Date : 27/08/2002
Carrier : Virgin Express
From : Rome Fiumicino
To : Brussels International Airport
Flight : TV5872
Aircraft : B737-300 (Reg. : do not remember)
Scheduled / Actual time of departure : 17h25 / 17h45
Scheduled / Actual time of arrival : 19h50 / 19h29
We (my girlfriend and I) had booked our one-way-flight (we went by car to Italy) in April. As a result, we paid not more than 60€ each. We also checked to fly with Ryanair but the price was only slightly cheaper and as Fiumicino is better accesible (with the Leonardo Express from Roma Termini Railway Station) we choose to fly Virgin.
We had planned to go early to the airport and leave our luggage there and make a trip to the sea, as that is not that far from the airport. We arrived at the airport at 11h after an half an hour ride with the train, at little more than 8€ each.
Upon arrival at the airport, we headed to the information desk from Aeroporta di Roma, as we could not find any indication of the left luggage area. It became quickly clear why: you cannot leave your luggage anymore at the airport, as a result of the events of September 11th. I found this very strange because just a month and a half ago, I had been able to do this at Schiphol Airport.
It seemed that we were stuck at the airport for some hours, although an aviation enthousiast can never use the word stuck when he has another six hours to spend at an airport.
Well, normally not, no, and initially it seemed quite allright. We went to a cafeteria where we had a drink and had a view on the tarmac. Unfortunatly, we could only see planes taking off very far away and see just the last seconds of planes landing, turning to the taxi-way. And this was also quite far away. The runway right ahead of us was not in use and, if I noticed it right, they were working on the runway surface.
As we wanted to get to the other side of the airport quickly, we decided to go to the Virgin Check-in desk early. Although we thought check-in would not start before 15h30, we were there at 14h45. There was already a line of 4 people (families).
We were lucky, however. A check-in agent arrived a few minutes after us, and he strated to prepare everything. He had big problems with getting the screen above the check-in desk and stopped trying when his colleauge arrived.
We were the fourth to check-in (two desks were open). In a friendly but very business like way (quite cool, not too much to say) we got our boarding passes. I had requested seats with some more legroom and we received 11D and and 11E. As 11F does not exist because of the exit, we had quite some room and no one next to us. I doubt whether legroom is better at these seats however.
Security check was quickly, we did not even had to wait a second. We had made sure that there was nothing in our handluggage that should not be there.
Although I had been there already, I was quite dissapointed (again) by the airport. We left from gate B10 but the B-terminal is nothing special. A few shop places were empty, the other shops were nothing special, and the airport made an impression of being old. To make it even worse, if you sit down to wait for your flight leaving, you cannot see a thing as the windows are not high enough. If you stand up it does not make a big difference. The first windows are divided from even more windows by the stairs to board, and all the windows were covered with so much dust that you couldn't see too much.
I was able to see some aircraft, however, of course. AF A321's, BA 767s, Northwest 747-200, Lufthansa Boeings and Airbusses, and of course a lot of Alitalia planes: Md-80s, Airbusses (also their brand new A319), B767-300ER, ...
Boarding was announced for 16h55 but we did not start before 17h10. The 6 last rows were called first, by the way by the two same people that had done the check-in, but people did not seem to bother and it seemed that everyone wanted to board first. As always, my girlfriend and I decided to wait until the crowd had dissapeared. The aircraft would not leave without us anyway, why standing in a line. And we had our seats.
The crew, all Italian (3 female and 1 male FA) did not really bother about us when we entered. They were watching us but kept talking among each other. We had to wait a little bit as people were finding their seats, and quickly after we were seated we noticed the little bump caused by the puch back truck being attached to the aircraft. The doors were closed, and we were pushed back.
After the safety instructions (in English, French and Italian which is quite weird as a lot of flemish people were on board and as it was an SNBA code share flight) the captain announced that we were fourth in line for take of. I cannot remember which runway he mentioned we would be using, his English was not that clear.
After a powerfull take-off, during which I noticed for the first time the high nose up attitude while we were actually still on the ground, we were airborne for a flight of around an hour and a fourty minutes.
The cabin crew quickly came around with the Virgin Snack Pack consisting of a sandwich, milk for coffee, a spoon and a paper napkin. Coffee, tea and water you could get for free, for the tiny cola's (not virgin cola anymore but coca-cola, on request of Coca Cola if Virgin wanted their travel deal) and other soft frinks you paid 2,6€.
The flight was uneventful, the captain came on the intercom annoucning we were crossing Geneva and were going to fly from there onwards to Luxembourg were we would start our decent. We had a clear view, only above the Alps there were some clouds. Far away from us, another plane flew in the opposite direction.
Before we realised it the flight was almost over. We started our decent into Brussels and quickly we were aligned with runway 25L. Passing the "water-tower" on my left, I knew we were about to cross the treshhold. I had a perfect view on the engines and as soon as we touched down, I could see the trustreversers in action.
A quick taxi brought us to the A-pier. The seatbelt signs were not turned off immediatly as the engines had to run because the guy who had to connect us with the electrical ground power was too late. We had arrived too soon one can say. We left the aircraft and before entering the cold of the terminal, the warm Belgian weather hit us.
For the third time, I was able to walk and look at the beautiful terminal this new building at Brussels Airport is. A relief after the airport in Rome. Perfect view on the runway and on aircraft at the airport. Lots of light, well done Brussels.
As soon as we arrived in the luggage recovery area, the luggage arrived and our flight ended.
Regards to all of you,