spent hours talking about aviation and other things, it was a truly enjoyable meeting. I was among the last participants to leave Berlin on that day.
Numerous members have posted nice reports about the meeting and their flights:
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Berlin (TXL) - Milan (MXP)
Air Berlin AB8432, operated by Germania
Scheduled times: 18:35-20:15
Actual times: 18:32-20:16
Flight duration: 01:33 (hrs)
Distance: 521 miles
Economy Class (single class), seat 24A
D-AGEN (s/n 016),
Delivered in 03/1998
I had checked in for both Air Berlin flights on the day before, so once again I could go straight to the gate at the infamous Terminal C. That building was really crowded, but my flight was on time, so I didn't have to hang around there very long. The weather had become worse and, unfortunately, we had to walk to the aircraft. Even though the distance was short, everybody got wet in heavy rain. Of course, I couldn't take a picture of the plane this time.
D-AGEN, a relatively old bird operated by Germania, was equipped with worn old-style seats:
Legroom was slightly more generous than on the TUIfly-operated 737-700:
This time the whole row remained empty which I was very glad about. Taking decent pictures during taxi and takeoff was impossible due to continuous rain:
We left the parking position ahead of schedule and took off without any additional waiting time. During climb, the captain made an announcement which was hard to understand. He mentioned "thunderstorm" and "hail" and I guess he referred to the situation at Malpensa - I was wondering whether this would have an effect on our arrival.
What a contrast to the bad weather on the ground:
No doubt about the operator:
For the second time on that day, I had a look into Air Berlin's inflight magazine. In this editorial, the company's former CEO Hartmut Mehdorn criticized the German air passenger duty - rightfully so!
Interesting article about Oneworld partner Royal Jordanian:
The legendary "AirBär" going to Australia on Air Berlin's biggest single shareholder Etihad Airways:
Details about the carrier's service concept:
Trail mix and (tasty) cream cheese sandwiches were offered by the friendly flight attendants and I opted for the latter. Additionally, I ordered orange juice and - after being offered a warm drink as well - a cup of tea:
There were numerous empty seats on this evening flight to Milan:
It was quite cloudy and hazy around Malpensa, but approach and landing were smooth:
This is A320 EI-EUA, operated by the "new" Livingston:
By the way - EI-EUA plane used to fly for Spanair as EC-IYG and as such once carried fellow user FLIEGER67.
We finally came to a stop next to Air Berlin 737-700 D-ABLE:
After leaving the aircraft, I called the First Hotel Malpensa and ordered the shuttle. It's a nice and decently priced hotel with friendly staff:
While waiting for the shuttle on the next morning, I could watch some departing planes. Tyrolean Fokker 100:
While the booking process on Wind Jet's basic website had been easy and convenient, I hadn't been able to select a seat. So I tried to be at the airport as soon as possible. It turned out to be a good idea because I didn't have to queue up and a friendly female agent quickly issued my boarding pass. She gladly accepted my request for a window seat in the last row and - after I had asked her about it - she ensured that the flight would operate on time.
Now there was plenty of time left for spotting. There are large windows in the terminal hall, so I could easily log numerous registrations. Cathay Pacific and the big Arabian trio:
Air Italy, Alba Star, Blue Panorama, Livingston, Meridiana fly and Neos - nice mix of smaller airlines:
Interesting visitors at the cargo ramp:
D-AGEN was here again after another flight from Berlin-Tegel:
I kept watching out for the plane with orange nose, engines and tail and was certainly relieved when it arrived from Catania almost on time:
EI-ESG used to be operated by Spirit Airlines and Mandala Airlines before it joined the Wind Jet fleet…
…and meanwhile it has returned to the Spirit Airlines as N521NK.
One may argue that the orange nose looked ugly, but all these "Wind Jets" certainly sticked out:
People already started queuing up before the plane had reached its final parking position. Half an hour later, shortly before boarding commenced, I was among the last few passengers to join the queue. The gate agents announced that boarding would be done by row numbers, but that wasn't enforced. Once I reached the aircraft door, I was surprised to see one of the pilots standing next to a flight attendant - and both of them gave me a friendly welcome.
