MEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4117 posts, RR: 37 Posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2756 times:
2.8.03 A-320 F-GFKR Air France AM S-CDG ED 13.20 AD 13.25/EA 14.35 AA 14.15 seat 23F
while loads were light, 35 pax (still 5 flight attendants), they substituted the planned A-319 for a 320 unfortunately, as I flew an Air France 320 already. The baguette (tuna or so) was quite good, I also took a small can of coke but there was no coffee or tea, probably noone bothered at this hot afternoon. We approached with Paris and later Le Bourget airport clearly to be seen on my righthandside, and also a 777 which flew exactly the same speed and hight and would land at the runway on the right hand side of us. CDG is quite big so after landing it took another 11 minutes of taxiing before we were at the gate. I noticed (and was confirmed on my later visits to Orly, CDG etc) that almost all aircraft of Air France are... CLEAN. I guess they were fed up with the jokes about it, or Chirac personally threated to reintroduce the guillotine if they didn't clean them. Of the more than 150 Air France coloured aircraft I spotted, maybe one single 747-300 at Orly was dirty.
4.8.03 737-700 G-EZJM easyJet ORY-TLS ED 14.25 AD 14.55/EA 15.40 AA 15.52 seat 5F
As I had a tight connection in Toulouse, having to catch a train to visit a jazz festival, I decided to leave my bigger bag in the Paris hotel as I know from the soap "Airline" easyJet is a bitch about the 5 kg hand luggage rule (on the other flights taking both my bags with me was no problem). As it was a new flight, I could pick up tickets for 5 euro each way from and to TLS, really a bargain.
Our aircraft was loitering at the gate for two hours already; very un-easyJetish but that's because their Orly mini hub is quite isolated from the system so 3 dedicated aircraft fly the schedule from there and probably with slots and so on it wasn't possible to let it fly something in the early afternoon. But yet boarding only started at 14.28 and we were off the ground half an hour late, I really started to worry if I would be able to catch my Oscar Peterson concert that evening. I chose 5F, as close to the front door as possible so I could dash out and catch my 16.30 train in the centre. The plane was surprisingly packed, the only reason my mid seat left open was that the cusion was removed. The flight itself was comfortable over hot and hazy France. I noticed they have local cabin staff as they probably guessed English only speaking staff would not be tolerated on a french domestic flight.
On the 5th of August, I made a tour at Airbus, I can recommend it to everyone. Even if you can't understand the french explanation, you can spot a few dozen A-330/340 and A-320s in variuous stages.
6.8.03 737-700 G-EZJM easyJet TLS-ORY ED 11.25 AD 11.29 /EA 12.45 AA 12.26
Unfortunately what I feared the exact same airframe on the way back. Wish I knew about Aeris but well, their prices are 29 euro and up so I shouldn't bother. Again a full flight, but probably because of the cheap tickets. I noticed the cusion of seat 5E was reattached now. It better, it looked dodgy and of course you can carry an extra passenger and their flights are always quite full. The air was hazy and we approached from the south or east so little sights.
7.8.03 A-320 D-AIQR Germanwings CDG-CGN 4U403 ED 08.40 AD 09.04/EA 09.50 AA 09.44
I made a lot of flights this trip and even my friends couldn't follow what I had to do in Cologne while the only places I really had to visit were Toulouse and Budapest, but one of the reasons was a promotion of Germanwings with tickets for 19 euro per sector including tax. You had to be quick to log in (I believe a month ago, at 8 PM) and even then I missed out the cheapest fares on one of the sectors as it was taken between the moment I chose the fare and I confirmed the payment, but still my 4 flights were less then 100 euro's including tax. Also I read some enthousiast reports about Germanwings so I was curious to try them. We had to wait in the bus for a while to take us to the aircraft (at the dumpy hangar like terminal, 3 I believe, were the Turkish charters are etc). So priority numbers don't help in this case, for a good seat, position near the exit of the bus. Again, I always get a windowseat on non assigned seating even if I board as the 100s pax as most people keep together in the front.
The interior had Lufthansa style yellow/gray seats, 25 rows one class (so quite OK seatpitch considering some charters cram in 180) and 3 F/A's. As breakfast I took the happy snack for 5 euro which contained a really good cheese/salad baguette, a drink and a candybar of choice.
