At 0545 I got up since I wanted to have more time to get to the airport because we had lots of snow, ice and nasty weather resulting in more than 200 car accidents in my city alone. So just to be on the safe side I doubled the time I regularly need to get to Cologne/Bonn.
After I had parked my car I took the shuttle-bus to the terminal where I checked in. The guy at the desk for my Hapag-Lloyd Express flight had a big "dba" pin on his jacket. Looked very professional to me...
The flights to Berlin are the only ones where you get an assigned seat on HLX because the airline won the contract (together with dba) to transport more than 10.000 people a year of the "governing crew" of the country between Berlin and Bonn. And the politicians and who not all uses that service do not feel like running into the plane to fight for a good seat so that is the reason why I got a set seat. It was 6A. If that guy would have asked me I would have asked for either 12A or 12F but as I later found out these seats have been removed and now only 14A and F offer the "Business Class like" pitch.
After I got my boarding pass I walked over to Terminal 1 where you could see the expansion going on so the building can cope with the Germanwings expansion in the future. At the Burger King I got myself something to eat and then I walked back to to Terminal 2. I had wanted to go to the gate then but I noticed that I had forgotten my mobile phone so I ran back to my car to get it. It took about ten minutes and then I was back again so I went through the security and a minute later I got to my Gate where I sat down next to an absolutely pretty girl, but I guess that is a totally different story...
Thursday, December 23, 2003
CGN-TXL X3 3122
Photo © Markus Moßhammer
Photo © Tobias Rose
The plane was parked at the gate so I could see the reg. From the terminal and I remembered the last time I flew on THAT very plane. June 27th, the very last flight of Hapag-Lloyd Express out of LTN and I was the very last passenger to board the plane there, flown by D-AGEU.
At about 0830 we were allowed to get into the plane and I sat down on my seat 6A from where I took a few pictures of an Air Berlin 737-800 that was covered with snow being pulled to the gate after it spent the night somewhere on the airport ground.
After all 30 passengers had boarded the plane we were pushed back and headed to the runway where we had to wait for a few planes to land before we could take-off.
One of them was a Challenger or another kind of Business plane from the red cross no not a Swiss plane but the real thing.
Once we had the clearance we rolled onto the runway and then full thrust was given and our next-to-empty 73G got faster and faster with an acceleration that made it feel like we were a rocket being launched.
After lift-off it took only a few minutes and we had reached our FL of 33.000 feet.
We broke through the clouds and the beauty I got to see then was surreal. That was again a moment that showed me clearly why I love to fly. Leaving the grey weather below you and watching the sun rise over you.
After a while the F/O made an announcement, a very normal one except that the told us how delighted he was to be able to fly us from Cologne to Berlin-Schönefeld. I guess he looked at the route map of Germanwings as he said that since they do serve SXF instead of TXL as HLX does.
After all he did bring us to Tegel after an rather standard flight with no big worth-metioning events where we touched down after we came in from the east flying over the city of Berlin. Because it was so cold the air was very clear and you could see all major buildings such as the "Fernsehturm" ocated on the Alexander Platz. A tower built to show the West that the East was a great power too. Well today it is part of the "West".
We taxied to out stand which was a remote position outside of the "Tegel-ring" from where we were bussed to the terminal where I met Ndebele who had already arrived from Stuttgart (see his report).
Thursday, December 23, 2003
TXL-CGN X3 3127
Photo © Tobias Rose
Photo © Patrick Audibert
At 1600 I could check-in for my return flight to Cologne. And from all the times I was checked in in my life this time was be far the best experience I made. The lady called me by my name and in general was very friendly and from what I can say a very "enjoyable person".
I got my boarding pass, with the sequence number 17 (my second "17" for today!).
Since Airsicknessbag left us earlier I still walked around the airport with Ndebele and Sabena332 until it was time for each one of us to go to our gates. We got to see the MIAT A310-300 that serves Berlin twice a week, if I am not mistaken. That was the only widebody we got to see there except an A300-600 of Lufthansa that was parked there at Tegel.
Since I was the last to leave Berlin I used the time where I was alone to take some pictures in the dark, so I played around with my camera a little bit. Some pictures actually turned out quite good.
After that I sat down at the gate until "my" plane from Cologne arrived. When I saw the reg. I again had to think of my previous flight on THAT plane which was the same day as my last flight on "EU" as "EQ" was the plane to bring me from CGN to LTN the day I flew on the very last LTN-CGN flight.
After the first people started to board the plane I still walked around the terminal taking pictures of "my" plane.
As one of the last I went into the bus that would take us to the plane. I boarded the plane via the rear stairs since I expected less people standing in the aisle taking "all time of the world" to stuff their stuff in the overhead-bin. And I was right. People were standing in the first third of the cabin waiting for people to realize that other people need to get by too.
I got to my seat in no time and after I had stored my bag and jacket I looked around the cabin to "check out the scenery" a little.
There were three female attendants in the cabin, of which two were [in my eyes] ugly bags while the third one looked really cute. Too bad she only served the people in the back, starting like two rows behind me.
After everything was settled in and everybody found his/her seat the cabin attendants gave us the safety demonstration and at the same time we started to taxi to the runway. So it was kinda hard at some points for the F/A to stand still showing us how to open or close the seatbelt while the plane turned from one taxiway to another which resulted in a large G-Force pressing and pushing the F/A. Entertaining to say the least.
After we go to the runway 26L it took only a few seconds before the pilot made the engines show their full potencial. And even with the plane being roughly 80% full the take-off was just as rocket-like as the one in the morning. Shortly after take-off I fell asleep and woke up again when our plane touched the ground at CGN. So it is hard for me to write something about the flight, except that it is by far easier to sleep in their cabin than in the new one of Ryanair...
We taxied to Terminal 2 where we had a gate position and the plane next to ours was a British Airways A319 that had a wingfence missing. I first double-checked if I had maybe mistaken the plane for an A319 while it actually was an A320-100 but that was not the case. Too bad I couldn't check if it had the fence on the other side but I guess that the impact on the equal airflow on both sides will be less then existent.
I deboarded the plane shortly after and just about 15 minutes later I was sitting in my car going home from where I again took off for another very "non-aviation" event.
Now I count a total of 99 flights in my logbook and as it looks my number 100 will also be on Hapag-Lloyd Express at the end of January going from CGN to VLC, but it could happen that I add the one or the other flight to it yet...
I hope you enjoyed reading about my rather uneventful flights. Comments are as always welcome.