I was getting bored by the fact that almost every flight you get from my home airport AMS with several airlines is a 737.
Airplanes and airlines I've been on until now are MP DC10-30, HV 732, KL 73?, a private Cessna, SK 73?, SK MD-80, HV 73? and a few times EZY 733 and 73G but I've never flown on an Airbus not to mention an A319.
So next time it should be an EZY A319. I had to be on one of their flights to GVA for that. It doesn't have to be necessarily Easyjet but they are the only affordable carrier at AMS with Airbus equipment.
A look at the fares learned that AMS-GVA-LTN-AMS turned out to be much cheaper then only AMS-GVA-AMS. After I asked in the forum how sure it would be an A319 on this segments I didn't think twice and booked this "Easy triangle" for March 31th. Total costs: € 98.20 all surcharges included. Not bad, not bad at all.
A few weeks later I finally discovered the non-av forum and found out that an a.net get together would be held at LHR the weekend of 3th and 4th April. I kind of liked the idea to meet other a.nuts and I happened to be in London around this date anyways so I decided to attend.
I had to move my flight to AMS to Sunday 4th of April for that. Luckily changing a flight is quite 'easy' with Easyjet and I even had the option to depart from a different airport. Moving my departure flight to LGW had the most advantages. I had never been to this airport (reason enough) and the surcharge/penalty was less.
So the new itinerary would be AMS-GVA-LTN / LGW-AMS. The surcharge was € 15,12 So the total costs would be: € 113,32. Still not bad, not bad at all.
Wednesday, March 31th
Scheduled departure time: 8:30 am
Scheduled arrival time : 10:05 am
This bird took me to GVA:
Photo © Marco Louwe
Photo © Juan Carlos Guerra Aviation Photography of Mexico
I was dropped of at terminal 2 about 7:00 am and checked in instantly. I'm always eager to have a boarding pass # in the range between 1 and 30. I got # 23
For those who are not familiar with the Easyjet boarding procedure:
At the gate, families with children are the first who are allowed to board. Than people with boarding pass # 1 to 30 and so on... Some sort of rewarding system for passengers who check in early.
So I was assured of a window seat, maybe even an exit row or the most front seat where there are no seats in front of you.
Somehow I was thinking 8:30 am was boarding time. So I was walking around pier B at 8:10 to have a look at the commuter ramp when I suddenly came to realization that 8:30 was departure time. I had to walk fast and ran the last few 100 meters to gate D16. Bummer, I could be one of the first 30 passengers and now I was the last one to board.
luckily there was a window seat left, just behind the left wing. I could be wrong but somehow the seats on their A319s felt more cramped than on their 737s. I expected a wider seat pitch because the fuselage of an A320 family a/c is wider. As we all know the wider fuselage gives airlines the option to choose either wider seats or a wider aisle. Should have known a LCC like Easyjet would choose smaller seats as this would add less weight to the a/c. I also noticed its windows are smaller and lower than those of the 737.
Push back (on time), that is when the excitement always begins. Following the now famous/notorious and long 15-20 min. taxi to runway 36L, exactly where I was hoping for.
Here are a few pictures from the database to give you an idea of the distance from AMS 'central'.
Photo © Erick Hartevelt
Photo © Fyodor Borisov
Left picture: A view from the satellite control tower towards AMS 'central' next to the threshold of runway 36L nicknamed the "Polderbaan" as it is located in the middle of the Haarlemmermeerpolder.
Right picture: You can see runway 18R-36L in the top
We queued in for 36L, and damn how was I on the wrong site of the a/c! There was an ANA 747 freighter in front of us. I was hoping that we would get the second exit which is quite common when there is a queue. Than I would at least see this heavy accelerating and nail him from a very nice angle. Apparently there was a little regional between us and we followed the ANA freighter faithfully. I heard him thundering down the runway and I shivered due the kick and could hardly suppress a tear for the same reason. While we were lining up I heard a prop taking off so my presumption was right.
Next kick: our take off. When we were airborne I could clearly hear the main gear retracting and actually heard and felt the gear doors shut. Something I wasn't used to.
Heading South for GVA on a cloudy day. Nice flight with attractive, friendly, professional and only female cabin crew. Enjoyed my expensive cup of coffee while I alternately stared out of the window and tried to read an issue of Airliners.
After less than an one and a half our flight the a/c started descending and I enjoyed a very nice and beautiful approach over Lake Geneva for runway 23. After a smooth landing we taxied our way to the first satellite terminal while I saw a Kuwait Airways 340 and a Swiss 330 sitting next to each other.
