Sabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (10 years 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4101 times:
After covering the first part of our (Sabena 690 and Apuneger) spotting trip, it’s now time for part 2: MXP-MAD on Alitalia and MAD-PMI on Air Berlin!
Thursday July 15th, 2004
This trip report starts at the point where we have completed our MXP spotting, to go to our gate. Info about MXP spotting has been included in the first part of my spotting trip report.
Before the flight
Our assigned gate was A22, and when we arrived, the counter had just opened and our flight was called for boarding. No plane but a bus was waiting for us, as our plane was on a remote stand.
Ivan and me proceeded to the counter (where very few passengers were waiting, no surprise as this flight was very open in CRS). The gate agent took my ticket, and something very nice happened: he tried to put my boarding pass in a machine, but there was a problem! For some reason, the machine couldn’t read our boarding pass (issued by SN Brussels Airlines for this Alitalia flight). So the guy printed a new boarding pass. 2 boarding passes…doesn’t this sound nice? So he prints the new boarding pass, and at the point that he wants to throw away my original boarding pass, I ask him whether I could keep it, and he agreed! This means that I now have 2 boarding passes for the same flight
Afterwards, we proceeded to the bus, and the bus kept waiting till all pax had boarded (as the plane was lightly loaded). The drive to the plane was quite long (didn’t mind, as we passed nice Alitalia Express stuff), and after some time, we arrived at our MD82.
Mc Donnell Douglas MD82
Seat 09A, later changed to 19F
Departure time scheduled/actual 14.35/14.53
Arrival time scheduled/actual 17.00/16.33
I entered the aircraft via the stairs, and once on board, I was not welcomed by the cabin attendant at the door. She was just standing there doing nothing… I said ‘good afternoon’ without a reaction. Another cabin attendant was standing in the end of the C-class cabin. I said ‘good afternoon’ but also didn’t get a reaction.
Due to the light load, all passengers were seated quickly. The guy sitting besides me arrived, and I wished him a good afternoon, also without a reaction. Was everybody having a bad day??
For some reason, the whole middle section of the MD82 was empty while the beginning of the Y-class section contained the biggest part of the 42 passengers on board, with the others (about 15) sitting in the back. From where the decision to put everybody besides eachother instead of spreading us in the cabin? I would be surprised if this has something to do with trimming the aircraft.
We started taxiing to the runway while the cabin crew was giving a safety demonstration. Also during the demonstration, they gave me the impression that they weren’t enjoying their job.
At 14.52, we started our take off-roll, and off we were after 40 seconds!
Only a few minutes after departure, the woman captain welcomed us on board, thanked us for flying Alitalia, gave some flight information, and wished us a nice flight. At least one member of the crew seemed to be in a good mood.
When the seatbelts-signs were turned off, me and Ivan moved to the back of the aircraft. I took 19D-E-F and Ivan 20D-E-F. Due to the good seatpitch of AZ, and all the space we had due to the light load, this was a very comfortable flight.
The ‘service’ started 15 minutes after take off. And old steward who seemed to be very bored handed out Alisnack-boxes. Handing them out is an euphemism – throwing them at the pax fits better. When he reached my row, he said something in Italian. I answered him: “Excuse me?”. At an annoyed tone, he replied again something in Italian. I answered him: “Sorry but I don’t understand you”. He didn’t bother to ask again in English, he just gave me a sandwich. Later, I found out that he had offered me a choice: a sandwich with meat, or a vegetarian sandwich. Amazing that he was too lazy to speak English.
They came around with soft drinks (I took a coke), a few minutes later, they came around with a coffee/tea service. The cabin crew seemed not to like their job at all, this was the worst crew I ever had on a flight.
About the meal: AZ have drastically reduced their service level in comparison with 2 years ago. What we got was a small soggy ham sandwich (with some kind of cheese in it), and a small cake. This for a flight with a scheduled flight time of 2h25min.
TO BE ADDED SOON
We were 30 minutes into the air at this point, and the rubbish had just been cleaned. This was also the last time that we saw the cabin crew before the landing. No 2nd drink service, just nothing. They went to the back to chat with eachother.
One hour later, we left our cruising altitude, and started our descend into MAD. The views throughout the flight were very nice!
Approach went fast, and at 16.33h, we touched down after flying just besides a maintenance where 2 IB B742’s were stored.
We vacated the runway, and passed the huge number of JK + IB MD80’s.
The cabin attendant at the door wasn’t interested in greeting the passengers. Oh well, I hadn’t expected anything else.
