BrusselsSouth From Belgium, joined Aug 2001, 632 posts, RR: 5 Posted (10 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 4663 times:
After our wedding on May 29th, my wife and I went to honeymoon to the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, just west off the coast of Morocco. Lots of charter flights link every day Brussels with the islands, but I thought it was better to have a regular flight for a honeymoon, so I finally booked (online) with SN Brussels Airlines and Iberia, via Madrid. As we wanted to visit three islands (Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura), I also booked two boat trips (with Trasmediterranea) and an inter-island flight with Binter Canarias, along with cars for each island. I must say that everything went fine beyond expectations, and we definitely had an unforgettable honeymoon. In order to fly on as much aircraft types as possible, I should have booked my return flight from Tenerife-Norte instead of Tenerife-Sud (B747 or A340 flights) but I realized this too late, so I finally flew mostly on 757s. I share below the 'aviation' part of this trip.
From : BRU - Brussels, Belgium To : MAD - Madrid, Spain Airline : SN - SN Brussels Airlines Flight : SN 3719 Aircraft : Avro RJ-100 OO-DWG (CN E3336) Date : May 31st, 2004 Departure : 07:40 (on time) Arrival : 10:00 (on time) Load factor (estimated) : 60%
After having spent the night at the Sheraton Brussels Airport (where there are no spotting possibilities, but it didn't matter as there are other things to do for a first night of honeymoon...), we just had to cross the street to enter the departure hall of Brussels Airport. The airport was quite busy but we had absolutely no queue for check-in since lots of check-in counters were open for any SNBA flight. We got our boarding passes both for the BRU-MAD and the MAD-TFS legs then proceeded without any problem through security, making our (very long !) way to the 'Pier A' from where the intra-Schengen flights are departing. We had a breakfast in the bright, modern terminal before boarding our Avro RJ (first time for me !) via the airbridge. I sat in a comfortable leather seat, just behind the wing on the starboard side. We pushed back right on time, taxied fast to runway 25R and took off through an overcast morning sky. Service on board was friendly and efficient, we tasted the 'Brussels Bistro' catering of SNBA which consisted (in Y-class) in a hot toast with eggs, bread, yoghurt and orange juice, while the F/A's were serving drinks. The view over Paris was amazing, with CDG airport, ORY airport and the 'Champs Elysées' clearly visible. The approach and landing on runway 33 at sunny MAD were smooth and on time, we stopped at a remote stand and reached the terminal by bus. We spent 1 hour and half spotting the intense traffic before boarding Iberia's Boeing 757-256 'Panamá'. Funnily, there were some gate changes, and the gate number written on the boarding pass I got in Brussels had nothing to do with our flight.
From : MAD - Madrid, Spain To : TFS - Tenerife / Sur (Reina Sofia), Spain Airline : IB - Iberia Flight : IB 972 Aircraft : Boeing 757-256 EC-HIP (CN 29306 - LN 920) 'Panamá' Date : May 31st, 2004 Departure : 12:00 (on time) Arrival : 13:55 (on time) Load factor (estimated) : 95%
We were seated just behind the R2 door, with someone else occupying the window seat :-( On IB's 757s, the safety demonstration is made in Spanish and English with drop-down LCD screens every 3 rows, those screens are retracted for take-off and landing, and are deployed again in flight showing entertainment programmes). We took off from runway 36L and were soon served our lunch (cold sandwiches and drinks... including spanish wine which I tasted). Sadly enough, Iberia suspended free meal service on European (and domestic) flights the very next day, meaning we had to pay to eat for our return trip. After an uneventful flight, we reached the Canary Islands, enjoying a nice view of Lanzarote, then landed on TFS runway 08 (after a rather short base leg and sharp 90 degrees turn). The weather was sunny but windy, and we were at that moment the only aircraft on TFS apron.
From : FUE - Fuerteventura, Spain To : TFN - Tenerife / Norte (Los Rodeos), Spain Airline : NT - Binter Canarias Flight : NT 415 Aircraft : ATR-72-202 EC-GRP (CN 488) Date : June 13th, 2004 Departure : 10:40 (on time) Arrival : 11:30 (on time) Load factor (estimated) : 90%
Flying an ATR in the Canary Islands is a real pleasure from an enthousiast's point of view as the weather is usually quite windy, giving nice turbulences from take-off till landing. Fuerteventura airport is small but modern, the check-in was fast and friendly (the agent did not bother me for my slightly overweighted case), and there are security checks for each check-in counter (but there is no passport control for domestic flights). The departures hall gives excellent spotting opportunities (with overview of the apron and runway). Among others I watched Islas Airways ATR-42 (to LPA), Binter ATR-72 (to LPA and TFN), Fischer Air B737 (PRG) and DutchBird B757 (AMS). We boarded our ATR-72 on time (by walking on the apron from the terminal to the aircraft). The crew (2 F/As) made a fast safety demonstration and we took off from runway 02 (one of the FAs was not seated when the take-off run began...) with turbulence beginning as soon as we were airborne. On board the service was good for such as short sector (free chocolates, free sweets, free local newspaper) but outside it was cloudy, except when we reached the island of Tenerife, where we enjoyed a great view of the capital city, Santa Cruz. We touched down firmly, walked to the baggage reclaim hall where, surprisingly, we had to wait a while for our bags to come.