I disembarked the plane at B41 or B42, can't remember exactly.
Runway 23 and aerial view of GVA:
Photo © Denis Roschlau
Photo © Bjorn Alegren
When I walked outside I had a look at the railway station where I considered going to downtown Geneva, just to come to the conclusion that it wouldn't be a good idea since check in for my flight to LTN would open within an hour. So I explored the terminal building and finally found a nice terrace outside where I enjoyed a cappucino while spotting departing a/c behind the terminal building. The Kuwait Air 340 I saw before was one of them.
Wednesday, March 31th
Scheduled departure time: 14:15 pm
Scheduled arrival time : 15:00 pm
This bird took me to LTN:
Photo © Christian Drändle
Photo © Stephen Fox
When it was almost 12:00 am I walked to the Easyjet check in desk. To my surprise I wasn't the first. Nevertheless I had good hope I would have a # 1 to 30 boarding pass anyway. But there were three check in desks opened simultaneously and there was a couple in front of me who needed way too much time to check in with their special luggage.
So I got boarding pas 31! @#$%^&*
They checked in a few boxes with wine glasses. How stupid!
When I passed through customs and after I had a look to the shops I went to my gate.
One and a half hour to early for boarding but I saw my plane SA)">HB-JZE already sitting at gate B42. Funny coincidence because I came in with SA)">HB-JZD.
I came to sit down, have my lunch and watch arriving and departing traffic. The runway is pretty close to this satellite terminals. The runway exit most a/c used was also very close. Excellent place to spot planes here, nothing to complain.
Oh do I love this airport with its terminal islands and the surrounding mountains in the distance and the beautiful approach over Lake Geneva!
The satellite terminal where the EZY a/c are sitting. Gate B42 is the one with the closest easybird:
Photo © Juan Rodriguez - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
From here I saw an Olympic 717 attached to gate B43. First time I saw a one. Good looking aircraft with the big fat RR BR715s. She looked so much better than the MD-80 or DC-9. An VP 319 was sitting at the satellite terminal next to the one I was. Never saw an VP a/c in new colors not to mention their A319s. Great livery by the way, looks very modern, so much in contrast to the old one. Though I have to admit I can't get used to the fact VP is flying western equipment.
I also noticed there are a lot of A320 family a/c and RJ100s flying into GVA.
Time flies when you're having fun. Almost boarding time so I moved to a seat as close to the gate as possible. Almost 2 o' clock but no crew members to see 15 min. prior to departure. It was pretty sure we will be delayed now. Not that it bothered me, I didnt have to be on time anywhere but I can't understand how this is possible while the a/c was already there for hours. Which is also odd. What happened with the typical short LCC turnaround times? Perhaps a cancelled flight?
When finally a crew member arrived, she announced boarding without abiding by the standard boarding procedure so I guess I was lucky after all.
An yes, Mrs 29 and Mr 30 managed to stand in front of me in the queue again.
I walked to the back of the a/c and had the second last window seat on the right. It was awful hot in this bird. But the airconditioning turned out to be working fine later on. Than this voice on the com system said that we will depart with a little delay because they were waiting for a passenger to show up. Get real, we were delayed already! This by the way contradicts the "If you are late. We wont wait!" policy. Again I don't care, I didn't have a schedule although I can imagine a delay could be inconvenient for other passengers. But everything seemed to go so relaxed here. So was the male/female cabin crew. They seemed to have fun with eachother even though they were hard working. When the f/a in charge was introducing himself he said something like: "Good afternoon, welcome aboard. My name is ...... and my colleague here in the front is uhm, uhm... what is your name?"
Push back and take off after a short taxi to runway 23. An immediate right turn followed which gives a good overview of the airport and the beautiful valley where Geneva and its airport is situated. Within a few minutes the a/c crossed the mountains while it was still climbing and the peaks seemed to be only a few meters below us. Unfortunately clouds were the only thing to see during the rest of the flight until the channel crossing. There was a gap in the clouds which allowed me to see we were about to leave the French coast to start the channel crossing. From here it was getting less cloudy as we approached the British coast. Can you believe it? We actually left the shitty weather behind us while flying to the UK. Something is wrong here.
If I recall correctly the a/c started to descend as soon as we crossed the channel. Later on we were flying along the Southern edge of London and around the LHR 'corner' while the A319 was still descending into LTN. This all gave a fantastic view over the city and even a better one over LHR where I will meet my a.net friends soon. Awesome view! Awesome! How was I at the right site of the a/c this time!
