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Exotic: FlyLAL Saab 2000 To Palanga/Lithuania!  
User currently offlineReifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1361 posts, RR: 1
Posted (8 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 16496 times:

Dear A.netters,

after more than a month I found the time to scan the pictures (sorry for partly very bad quality) and I want to share this terrrfic expierience with you. I'll try my best to write in English, although it's not my native language.

Everything startet when once again I was checking Skyscanner for cheap weekend trips. That's where I found FlyLAL, and they had a special offer during the world cup: 100 Litas oneway from Germany to Lithuania (which makes a total of approx. 40 € one way incl. taxes)!

FlyLAL is like the new name of former Lithuanian Airlines and they operate using rather old 737's and a few more modern Saab 2000 Turboprops, mainly out of Vilnius. But on Saturdays, Palanga seems to be the center of all operations with, and this is only Germany, flights to CGN, AND OLD: Munich - Riem (MUC / EDDM) (closed), Germany">MUC, HAJ, HAM and TXL. Just exactly what one needs for a daytrip: CGN-PLQ-HAJ for 80 €! A new
airline which one don't travel with everyday, a Saab 2000 which is also new to me and a tiny airport in a country I've never been! The decision was taken rather quick.

Then I checked a bunch of airline sites in order to find pictures of PLQ, but didn't suceeded. Therefore I checked google images and found pictures of the city and this website: http://www.palangatic.lt/en.php

Wow! Palanga is not just a tiny exotic place but seems to be really an exciting city and beach resort! I decided to stay one night and fly back on Sunday, although I had to fly back to HAM, which would make my way home a litlle bit longer.

Booking was fast and easy on www.flylal.com, I payed using my Mastercard. Then I checked some hotels (rather difficult to find a good overview) and choose the "Bella Vila", which offered the best value for money for 35 €, but I'll write about that later...

The 01st of july came and there we go!



COLOGNE - PALANGA

I used a really early train from Mainz to Cologne and then to the airport. I've never been to CGN before, and although I really enjoyed the modern and bright T2, I thought Terminal one was just an old beton block with not much to offer. And the LH-Check-in counters are really in the last corner of the airport. Didn't really liked it.

So I went back to T2 which was terribly crowded because of 2 Atlas, 2 TK, 1 CO-Flight,1 Hemus and some other. But in the middle of the neverending queues I found our single counter for the Palanga-Flight with just a few minutes to wait. Check-in was handled with Swissport which I always made good experiences with. This time again the agent was really friendly and I asked for a lone (configuration is 1-2) seat in the back on not over the window in order to give me a good viw. She gave me 14A, which was really good. Sequence number was 24. The boarding card is from Swissport and I loved what was printed on it:

While other airports are happy when London LHR are written there, Palanga uses "PALANGA INT AIRP"  Smile Yeah sure, it's rather a hut than an international airport, but after all the only domestic flight is a weekly revenue ferry flight from PLQ to Vilnius.



Terminal 2:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/2199/plq001hx1.jpg

The inbound flight was due to arrive a litle late, therefore I went up to the free observation desk. Nothing big and the views could have been better, but I had to spend some time... I liked the monitors showing departing and inbound flight (with status like "final approach")

Look at the cockpit! The copilot came in taxiing with a German flag out of the window... rather cool  Smile

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/1539/plq002ao0.jpg

And here comes our Saab 2000 in the old Lithuanian Airlines colour scheme!

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/7623/plq003lt7.jpg

Now it was time to go back to Terminal 2 and the security check, which was very fast. Passport control also was a breeze and then down to remote gate D22. On the way there I saw a UM Air Airbus coming in from Simferop in the Autonome republic of Crimea, Ukraine. Remembered me of some nice time I used to spend in Sevastopol.

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/8386/plq004au1.jpg

The first English Fans coming in for the game in Dortmund on Monarch:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/5972/plq005yi2.jpg


Boarding begun on time with a bus.