8.8.03 A-320 D-AIPD Germanwings CGN-BUD 4U780 ED 07.00 AD 07.17 /EA 08.50 AA 08.38
Coming in at the airport at this ungainly hour I was impressed with the Germanwings operation. They have only 9 aircraft and they ALL are scheduled to leave around 7 AM (to CDG, DRS, TXL, MXP, BLQ, BUD, STN, VIE and ZRH) every day, I guess they save of any hotelbills this way. They really keep them busy, at least two make a night flight to Turkey as well returning at 6 AM. Also I like their scheme, the pale sort of silver is quite classy in real, better than the euro white. Guess Virgin setted a new trend with it. It was hazy so I read a bit and before long I was in Hungary.
9.8.03 Li-2 HA-LIX Goldtimer Buo-Buo ED 17.00 AD 16.47/EA 18.00 AA 17.46
The reason to come to Hungary was to fly the rare Lisunov 2, the Russian built DC-3, which was beautifully restored last year. Airevents.de is organizing flights in the most bizarre types and destinations so I can recommend to check their website. Budaors is an old fashioned small airfield in Budapest, the runway is of leveled grass only, and you could just walk on the area passing a bunch of An-2s, Let-410s and smaller aircraft with noone bothering. Try that in the US. On the tarmac I met Sebastian, the organisator, and a bunch of German, English and Irish spotters who would join for the flight.
The cabin was nicely decorated, although the seats, taken from a Malev Tu-134 which was redone in the 1990s detonated a bit, too modern. Some other details were cute though, like the 1950s style seatbelt/smoking placard taken from an Il-18. We took off, the flight was fairly smooth and also the engines seemed less noisy then on my other DC-3 flights I had taken earlier (Dutch Dakota, Era Classic and Air Atlantique). We followed the Donau river upstream to the north for a while and had a good view of Budapest, the castles and buildings at the river side, I guess our hight was around 600 meters. The navigator, a man in his 60s, was standing in between the pilots all the time, even during take off and landing, as there apperently wasn't a seat. We slowly lost height I noticed around 17.10 and did a low pass at an airstrip named Estergom, with an unbelieveable sharp pull up at the end of the runway. Didn't know a DC-3 could climb so fierceful. We returned in the direction of Budapest again near the Donau and the pilots were allowed to do a flyby at Budapests main airport. Around 17.37 we made another low pass and an extreme sharp turn around the tower. The flight attendant handed out small bottles of nice substitute champaign at 17.40 when we headed back to Budaors. Great sightseeing flight on the only airworthy Li-2 of the reported 5000-6000 built !
9.8.03 Partenavia 66 HA-ACD pvt Buo-Buo AD 06.39, AA 06.53
While usually I don't care much for airplanes carrying less than 10 pax, the pilots who loitered around at Budaors offered flights in a multitude of aircraft. For 50 euro you could fly as single passenger in an open air doubledecker (Red Baron cartoon style, forgot the type) but I decided not to. The Partenavia (6 seats) at least is a twin engined plane and would cost only 21 euro a person so when some other spotters bought a flight I decided to join as well. Again a spectacular short flight, we had a low pass (litterally 2 meters above the runway) on a deserted wartime runway on the other side of the Donau and also we flew over the Donau at only about 50 meters for a while, lower then some of the surrounding hills. Try all stunts like this in the US nowadays....
11.8.03 A-320 D-AIPH Germanwings 4U781 BUD-CGN ED 09.20/AD 09.33 , EA 11.10 AA 10.58
Again a 320 but luckily another different one, the Cologne Bonn logojet. Also a bus boarding ruining your boarding number, but I chose the aft stairs and got a nice 20A seat. We followed the Donau (or another river, don't want to bother to check the atlas) for a while, the people on the right side could see Vienna and I later saw Nueremberg en Frankfurt airport tiny below us.
11.8.03 A-319 D-AKNJ Germanwings 4U406 CGN-CDG ED 19.10, AD 19.39 EA 20.20, AA 20.23 seat 19A
To my relieve this was finally an A-319 after 3 A-320s. The seats were grey leather (like the ex Lufthansa A-320s) but the grey had a slightly more silverish colour, and with purple strips I guess they are germanwings purpose designed. The seatpich was disappointing though compared to the A-320 it only had one row less and 144 seats.
