Sabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 6293 times:
Rome Fiumicino – Brussels, SN Brussels Airlines, Monday 11 July 2005
Welcome to Part 2 of my Alitalia and SN Brussels Airlines experience to Italy!
For those who have missed the first part: feel free to read it here.
Rome Fiumicino, Monday 11 July, 2005
After a rush to security, I was delighted when I saw that the one-and-only security counter for transfer passengers to the B-Gates was empty (last year, I was stuck in a huge queue over here). Going through security literally took only a few seconds, and I was on my way to my first SN Brussels Airlines flight of 2005. I checked the flight information screens, and gate B1 was assigned for Estail 3182. So I proceeded to gate B1, where everybody was just being moved to another gate, namely B6. At this point, I knew that our flight was going to be delayed, as a gate change 20 minutes before departure indicated that the aircraft had only arrived by now (we would have known it earlier otherwise).
I used the opportunity to explore the terminal a little. Among the interesting aircraft were a Qatar Airways AB6, Emirates B773, Aerolineas Argentinas B744, and I saw an Air China B744 arriving in the distance. Photography is not recommended as you will most certainly get troubles with the Police, and the windows are dirty anyway (which makes photography registration spotting a pain).
Although we should have left 20 minutes ago by now, no delay announcement had been made yet. The flight was still shown as being on time on the information screens as well.
A boarding announcement was made at 18:20, which resulted in a rush to the two ladies checking the boarding passes and passports. No queue or any order whatsoever, our gate had changed into a mess consisting of wild animals trying their utmost to get on board as soon as possible, even by pushing other people away. Most passengers on this flight were tourists I think, judging from their clothes for example.
Two very friendly female flight attendants welcomed us on board, with a friendly “Good evening Sir”, and by offering us a choice of newspapers (please SN, also add De Standaard or De Tijd to your choice of newspapers instead of only a tabloid like Het Laatste Nieuws!) and the inflight magazine ‘Connect’. Also available for free is Newsweek.
The cabin filling up with passengers on this full flight:
A funny coincidence: the Alitalia A321 on which I had arrived about an hour before, was parked on our left side! X-Ray Golf pushed back shortly afterwards, and I took the following picture of her:
(my apologies for the dirt on all pictures, caused by a very dirty window)
One of the female flight attendants wished all SN Brussels Airlines and Alitalia passengers welcome on board during her welcome announcement. She announced the name of the Captain (Joeri Van Leeuw??), the flight time, and wished us a nice flight.
Two remarkable things about all the announcements during the flight:
1) all announcements were in four languages: Italian, French, Dutch and English. No tapes or whatsoever, everything was fluently announced by the flight attendants);
2) when an announcement is made, the flight attendant making the announcement will always look at the passengers. They stand near the first row, and make eye-contact with the passengers. So you really feel being spoken to. This is one of the several little things which sets SN apart from lot’s of other airlines in my opinion.
Also important was the next announcement: an explanation of the delay. Instead of the usual ATC-excuse, they explained what really happened: due to two missing passengers on the BRU-FCO flight, a lot of luggage had to be offloaded before they had found the luggage of those two people. This was the cause of the 30 minutes delay on arrival.
Pushback was only a few minutes away, and one of the flight attendants walked through the cabin with an Italian newspaper to check whether any of us wanted one. Again a nice touch!
We were off blocks at 18:46, and started taxiing to the runway shortly afterwards:
We lined up on Runway 25 after the take off of I-JETA, a B732 of Air One, and started our take off at 18:58.
Rolling at RWY 25:
Rotating, with interesting aircraft like a BV B763, MK A343, CA B744, AZ B772 etc. visible in the background:
And climbing out above the Tyrrhenian Sea, almost immediately after take off:
We were 20 minutes into the flight, when the cabin crew started the meal service in Economy Class. Instead of the Alitalia-style (i.e. throwing some dry cake or sandwiches at the passengers), the SN crew really delivered an exceptional service to the passengers. “Please Sir, enjoy your meal”; “Alstublieft, smakelijk eten”… Those little touches make a big difference in my opinion.
The service concept in Economy Class on SNBA flights is called ‘Brussels Bistro’. You get a hot meal on flights lasting longer than 2 hours, and a cold option on shorter flights.
My hot meal consisted of pasta with chicken in a vegetable sausage, Balkan salat, crackers and a Milky Way. The taste was excellent!
Drinks were served shortly after I received my meal, and I went for the red wine, a Côtes Du Roussillon. Have a look at the plastic cup, “Drinks are on the crew” is written on it – nice touch!
Throughout the meal service, I heard quite some positive feedback from passengers who had enjoyed the meal! I always like to check the reactions of the other passengers on SN flights, as positive/negative feedback is the only way to improve your product and to make necessary changes.
