Friday June 17th 2005
Depart: 1810L (On Time)
Arrive: 2040L (5 early)
G-ERJC - Embraer 145
I woke up with no alarm at 9am - it's always nice not to have to get up a stupid time for a flight - and made sure I had all my stuff packed, before settling down to do some revision for my A2 biology exam on Tuesday. Though my mind wasn't really in it, I persevered, until finally I felt I had done enough for one day. I ran through the checks of what I needed, and realised my phone wasn't charged, so I put it on charge for an hour, while mooching around, waiting for it to charge. I spent some time going in the loft to find a suitcase padlock for my bag, as I was to be travelling with hold baggage (only problem with having a DSLR - it needs its own bag! And I'm not putting that in the hold!). Eventually I was ready to go, so I said goodbye to my mum, who insisted on waving to me as I reversed my car out of our driveway, and drove away. Anyone would think I was leaving forever or something!
The drive to Manchester was uneventful, and I arrived at Carminder at about 3pm. Before long, I was riding the shuttle to terminal 3 - British Airways and Domestic flights. I walked in to be greeted by a quiet checkin line, and no queue at the fast bag drop. I had checked in online the night before, and so handed my printout to the man on the desk, who asked the obligatory questions and tagged my bag
My Boarding Pass
With just under three hours to kill, I went to the level 13 viewing deck, to observe the movements. Terminal 2 was quiet, with just 2 Thomsonfly 767s, a KLM F100 and 737, Astraeus 737 and an Air France A319. I spent an hour there, and also observed, amongst other things, a Thomsonfly 757, the Malaysian 744, Air Transat A330, Palmair 732 and an Air Berlin 738 with winglets:
D-ABAY approaching parking position
Later I waited an eternity for the lift back to departures via the woefully inadequate lifts, which take an age to traverse between top and bottom. I did eventually make it to departures, however, and decided a coffee was in order. So I visted the cafe Ritazza on the lower level, and observed the movements on the domestic pier - plenty of DH-8 action, as well as an ATR of Aer Arran and a Jetstream of Eastern Airlines. I then proceeded to Terminal 3, to be greeted by an absence of queues at security, so was through in a very short time.
I had no gate for my flight yet, so went to duty free to purchase some P20 - a sun block which costs a lot, but works (I've been sunburnt at MAN before, so Paris in 30ºC heat would have been nasty!). Once purchased, I wandered to a window to see what was going on. Outside the window was G-MANS preparing for a flight to Brussels. I also heard the entire Heartbeat programme on the TV just above my head, though I had no intention to watch it - there was an airport outside! During this time, two Piaggio Avanti's arrived (I-FXRC and I-FXRD), as well as learjet D-CIMM. My flight had it's gate assigned - gate 52, next to a departing Finnair A319. On stand was Embraer 145 G-ERJC
Boarding was announced very soon, and I was 4th in the queue to have my pass scanned. I had to be marked as present on the computer, as the online boarding pass cannot be fed through the magnetic strip reader. I selected a newspaper to read, and walked down the several flights of stairs onto the tarmac. G-ERJC stood in front of me, and I walked across to the door. I entered, and had to duck down slightly due to the low headroom. I made my way to seat 14A, just above the wing, and made myself comfy. It was nice not to have to worry about whether the seat next to me would be occupied
As boarding was completing, I read my paper, and looked out of the window. There were no other aircraft in the international area of Terminal 3, apart from a single Embraer 145 on stand 44. We were soon pushed back, and the safety demonstration took place. We held short of runway 24R for a Thomsonfly 767 to land, before making our way to 24L, where we were the only aircraft, and so lined up immediately. the throttles were increased, and the ERJs FADEC system took control of the takeoff thrust. We rotated opposite the fire station, making use of the long runway, and turned towards HON.
Club World passengers were served first, before those of us in Euro Traveller received our All Day Deli meal - a choice of cheese, or ham and egg sandwich. I opted for ham and egg, and also received a small Genoa slice. The sandwich was delicious, and felt very fresh. As I was eating my sandwich, we flew over LHR. I quickly got my camera out, and snapped a photo.
Once the meal service had ended, drinks were offered. I asked for a beer, and was offered a choice of Grolsch or Stella. I opted for Stella, and got a 330ml can. It was nicely chilled, and very enjoyable. We were now flying over the channel and into France. We started our descent not longer afterwards. The change in thrust was very noticeable - in most aircraft you barely notice such things, but in the ERJ it felt as though an airbrake had been raised the change was so noticeable.
