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as I saw "this topic" in the forum, I came to my mind again where I've thinking about more times in the past: to fly the Varig MD-11 from CDG to AMS. Till this day I didn't found any time left to do this.
Last Tuesday I called my companies ticketing office to prepare a staff ticket for Air France AMS-CDG and Varig CDG-AMS on July 21. On Wednesday, I picked up the tickets from our office After this, I made a phonecall with our local AF office to list myself on their flights, and got a confirmation email from RG/AMS with my pnr numbers. So here I go...
Thursday July 21, 2005
I woke up at 5.30am to have a little breakfast and dress myself. After driving to my work at the airport (I can park my car for free there), which took about 10 minutes, I took the staff shuttle bus to Schiphol's terminal 2, were the KLM/AF check-in desks are located. I walked one of the many check-in computers which are available nowadays. But, when the machine read my passport, it seems a problem was here. So, no boardingpass yet, I walked to the check-in counters. As it was very calm at this time, I was called immediately by a very nice and kind KLM ground staff. She checked my name but it seemed the listing (which was done by AF/AMS) didn't came through in the systems. After puzzling around for about 5 minutes to find my name, we came to the conclusion that I was actually listed under another name, due to the real one was mis-spelled Ok, no probs anymore, I got my boarding pass without a seat (as I was on standby list) for the 08:55am AF flight. The KLM ground staff told me that this flight was overbooked with 7 pax. So, no seat for me that time. Backup was the 40 minutes later 09:35am AF flight also to CDG. This route is served so often nowadays, many choices for me
I walked to the boarding gate C05 from where the 08:55 flight was scheduled to depart. The new terminal layout in this area is really good looking in my opinion!
I found out this flight was to be operated by a Airbus A319 aircraft, and it was quite busy with other people there waiting for this flight. I showed myself at the counter, and again a KLM ground staff helped me very kindly. She told my that I was having a seat on this flight, but because she was busy with other things, she promised me to handout the boardingpass at a later stage. So, I took my seat and after 20 minutes waiting and reading newspapers (all offered by KLM-AF at the gate, international press also) she called my name on the intercom system that my boardingpass was ready.
Boarding started at the same time, so I queued the line to enter the aircraft.
Photo © Jp lemaire
Flight: AF1141 AMS-CDG
Aircraft: F-GRHM Airbus A.319-100
Seat: 22A Economy Class
STD: 08:55 ATD: 08:58
STA: 10:10 ATA: 09:48
The flight was really packed, and after all it seems to me around 5 seats remained unused on this flight. A lot of African, Muslim and other international people were on the aircraft, probably to make connections at CDG, or after their USA-AMS flight with KLM and on to France. I was lucky to have my windowseat now! After a short taxi to runway 24, we made a rolling takeoff. After being airborne, the famous spotting place at Amsterdam Airport was visible as you can see on the picture! It was very quiet there... unbelievable! Spotters, where were you??
Soon after takeoff the seatbelt sign was switched off, and the inflight service began. Everybody could make his/her choice from Tea, Coffee or Hot Chocolate, and to eat between a croissant or Danish Roll. That's all Even little son KLM does better nowadays on short European flights! But anyway, I've nothing to complain about, and made some pictures out of my window.
In the meantime, the aircraft was already decending into CDG airport, and way beyond schedule we touched French soil on runway 26L. Landing was done very very smoothly!! Well done by captain Mr. Bonet
After a quite long taxi around terminal 2, we came to a stop at the modern eyecatcher terminal 2F. It took some time for me to disembark this plane, as I was seated in the rear of the cabin, but never mind. I had no big plans for today. The weather was nice, and this afternoon I would have a nice ride home on a widebody...
I took the free shuttlebus to terminal 3/Paris by Train terminal from were a short walk will bring you to the famous field near the 2 taxiways. This place is located in between terminals 1 and 2. Always loads of interesting traffic can be seen from here. A few more people were making pictures here already, and did as well a little later...
For about 4 hours I saw a good variety of different aircraft, including:
Air Tahiti (340),AC (762/763),DL (763/772),CO (772),SV (772),GF (332), MU (346,M1F) etc. etc.