FLYLAL Flight TE0439
Koeln Bonn (CGN) Departure 10:20
Palanga Int'l Airport (PLQ) Arrival 13:20
Flugzeit: 2 hours
LY-SBC, Saab 2000


When we arrived at the plane we were welcomed by an older f/a. The Saab's ceiling is quite low for 1m85, but once seated it's great. A nice black leather sea with a correct sear pitch. Here a picture of the row next to me (sorry for the bad quality,

but I thought better than nothing):




There was also a second f/a, much younger but a little bit more uninterested... Every announcement during the flight was made from tape in a very limit Englisch and in Lithuanian. There was always an odd sound before the announcement started, a little like when announcements are made in the airport or in a train station i.e... Safety Demo was done manually and then the
engines were started and we started to taxi. On the way I saw the first English Fans on the remote stands: British Midland in Star Alliance scheme, the already seen Monarch as well as a highlight: an EAL 737-200. The flight was fully by the way: 47 Passengers (6 of them infants!) and only economy guests. On the way back there was a business class traveler with special menu, which no one got on this flight.

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/4417/plq006cn8.jpg

As we reached our cruise altitude, service started. Everyone got tea or coffee as well as a botter of water (0,5 liter) sparkling or natural (one could choose). By the way this was free! There was no other food or drinks, not even for purchase.

A little bit later the captain came on the PA and informed us about our cruise altitude 9500 m, our speed 650 km/h and a flight time of 2hours 10mns.

I also loved the toilet. It was not that kind of vacuum toilet you have on the jets, but a classic chem toilet, but it was clean and didn't smelled. Loved also the cute little window (10 cm porthole) in the toilet. One could sit on the toilet and watch the sky and the clouds... rather cool I think  Smile

We flew over land for one hour and then came to the Island Ruegen with views of Stralsund and Binz... The crew brought a meal to the cockpit, it was hot and smelled very good.

Then we passed the Danisch Island Ronne and then announcement about arrival came.

We came in from the south, flew over Klaipeda which looked nice. Approach was really bumpy and got me alittle bit nervous.

The airport is a few kilometers north of Palanga. Therefore we flow over the Beach and the city, between both there is a nice forest. Really beautiful:



http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/9364/plq009md5.jpg


just before touch down:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/7744/plq010zc6.jpg

The landing was quite hard and although the plane braked like crazy we missed the exit and had to backtrack, giving a nice view of the runway (by the way, once a week a 737 from Dublin lands here!!) einmal die Woche ne 737 aus Dublin!!)

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/9278/plq011ho2.jpg

View of the terminal building and the apron while backtracking:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/8813/plq012xp8.jpg

We leave our plane with the old Lithuanian Airlines scheme:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/9167/plq013kw2.jpg

Beneith our plane one could see a Saab 340 of Palanga-based Amber Air which flies to Hamburg:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/8866/plq014qy7.jpg

Did you saw the guy with the Kalashnikov on the left?  Smile


AND HERE AND Irtysh-Avia (Kazakhstan)">IT IS: THE ONE AND ONLY PALANGA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT!:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/8956/plq015th6.jpg

The people on the terrace are waiting for our plane to board in direction Munich with new crew.

The airport is really small but totally modern when it comes to safety, comfort and cleanless. It seems to have been renovated not so long ago.

Here is the tiny arrivals hall with one single convoyer belt and the passport control (sorry for the quality):

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/2261/plq016pm7.jpg

There were two friendly customs officer at passport control, one of them female. I asked the guy for a stamp in my passport, he said "you're European, what for?" and I answered "It's just for me", he smiled and gave me a nice souvenir of my visit:



When you exit the passport control you find yourself directly on the parking...

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/5012/plq019af1.jpg

Airport building seen from landside:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/7240/plq018bw1.jpg

Here the bus I took to go to Palanga. It was an older Neoplan bus, but it was on time, costs 2 Litas. Change can be done in the airport. Exchange rate is fixed and the same everywhere. They earn money with comission, which is really really small,

even in the airport just 1 Lita, which is a few cents...





Directly next to the airport a lake:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/5048/plq20ahl5.jpg




STAY IN PALANGA

As the bus arrived in Palanga I walked to my hotel Bella Vila (http://www.bellavila.lt).





