June 15, 2003
D-AIPH "Spirit of Cologne Bonn"
After I got to the airport roughly two hours before take-off I went to the check-in so that I could get a boarding card below number 65 (first group to board the plane) which I also managed in the end. It was cool to see all the luggage the passengers brought with them. I guess cargo would already suit more... Amazing that they did not bring their dish-washers, TV's and microwaves with them... I looked really naked with just my carry-on.
After I had gotten my boarding card (no. 24) I walked around the airport a little. I went to the viewing deck on top of the C-concourse and than after a few minutes I started to walk around the terminal looking for new spots to view planes and so on. I found out that there is also a viewing deck over the A-Concourse so next time I will take some pictures of Lufthansa aircraft rather than Germanwings...
At 2200 I went through the security to go to the gate because I wanted to sit down for a while. Before I could enter the gate I had to go through the passport control. The queue was quite long as the flight to Izmir was also gonna depart at 2245 so the passengers of two flights stood in line at two desks.
While waiting in line our plane arrived at the gate. All I could say was "thank you god!" I had expected an A320 (they for sure needed the belly cargo space....) but the chances to get the "Spirit of Cologne Bonn" was just 25% but here she was.
Photo © Gerardo Dominguez
Photo © Benny Bartels
After I got through the control I sat down and than I talked to Sabena332 on the phone until boarding started. First families with kids of which there were quite a few and than boarding cards 1 to 65 could enter the plane. I was the second to go after the families with kids.
I walked down the aisle and than the F/A that was standing in the emegency exit row asked me if I would be so kind and take a seat in the emergency exit row as he in a case of an emergency would prefer having a passenger taking his commands that also speaks German as this flight had more than half Turkish passengers. Most of which live in Germany and use the cheap way to get to their home country. After I took my seat I started to talk with the Flight Attendant. We talked about the load factor of the Istanbul flights, the fleet of Germanwings and how the crews like the nightshift of the Turkey flights.
Although this does not really belong into this trip report I flew Germanwings to Venice just five days later and that flight attendant was again on duty. As I walked by him he said hello to me and I said "hi, for the second time this week" and he answered: "I was just thinking, didn't you fly to Istanbul on Sunday?" So than we talked about my trip to Turkey and so on. But anyways this is not a trip report about my Venice trip...
After I took my seat I started to look around a little and than shortly before boarding was complete a young Turkish guy, my age or maybe a little older sat down beside me.
We started to talk a little and he started to ask me if Germanwings was safe and he told me that he did not really feel comfortable sitting in an airplane. What is the best you can tell a guy like that?!? I just told him that "only" 2000 people die in plane related crashes per year worldwide while alone in Germany 20.000 people die or are severely injured each year by car accidents. Not the right way to make someone feel comfortable I later thought... But than I told him that we would be the first to leave the plane in a bad situation as the "door" was right next to me. I guess he enjoyed that thought as we than could talk about other things. He declared me crazy when I told him I was gonna fly home again on the next flight while he was going to stay in Turkey for a whole month.
After boarding was complete our plane was pushed back and than the engines started to speed up and as they developed enough thrust we started our taxi to the runway where there was no long hold so we could paste down the runway and lift-off into the dark but yet nice German sky. The engines made a real funny noise which I had never heard so far yet but they did their job so nothing to be worried about.
As the A320 fleet of Germanwings all come from Lufthansa they are not equipped with LCD-sreens as are the A319 so there was no flight map shown so I can not say exactly which route we flew.
But before that was the case I had a "Happy Snack" which consists of a sandwich, a non-alcoholic beverage and a chocolate bar and it costs 5€.
The crew had handed out a sheet to every passenger which was to be filled out which I thought was really funny.
These were the questions asked:
- Mode of Transport (Ground, Sea, Air)
o Flight number
- Contact in Turkey
- Do you have the following symptoms:
o Breathing difficulty or shortness of breath
- Have you or your family been in contact with SARS-affected?
- Have you been to any of these areas within the past 10 days?
o Hong Kong
o Canada (too bad I didn???t take my Canadian passport...)
o Singapore (no, but gonna go soon...)
- Any other country?
