PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11560 posts, RR: 62 Posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 8181 times:
So, there I am sat in my Deputy Heads office discussing my UCAS (universities) application form and being asked questions for my reference when I just happen to mention that I am studying Antonio Gaudi for Art. “Well, you want to get yourself down there to Barcelona don’t you, as quick as possible and see his work for yourself” was the response! Having checked I had heard him correctly my thoughts turned to flights, unfortunately I had used nearly all of my leave from work meaning a full weekend was out of the question, so some time off school was needed, things were getting better! I’d be flying out on the Sunday and back on Wednesday, after a few hours searching I found BA were the cheapest, followed by Iberia and then KLM who I selected so I could fly via AMS. I didn’t book them straight away, which was fortunate as work then decided that I couldn’t have the Sunday off, so I had to think again. In fact I left booking anything until 6 days before my departure, KLM were by this time too much, the best offer being with LH via FRA, total cost £173.10.
After another very boring weekend at work I was glad to get back and finish packing up my, rucksack, camera bag, laptop and case, had to put the laptop in my case in the end. So, at 11pm I set off for the coach station in Plymouth, surprised to see that my coach had already arrived, and that it was already full. The driver helpfully pointed across the car park to another bus, mumbling something about the f***ing driver refusing to move because he didn’t have any paperwork to tell him he should. It turned out National Express had managed to book 20 more people that they could actually fit onto a double deck bus, and then produce just the one single deck coach. Great work They got it sorted out in the end and NX404 left Plymouth at Midnight, just 15 mins late. Now, the other bus, which I was on, was hired in from a London company, and the guy driving had no idea where he was going, forgetting to go via Totness, Paignton and Torquay before getting lost in Taunton, but somehow we made it to Heathrow almost on time.
Monday 28th November
Collecting my tickets at the LH counter took a little longer than usual, as I’m under 18 I got my mum to pay for them on her card, apparently LH have a problem accepting third party card payments meaning they had to phone through to her bank and get permission to issue me my tickets, which was done in the end. Check in itself was simple, 5 desks open and no queues, made sure that I got a window seat on both flights. I had to take my case to check in Gate X which was a new experience, then I headed up to the car park for a while before proceeding through to departures in T2 and then on to T1 to bag some registrations. Photography was out because it was still dark, but managed to get some shots later on back in T2 at the gate.
Push back was dead on 9am, this morning’s flight was almost full and most of the delay had been finding room for all the hand luggage. As my first time on LH I wasn’t sure of the attitude to photographers, so I waited until all the FA’s were seated before getting my camera out, had some nice view of all the construction work going on around LHR and several dozen heavies parked at T3.
Take off’s were on 09R this morning, not long to wait, just a couple of BA A320’s and a BMI A321 in front of us and then we were away. Had a good view of T4, including the daily KLM 763.
The cloud layer over the whole of Southern England was very low today so the sunlight was soon pouring in through my window as we climbed. As soon as they were released the FA’s commenced the in flight service, a selection of drinks were offered and the choice between a ham and cheese roll, I opted for the ham which was very nice and a glass of water.
Throughout the flight I kept my camera handy and took lots of pics, this I soon realized this was alarming the guy sat next to me who was under the impression I was a terrorist. Once I’d talked to him he realized I was just an enthusiast and relaxed, do I really look like a terrorist? Approach into FRA gave some great views of the city, despite the weather, and touchdown on 25R was hardly noticeable.
After taxing towards the terminal we had to wait for a while for the gate to become vacant, I think it was A15, but not entirely shore. Parked up with D-AILY in the background.
By the time I was off the aircraft and had negotiated my way around the customs area and transfers area there was still nearly an hour before my next flight boarded, plenty of time to explore the airport.
This was the flight that I was really looking forward too, I hadn’t been on an A300 since the early 90’s on Monarch. The gate was very crowded, and boarding began at 12.30. For some reason the security alarm went off and then could not be turned off, I feel sorry for the gate agents who had to stand right next to it checking the boarding passes. This time I checked as I boarded that I could take photographs, FA’s didn’t mind at all which was good.
View of the gate from my seat.
Pushback was at 13:10, slight delay due to some no-shows having their bags off loaded , otherwise it would have been a full flight. Taxi was brisk, passed a wide selection of LH’s fleet on the way and we were soon lining up on runway 18. I had forgotten how good this old bird was, very powerful and enjoyable takeoff!