It's situated between the beach and the forest behin and near the town center. It was modern and clean, although my single room was really small. But it was clean, there was a nice shower and I just paid 35 € including breakfast. So I would recommend this.

The hotel rented bikes, so I took one. I wanted to take a ride to Latvia, which is approx 30 km north. I got a nice modern 21-shift-bike and took a nice biking track in the forest to the north, passing some little houses and the airport, as well as

the town of Sventoji north of Palanga.

Loved this sing on my way: Men: Take care not to bath at the women beach  Smile

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/4076/plq036xv3.jpg

On my way a lithuanian cow (I was kind of surprised and confused when she made "moooo"  Smile

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/9583/plq023cx1.jpg


Border control:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/7937/plq022ke3.jpg

behind border control:



I've been in Latvia, and to top this it was on a bike! Customs guide looked surprised and were very friendly but didn't gave

me a stamp.

And back I want, passing the airport back to Palanga. City limits:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/7832/plq024ur5.jpg

I was like 4 hours on tour, came back, took a shower and visited the city.


A nice park:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/2974/plq025mh0.jpg

Church:



Bus station:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/8008/plq027we2.jpg

One can rent these little bikes and collective bikes everywhere here!

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/9418/plq028xl3.jpg

The pedestrian zone, pride of Palanga:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/6097/plq029ds2.jpg

A lot of restaurants and cafés there:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/4729/plq030uq2.jpg


At the end of the pedestrian road, the old Ship embarkation:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/4306/plq033bq6.jpg

Picture taken from the end:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/9566/plq035vw5.jpg

Lithuanian police is modern  Smile

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/3853/plq034dq8.jpg

Beach:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/5944/plq032py3.jpg

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/6810/plq031td1.jpg

Sunset at evening:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/5666/plq037ej0.jpg

In the evening I went eating Lithuanian in a restaurant in the pedestrian zone. Took "Zeppelines". I didn't understood what it is but it seemed like potatoes boiled in hot oil filled with some ham... I didn't really liked it.



The next morning I had a great breakfast in the Bella Vila. Eggs, Sausage, Cheese, Toast, Bread rolls, teas, coffee,

cereales, joghurt... It was great!

I went in the city buying sun glasses, some cigarettes for 12 €, and for a couple of euros two bootles of 0,5 liter Lithuanian Vodka each (one with berries, one with vanilla flavour). I took the bus back to the airport and entered the building. There is a bar and I took an ice tea writing some postcards.




FLIGHT PALANGA - HAMBURG


Departure hall with 2 check in counters (sorry for the quality):

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/9076/plq038ab7.jpg

left of the stairs you can see the security check-in which just started for our flight to Hamburg and an SK-Flight to Copenhagen. In a tiny room behind check-in is done. Here they only screen laguage. On the right of the stairs there is also another counter which is used for domestic flights. But as there is only one in a week I guess they also use the left one and keep the passport control counters unattended.

And here the departure board with the proof, on the left button you can see it despite the bad quality "Dublin B737"  Smile

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/5928/plq039aj9.jpg

I passed security and ended in a really tiny room with two check in counters and two other counters, identical to the check-in counters but with a monitor, so those counters were staffed with the same custom guys of the day before. One check-in counter was for our flight, the other one for the SK-fight to CPH. Everyhting went manual. I asked for a lone window seat in the back, and a rather unfriendly agent of the ground company gave me a seat just over the window. I asked if I could get one more in the back, she took a sheet of a Saab2000 seat plan which was copied a million times, put it on the
table and almost shoutet: "ok which seat do you want?!". I pointed on 15A and she made a cross on it and wrote me 15A on the boarding card, which not even had the date or a name...

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/7803/plq040xv6.jpg

Copenhagen travelers got the same in blue.