After following the exit-signs, we proceeded to Terminal 2 in the hope to find ‘Boulevard Barajas’ as soon as possible. After a 10 minutes walk, we finally found what we were looking for! At the 2nd floor of T2 is a small street with shops, called ‘Boulevard Barajas’. At the end is a big seating area of a cafetaria with excellent views of the apron. You see all planes landing, + every plane that taxies to/from the gate has to pass the cafetaria (with the exception of the Air Nostrum-aircraft, but you see them landing). We spent a few hours over there, saw some nice aircraft (the 3 DC8’s of Cygnus Air, EC-IYB A332 Air Madrid, OK-SWY Smartwings B737, 2 B747’s of Aerolineas Argentinas, a Helvetic F100, and some other nice stuff).
Afterwards, we went outside to catch the free shuttle service to our hotel. We had booked the Tryp Diana, a 4-stars hotel, for only €50 for a double room (inclusive a free shuttle service that runs very frequent). Already 10 minutes after we had left the cafetaria at the airport, we were at the reception of our hotel! The rooms were big and clean. I added the hotel information (and will do the same for PMI) for in case somebody wants to visit MAD airport.
Friday July 16th, 2004
We woke up at 7.30am because we wanted to be at the airport around 9am. After a good shower, we went downstairs to have breakfast, but we quickly returned after we saw that the price was €15! Food enough in the cafetaria at the airport for a much better price!
We checked out, took the hotel bus, and 10 minutes later, we were again in the cafetaria! The views were again excellent, but the temperature is VERY hot when you sit in front of the window between 9 and 12am, because the sun shines just in your face.
Some nice visitors: XA-TOJ Aeromexico B762, N421AV Avianca B762, EC-IOO Air Pullmantur B743, RA-85810 SU Tu154, SU-BMM AMC A300, PP-VOI RG MD11, EI-DEY Meridiana A319, CC-CQE LanChile A343, EI-DBE EUJet F100, XA-JBC Aeromexico B762, …… Needless to say that MAD offers a nice mix of traffic.
After a nice day, we went to the check-in counter of our Air Berlin flight to PMI, where a friendly agent checked us in. I took 12A, and Ivan took 13A. He wished us a nice flight, and we proceeded to our gate. I asked him the number of pax booked on the flight, and 166 pax were booked.
After walking around a bit in the terminal (views of the arriving aircraft were good), we went to our gate. Boarding started on time, and we were bussed to our aircraft. D-ABBJ was going to operate our flight, and the aircraft was parked quite far on a remote stand near a maintenance hangar of IB (a B742 was standing inside), and just besides was a Cameroon Airlines B752 TJ-CAG. The aircraft was there for reparations after (I think) a tailstrike as the aircraft had gotten a new undercarriage in the back.
About the flight
I was the last one of the first bus to board the aircraft, and just when I wanted to go inside, I heard a heavy aircraft braking. I had a look, and it was I-VLEE, a Volare A330! I wrote the aircraft down in my logbook, went inside the plane, and was greeted by a very friendly cabin attendant who offered Air Berlin-sweets and some newspapers!
Air Berlin AB4741
First flight February 03, 2003
Delivered February 19, 2003
Departure time scheduled/actual 17.50/18.07
Arrival time scheduled/actual 19.10/19.05
The cabin looked very fresh, was very clean, and was equipped with nice screens. While going to my seat, I was greeted by another very friendly cabin attendant.
Everything was excellent, except the seatpitch. It may be due to my length, but my knees were pressed in the seat in front of me. Seatpitch was about 28-29 inch.
The second bus arrived, and the cabin filled up till the biggest part of the seats were taken.
Doors were closed, engines were started, and we started taxiing to 36L for take off. In the meantime, we were welcomed on the PA by the purser, and the safety demo was played.
The service started 20 minutes after take off, and AB impressed me again! Not only were the cabin attendants very kind and friendly, they also handed out a nice sandwich and a drink for free (yes, AB offer meals included in the price!).
Here is a picture:
PICTURE TO BE ADDED SOON
In the meantime, the captain came on the PA and gave us the most complete announcement I ever heard, even including the runway we used for take off in Madrid! He thanked us for flying on Air Berlin, gave information to the pax with connections, wished us a nice flight and ended with: “Enjoy your evening, thank you!”.
All too soon, we started our approach to Palma De Mallorca (after enjoying the very nice views below us). We overflew the island at a low altitude, and a nice view was the Air Berlin B738wl passing us first in the opposite direction, turning for finals afterwards just behind us!