Again the cabin crew were very efficient with the in flight service, had exactly the same meal choices, again I had the ham roll washed down with a beer, I was surprised that it was in a glass bottle, much nicer but thought it presented too much of a security risk in this day and age. The F/O came and gave us an update of our progress, heading over Southern France with about 45mins left to run and I took some more pics.
We landed on Barcelona’s new 25L runway, a very hard landing, the whole cabin really shook when we touched down and full reverse thrust was applied. Part of the reason we used this runway was because the use of 25R was restricted after previous evening a KLM 734 had skidded of it whilst landing. All I can say is every cloud has a silver lining, if I hadn’t been made to work on the Sunday I would have been on that flight from AMS, at least no one was seriously injured.
As a result of this and the ongoing alternations to the taxi ways at BCN it took us a quarter of an hour to get to the terminal, I was the last to leave the aircraft, the crew asked to tidy up before I took this shot!
The luggage took a while to appear, and there was no sign of any customs officers when leaving the airport. Then off to the train station, and within an hour I was in my Hotel room after about 18 hours of traveling and no sleep since Sunday morning.
Thursday 2nd December
After a very enjoyable few days in Barcelona learning lots of interesting things about Gaudi I reluctantly had to come home, Spain is defiantly my favorite country, so much more relaxed than the UK! Again, I took the train from Barcelona to the airport which for 2.10 Euros each way is a real bargain.
The queue for check in was nearly out of the terminal, but I was almost 4 hours early so I sat down until it shrank a bit. As I got about to the halfway stage they opened another check in desk just for my flight to FRA, the funny thing was that nearly everybody in front of me joined this new line, staying where I was proved the best option and I was at the counter in no time. The girl on the desk seemed a little confused, maybe new to the job and forgot to give me a window seat for my FRA-LHR flight. Decided that there was no point going back outside to take photos now, so I went straight up to customs. I got as far as the officers when I remembered that I had forgotten to post my cards, something I’m always forgetting to do! This caused a little confusion and meant that when I reappeared a few mins later I was thoroughly searched and had my bags examined including camera equipment. Still had a couple of hours to kill so I took a wonder around the terminal, one of the best in the world I think.
I was hoping that I might get another chance to fly the A300, but when the incoming flight arrived it was the scheduled A321. Boarding was prompt, again I stayed seated until the very end to save waiting in line for ages, the flight was completely full, and most passengers had far too much hand luggage, all of the overhead bins were filled. My seat was at the back of the aircraft, it took me a while to get the woman sat in my window seat out of it and into her correct seat, which turned out to be in another row entirely. In the end take off was delayed because some second pieces of hand luggage had to be tagged and placed in the hold because there was not any more room left on the aircraft. The aircraft was very clean, inside, outside and most importantly the windows
There were no other aircraft waiting to take off when we reached runway so as soon as an Iberia A320 had landed on 25R we were cleared for take off on, very smooth rotation and powerful climb out over the sea before banking hard to the right and heading North.
The service on my return was the same as the outbound flights, the pilot informed us just prior to take off that it would be the First Officer flying the entire sector and of our routing, over Southern France, across Switzerland, Zurich and finally up through Southern Germany to commence our decent into FRA. About half an hour into out flight the sun started to set, projecting some wonderful colors onto the clouds below us.
Shameless plus I know, but this one is my first shot accepted on Airlines.net
Flying over Southern Germany and into our descent we experienced some pretty rough turbulence, all FA’s were asked to be seated by the captain and seat belts sign remained lit for the rest of the flight. Our approach into FRA itself was very impressive, at one point I counted 11 other aircraft in the sky around us, could easily identify a Germania F100 flying underneath us. We landed on runway 07R, quick stop with lots of reverse thrust and taxied straight to gate A52. I knew this time that I did not have a lot of time to make my connection for the flight back to LHR, took a while to get off the aircraft because of being at the back, watched my luggage being taken off and laid on the tarmac beside the aircraft, slightly confused by that but the reason would become clear later.
It wasn’t far this time to customs, I asked the guy if he would stamp my passport to show that I’d been to Germany, but he made it very clear that he could in no uncertain terms do that, and as he filled most of the cubicle he was sat in I wasn’t going to argue!. Slightly out of breath now, having run all the way I checked the Departures board to see which gate my flight to LHR was leaving from, yeap gate A52, same aircraft that I had just got off, which was more than a bit annoying. When I got there, only a couple of other passengers had arrived, so I sat by the window and watched them preparing the aircraft for my onward flight. I tried taking some more photographs, but it was pitch dark by now so all I got was reflections.