Luguage Tag:

http://img354.imageshack.us/img354/6374/plq041sz7.jpg

When passport control was passed, we entered a rather nice and bright waiting area.

http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/8936/plq043io8.jpg

What is great, is that one can go outside and wait on a terrace:

http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/9779/plq046vz9.jpg

You can see a sign on the picture. This is the gate. The put a plastic sign with destination in it when the flight is boarded View of the other side:

http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/408/plq044ci7.jpg

Believe it or not, the small white sign over the door shows "TRANSIT". TRANSIT in PLQ??? YEAH SURE  Smile.

But one must say the waiting area is multifunctional. It has a sliding dividing wall. Therefore, if needed, the transit area can be separated of the main waiting area. One can also separate "domestic" and "international", and that's the point were the security counter RIGHT from the stairs in the departure area makes sense, because it ends in the small divided waiting room. Another thing: one can see that the waiting area in the area that can be devided is more comfortable... Therefore one could also devide this to a lounge. Even the terrace outside is divided as you can see on the pictures above.

There is als a small bar and duty-free counter. If the deviding wall is extended, the bar counter is exactly between both, and can serve both lounges! That's thought of! by the way, the bar is connected by a stair to the bar in the departure area.

It's of course for staff only, but so they can bring snacks out of the kitchen, which they also promote to take on the flight!

Duty free is rather cheap (Marlboro 44 Litas, 0,5 liter vodka 16 Litas), but more expensive than in the city of course.

I sat down outside on the terrace, enjoyed the sunlight and saw our plance arriving from Moscow, this time the new colour scheme: THINK PINK  Smile

http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/9113/plq045im2.jpg

Then boarding time came. A women from the handling company put a small sign in the big sign which showed "HAMBURG" an the announcement was made. We saw the crew (same as the day before) going to the plane. The women had an UM, told him to wait here, and then took one by one the boarding cards without counting or something (no sequence numbers, no name, no one sees if you boarded or not...). As nobody came anymore, she opended the door, took the UM by her hand and told us to follow us to the plane, we walked the short way. A guy came late and climbed over the fence, gave his Boarding card to the women and then boarding was completed soon

Boarding:
http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/4958/plq047up9.jpg


FLYLAL Flight TE0640
Palanga Int'l Airport (PLQ) Departure 15:15
Hamburg (HAM) Arrival 15:55
Flighttime 1 hour 40 minutes
LY-SBQ, Saab 2000


Inside the plane was the same as the day before, I took 15A.

Amber Air on our right.

http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/9051/plq049qs0.jpg

We needed to wait for the delayed Dash 8 of SK from CPH (no taxiway, therefore we would have blocked each other if we would have started to taxi). The flight was booked well, but not full. There was a business class traveller, which had the first row on the right side two seats) for him, but no dividing curtain. one of the f/a's brought him orange juice in a real glass (and later in flight a hot meal).

As the Dash 8 finally landed, we left our parking position, so that the Dash could take it, and therefore giving us space to enter the Runway. We backtracked and took off from north to south (although the SK landed from south to north)

great, because we had a nice view of Palanga:

http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/1139/plq050tp9.jpg

And here again (at the bootom of the picture) the pedestrian road and the ship embaracation:



Flight was exactly the same as the day before, therefore not much to say, and we landed in Hamburg on time.



Conclusion:

The flight was really something different and very nice. And also Palanga is just beautiful! One single day is not enough, there is so much to see there. I would definetely come back.

As for FlyLAL, well they're a cute little airline, nothing special, but the product is okay and I felt safe and in good hands on board. I would fly them again!



Feel free to comment and thanks for reading!

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineTruant From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 25 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 16485 times:

Quoting Reifel (Thread starter):
after more than a month I found the time to scan the pictures (sorry for partly very bad quality) and I want to share this terrrfic expierience with you. I'll try my best to write in English, although it's not my native language.

Perfectly understandable English.

Great photos and report, as well.

It's amazing that only 16 years ago, this trip would have been much more difficult to make! (Let alone the bicycle crossing to Latvia.)

I have a question about the SAAB 2000's lavatory. All of the SAAB-340s I've flown in have no faucet for washing hands. Did the SAAB 2000 take care of this issue?