This aircraft had IFE though, on the flip down screens (which the 320s didn't have) the safety demo but also short featured about Edinburgh or so were shown. I didn't really look as I didn't bother to buy headseats (like 1,50) for this short flight. Like all my Germanwings flights it was filled with around 100 pax, making a 2/3rds occupancy. This first evening flight was also my first late Germanwings departure, probably because an aircraft can accumulate delays over the day. In the unusual hot and hazy Paris, the approach was choppy. All in all I was impressed with Germanwings, their catering is nicer and cheaper than our UK LCC friends, the aircraft look clean and classy. The cabin crews weren't particularly friendly or chearful though.
12.8.03 BAe-146 EI-CZU Cityjet-Air France AF2240 CDG-AM S ED 18.40 AD 19.25, EA 20.00 AA 20.12
I chose this evening flight to get something else then the usual Airbus or 737 back to Amsterdam. I can't find any documentation of the registration, I hope it's a recent addition and not a writing mistake of me.
Another late departure due to late arrival and another annoying bus procedure. I can't understand why airports make this bus boarding so cattleish and force elderly people to stand up in a sweaty bus for 20-30 minutes.
Again only about 30 passengers. While the jet was in full Air France colours, the operation had an Irish flavor. The French spoken by the crew was clearly a secondary learnt language (better than mine though) and the name of the captain was something like McRyan. There were cold but no alcoholic drinks served AFAIK and bags of chocolate chip cookies or pretzil kind of things (but three rounds of these so you could get enough calories as a small dinner of it). Hazy outside, but I was surprised to see us land at the new "Polderbaan" runway at Schiphol, my first landing on it. It is 5 kilometers from the airport but the taxiing to the gate didn't took as long as I expected, I think we were at the terminal within 10 minutes, quicker then it would take at CDG.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
Patroni From Luxembourg, joined Aug 1999, 1403 posts, RR: 15 Reply 1, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 2456 times:
interesting trip report again. You are really cruising around in Europe... AMS-PAR-TLS-PAR-CGN-BUD-CGN-PAR-AMS wow...
Would have loved to be on that LI-2 flight as well, but well, one can't have everything
I am glad that you liked Germanwings! From my experience on other European low cost carriers (Ryanair, EasyJet, Hapag Lloyd Express, FlyBE) I think they are the Mercedes (or Rolls-Royce, or whatever..) amongst the LCCs. For me, only FlyBE comes close, with the plus of seat allocation but the minus of the very worn BAe-146.
Speaking of that, in what shape was the Cityjet BAe? I flew with them in 1997 (I think) from LCY to DUB, still in Cityjet colors, and the aircraft looked like from a museum, needing a restoration....
MEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4117 posts, RR: 37 Reply 3, posted (9 years 9 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 2398 times:
thanks for the feedback
Thomas, the 146 actually look quite fine and clean in- and outside, no complaints, but I guess they refurbished it when they took it in service recently. It has a 6 abreast seating configuration which is a tad cramped for a 146, I almost forgot about that after flying Lufthansa, DAT and Crossair, although LH seems to revert to 6 as well.
re EI-CZU, given the fact EI-CZO has only been registered in march 2003 I still guess it's a true recent registration. But if no other sources report it by next month I guess I should admit my mistake.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (9 years 9 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 2398 times:
Great report, enjoyed it thoroughly! You Europeans are soooo lucky with all these different LCCs to choose from. Guess I'm lucky to live here and join in the fun.
So priority numbers don't help in this case
LOL, they never work on my flights too! I wonder why they bother in the first place? Maybe just a cosmetic thing...
I agree with people on 4U - I definitely enjoyed my two flights with them (STN-CGN-STN, A319 & 320). With me, it was mainly the joy of flying an Airbus LCC instead of a 737....the rest (pretty colours, different seats etc.) is not really a big deal with me (although nice change to flying something British or Irish).
BTW, with respect to your Airbus factory tour - you mentioned the fact that you couldn't understand everything that was being said in French (my French is bad too). Are these tours exclusively in French language? This is more of a curiosity, as it would not of course stop me visiting Airbus.