I travel about once a month to see my father and my 2-years old brother in north-western Spain, Galicia. Until a few months ago, Iberia (and formerly Aviaco) had a monopoly on the MAD-LCG (A Coruña) route, and prices could be quite out of reach for ordinary Spaniards. Hopefully, dynamic Spanair opened both MAD-LCG and BCN-LCG in April, starting a fare war that has been very beneficiary to the flying public.View Large View Medium
For the dates I wanted, Iberia was quoting EUR56, round-trip, and Spanair was slightly less cheap at EUR77, all taxes included. Bad experiences with Iberia will keep me as far as I can from them (when I can afford it), so as always since April I decided to fly Spanair.
19SEP05 - JK6065
ETD 1740 ETA 1855
ATD 1804 ATA 1916
Photo © Javier F. Bobadilla - Iberian Spotters
I work at Madrid Barajas for a handling agent (thus the lack of non-rev tickets on most airlines, incl. JK and IB) at the ticket counter of a major European airline, and on my way from the metro station to Terminal 1, where I was working this morning, I stopped by the Spanair check-in kiosk to get my boarding pass for this evening's flight. The procedure was quite simple and I had my boarding pass in hand in under 2 minutes.
After a hard day's work, I went through security at 1630. There was virtually no-one in line and I was done in 5 minutes. I went straight to the end of the domestic terminal, which has a nice elevated platform with 2 gates, and probably the best views for spotting runway traffic. It's also a quiet area with it's own (clean) bathrooms, and it's always empty.
At 1705, I went to the monitors to check on my gate and as it was already announced as boarding went there quickly. When I arrived at the gate, most people had already boarded the bus and at 17h15 we were already driving to the airplane.
The aircraft was in the ugly Star Alliance colors, with small "operated by Spanair" titles.
I boarded through the rear stairs (I had seat 24F) and was greeted by a smiling female f/a, who was happlily offering to help stowing bags and directing passengers to their seats. The flight was probably not more than 50 pct full and the atmosphere was serene. Although the aircraft is almost 15 years old, the cabin was clean and bright, the carperting new and the seats very comfortabel. Most seatpockets were missing an inflight magazine, but I managed to steal a copy of "Spanorama" from the empty row in front. A transparent curtain dividing C-cl (Avant class) and Y was between rows 5 and 6, but C-cl seemed totally empty.
Apparently, the aircraft is in fact from SAS, hence the Danish registration. This was further confirmed when the Captain came on the PA and spoke only in English with heavy Scandinavian accent. The cabin crew however was Spanish, and made all PA translations.
At 1740, the Purser came on the PA and said there was a mismatch between the passenger count and the list, and that they would need a few minutes to figure it out. 10 minutes later they came back and said we were missing 3 passengers and that we would have to wait until they find their checked bags.
We moved from our stand slightly more than 20 minutes late, and the Purser once again apologized and said that discount vouchers would be handed out to make up for it. Then a flight attendant distributed the vouchers, which give us a 25pct discount on our next domestic flight. I thought that was excellent customer service indeed!
After a smooth take-off in the cloudless Madrid sky, flight attendants quickly passed with the drinks trolley. Since about a year, drinks and snacks are no longer free in Y-cl, f/a's on this flight had no problem actively offering free glasses of water (try that IB). The 3 cabin crew were really nice, and their English was excellent, something rarely experienced with IB, UX or YW.
We landed about 25 minutes late at a Sunny A Coruña, and I was in my dad's car less than 10 minutes after landing.
All in all a positive, stress-free experience with an airline that never disappoints me.
The only worry is that their flights in and out of LCG were never near full when I took them, and I hope they don't close the route in the face of heavy IB dumping.
The return trip was much the same, with the same aircraft (OY-KHP) and this time we were perfectly on-time.