When I arrived at the last row, I couldn't find an empty space for my trolley - the flight was packed. After searching for a while, I placed it in a bin at row 13. Then I noticed that a couple in the 40s was occupying the window seat and the aisle seat and I had to tell them that 24F was mine. At least they moved without further discussion.
Of course I was unpleasantly surprised by the location of the window, but it was still acceptable:
Thanks for telling me about a special Avis rates - but where's the safety card?
However, the seat was okay and legroom was more generous than expected:
Parked next to us was EC-KDH of Vueling, one of my least favorite airlines:
We left the gate slightly late and passed Blue Panorama 757-200 EI-DNA which is meanwhile stored at Victorville:
China Cargo 777F again...
...and a 744F from South Korea:
We flew a wide right turn after a powerful takeoff - what a beautiful scenery:
Decent, but worn inflight magazine:
Fleet and network information:
Now that's interesting...
Wind Jet referred to "7 new A320s", but as far as I know it only had 6 frames in service in summer 2012, with an average age of some 18 years...
Buy on board menu:
Since I had breakfast at Malpensa and was planning to enjoy a fresh pizza at Catania Airport, I didn't order anything.
I couldn't spot an empty seat on this flight:
Wide right turn onto final approach:
Catania and the famous Mount Etna:
We touched down after a flying time of 1 hour and 33 minutes and taxied to a remote parking position. Parked next to us was EI-DFO, an A320 veteran which used to fly for Onur Air, Lotus Air, Skyservice and Air Arabia and is now stored at Malta:
Of course I took the chance to take some close-up pictures of EI-ESG:
This is CTA's check-in hall:
Mount Etna again:
I could have visited the city, but wasn't really in the mood to do so - I had to be back at least 2.5 hours before departure anyway in order to secure a good seat. Since Sicily is a popular holiday destination, I was expecting numerous German tourists to queue up long before the opening of the check-in counters. Unfortunately, checking in online hadn't been possible for this Catania-Munich flight. Landside spotting is not possible at CTA, so I kept reading to kill the time.
Monday, 4 June 2012
Catania (CTA) - Munich (MUC)
Air Malta KM1308
Scheduled times: 17:00-19:10
Actual times: 16:44-19:13
Flight duration: 02:12 (hrs)
Distance: 770 miles
Economy Class, seat 23F
9H-AEM (MSN 2382), named "Birgu"
Delivered in 02/2005
Just as expected, the first tourists showed up at the Air Malta check-in counters more than 2.5 hours before departure. The number kept growing quickly, so I had no other choice than to line up as well.
Finally, after I had been standing around for almost 30 minutes, two agents started working behind their counters. Fortunately, I could secure 23F (last row).
It wasn't very busy at the airport in the afternoon, but a waiting in the gate area was better than being stuck in the landside part of the terminal. 9H-AEM arrived on time after a 20 minute hop from Malta:
9H-AEM is the newest frame in the five-strong A319 fleet:
Interestingly, two thirds of the cabin were already occupied by passengers originating from Malta. The seats were comfortable...
...and legroom was sufficient:
The route on the foldout screens:
Alitalia A321 and Meridiana fly A320 in Eurofly colors:
Even though the flight was packed, the middle seat in my row remained empty. The captain welcomed "...all new passengers who have joined us" and announced a flying time of two hours as well as turbulence towards the end of the flight.
We left the gate 16 minutes ahead of schedule after a turn-around time of just 20 minutes or so - well done! Easyjet A319 and Wind Jet A320 EI-ELG which once carried user BrusselsSouth:
Pan Air BAe 146-200QT EC-GQO, once flying for Malmö Aviation and Eurowings:
Bluebird Cargo 737-300F which used to fly for Hispania Linéas Aéreas, Avensa, Western Pacific and Sterling Airlines:
Beautiful coastline views after a powerful takeoff:
The city of Milazzo:
This is Stromboli, an island containing Mount Stromboli, one of three active volcanoes in Italy:
Inflight magazine and safety card:
Routes and destinations:
Air Malta used to serve more destinations nonstop from Catania, but only Malta and Munich are left:
Faultless fleet information section:
A cold meal was served which didn't overly impress me:
While the slice of mozzarella cheese and the slice of tomato were fine, I didn't like the cold cuts and the soggy aubergine pieces. There was simply too much olive oil! The bun and the cake weren't culinary delights either. And btw - the lady in the aisle seat had two slices of mozzarella on her tray.