The view was exactly like this:
Photo © Serge Bailleul
Minutes later a smooth landing followed by a fast break on the short runway 08 (7087 ft / 2147 m) at Luton Airport and a short taxi across the "Welcome to London Luton Airport" bridge to the 'odd but gotta love it anyway' apron.
Runway 08-26 and the characteristic apron at Luton airport:
Photo © Jonathan Simmons
Photo © Steve Hall
The "Welcome to London Luton Airport" bridge:
Photo © Ian Woodcock
We had to wait a few minutes because the stand was still occupied by another easybird. When the a/c had reached the stand and was ready for disembarking I waited as usual until the cabin was empty. Meanwhile I watched the unloading of the baggage and saw a ramper throwing with boxes with wineglasses and explicit "handle with care" stickers on it, belonging to Mrs 29 and Mr 30. I guess everyone get what he deserves.
When the a/c was empty I asked the f/a's in the back if I could make a picture of the cabin. They were more than cooperative even though they needed all their time to make the cabin ready for the turnaround. He even asked me if I wanted to make a picture in the back or in the front and whether the picture should be with cabin crew or not. I said I'll stay in the back and it wouldn't matter to me if there would still crew present in the cabin. He walked to the front to tell his colleagues that I was going to make a picture. His colleagues quickly hide while he picked up the mike and said: "Take your picture now".
Disembarked at the back of course. You don't get the opportunity to disembark at the back and walk around an a/c everyday.
When I reclaimed my backpack I took the free shuttle bus to the parking lot next to the runway to spot for a while.
Luton airport is located on top of a hill, you can see that clearly in the picture of runway 08 above where you can also see the parabolic course of the runway. I recalled that there was, well I thought it was, a stair to the threshold of runway 08 when I last visited LTN and I wanted to find other vantage points this time, so I walked down the hill and climb the stairs. When I was finally there it turned out to be a little field at the beginning of the approach lights which I think could be suitable for an a.net get together picnic.
But due to the parabolic course of the runway I was at a slightly lower level and couldn't see anything of it. I just can't give up like that and decided to walk down the other side of the hill to find a spot along the runway but I was unsuccessful. All fences down the hill along the whole runway so I walked my way back uphill on the bumpy path and rested at the top of the stairs. A few 737s, private airplanes and a Britannia 757 flew over my head. A good spot after all. A 757 approach is always good spotting.
When the British weather decided to came in eventually, I walked to Luton Parkway station to take the train to London. All this with my backpack! I was exhausted when I arrived in London but I would do it all again without any hesitate.
Well, I must say LTN is odd and small but also a very nice and busy airport. I like it.
Thursday 1th of April I visited friends in London and Friday 2d was reserved for sightseeing.
When I was walking around London Tower I noticed there was quite a busy airspace there. I saw traffic coming in for LCY and quite a few heavies turning in for LHR. One of them was a VS 346. Very recognizable with that long grey fuselage and red engines. At a higher level there was even more traffic. It looked like there was some sort of traffic jam up there.
This motivated me to take the bus to LCY. I couldn't let this opportunity go since I was that close. I have to say its a pain in the ss to get there by bus but it was worth the hassle.
I walked around in the departure hall where I found the April issue of Airliners World in a store for the real price, £ 3.50, a bargain. This fantasic magazine is hard to get where I live and they charge you € 9 to €'11 for it while £ 3.50 is aprox. the equivalent of € 5.25, a rip off!
Bought a cup of coffee and something to eat to enjoy it sitting on a bench along the shore with my face to the runway. Nice to see how 2 a/c are taxiing simultaneously to the end of the runway while there is no taxiway. I believe it was an ERJ and a private jet. This is possible because of the short taxi strip at the end as seen in the picture below.
Aerial view of LCY with its 4948ft / 1508m short runway:
Photo © Bjorn Alegren
A Swiss RJ100 departured while a few minutes later a Swiss Saab 2000 arrived. Lots of VLM F50s coming and going. Later on I spotted a landing British European DHC-8 and an AF RJ100 Cityjet. A Blue1 RJ100 and a few Scot Airways Dornier 328s were sitting at the ramp.
Most a/c needed almost the whole runway for a take off.
Well, all this made my already good day. Another nice airport.
