just a short report for a short day of flying.
I had decided to do some kind of day return trip to check out SkyEurope and their Embraer 120, the first "low cost" airline from Eastern Europe. In the end, after juggling some, it turned out that I´d best fly ZRH-BTS to get SkyEurope (my 50th airline, btw - let the Champagne flow ) and back from VIE (40 kms from BTS) to FDH, on InterSky, another new airline offering seemingly cheap flights - which, as return flights and with taxes are more expensive than LH. But anyway...
Photo © Marc Michel
Got to ZRH at 0740 - a bit too early for my liking, but the train schedules didn´t permit anything else. Got checked in straight away by Swissport: asked where I´d like to sit, I replied "on one of the single seaters" - got 2A, then. I noticed that Swissport print out four-figure sequence numbers (e.g. 0007) - they´re obviously well prepared for those Ryanair A380s
I managed to kill the time until boarding at 1045, ten minutes prior to departure. The 16 passengers were bussed to the plane and boarded quickly.
January 31, 2004
Zuerich (Kloten) - Pressburg/Bratislava (Ivanka M.R.Stefanik)
EMB 120 RT OM-SPY, delivered June 1988
Photo © Timothy Feise
This plane was with UA Express:
Photo © Mark Abbott
(I found it somehow funny to get the SPY plane while I had the 0007 boarding pass. )
Unfortunately, due to congestion, we didn´t start our engines until 1120. Boy, these things are LOUD! The level of noise and vibration was the most extreme I´ve ever encountered - and that includes the Yak 40. When I got off this plane, my back felt like I had spent two weeks in a Spine Melter 2000. (Watch The Simpsons from time to time? No? Do!).
The stewardess meanwhile did the safety ballet. It was quite funny, because she first had to say the text and then did the acting as a pantomime. The language on board was btw German, followed by Slovak, and only then came English. I had the impression, btw, that the stewardess was naturally fluent in German, while her English sounded a bit forced, like she learned it only recently and didn´t really feel quite comfortable speaking it.
It took another 20 minutes until we were airborne - but at least she used that delay to serve a pre-take-off cup of water.
The flight itself was uneventful as always but gave some gorgeous views on Lake Constance, the Alps, and Vienna. Service consisted of another two rounds of water (unfortunately the only soft drink), coffee or tea and a candy bar as snack.
We landed at 1303. First thing I noticed was a stored WN 732. Later on, I learned she was in reality this
Photo © Tibor Mester
plane, which the Slovaks hadn´t bothered to paint.
I went through immigration (unlike late 2002, no stamp this time ) and at 1309 I had already made my way out of the terminal building and to the shuttle bus which was to take me to Vienna at 1310.
I had booked this together with the flight (it doubles as "flight" number NE 2); the scheduled time of arrival was at 1440. The evening before, I had by chance noticed my return flight had been rescheduled from 1800 to 1700 (without informing me!), so, with check-in closing 45 minutes before that, I was a bit pressed.
The bus driver was already waiting for me and we departed as soon as I had boarded. He was a bit surprised I was already there, but even better. The bus was a VW 9-seater, btw, with two more passengers besides me.
I asked the bus driver whether he´d just drop me off at VIE, since we´d drive past the airport anyway. He said ok, but on the return, because he didn´t want to make the (slight) detour with the other two pax on board. Fair enough, he wouldn´t have had to do it at all.
So, I had an easy ride to VIE, arriving at 1430 and eliminating all my concerns about the return flight.
The SkyEurope Shuttle´s normal destination point in Vienna is in Erdberg: just behind the city´s outer border, next to a tube station. It´s ok I guess. Driving time was 1 hour.
Photo © BAF70
The rest was waiting (and taking part in a customer survey conducted by the VIE operators; normally I do this kind of stuff only when I´m paid, but hey, I was bored and it helps them to make VIE better for customers.)
January 31, 2004
Wien/Vienna (Schwechat) - Friedrichshafen (Loewental Bodensee)
Dash 8Q-314 D-BLEJ, delivered January 20, 1999 (originally a Dash 8-311)
Photo © Andy Graf - VAP
This plane was with Augsburg Airways:
Photo © Philipp Brumann
Boarding the 26 passengers was smooth and early, and in the end we took off at 1650, ten minutes early. This ensured a nice early arrival, 20 minutes early at 1810, but my train wasn´t leaving until 1910.
But back to the flight: first of all, a very attractive young stewardess - if I´d have met her in a disco or anywhere, I wouldn´t have touched her for fear of prosecution: without knowing she MUST be legal or else she wouldn´t be a stewardess, I´d have considered her not a day over 16. But definitely a stunner of a girl . At times, though, she did seem a little lost, like "what am I doing here, this big aircraft all to myself." In a way, it just didn´t seem right
Second, again great views and an equally perfect flying weather. I could even see the enormous traffic jam coming from some famous Austrian ski resort. The guy in the row in front of me pointed this out, he was very familiar with the area. He even said which ski area this was, but I forgot since I don´t ski.
Third, aaaah, so quiet, what a relief after that bad-ass Bratislava-Brazilian bone shaker...
The final approach into FDH was a little rough. Nothing serious, but the baby behind me was first screaming and then making some uncomfortably strange noises. Thank god, these noises were not followed by equally strange smells, so I figure a puke disaster was averted...
Photo © Florian Sindermann
We came in over land, not over water. As I had picked row 7 (always do on a Dash 8), I had again a perfect view on the gear. I find it so fascinating to see this. Unfortunately no red-hot brakes this time - I used to see that at MHG (1066 metre runway) or the old DTM (1400 m), but I guess FDH´s 2356 m make such hard braking unnecessary. Pity... But there were sparks a-plenty - also nice when dark.
During taxi, when the stewardess did her goodbye announcement, I realised she had just referred repeatedly to "Captain Rolf Seewald and his crew..." - and then I realised that this is actually the founder/owner/CEO/boss-of-it-all! Wow, great, he´s quite a famous figure (in aviation at least ), also founder of Rheintalflug Seewald which was absorbed by Tyrolean last year. I remembered the inflight magazine had an article/interview about him, so I quickly grabbed one and asked him to sign it for me. He was a bit surprised at first, but definitely delighted and proudly put his autograph underneath his picture.
OK, this was no Lauda encounter ("Gruess Gott, hia is da Niki und I fliag sie heit no Boangkok..."), but a nice ending to a nice day anyway.
All in all, especially my observations about SkyEurope are in line with other Eastern European airlines: sub-par aircraft made up for with good service and very attentive, friendly and caring staff.
InterSky is just another airline - and a quite expensive one, given they don´t offer any service. I´m still a bit pissed about the way they handled the schedule change - of course I was happy to be home an hour earlier, but I could have needed it on the Vienna end of the flight.
Thanks for your attention. Feel free to direct any questions, comments, criticism and abuse to the author. (That means me )