Then I ordered a Maltese beer and tried to hand over 3 Euros (as suggested in the inflight magazine), but the friendly flight attendant denied and said: "It's free of charge!" It was quite tasty:
During the second drink run, I ordered a can of ginger ale:
The obligatory cabin shot:
Exactly as announced by the captain, it became very bumpy during approach which made several passengers rather nervous. It seemed we had to fly around a thunderstorm which had just passed the airport and there were numerous thick and low clouds:
It was very wet down there:
We finally touched down after a flying time of 2 hours and 12 minutes and numerous passengers started clapping.
The plane finally came to a stop next to Lufthansa A340-600 D-AIHY was being prepared for its next long-haul mission:
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7009 posts, RR: 77
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 month 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 12095 times:
I'm glad that I was able to try Wind Jet two months before its demise. While it didn't offer a remarkable product, it offered low fares on numerous routes to/from Catania, Palermo and Rimini. In terms of competition, it's bad in most cases when an airline stops operating. Flying Air Malta was a pleasure, I was just disappointed by the meal. Air Berlin still offers a decent product on domestic and European routes and I hope that there won't be significant service cuts during the latest cost reduction process.
CaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 725 posts, RR: 20
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 month 3 days ago) and read 11822 times:
thanks for this most enjoyable reminder of the fabulous Berlin meet last year. It was indeed a pleasure to meet you again there. A good idea to include some more interesting flights after the meet. Interesting to read something about Windjet, they seemed to offer quite an ok service for an LCC. A shame that they are no longer. I had booked a flight with them as well last year to Catania, but unfortunately had to cancel this trip because of other commitments. Well, that's life.
And finally a nice flight with Air Malta, I think the meal actually looked quite good. But of course a no-go that your neighbor got two slices of Mozarella and you only one ... Well, at least you got a free beer as a compensation ...
In what used to be the DDR part of Berlin I guess?
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Originally planned to be opened in 2010, Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) has encountered a shameful series of delays due to poor construction planning, management and execution. So far, four official opening dates could not be met. One of them was Sunday, June 3rd 2012 - and things looked promising for a long time. Some A.netters suggested to meet there in order to experience the grand opening of BER and the closure of Tegel and Schönefeld Airports.
In Israel, whenever something is messed up the people and the press say "only in Israel: ...", the BER airport scandal caught the Israeli press by surprise, how something like this can happen in Germany.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7009 posts, RR: 77
Reply 9, posted (2 years 1 month 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 11057 times:
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): Thank you for another great report.
Hi Jonathan, thanks a lot for your feedback!
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): You got on windjet almost at the last minute.
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): In what used to be the DDR part of Berlin I guess?
No, those are located in the former West Berlin. The DDR-style blocks look/looked even worse.
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): In Israel, whenever something is messed up the people and the press say "only in Israel: ...", the BER airport scandal caught the Israeli press by surprise, how something like this can happen in Germany.
Yes, I cannot believe either how this could happen.
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): One of my "last resort only" airlines too, they are not that cheap too - more then 250 euros on TLV-BCN route, one way! Way more expensive the UX or even LY.
That sounds really bad. Must be horrible to be stuck in these planes on such long flights!
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): Where is TLV? Windjet was a common visitot here.
Probably those were charter flights.
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): Had no idea KM is flying 5th freedom flights out of Malta.
As an EU airline, they can serve any route within the EU.
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): They are indeed an good-old-government-own airline.
And hopefully they will survive!
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 6): Maybe we will all meet in BER one day
Yes, would be nice! Or somewhere else?
Quoting The777Man (Reply 7): Thanks for another amazing report with amazing pictures !
Hi Lars, thanks so much for your reply! Good to hear you liked it.
Quoting The777Man (Reply 7): Very good to see this report online with your visit to meeting in Berlin.
Widebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 14
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 10853 times:
A very nice report filled with some rare Italian (and not only) birds. I'm sure you were pleased with all the spotting achieved in this trip.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Italian low-cost carrier Wind Jet and a Catania-Munich flight on Air Malta, both departing on the next day. Both were new airlines for me and both were in trouble -
I'm glad you got to register Wind Jet before they shut down. It's sad to see them stop operations even though I didn't know much about them.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 11): This "one" would be me! One of my pet peeves about liveries (and why I couldn't stand Malev's livery). No clown nose!