Seatbelt signs were turned on, and the 2 flight attendants made their checks. I had my camera out, and was taking photos, but wasn't asked to put it away. We turned onto the ILS, and flew a triple parallel approach, with an AF A320 and an AF ERJ landing on the 26L/R runways, while we landed on 27L
As we descended, I got a nice view of CDG Terminal 2 with the Eiffel Tower behind, though it was very hazy.
We had a firm landing, and slowed down using brakes only (reverse thrust is optional on the ERJ engines - BA do not have it), passing terminal 1, which has to be one of the ugliest terminals anywhere! I cannot understand the French love of concrete in their terminals; even the relatively modern 2B utilised it extravagantly to the point of ugliness!
We also passed the ANA 747 in the special Pokemon scheme
We were scheduled into terminal 2B, and so we had quite a long taxi, past Terminal 1 again. The ANA 744 had actually been taxiing for departure, so our ERJ and the other 2 aircraft on parallel approach with us were the last 27L/26L/R arrivals before a 09/08 runway switch.
As we taxied, we passed a stockpile of glass airbridges, presumable for use in the T1 refurbishment, as well as the viewing/spotting area, which was very busy!
We also passed the Air France regional apron
We parked behind the 2 Fokkers in the above photo, the only BA aircraft on an apron full of Air France. Engines were shut down, sounding exactly like the Flight Sim ERJ-145 I use. I wanted to be last off, to get a look in the flight deck, and so waited for a while, watching one of the rampers hurl his plastic cones onto the tarmac several times in order to seperate them! As I left, I asked the chief flight attendant if it would be possible to look in the flight deck. She said yes, and opened the door for me to look. I was introduced to the captain and first officer, and shook their hands, and commented on the Embraer and how it seemed like a great aircraft to fly. I asked to take a quick photo, to which the captain agreed:
I had to leave then, as the shuttle bus was waiting for me!
The shuttle bus was a short journey to arrivals. Passports were checked, and I was one of the first at baggage reclaim, where my bag was 6th off the belt, after waiting no more than 5 minutes - that was suprising, considering a) we were in France , and b) we were at a rmeote stand. though I suppose an ERJ with just one trolley of baggage cannot take that long to unload!
I passed through the exit, and made my way to the Ligne 1 shuttle bus to terminal 1, where I was to meat MikeC and Airplanepics, with who I'd be sharing a hotel room in the (quality?!?) Kyriad Le Bourget. However, they weren't due in for an hour and a half on the Varig MD-11 flight from AMS. I passed time by watching the movements at terminal one from the arrivals level, where I found an unofficial spotting location on a traffic island! I saw the MD-11 arrive, and eventually met Mike and Simon, as well as Sander (Aviationfreak) who had also been on the flight.
After an excellent break in Paris it was time to go home. We left the airshow on Sunday at about 4pm, and returned to our hotel just a short distance away, where we had kept our bags during the day, and ordered a taxi to take us to the airport, as we weren't too keen on the idea of taking our bags through to the RER station with the masses of people trying to go the same way!
We took the taxi to terminal 1, where the driver added a generous 5 euro tip to his own fare. It was to be the start of a very eventful night for us! However, first things first - food! I recalled a McDonalds in Terminal 1 from my last visit 2 years ago, practically to the date, and this is where we headed. I opted for a limited edition Canada burger - Swiss cheese, bacon and a cheese sauce on a burger. I have to admit, it was the best McDonalds burger I have ever had - it was fresh, looked resonably like the photo, and was actually too hot to pick up - some thing I had never experienced at any McDonalds before.
After a decent meal (at a McDonalds... seriously!?!), we headed back to the spotter location/traffic island, as Mike and Simon were unable to check in for their bmi flight until the previous flight had departed. At 6pm, we parted ways, Mike and Simon going to check in, and myself to do the same for my BA flight. I was in no hurry, as I had checked in online the night before, selecting seat 3A on the Avro RJ.