We touched down, and went to the terminal area used by Air Berlin.
Air Berlin impressed me a lot! The combination of on time flights, professional and friendly cabin crew, and the good service, made up for an excellent experience! Well done AB! Next time I need a domestic flight in Spain, AB will be my first choice, even when they are slightly more expensive than the competition!
Spotting was difficult, but I managed to write down the AB + FlyNiki aircraft, and some others like G-GSPN (a FlyGlobespan B737, a lot of Britannia’s, a Volar A321 EC-IXY and some other nice stuff).
We looked around in the hope to find a spot to see the aircraft at the other side of the airport, but without any luck unfortunately.
After going to the exit, we took a taxi to our hotel, Hotel Helios, located near the beach of Can Pastilla.
More about our hotel (located very good for views of the airport), and more about PMI spotting in Part 3, also covering the 2 Iberia flights from PMI to BCN and from BCN to MAD, + some info on BCN spotting!
I hope you enjoyed this report, and all comments are welcome as usual!
FLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5167 posts, RR: 55
Reply 2, posted (10 years 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3931 times:
I enjoyed reading of your story very much.
Your report is the direct comparison between the classic old airline way, AZ and the new, fresh way,AB. It seems AB wins with an extreme advantage.
Best regards and hope to read the next part soon,
EZEIZA From Argentina, joined Aug 2004, 4967 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (10 years 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3909 times:
Great report! Not surprised by the AZ on board personell. I've had horrible experiences with them as well. About 10 years ago, on EZE-FCO MD-11, when they were offering some magazines to read. I asked them for one and the guy looked at me for a few seconds and replied "read the one the person next to you is reading"! Obviously I did'nt know the person next to me! Oh well.. but I must also say that on some ocasions I've recieved excellent service, especially the last time I flew AZ (LOS-ACC-MXP); effiecient and friendly crew.
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3890 times:
excellent report as always, I enjoyed reading.
I am surprised that I read so many bad things about your AZ experience, until now I flew twice on them and both flights were perfect, I really have no reason to complain. I second your AB experience, this airline is simply perfect when it comes to price/performance ratio, I also noticed that their crew is very friendly and helpful.
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4695 posts, RR: 42
Reply 7, posted (10 years 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3859 times:
Thanks a lot for the second part of your spotting trip around Europe! And like Markus/ FLIEGER67 has already mentioned, your report is a wonderful comparison between the so-called "national carriers" and the new, lean and mean "low cost airlines".
Although my personal experiences with AZ are, just like in Patrick's case, very good, it seems like you really picked a bad crew for your flight. It is interesting to note, however, how important friendliness and attentiveness of the cabin crew are for the overall rating of an airline.
My experiences with AB are mirroring yours: I have flown the airline for almost 15 times this year already, chiefly on business trips to VIE, and they beat every self-proclaimed "quality carrier" (LH, VO, OS) I have flown on the same route by a large margin. Makes one wonder, how long our beloved "national carriers" will be able to ignore the dangers by their competitors...
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
Sn26567 From Belgium, joined Aug 2004, 131 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (10 years 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 3815 times:
Thanks for excellent report, Frederic. But I get used to that now
About AZ: I would also be in bad mood, knowing the situation of the company. But I would not show it to the passengers. The flight attendants must make good impression on the pax to entice them to fly again with the airline. That is something that Eastern Airlines in the US had well understood, shortly before their demise.
About AB: I am as impressed as you are. Are the crew German or Spanish? It does not make much difference when it comes to the results: a nice flight. But since Air Berlin seems to operate more flights in Spain than in its native country, it is important for me to know.
Nowhere in your report do you mention the price you paid for the tickets. Will that come in part 3, which I'm expecting impatiently.
Sabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (10 years 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 3803 times:
Thanks for the comments!
You are very right! Except for the on time performance (never got a big delay on the 6 AZ flights I've taken so far), AB beats AZ in every aspect! Of course, I can only speak about my experiences. 1 AB flight certainly isn't enough.
AB impressed me so much that, if I would be able, I would go out of my way to DUS to take AB! Unfortunately, this is no option yet for me. They also fly one of my favourite aircraft (the 737NG with winglets).
MAD is very good for spotting indeed! A small recommendation: if you really want to see the interesting traffic, try to be there between 9am and 2pm. That's the time for the South American carriers (arriving) and for most flights to North America (departing).
The South American carriers leave again between 10 and 12pm, so it's impossible to see them leaving (with a few exceptions).
