I left home at 06:00 to take the commuter train to Stuttgart, then the ICE train to Mannheim and from there an IC train to Frankfurt Airport, where I arrived at 08:10.
09 October 2002
Scheduled time of departure: 10:10
Scheduled time of arrival: 10:50
Photo © Europix
Photo © George Polfliet
I took the Skyline to Terminal 2 and went to the Buzz check-in. Two counters were opened, but no passengers at all. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from Buzz, I thought as a low-cost airline they would not have seat assignments (at least Ryanair does not). So I was surprised when the lady asked me where I want to sit - I chose a window seat in the very last row, 20A. As there were no other passengers, I thought "Let's ask a few questions!", what aircraft type (BAe146 or B737), registration, number of passengers booked, inbound-delay, ... unfortunately neither she nor her colleague could answer me even one of those questions. But at least I knew that it would be a BAe146 - the 733 has more than 20 rows. - I got my boarding pass (security number 018), boarding time was 09:20, and I decided to go directly to the gate, D4.
Passport control went fast. And having put all my keys, coins, mobile phone etc. into my rucksack, the security control went fast, too. I put my keys, coins, mobile phone etc. back into my trouser pocket. Little did I know that there was an additional security control in front of gate D4, oh yes, nowadays British and US-American airlines need additional security... Having passed this second security control, I found out that the waiting lounge of gate D4 was still closed(!), at FRA the gate agent opens the boarding lounge - when he arrives, a few minutes before boarding starts. So I decided to sit down in front of gate D6, where I met a young lady who also flew Buzz FRA-STN. She told me that she's having a connecting flight on Ryanair from Stansted to Stockholm, but she has 5 hours connecting time at STN. Sabena332/Patrick, if you read this: This is what I call an appropriate connecting time on low-cost airlines
At 09:50 we watched G-BTTP landing, so we thought "Damn, this flight is going to be delayed!" We were surprised that boarding started at 09:55, and at 10:02 we were bussed (or should I say buzzed?) out to the aircraft which was parked on a remote stand. I took the rear airstairs of G-BTTP and went directly to my seat 20A. There were very few passengers on this flight (I counted 32), so boarding was completed quickly, but we had to wait because of a slot. At 10:28 we finally pushed back, taxied towards the south part of FRA, along the USAF base and Cargo City Süd, and then towards runway 18. But we didn't use the full length of runway 18, when we entered the runway I saw a sign saying "S18 - remaining runway length: 2735m" - more than enough for a BAe146. At 10:53 we were airborne into FRA's blue sky.
Meal service started a few minutes later. As always when I go spotting, I had a 1.5 liter bottle of Pepsi in my rucksack, so I didn't order anything to drink, but I had a "Chocolate Fudge Cake" for 2.70€ (or 1.50GBP), which was really delicious. The cabin crew (three women) was nice and friendly. Looking out of the window, I saw the city of Brussels - strange, it's at least the 20th time that I see Brussels from high altitude (28,000ft), but I have actually been to Brussels only once. I should visit BRU again soon! Then we passed the Channel, and started approach into STN.
We landed at 11:05 local time. A few moments after touch-down, I saw a Saudia Lockheed Hercules (HZ-116) parked at STN, still in the old coloursheme. At 11:09 we were on-block and walked to the arrival hall. I didn't have any baggage checked-in, so I went directly through the very quick passport control.
Spotting at STN
Capt.Picard (the a.net user) wanted to meet me at the bookshop, but he wasn't there yet so i decided to leave the terminal building to watch the aircraft parked at the cargo area: a Global Supply B747-400F, an Atlas Air B747-400F, a Channel Express A300F and a UPS B767-300F. Having returned to our meeting point, Capt.Picard was already waiting for me. We left the terminal building again to watch the other part of the tarmac, saw many GO 733s, Ryanair 738s and 732s, Buzz 143s and 733s, two European 732s and one Air Berlin 734.
