Thursday the 11th of July
Photo © Peter Unmuth - Vienna Aviation Photography
Airbus A321-113 I-BIXZ
Flight number: AZ159
From Brussels International Airport to Rome Fiumicino Airport
Economy Class, seat 11A
Expected departure time: 12.10h
After weeks of bad weather, the day started with a nice blue sky and without winds!!! And this on the day we left for the nice Sicilian sun!
Because the 11th of July is a feast-day in Belgium, we didn't expect much traffic on the way to the airport.
But because we wanted to play for sure, we left at 08.30h, for a car-trip of 40 minuts to the airport.
Once there, we had some time over for spotting. We drove to the 'Brucargo-spot' near runway 25R. On the Brucargo gate, some nice aircrafts were parked. We saw a B742F of Hydro Air Cargo, a B744F of Korean Air, a B742F of Saudi Arabian Airlines and a DC8 of MK Airlines. 10 minuts later, a second Saudi Arabian Airlines arrived, but this time it was an MD11.
Via the DHL and Abelag buildings (were we saw lot's of DHL B727's, B757's and A300's, + an MD11 of Gemini Air Cargo), we arrived on 'Air Parking' were we parked our car.
5 minuts later, a bus brought us to the airport, were we had an appointment with the group with who we should travel the whole week in Sicilia, and of course with our guide.
Because a big traffic jam due to an accident, our guide arrived 45 minuts to late, which gave us the possibility to spot from the airport cafetaria 'WingTips'. On the B-pier, a Lockheed Tristar of Hewa Bora, an A330-200 of VG Airlines, a B737 of British Airways, a B767-300 of United Airlines and an A330-300 of SN Brussels Airlines (Birdy Airlines) were parked.
45 minuts later, our guide arrived. After a first welcome, we had to check in soon. Check in was a bit chaotic, only 4 counters were opened for 2 AZ flights (one to Milan MXP and one to Rome FCO). So after long waiting, we got our ticket.I was seated in seat 11A, excellent for photography.
Boarding time was 11.50h, and at 11.45h, we were still near the check in counters, so we almost had to run to the gate. After a walk of about 10 minuts, we arrived in the brand-new pier A. Gate was A55. Already a long queu of people was ready to board the plane.
On the other side of Pier A, a TAP A319 CS-TTE was parked. This aircraft would bring a friend of me, Ivan Coninx (his forum name here is Apuneger) to Lisbon. Unfortunately, due to our delay in the check in terminal, I couldn’t talk with him anymore, because he had already boarded.
With a delay of 20 minuts, an announcment was made that the passengers of AZ flight 159 could board.
Before we boarded the aircraft, newspapers were served. There was a big choice in Italian, Belgian, and if I am not wrong even English newspapers.
Once in the aircraft, everything had to go very fast due to the delay. The cockpit door was open and the pilot welcomed us. I gave a small letter to the stewardess to ask for a flight deck visit.
What amazed me was the space in the cabin of this A321! I heard already of several people that AZ offered a great legspace, and this was proved now.
At 12.30h, we were pushed back, 20 minuts after the scheduled departure time. During taxiing, we could see 1 A320 and 1 A321 of IB being pushed back. The A320 was in front of us, together with an A330-200 of VG Airlines. On the gates of Pier A, lot’s of Avro’s of SNBA and B737’s of VEX were parked.
During taxiing, we had a nice view on the departures in front of us. My father filmed the take off rol of the VG A330 and the IB A320 before us. After us, an A320 of Thomas Cook was taxiing.
Definitely, at 12.34h, we made a rolling take off. With a fully loaden A321, the Airbus was still very powerful (in comparision with the MD80).
During boarding, I took a newspaper. Not to read in it, but to put it on my camera. The stewardess was seated one seat in front of me, so I had to be very careful, since taking pictures and film is prohibited in an aircraft.
15 minuts after departure, the flight attendants started serving meals. This was what we got:
x two empty sandwiches
x a tray with some salad, two small pieces of cheese and some roots
x a sandwich with cheese
x some meat (ham)
x fruit salad
20 minuts after we got our meal, they started serving drinks. I ordered a coke.
Flight Attendants were very friendly and helpful. But after one hour of flying, the flight attendant on which I gave my flight-deck visit and jumpseat request, told me that the Captain did not want visitors in the cockpit. Most funny thing was that almost during the whole flight, the cockpit door was OPEN!! Which is also against the rules.
On the screens in the cabin, we got to see hidden-camera and Tom and Jerry.
After a very nice flight of around 2h05mins, we landed at Rome FCO airport, 10 minuts behind schedule.
There we had to run, because we only had 45 minuts for our connection to CTA, minus 10 minuts delay, minus 5 minuts of taxiing, so only 30 minuts were left.
We rushed to the gate, and there we saw that we were put on a later flight. Instead of the one of 15.00h, we were put on the one of 16.00h. So some time for spotting was left.
We saw a mix of Alitalia MD80’s, A321’s, MD11’s, Air One B737’s, and a Thai B744 with the ‘The King’s 72th Celebration logo’.
Good on time, boarding started on gate A19. A bus brought us to our next plane:
Photo © Arthur Yu
Mc Donnel Douglas MD82 I-DACP
Flight number: AZ1749
From Rome Fiumicino Airport to Catania Fontanarossa Airport
Economy Class, seat 4A
Expected departure time: 16.00h
After a rather long bus trip, we were brought to our MD82 in an all economy class configuration.
During our bus trip, we saw the Thai B744 again depart, together with an A300 of Kuwait Airways.
During boarding, I gave again a letter to the flight-attendant, with the request for a flight-deck visit/jumpseat flight. She promised that she would try to convince the pilot.
After everyone boarded the plane, we left FCO with a delay of 10 minuts for a flight of 1h10mins to CTA.
Only a drink and some cookies were served on this domestic flight.
Cabin crew was again very friendly and helpful, on this full flight.
After 30 minuts, the flight attendant came with the great news that the pilot invited me for a cockpit visit, but that a jumpseat flight was excluded. But I know why: another one was already jumpseating. It seemed to be an important person. He asked me from were I was. I said that I was from Belgium, and he said he made a film in Belgium in 1960. He was a well-known filmproducer he said. Funny was that I asked some people if they knew who he was (this was possible because the cockpit door was open for the rest of the flight), and no-one recognised him.
After a nice flight above the sea, we made a wonderful approach above this beautiful island. After some heavy turns and a very rocking approach, we made a very very hard landing on Catania airport.
After we vacated the runway, we had a nice overview of the airport. Lot’s of AZ’s were parked. Also a B737 of Air One.
Just after us, a Fokker 100 of Alpi Eagles landed from Venice with a special colourscheme, nice to see this plane here.
So after 5 hours, and two great AZ experiences, we left the airport. This was the beginning of a big Sicilian round-trip, which would end exactly 7 days later.
This was the first part of my trip report. I know, it is long, but I hope you enjoyed reading it
I will post, if you are interested in it, the second part of my trip report too.
If you want to know something, feel free to ask!!