Again, this flight was nearly full, pushback was slightly early although we had to wait in line to take off for a while, gave some great view of the aircraft on the cargo ramp including CA B742F, LH MD11 and the new Italian operator Ocean Airlines with its sole B742F. We took off on runway 18, lots of turbulence during the first few minutes but this soon gave disappeared once we reached cruise, the pilots were the same on this flight as they were previously, this time with the Captain at the controls. Unfortunately the food was not the same, everyone was given a small triangular packet of sandwiches, not much difference between the bread and the cardboard packaging, it was only sheer hunger that made me eat them. Luckily though, they had beer on board which made them taste a little better.
We reached London in about 40mins, the pilot gave us another announcement that it was very busy and we would be held in stack over North East London for approximately 15 mins. Central London was looking very festive, lots of Christmas lights, really putting Plymouth’s to shame (although that’s not hard), one street had half a dozen search beams rotating from it, great effect from the air! Finally we were cleared to land on runway 27L, came in quite fast I think, and used about three quarters of the runway to stop.
Terminal 2 was very busy, interestingly a China Southern A343 was parked at one of the gates, thought they operated from T3? We had to wait for another LH A320 aircraft to vacate its gate before we could pull in, and then as soon as we had stopped everybody seemed to get up at once, regardless of weather they could actually move anywhere. Immigration was fairly busy, and by the time I reached the reclaim hall the first bags were orbiting belt 3. After raiding the nearest shop for chocolate and edible sandwiches I headed for the central bus station. Normally the coaches are late running South, but mine turned up early and at bay 7 not 15.
Rather stupidly I thought I might be able to get some sleep on the way back home, not likely! One of the most annoying things National Express bus drivers do is come back from London via the A303 not M4/M5, it is I know a slightly quicker route but is a much rougher ride for us passengers, which this time included two screaming babies. There was also something was wrong with the engine’s turbocharger and the bus driver seemed to like classic FM a little to much, broadcasting it to the entire coach! Boy was I glad to see my bed when I eventually got back home at 3am!
So, in conclusion this trip was a lot of firsts for me, first time on LH, first time in Germany (if only for a very short while), first time I’ve been into the city of Barcelona and first time I’ve gone anywhere on my own outside of the UK for more than a day trip, but it was a great experience! I was very impressed with the service LH gave me, ok there were a few glitches but on the whole I found them friendly and reliable. Before leaving I had mixed feelings about their seating, but having used them, I found them more comfortable than when I have traveled BA/IB.
Thanks for reading my first trip report,
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
MIAspotter From Spain, joined Nov 2001, 2633 posts, RR: 25
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 7747 times:
Brilliant Trip report!
Seeing those pics bring back lots of memories! I flew on Easyjet from Luton to Barcelona at the end of September. and funny enough I took that train on the way back hehehe.
I agree with you about Spain being a more relaxed country than the UK, and Barcelona is by far the coolest, nicest, and most amazing city I have been to. In fact I just came back on wednesday after spending new years there, trip report on Ryanair is to follow shortly.
P.S. Very freaky to know you could have been on the KLM flight that skidded off the runway.... lucky!
Trintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3217 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 7209 times:
That was a well-written trip report PlymSpotter. I enjoyed the detail, especially the train to the airport BCN from the city - 2 Euro 10c each way! That is a real bargain especially when compared to the Heathrow Express rip-off.
Too bad about the lack of the German passport stamp but that's Schengen for you. Additionally National Express does do lots of strange things. When I returned from POS last month they actually had 2 buses at 1200HR numbered 201, one for Cardiff only and one for Newport, Bridgend, Port Talbot and Swansea. The trouble was that there were too many passengers for the multi-stop service so that the Newport passengers had to be accommodated on the Cardiff bus. Nonetheless, the Express is a cost effective means to LHR and LGW.
PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11560 posts, RR: 62
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 7034 times:
Cheers Trintocan, National Express are a lot better than they used to be, some of their routes are franchised out to other companies who didn't really care about the passengers that much, but after a few bad PR instances they tightened up and improved their service. Sometimes they would even change drivers at the wheel!
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
Mighluss From Spain, joined Oct 2001, 935 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (9 years 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6157 times:
Great report! Lucky you to have the opportunity to take the LH A300! I took once LH to AMS (via FRA and MUC) and did all the possible to take it, but prizes made it impossible. Glad you had a good time in BCN! the photo of the train station is a real classic for me... jejejee! yes, the prize is quite cheap, but the service could be a lot better.