I was about 2.00pm now, and I decided to walk back to terminal 3, to catch another shuttlebus to terminal 1 this time. Varig flights depart always from the very old looking terminal 1. In my opinion, this building is ready for a controlled dynamite explosion Please build something new!! It was busy.... very very hot inside, and as always, difficult to find anything were you're looking for! Anyway, it was less then 2 hours before my departure to AMS, and I saw Varig check-in was at bay 2B. I walked to it, and one, North African looking Globeground male staff was sitting their, making a phonecall on his cellphone I walked to the counter, and he immediately stopped his phonecall and was willing to help me I told him that I was standby on the flight, but he said always many seats are available on this flight to AMS. He called the RG/CDG office to ask if he was ok to give me a seat already at this time, and so he was. I got my boarding pass, which was with securitynumber 1 I walked to departure level, on the spacious looking walkways up. What!! I saw a huge crowd of people waiting for passport control RG departs from the international terminal, together with EK and UA at this time, so no way for me as EU citizen to proceed quickly... It took me about 45 minutes to come through the control area.
Now, I was hungry and bought a 'baguette au thon' (tunafish) and a coke for about EUR 7.80 They're crazy with the prices for the food in France as well!!
When I arrived at satellite 1, from where the flight should depart, I noticed the incoming flight was delayed with about 1 hour. Scheduled departure to AMS was at 16.00pm, but the inbound aircraft from POA and GRU came actually in at 16:15pm.
After being on blocks, some cargo and the baggage was offloaded. That's all about the handling at CDG, and boarding started at 17:05pm.
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Photo © Alexander Jonsson
Flight: RG8720 CDG-AMS
Aircraft: PP-VQK McDD MD-11
Seat: 15J Economy Class (free seating)
STD: 16:00 ATD: 17:38
STA: 17:10 ATA: 18:46
After boarding with another 14 passengers for AMS, I saw a very big mess in the cabin which was originating from POA and GRU. Cleaning will be done at AMS. I wanted a seat just in front of the wing, and I took seat 15J. Row 15 is the first economy class row on this aircraft. It's next to the engine. Headphones were provided to enjoy some inflight audio on one of their 12 channels. Doors were closed at 17:26pm and pushback started 12 minutes later. The aircraft taxied to runway 26R from were a rolling takeoff started! Wow!! What a power in such an empty three-holer . The flight had a total of max 40 passengers on board today, so that's almost empty! Even sooner then a B737 or small Airbus we got off the ground and we climbed like a rocket!
After a right turn we quickly reached our cruising altitude and engine power was reduced. The flight attendants came around with a sandwich and orange juice. Which was quite nice of course, and much better as the service on AF.
I listened to some music and had some walks around the cabin. This MD-11 looked quite wornout to me. Some seatscovers were torn, business class looked terrible with broken seats, and what I've written already, it was a big mess inside. Anyway, this was not a problem for me on the 40 minutes flight.
I made some more pictures from out of my window.
Decend was done quickly into AMS. The weather was completely overcast here, with rainshowers and 16 degrees Celcius outside temperature. When the aircraft came under the cloudlevel, I found out that we were heading for a runway 27 approach at AMS. Passing over lake 'Markermeer' and the A9 highway we were quickly lowering our altitude. A while later, we smashed hard on the concrete of the so called 'Buitenveldertbaan' and the aircraft quickly lowered his speed. At this time, 2 Brasilian pax already walked to the front cabin and just waited at the No. 2 left exit . It didn't bother the crew at all. Is this difference between European and South-American airlines??
The short ride to the G-gates brought the aircraft to final stand G03. About 90 minutes behind schedule, I was back in AMS. My homebase
I had a great day myself, Varig is not that good as some would maybe expect of this Star Alliance member, but for me on this short flight, they've done very well!
I hope you enjoyed reading this report. I can recommend this flight also to anybody else who would like to enjoy a flight on a MD-11.
[Edited 2005-07-22 21:44:46]
[Edited 2005-07-22 21:47:42]
[Edited 2005-07-22 21:48:56]