About 20 minutes later, the crew had collected all rubbish, and they came around for a second drink service. I know that SN serves several alcoholic beverages in C-class, but not in Y. An example is Baileys, so I asked the male flight attendant for a Baileys. “Sorry Sir, but we do not have Baileys on board, only red and white wine”. Wrong! He was very friendly, and correct as well: if you give a Baileys to one person, you have to offer it to the other passengers as well. Sorry to the flight attendant, it was only a little test to see your reaction
A third drink service (mainly for people wanting coffee or tea) followed about 15 minutes later, and I ordered a coffee, which was a great way to finish the nice meal. After I had finished my coffee, I relaxed a little bit to further enjoy the last 45 minutes of the flight, and 15 minutes later, the Captain announced that we were about to descend. He also gave us some information about the weather in Brussels, and finished with ‘bye bye’.
The weather was quite bad, when the Captain announced our descend:
Starting our descend, together with a left turn:
At this point, the flight attendants approached the passengers with connections (again a nice touch!). Not the passengers had to take the initiative to get more information about their connection, but the cabin crew did: good service! There were a few people on board with a very tight connection to Bristol for example.
So we had started our descend already, when the cabin crew came around with Neuhaus chocolates. A nice way to end your flight!
We were in our final approach right now for Runway 02:
You can see the new “Bocht van Nossegem” on this picture, allowing a fast train connection between Leuven and Brussels Airport from December 2005 onwards:
And… touch down!
The crew thanked us (in 4 languages) for flying SN, and wished us a very nice evening.
While disembarking, I heard several people thanking the crew for the nice flight. I did the same, and told them that I was going to write a report about the flight. I referred them to luchtzak.be and airliners.net, so I hope that they will see this report! I will also contact SN Brussels Airlines Customer Service, as a good crew deserves good points!
I hope that you enjoyed this trip report as much as I enjoyed this flight! All feedback is welcome as usual…
Kappel From Suriname, joined Jul 2005, 3533 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 6240 times:
Nice report, thanks!! I keep hearing good things about SN, I guess I should try them out soon! How is the seat pitch on the Avro's?
It is indeed a nice touch to get an explanation of a delay. On my last KLM flight they also explained the delay in detail (bird strike on take-off) and the captain even explained why there was so much turbulence!! Very nice. This in contrast to IB when they do apologise for the delay, they never explain anything.
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4696 posts, RR: 42
Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 6039 times:
Thank you for finally finding some time to write the conclusion of your Rome report. My comments can only mirror the ones I have read before about your national airline: it is remarkable, how it is possible for an airline in such a competitive environment to offer a highly attractive short haul Economy Class product like this.
Do you have the latest financial figures about SNBA? I seem to remember that they are doing fairly well overall, but I suppose this is in large parts because of the profitable Africa network inherited from SN? How are the European operations going?
For the sake of some quality and dignified cabin service ewithin Europe, I keep my fingers crossed that SNBA will flourish and not get gobbled up by e.g. our "beloved" national carrier, which has the habit to really dumb down the products of their affiliates until they reach the same marginal level like itself.
... and now to some BD reports from you! I'll keep my fingers crossed for those.
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
ZRHnerd From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5995 times:
I was waiting for this one since i read your outbound flight reports Great report as always, the service on SN really reminds me of LX, mostly the chocolate at the end or the announcements in 4 languages (on SWISS: English, French, German and Italian on European flights)
The last fiscal year (2004) they reported what I believe is their first profit of 1 million euros. And I believe this year is going better. Ever since they started up, each year has been an improvement ove the previous one.
From their latest press release, issued on September 1, 2005:
The consolidated first half-year figures (January-June 2005) have been presented to the Board of Directors of SN Airholding. They represent a positive net consolidated result of € 15,2 Mio.
- These figures represent, after amortization of goodwill, the 6 months result of SN Brussels Airlines as well as the result of Virgin Express and its subsidiary Virgin Catering as from the 1st of April 2005, date of its integration in the SN Airholding group.
-This result also includes financial benefits of approximately € 10 Mio, linked to the dollar evolution , the positive fuel hedging effect of about € 4 Mio and € 4,6 Mio related to an exceptional dividend paid by SIC (Sabena Interservice Center) through aircraft lessors.
- From the figures it can also be deducted that the common ownership of SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express resulted in approximately € 12 Mio synergies, mainly achieved during the second quarter of 2005. This clearly demonstrates the validity of the acquisition of Virgin Express.
Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 3): I seem to remember that they are doing fairly well overall, but I suppose this is in large parts because of the profitable Africa network inherited from SN? How are the European operations going?