I got the Ligne 1 shuttle bus once again, to go on the magical mystery tour to Terminal 2B/D, via terminals 2A/C, terminal 2E, terminal 2F and the TGV station!. The shuttle dropped me off at door 10, midway between 2B and D, and so I had to walk all the way to the BA check in to complete my check in from the night before, as I couldn't print my boarding pass. I got to the self service machine, and looked in my camera bag for my wallet, which I had put in there prior to leaving McDonalds. I couldn't find it. slowly it dawned on my I hadn't actually put it in my bag, but had left it on the tray at McDonalds. Uh-Oh! I was worried. I realised I had no option but to return to T1 via the long, arduous bus route. The bus finally arrived, and I ran round to the lifts to the boutique level. Typically, the lift took an age to arrive, and the McDonalds was as far as you could get from the lift due to the extensive renovations T1 is undergoing currently. As I walked back to the McDonalds, I also slipped in something on the floor, falling onto one of my knee, much to the amusement of people sitting nearby. I was so annoyed at this stage though I ignored the pain and got up and continued - I was on a mission!
I made it to the McDonalds, and queued in the shortest queue, with only one person ahead. Typically, this one person was buying for about 10 people, and all wanted several different permuations of meal. So he had to check the receipt and go over it with the server, while waiting for the assorted drinks and burgers to be ready. Eventually, he was done, and so I went to the server and tried to explain my predicament - "Excusee Moi, I have lost my wallet - I left it on a tray over there" (gesturing over *there*). She didn't understand, and I couldn't speak French beyond speaking schoolboy French (In the classroom is a ruler, a blackboard, a tape recorder etc etc! Useful.). Somehow I managed to dredge the word wallet in French from my GCSE lessons over 2 years ago, and simply said the word "Portefeuille", still gesturing to the tables and saying I had lost it. She understood me, and got the manager of the outlet, who asked me my name, and went for a rummage in his office. At this stage I was in mild panic - why was it taking so long? If it was lost less than an hour ago, how can it take so long? - and was sweating through nerves, and having walked so briskly. Thankfully, the manager returned with my 'portefeuille', to which I uttered a delighted 'merci!'. I decided that this time it was safer to place it in my pocket.
So, back on the Ligne 1 shuttle, complete with all my posessions this time, for the magical mystery tour and to the BA check-in.
I got to the self-checkin machines, and stuck my card in. I got the onscreen message that my booking cannot be completed on the machine, and was told to go to the 'proper' checkin by one of the nearby BA staff. The machine also spewed out a card stating that my booking cannot be completed, along with a code number (245 IIRC) and a description ('Check flight status') which sounded ominous! I went through passport control to the check in (odd system!), where I joined a short queue. This short queue took ages, as the agents seemed to be taking loads of people and their tickets to the ticket sales desk. I finally got to a desk, only to be told to go back and queue as another queue had formed ouside the barriers - god knows why - and so it was another few minutes before I was seen. I handed my passport, and the error card, to the agent, who confirmed I was flying to MAN, and explaned there was a delay, and that I had to go to the ticket desk. Another queue! Once I was at the front of this one, I was told that the flight wasn't delayed at all, but rather the aircraft had been downgraded (I looked on the arrivals computer, which was showing G-MANS as operating the flight - a BAe146 with 2-3 seating, rather than the Avro RJ with 3-3, essentially leaving a column of people without seats (the flight was very busy, being the last flight out before Monday). Thus, the BA agent informed me I was being transferred to Air France, which was timed similarly, except 5 minutes earlier (ha bloody ha...).
After plenty of clicking on his PC, I was sent to terminal 2F for my AF flight. This required a trip downstairs to the transfer checkin, where I handed in my flight coupon and was assgned seat 17E on my new flight (gutted - I selected 3A on the Avro!). With my ticket, I proceeded to a small waiting area for yet another transfer bus - though this was an airside transfer instead. A bus arrived in less than a minute for terminal F, and I boarded - the only passenger! After a short ride, interupted by the driver conversing with another driver, I was at 2F. I made my way towards gate F55, via security, which was completely dead. I was the only person trying to pass security at the time, and so took the wrong line, which was a staff priority line or something. Halfway down, I realised my mistake, but the security guards motioned me over as there was no-one else waiting. My bags went through no problem, and I was through to airside in no time, at which point gate signs became non existant. OK, so it wasn't difficult to find by going up the travellator, but some people may not find it so obvious!