From : TFS - Tenerife / Sur (Reina Sofia), Spain To : MAD - Madrid, Spain Airline : IB - Iberia Flight : IB 977 Aircraft : Boeing 757-256 EC-HIT (CN 29310 - LN 938) 'Guatemala' Date : June 14th, 2004 Departure : 14:50 (on time) Arrival : 18:30 (on time) Load factor (estimated) : 90%
Tenerife/Sur (Reina Sofia) airport is mainly used for charter flights bringing tourists from all over Europe, although there are also some scheduled domestic flights to mainland Spain and other Canary Islands. The terminal is bigger than at FUE or TFN, with lots of check-in counters, shops and restaurants. For our flight to Madrid, Iberia used the check-in counters 1 and 2 (as well as boarding gate 1...). Once again, we got our boarding passes until Brussels, and once again, they didn't care for my 2 or 3 kilos overweighted case. Once you pass the security, you get good views of the entire apron and runway, which gave me the opportunity to spot some traffic (among others LTU A330, Volar A320s, Spanair A320s, Air Europa B737-800s, Neos B737, Eurofly A320). The Iberia Boeing 757 (EC-HIT) for our flight back to Madrid landed one hour before our scheduled departure. We waited for our boarding time eating pizzas and visiting the shops. We then boarded 'Guatemala' on time and after a short taxi and the usual safety briefing we rocketed off runway 08, enjoying great views of Tenerife Island until the sky became overcast. As I explained above, all on board catering was now paying (although not too expensive); the LCD screens displayed entertainment programmes during the whole flight but the most beautiful sight came when the clouds broke just before we reached the southern coast of Spain. Approach into Madrid was scenic although a little bumpy, with a firm landing on time.
Time to go back home on board my third Iberia 757 in 2 weeks, after a 30 minutes delay, one gate change, some much overpriced pizzas and a nice bus ride to a remote stand. The highlight of this last flight was without a doubt the sunset over the Atlantic (we followed the west coast of France, then flew over the west of Paris). Flying over Belgium at night is always enjoyable given the numerous lights along the dense highways network. Actually the country is known for being easily recognizable from space at night... Being at the end of their day, the F/As looked really tired, but stayed friendly. After a smooth landing on runway 25L, a fast taxi to 'Pier A' and a VERY long walk to the baggage reclaim hall, we finally ended home around midnight.
As I wrote above, we had an unforgettable honeymoon. Everything went perfect and I'd definitely fly SN Brussels Airlines, Iberia or Binter again. All the flights were right on time (except this small delay for MAD-BRU, but not much to worry about). The service was always friendly and attentive, and the planes reasonably clean. At MAD, I had to be careful for numerous gate changes, but if you check the screens from time to time, this is no real problem.
I'd give :
SN Brussels Airlines : 9/10 (excellent punctuality, comfortable planes and really good service including hot meals in Y-class. I wish them the best.). Iberia : 7.5/10 (I sometimes heard negative comments about them but for me everything went fine. No more free meals on European flights is the only disappointment). Binter Canarias : 8.5/10 (they do a great job linking those windy islands with their ATRs. Friendly and attentive service, good punctuality).
I hope you enjoyed reading my report, feel free to comment.
Taichen From Spain, joined Jul 2001, 219 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (10 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4450 times:
I found very interesting that you had flew IB on the first day of their new horrid inflight "service" for sale. Did they made special announcements ? Did people buy meals onboard ?
I found also funny that you found it "not too expensive". IMHO Iberia's new "food for sale" menu is badly designed, there are just too few options (which are not very interesting) and surelly they are very overprized. Funny enough, alcoholic drinks (whisky etc) are cheap.
FLIEGER67 From UK - England, joined Sep 2003, 5212 posts, RR: 54
Reply 2, posted (10 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4428 times:
we share our experiences on Binter this month with exactly the same opinion.
Good and interesting report.
Whats about the fare on your Binter flight, was it the same as on my flight or do you find any special deals there?
BrusselsSouth From Belgium, joined Aug 2001, 632 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (10 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4390 times:
Thank you all for feedback,
I did not fly with Iberia on the first day of the new (lack of) service, instead I flew them on the last day of free service and again 2 weeks after the introduction of the new catering concept. So no special announcement. As for the choice, the menu is indeed poor, and when my wife wanted some chips, there weren't any left... The price may be high, but is still lower than on most LCCs. And yes, some passengers bought food although not the majority (and in most cases, only snacks and drinks).
I don't remember the fare on Binter exactly, but it was something like yours (I'll check it when I'm back home). I know it's cheaper for Canarian residents, just like for their competitors on inter-islands flights, Islas Airways (ATR 42s).