We went back to the bookshop again to meet Ikarus at 13:30. Neither Capt.Picard nor I had met Ikarus before, but when we saw someone sending a text message, and a few seconds later Capt.Picard's rucksack started to ring, we knew that this must be Ikarus.
I noticed that Ikarus had a little accent, but I didn't think about it. Just when he told me about his family in Germany, I found out that he's German! Hey Ikarus, the eMails we had written each other, why did we write those in English I had no idea that you're German!
STN does not offer many good spotting areas, so we decided to take a bus towards Stansted House (or something like that). We passed a good spotting point near the approach, but unfortunately there was no bus stop, and we simply didn't have the time to walk back to that point. At least we saw some stored aircraft there: Something that looked like the remains of the prototype of the BAE146 wings, tail etc were missing so it was hard to tell. An ex-Celtic L-1011. And: G-AWZU, ex-BA Trident:
Photo © Chris Sheldon
Photo © Chris Sheldon
Time was passing away so quickly, it was already time to take the next bus back to the airport. But all in all, I had written down 68 registrations withing 4 hours, and STN is really worth a visit.
09 October 2002
Scheduled time of departure: 16:35
Scheduled time of arrival: 19:10
Photo © Eduard Marmet
Once again there was no queue in front of the check-in desk. But I was already late, when I checked in at ~15:30 there were no window seats left. I got 14E (a middle seat), I had security number 083 printed on my boarding pass, and when I asked her, the lady told me that they expected about 100 passengers.
I said goodbye to Capt.Picard and Ikarus, went through passport control and a very strict security control, took the airport train to the Buzz gates (gate number: 37) and arrived there at 15:55. Boarding time was 15:45, and I already saw the signs "FINAL CALL!" so I feared that I was late - but of course they had not even started boarding yet, it took another 15 minutes until they started. Then finally they started boarding, this time with a jetway. 14E was my seat, the lack of row 13 caused a little confusion, some passengers sat in the wrong row. With 100 passengers, boarding took quite a while. At 16:40 boarding was finally completed, push-back started at 16:47, and we took off at 16:57.
I know that the seat-pitch aboard low-cost airlines is quite little. But I never had a problem with that on Ryanair. The problem when flying Buzz is not the seat pich, but the seat width. A middle-seat in a 6-abreast BAe146 is really uncomfortable! And the gentleman on 14F read his much to huge newspaper during the whole flight, so that I didn't have any view outside.
When meal service started, I was so hungry, I searched the inflight magazine for the biggest meal they had. Btw, on the first page of this magazine, the Buzz boss wrote as a headline for his welcoming: You don't need an MBA to choose Buzz!" Puuuh, good luck for me Oh yes, but I was still hungry, so I ordered the big "Pasta-tomato- mozzarella-paprika- and-something-else- I-forgot-salad" for 5.40€. I know it's expensive, but it was a really big portion, it tasted delicious, and I didn't have any British pounds with me so I didn't buy anything to eat the whole day, I was really hungry.
Then the cabin crew disapperaed in the galley, all passengers had to keep their empty plates with them, until a few minutes before landing they finally came around to collect those empty plates.
We touched town on runway 07L at 19:04 and taxied to our remote parking position where we arived at 19:10, on-time! We were bussed to the arrival hall. Out of the bus, I saw PP-VOL, a Varig B767-300 in old colours! I had no idea that those old colours still exist! - Passport control took really long, only two counters for 100 passengers.
Having finally passed, I took the Skyline to Terminal 1, walked to the station in order to get my train at 19:57. But this train was delayed 10 minutes, so I didn't get my train connection at Mannheim, so I had to wait 55 minutes there, and another 25 minutes at Stuttgart, so I arrived at home at 23.15. The end of a nice spotting trip.
Special thanks to Capt.Picard and Ikarus for taking the time to meet me at STN. Chatting and spotting with you was really fun, it was a great afternoon! What a pity that you can't join us on our DUB-trip in December!
This was my Buzz trip report, I hope you liked it. Any comments, questions, additions are always welcome.