I sat with my back to the gate sign, and go my book out. At about 2045 the agents arrived, and a few minutes later I heard a collective groan from a few people. I looked around to see that the AF1468 - Delayed - Expected boarding 2120
Sunday 19th June
Depart: 2115L (Actual - 2155)
Arrive: 2145L (Actual - 2230)
Airbus A320-200 F-GKXA
Eventually, boarding of flight AF1468 was announced, and I got up to join the queue. I had to give in my BA flight coupon, and Air France boarding pass:
I walked down the airbridge, where my passport was checked again, and walked down the stairs to a waiting bus. I was stopped, and waited for the next bus, which I was first to board. We set off to a remote stand. Throughout the journey I had my fingers crossed for an A318 - but in the evening where nothing was going right, this was yet another hope which failed me. I was greeted with F-GKXA, which I boarded, still with my baggage I was intending to check in at the BA desks, but couldn't due to the transfer.
I wandered down the aisle to 17E, and took my seat. The occupant of 17D was already seated, and the occupant of 17F arrived. This was the one thing to go right for me this evening - he offered me seat 17F, which I gratefully accepted - the flight home wouldn't be so bad after all!
Eventually, all the busses disgorged their passengers, and the door was closed. The safety demonstration was done before pushback commenced, with all the usual stuff (any frequent flyer who doesn't know how to put on a lifejacket or oxygen mask; fasten a seatbelt or look for their nearest exit probably shouldn't be flying, so why they request our attention I don't know!). Between engine 1 and 2 starting, the hydraulic PTU started as per usual, except rather than the quick squeaky sound usually heard, it went on for almost two minutes - causing woried glances to pass between several people on board. It sounded almost as though someone was trying to saw through the fuselage!
Eventually, the hydraulic PTU shut up, and we could start engine 2. Once this was done, we started taxiing to 09R, after giving way to a company A320 and F100. Taxiing past T1 I saw no sign of the BMI A320, so assumed Mike and Simon had departed already. We held short of 09R as a Brit Air CRJ departed, before lining up simultaneously with a BA A321 bound for LHR, which departed before us.eventually, the engines were spooled up, and we departed, slowly. The takeoff roll was long and felt underpowered, but we eventually rotated and started climbing. I got an excellent view below, as there were no clouds over France or southern England until we passed over STN, which I saw out of my window.
We were served a drink (I chose a Coca Cola) and a pack of mixed pretzels and crackers, which I devoured having not eaten since the famous Mcdonalds earlier (I'd have got more food on BA... ). I looked out of the window, and noticed the cloud buildup. In the distance I saw a huge towering cumulonimbus cloud, within which I could see the lightning charging which was pretty amazing. This storm had doused much of the UK, including my home in Morecambe, and MAN, before causing flash floods in Yorkshire, and taking its torrential downpours south.
We started the descent while passing the CB cloud, and encountered some mild turbulence. The captain came on the PA to inform us of the weather in MAN - this was all we heard from the flight deck all flight. We took an unusual arrival routing into MAN, I'm guessing due to turbulence and storms lingering in the area. We finally dropped below the clouds, and I picked out several famous MAN landmarks from the 24R approach, including the B&Q warehouse and Morrisons superstore.
We touched down on 24L smoothly, and stopped using just spoilers and brakes, leaving the runway at the taxiway beyond Concorde. A long taxi to Terminal 2 commenced, passing most of the jet2 fleet, an Alitalia MD-80, Air Berlin F100 and LOT ERJ145, before we parked on stand 211 at terminal 2, next to a Thomsonfly 763 preparing for its next flight.
Disembarkation was rapid once the jetbridge was aligned and the door opened. We left the jetbridge to be greeted by a huge queue for passport control. This took another 15 minutes, during which I recieved a text from Mike saying they hadn't yet left CDG, as the aircraft hadn't arrived (no wonder I hadn't seen it at CDG T1!).
Finally, my passport was checked, and I made it through to baggage reclaim. The one advantage of lugging my bag around CDG and not checking it in was not having to worry about baggage reclaim, which can take an eternity in MAN T2, and so I was through customs and into the arrivals concourse in no time. I found a courtesy phone to contact the car park, and a bus was sent to get me. 10 minutes later, I was in my car and on my way home, where after a brief questioning by my parents was allowed to go an collapse into bed at 1230.
A long weekend, but well worth it!