I've flown AZ 6 times in total, and on 5 of those flights, the crew varied from OK to good. The MXP-MAD was my first flight with a bad crew.
@Patrick: am surprised that I read so many bad things about your AZ experience, until now I flew twice on them and both flights were perfect, I really have no reason to complain.
Did you fly AZ a long time ago? Because I recently noticed a big reduction in inflight services. The comparison with 2 years ago (in terms of inflight service) is almost shocking.
I second your AB experience, this airline is simply perfect when it comes to price/performance ratio, I also noticed that their crew is very friendly and helpful.
Exactly my thoughts!
Have a nice holiday by the way!
It is interesting to note, however, how important friendliness and attentiveness of the cabin crew are for the overall rating of an airline.
I can't agree more! It is understandable that a bad crew is a reason for certain people not to fly an airline again (from there the importance to have good crews). I will personally fly an airline again even after a bad experience (one flight is not representative).
About your VIE-experience on AB: I can only second your thoughts! AB is very high on my list of favourite airlines.
The crew were German speaking, and so were the newspapers offered on board (no English newspapers).
But since Air Berlin seems to operate more flights in Spain than in its native country, it is important for me to know.
AB doesn't have that much domestic flights in Spain. They offer connections (mostly only 1 daily flight) between PMI and ALC/BCN/MAD/...
Nowhere in your report do you mention the price you paid for the tickets.
In case anybody is interested in the prices, here they are (per person all inclusive)
x AZ BRU-MXP-MAD-FCO-BRU: €198
x AB MAD-PMI: €29
x IB PMI-BCN-MAD: €100 (was originally booked on UX with a cheaper fare, but we had to rebook on IB due to a big timechange)
The price of this trip inclusive flights and hotel was about €420.
Ba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8539 posts, RR: 54
Reply 10, posted (10 years 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3774 times:
Part 2 was most enjoyable. It's really nice and easy to read. Having been spotting to both MXP and MAD it really feels like i'm there with you - and yes,the viewing area/cafe in MAD gets darn hot!
I've not flown AZ since '92,they were quite good back then,flew the trusty old DC-9-32 (I-RIZB) from CDG to TRN and another from MIL to ZRH,both in Business class,very nice flights,also flew an MD-82, and my first MD-11 flight,ROM-MXP,my shortest widebody flight!
MarcoB2 From Italy, joined Aug 2004, 37 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (10 years 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 3701 times:
on AZ are you sure you were saying "Good Afternoon" at loud voice? They maybe didn't hear you! Or you might have picked up the wrong crew.
Even thou Alitalia isn't going too well, I've always found the crew the most warm and friendly than all of the other airlines. I've been flying MXP-JFK and back 3 times a year for several years, and the crew is always great!
The crew loves talking to pax during those long flights. It's in our Italian DNA.
One crew member even told me he knew some cool people in NYC that he could introduce to me one night! Of course we didn't get together, but at least it's something that crew members don't do very easily.
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4695 posts, RR: 42
Reply 14, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3601 times:
Just one more question. I will be flying AGP-MAD-AGP on a short daytrip (and in order to try out JK and UX for my next report) on September 8. How is photography from "Boulevard Barajas"? I know that you are a reg spotter, but maybe you can give an estimate whether it is worthwile to take pictures from up there. Thanks!
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3563 times:
You certainly seem to have enjoyed your spotting opportunities in MAD. MAD is one of my favourite airports; I love seeing all the Iberia heavies plus the very diverse mix of traffic from Latin America; I always find the departure boards there so interesting, with flights to Quito, Mexico, New York, Johannesburg, Cape Verde...
Air Berlin sounds like a very professional outfit. I must say, on the whole, I am impressed with German airline service. I've flown LH longhaul to Argentina (really good) and Germanwings in Europe (also really good). It seems AB provide the same high levels of service. Germany is underrated in many ways, not just in terms of airlines.
As for Alitalia. Oh well, what did you expect from an Italian airline? I flew them from LHR to CTA (via MXP and FCO) about 2 years ago (Airbus & MD-82) and their cabin staff looked really bored. When I asked for orange juice I got cranberry juice instead. I guess I was just too amused to say anything...
Pe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19227 posts, RR: 52
Reply 21, posted (10 years 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3477 times:
I enjoyed reading all of your reports from your spotting trip.
There is superb spotting to be had at MAD, MXP and FCO. It was a shame you didn’t get to visit the excellent areas at FCO, but at least you found the very good spot at MAD. The terminal windows in MXP are superb if you just wish to get registrations.
"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."