I don't like such "clown noses" either.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 11): Nice that you got to fly Air Malta too an airline I've always been curious about (despite the very mixed reviews). I would need to try their SOF-ATH route at some point, if its still runs.
BZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 264 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (2 years 1 month 2 days ago) and read 10782 times:
Thanks for another excellent read.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Several weeks after booking, the BER opening was postponed and my Air Berlin flights would now arrive at and depart from Tegel. Well, I didn't mind so much. I was still looking forward to the meeting and the journey.
It's a shame that the opening of BER has been such a fiasco. At least you kept your positive attitude about making this trip to good old Tegel.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): ...but they are lacking a classic seat pocket. This is what you get instead - not suited for storing camera or binoculars:
Not a handy seat pocket at all. The worst is Ryanair, nothing at all!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): "Actually we should have landed at the new airport today, but now we are still using good old Tegel Airport!", the captain said after landing.
Always nice when that happens...for one, because I don't feel as awkward snapping a bunch of photos during the flight when I know there's no one there to wonder why I'm doing that.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): One may argue that the orange nose looked ugly, but all these "Wind Jets" certainly sticked out:
I actually like that orange nose cone. Certainly a different look.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Wind Jet referred to "7 new A320s", but as far as I know it only had 6 frames in service in summer 2012, with an average age of some 18 years...
Ha! A bit of false advertising I'd say.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Then I ordered a Maltese beer and tried to hand over 3 Euros (as suggested in the inflight magazine), but the friendly flight attendant denied and said: "It's free of charge!" thumbsup It was quite tasty:
OA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27684 posts, RR: 59
Reply 14, posted (2 years 1 month 2 days ago) and read 10770 times:
Great to read your review of the meet. Im also glad Im not the only one with a large delay in writing reports. I need to get writing too
Nice that you got to try Windjet before they went under. I saw them all lined up here at DUB when they were taken back. I quite liked their seats . Shame about the no window but that happened to me on BA on Friday night! It was quite a shock .
I like the new AB seats also . I prefer these types.
Anyway looking forward to reading more from you this year.
Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 13): Always nice when that happens...for one, because I don't feel as awkward snapping a bunch of photos during the flight when I know there's no one there to wonder why I'm doing that.
rogerbcn From Andorra, joined Sep 2006, 1209 posts, RR: 20
Reply 17, posted (2 years 1 month 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 10701 times:
Nice memories when reading your report about our meeting in Berlin, we had a great time spotting at TXL before the rain appeared.
AB looks great, the disappeared Windjet had a great nose and seemed to provide an OK service. Impressed by Air Malta and their service on this flight, I did not know they had the rights to fly from Italian soil to European destinations, which is always a good thing to know, just in case....
Hope to meet you again in MAN next April.
"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7009 posts, RR: 77
Reply 18, posted (2 years 1 month 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 10681 times:
Quoting rogerbcn (Reply 17): Nice memories when reading your report about our meeting in Berlin, we had a great time spotting at TXL before the rain appeared.
Hola Roger, thanks for leaving a reply! We had a great time indeed, despite the bad weather.
Quoting rogerbcn (Reply 17): Impressed by Air Malta and their service on this flight, I did not know they had the rights to fly from Italian soil to European destinations, which is always a good thing to know, just in case....
Sure, they can fly on any route within the EU. Too bad that there aren't more such flights operated by KM.
Luxair747SP From Germany, joined May 2010, 515 posts, RR: 17
Reply 19, posted (2 years 1 month 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 10605 times:
Very nice report about the meeting in Berlin, really cool to get the impressions of that great weekend again.
Unfortunately we only had very little time to talk.
Also nice to see a review on Windjet, but they seem to be like many other italian carriers like Bluepanorama etc.
KM seems to be quite a good airline, and i liked them too when flying with them some years ago.
Did you like the Cisk?
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Reply 23, posted (2 years 1 month 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 10240 times:
Thanks for the interesting report and for finally taking me out of my misery. When I was in Malta in December I saw a few Windjet aircraft parked up near the Lufthansa Technik facility and I wondered what they were actually like as an airline. As a brand I always thought they were a bit nondescript.