User currently offlineReifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1361 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 16452 times:

Quoting Truant (Reply 1):
I have a question about the SAAB 2000's lavatory. All of the SAAB-340s I've flown in have no faucet for washing hands. Did the SAAB 2000 take care of this issue?

Thanks for your comment... To be honest now my English is not enough, what do you mean exactly? a sink?  Smile


User currently offlineTruant From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 25 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 16439 times:

Quoting Reifel (Reply 2):
Thanks for your comment... To be honest now my English is not enough, what do you mean exactly? a sink?

Ja, die Wanne.  embarrassed 


User currently offlineReifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1361 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 16435 times:

Oh okay  Smile Well if I remember right yes there was a small "faucet". I'm quite sure about that because I wash my hands so I would have realized if it would have been missing  Smile

User currently offlineOutlier From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 16427 times:

Nice report.

Looks like a very friendly place to visit.

Your English is very good.


User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1691 posts, RR: 31
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 16276 times:

Frederic,

What a wonderful report and an exclusive destination  Wink
Since I also still need to fly the Saab 2000, and the possibilities are dwinddling in Europe, this might just be an idea, to fly from Germany to Palanga in Lithuania for a change; at least, that fare is a very good deal for around 4 hours of flying-time  thumbsup 

Love your pictures and the additional information of Palanga and the bike-ride to LV...

Well done, and looking forward to some more trip-reports: keep up the good work  bigthumbsup 



don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlineSK601 From Belgium, joined Jun 2005, 976 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 16272 times:

Quoting MH017 (Reply 6):
to fly from Germany to Palanga in Lithuania for a change

No need to go to CGN, TE also flies AMS-PLQ with a Saab.


User currently offlineA342 From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 4683 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 16129 times:

Quoting Truant (Reply 3):
Ja, die Wanne.  Embarrassment

Nein, da war sicher keine Wanne. Du meinst ein Waschbecken.  Wink



Anyway, thanks for this good report. I guess I'll once try it out from MUC !



Exceptions confirm the rule.
User currently offlineNdebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2901 posts, RR: 23
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 15992 times:

Hi Reifel,

wow, what a nice trip report! One of the few occasions where I actually also read the non-aviation part of the report with interest! A bike tour to Latvia, nice Big grin

Wonderful pics of the small airport, the waiting terrace must be such a nice feature. Regarding the Saab 2000: it's definitely my favourite aircraft, and it's nice to see they found a new home with FlyLAL. Did you know that LY-SBC is an ex-Deutsche BA aircraft? Those were most definitely the days.

Quoting A342 (Reply 8):
Nein, da war sicher keine Wanne.

Who knows Big grin

Best regards, now I'm going to re-read your wonderful report in German. Grüße, Alex.


User currently offlineTruant From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 25 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 15980 times:

Quoting A342 (Reply 8):
Nein, da war sicher keine Wanne. Du meinst ein Waschbecken.

Now it's official, I can confuse people in TWO languages.

I am glad Reifel had a sink/washbasin on that SAAB 2000. I dislike the alcohol wipes on the American Eagle SAAB 340s.


User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 15026 times:

Small correction, Rönne is the biggest town on the Danish island of Bornholm.

User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27026 posts, RR: 58
Reply 12, posted (7 years 3 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 15014 times:

Hey really nice and different TR . Now on my to do list!!! Great they have a DUB flight also .

Thanks for the pics and also the hotel website link .

OA260


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4695 posts, RR: 42
Reply 13, posted (7 years 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 14909 times:

Very nice report about a not too distant but nevertheless quite exotic dream destination!  Smile


Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offline44k From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 310 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 14750 times:

Thanks, nice report! Thanks for the nice comments of Palanga, it has become a popular destination with German tourists I hear.  Wink

I flew VNO-FRA on FLyLAL Saab 2000 back in may and I thought the flight was rather nice. The checkin at VNO was very courteous and they actually gave me a boarding pass that was printed, not hand writen. I remember back in 2004 FlyLAL they still served meals (sandwiches) in economy, I guess that has been cut in the name of saving money.


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