I have no information about how Europe and Africa are doing in terms of profitability unfortunately
Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 3): ... and now to some BD reports from you! I'll keep my fingers crossed for those
Thanks! Expected trip reports:
1) BRU-LHR-MAN-LHR-BRU on BMI
2) BRU-LHR-BRU (not sure yet whether I'll write a report about this flight)
3) BRU-MUC-BRU on LH/EW
4) BRU-CPH-BRU on SN
5) CDG-AMS on RG (hopefully )
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 6): I have never flown on SNBA but it seems that they offer a very good Economy Class product, the meal is looking excellent for a intra European flight.
FLIEGER67 From UK - England, joined Sep 2003, 5186 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5849 times:
very interesting report, good to read and good pictures.
Never flown SNBA till now, it sounds like it is a good alternative on classic european services.
I will flying next month CTA-FCO on AirOne and hopefully catch one of these
rare B737-200´s. It will be one if OAG´s flight information system is correct.
PS: After my BD experience last week I agree with Jens/TRISTAR 500 and wait for some of your further stories!
SK601 From Belgium, joined Jun 2005, 976 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5846 times:
The last time I flew with SN, it was still called SABENA. I flew them just before they went bankrupt. At that time it was like a LCC, we just got water or juice and a small (really small) bag with pretzels. I was not impressed at all, rather disappointed, the crew wasn't friendly at all, maybe because of the circumstances of SN at that time.
After reading this report, I think SN is on the right path. I hate more and more those companies that will give you the impression of a FULL service company, but are becoming more and more a copy of U2 or FR (for example KL, LH, IB, OS, SK, BD a.o.).
Let's hope SNBA will expand their network (AMS??), I like to try them out!
Edit: Forgot to mention: Frederic great report + pics!
Sabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 5709 times:
Thanks again for the nice feedback
I returned from Copenhagen yesterday evening, again a fantastic SN-experience.
Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 8): this could become some kind of running gag, like me and my A318, which took me several attempts over more than one and a half year before I finally got that bird in July 2005
Another 'funny' Varig story: I called them last Thursday to ask where my ticket was (they were going to send me a paper ticket). "Euh... ow yes, actually we hadn't issued your ticket yet. Will do it as soon as possible". They had forgotten to print my ticket and mail it to me. If I hadn't phoned them, I would never have received my ticket before September 13. I got it yesterday.
Difficulties all the way to get on an MD11
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 9): I will flying next month CTA-FCO on AirOne and hopefully catch one of these
I hope it for you as well! I did a "Mission B737-200" on Ryanair together with Apuneger and Turbotrent back in 2003, and we were succesful on both flights! Our flight from DUB to EDI was even operated by the Vodafone B732. Good luck with the AP B732!
Quoting Taichen (Reply 11): BTW, is KL still offering some kind of catering on European legs ?
Yes they are. A full bar service, together with a sandwich (and a few other items, depending on the flight time and time of the day). Check http://www.airlinemeals.net for some examples.
Quoting Apuneger (Reply 12): Good to read that SNBA continues to keep its economy product on a high quality level. I still remember our flight last year, also FCO-BRU.
All other SN flights I had till now had the same high quality level. PS: guess who was the purser on my flight; a small hint: think about the MD11 and Qantas
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 13): I have to correct myself. I already flew on SNBA, a few A.netters can confirm that because they were on the same flight
Udo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5698 times:
highest Belgian trip report quality, as usual! Great pictures too!
SNBA's service is very impressive, good to see that in these days of LCCs (including certain very crappy ones) conquering Europe.
Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter): Photography is not recommended as you will most certainly get troubles with the Police, and the windows are dirty anyway (which makes photography registration spotting a pain).
What the hell is the Italians' problem? I have heard several times before that they don't even tolerate registration spotting at FCO. Some kind of annoying "I behave more important than I am"-mentality.
Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter): the SN crew really delivered an exceptional service to the passengers. ï¿½Please Sir, enjoy your mealï¿½; ï¿½Alstublieft, smakelijk etenï¿½ï¿½ Those little touches make a big difference in my opinion.
Wow, I can't even remember any longhaul flight where I ever heard that...
Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter): The service concept in Economy Class on SNBA flights is called ï¿½Brussels Bistroï¿½. You get a hot meal on flights lasting longer than 2 hours, and a cold option on shorter flights.
I'm wondering how many airlines still serve hot meals on European services?
Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter): My hot meal consisted of pasta with chicken in a vegetable sausage, Balkan salat, crackers and a Milky Way. The taste was excellent!
And it looks excellent, too!
Quoting Sabena 690 (Thread starter): Have a look at the plastic cup, ï¿½Drinks are on the crewï¿½ is written on it ï¿½ nice touch!