After I ate and had filled out the formular I slept using my Air Namibia pillow which I got back in March of 2002 when I flew on them FRA-LHR.
I woke up a few minutes before we landed and I could see huge Istanbul at night from the plane before we touched down on the runway of Ataturk International airport.
It was 0250 when we reached the gate, so it was perfectly on time. The only problem was now how to spend the time until busses start going to town.
I stayed in the baggage-claim area and slept on the floor until about seven o'clock until I took a bus downtown to spend the day there.
June 15, 2003
0345-0600 (actually 0450-0700)
Photo © Juan Rodriguez - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
Photo © Garry Lewis
I had arrived at the airport from town at about 1900 so I had another almost seven hours to kill before I could check-in for my flight back home to CGN so I walked around the airport and than after a while I tried to sleep a little so I sat down in the seating area of the International Terminal. At about 0030 I woke up again and walked around a little again and than I sat down where I than fell asleep. When I woke up again I got a shock, it was already 0245 so I hurried over to the check-in desk where I got a boarding pass and the Germanwings reusable boarding cards. There was no queue at all as most passengers had already checked in for the flight. I went through the passport control where I finally got a stamp of Turkey and than I went to the gate, it was about 0300 when I got there and the board already said "final call" so I thought that maybe they changed the schedule, after all I had already booked the flight back in December and a lot can change in that time. Our passports and boarding cards where again checked before we could enter the waiting lounge. After I had taken a seat I could see our plane already at the gate. It was D-AIPC, also a bird on lease from Lufthansa.
After everything was settled we were allowed to board the aircraft it was not long until more than 100 passengers had taken their seats in the plane hoping to leave soon so one could sleep the rest of the night.
For a few minutes nothing happened.
Than a lady from the airport came in and very unfriendly commanded a guy to show her his passport again, it was the guy sitting next to me. She than took his ID and walked out of the plane with it and a few minutes later she came back doing the same to another passenger. This went on like this for about ten minutes and than she walked up to the purser and they started to talk for a minute and you could see that he did not like what she said.
The announcement came that one passenger had entered the plane without going through the security so everybody had to leave the aircraft to go through it again. We had to take everything we had with us. I asked myself how it is possible for a person to just walk by 10 police officers go past the screener and walk into the plane while people were only let through one-by-one. Considering that there was only one more flight from IST in that night it felt more like them being bored wanting to use some extra time so their shift won't feel that long. After all it would have been by far easier to send a few guys into the plane to check passports and boarding cards but no, they are the police so you better do what they say.
Until everybody had left the plane, this took a while because some had to be woken up again including quite a few children, and had been screened it was 0440 already.
The crew apologized for this mishap of the Turkish police and promised to try to get to Cologne as soon as possible. After all the plane would not have much time as it's day was not over yet since it would have to serve on other flights.
We were pushed back shortly after the reboarding was complete and it did not take long until we reached the runway. After a short stop the engines were turned up to full thrust and we raced down the runway lifting off the ground after a fairly short run.
The crews again offered the typical Germanwings / Lowcost service but by the time they had reached my row I was already far asleep and I first woke up shortly before we landed at CGN.
With one hour delay we touched down at 0700 and came to an halt at the 4U-Concourse a few minutes later.
From this flight which were number nine and ten of my Germanwing flights (Hapag-Lloyd Express leads with 11 flights with two more to come on Friday) I can only say that this airline is for sure the Mercedes amongst the Lowcost carriers. The service was as always professional and friendly all inconvenience being caused had nothing to do with the airline but outside influences. And besides the fact that you have to pay for what you eat you do not notice that you are not sitting in an aircraft of a full frills airline.
Just as sidenotes, not only did I have the same F/A on my flight to Venice but I also had the same aircraft as on my flight from Istanbul (D-AIPC) going to VCE. And I saw the "Spirit of Cologne / Bonn" in Venice while I was there so I got to see all equipment used on CGN-IST-CGN within less than a week and all outside of Cologne. Coming home from Venice I saw them all again at CGN, I had to smile.
I hope you enjoyed this rather long trip report. I hope I did not miss out on anything as from the time I flew to IST and now where I wrote it I had four flights so I might have missed the one or other detail.
Please feel free to comment, if positive or negative everything is welcome.