Saturday, April 3th
Today is the a.net LHR meeting. The first meet was at aprox. 9:30 am at Hatton X somewhere at the threshold of runway 27L. So I tried to get up early which was very hard because I hardly slept on my crappy bed the past few days. Didn't succeed so I was a bit delayed and the Piccadilly line happened to be partly out of service too.
Nevertheless I considered the NZ 744 on short finals over Hatton X as a warm welcome when my bus arrived which replaced the underground service......
......I could make this trip report more boring and make an endless story of it but I don't. If you are interested in the LHR get together you can read the report about the "Official Airliners.net UK Meet - The Report!" by clicking the link below. Here you don't have to listen to my crap only, but you can also see how other attendees experienced it.
Does this all makes you curious or feeling sorry you weren't there? Then you can always attend at the Mega MAN meet 10th and 11th July.
There is already a discussion about a possible LGW meet in non-av and there is a chance I will arrange an AMS meet for the last weekend of September.
The only thing I want to add is that I really, really enjoyed my day of spotting and socializing with other a.net members at LHR. I'd like to use this opportunity to thank everyone once again.
Except our British 'chaps' there were a few other attendees from abroad: RJ100 from Switzerland, 707CMF from France (Elbonia actually), UTA_flyinghigh also an Elbonian who residents in Dublin.
And what a great variety of airlines out there. Also nice to see a few KLM a/c landing somewhere else. Lots of a/c and airlines I never saw before. BA 744 and 777, SA)">AA 777, Asiana 744, NZ 744, SA 744, QS 744, the "Tortured Trident", G-BOSA)">AA, and this list just never ends......
These beauties were the best!
Photo © David James Clelford
Photo © Birdlike - Gregory Bajor
I shal(le eaux) be back!
Sunday, April 4th
737-73V G-EZJD (not 100% sure)
Scheduled departure time: 6:45 am
Scheduled arrival time: 8:55 am
This bird took me back home
Photo © Ben Pritchard
Photo © Garry Lewis - AirTeamImages
After we witnessed the last, Concorde unworthy, journey of G-BOSA)">AA in the middle of the night, cold, tired and soaking wet, Ben drove me to LGW and dropped me off at South Terminal at about 4:00 am. Cannot thank him enough for that.
I walked into the terminal building were I got confused a bit. Didn't see check in desks anywhere. I only saw a long small hall. I thought I was dreaming because I was overcome with sleep. Seriously. Then I found the tunnel were I had to walk through to reach the actual terminal. How odd.
When I located the Easyjet check in desks I found a spot to sit down and give my feet a little rest and search my bag for dry and fresh socks. Aaaaah! What a relief!
Back to the check in desk. I couldn't believe my eyes when seeing how crowded the terminal was at 4:00 Sunday morning! To my surprise it was possible to check in at every desk for all Easyjet flights. How convenient. I got a boarding pass # between 1 and 30. Can't remember the exact #. My brains were hardly working at the moment.
When I passed through customs I couldn't resist walking around looking at every corner of the terminal building despite the fact my legs still hurt and I was tired out.
Bought a present for my mum and went to check out a few gates. When I wanted to return to the main terminal this security dude did't let me in. When I explained I was just looking around because of my passion for aviation he send me through a labyrinth via international connections to get back to the main terminal. I never felt such a desire to shoot someone! Stupid martinet! What difference does it make to get back through either the same way I got there or via international connections?
I went upstairs were I crashed in a waiting area from where you can oversee a part of the airport such as the runway in the distance. I also saw the Easybirds sitting at the gate awaiting an early morning departure. I fell asleep pronto and luckily woke up just in time for boarding at gate 104. I was among the first to board and the seat I wanted was still empty. Right window seat front row.
Most left pier is were most of the easybirds were sitting:
Photo © Ian Haskell
When the a/c was full the captain announced a delay because there wasn't an available slot at AMS yet. Traffic at Schiphol was experiencing lots of delays due to wind conditions. So we had to wait.
By the way I still can't believe this flight was loaded despite the inconvenient departure time.
I fell asleep again until the a/c began to move. We queued in for runway 26L. I was on the right side of the a/c again. LGW basically operates like a single runway airport. That means a/c take off and land alternately. And that is exactly what I saw from my window seat.
When it was our turn to accelerate down the runway it was like the a/c was riding over splits. Like the runway consists out of huge concrete tiles.
After take off the 737 climbed out and made an 180 degree turn which gave me a stunning view exactly like this:
Photo © Ben Pritchard
While we were climbing I saw an a/c on short finals for 26L while an AA 777 was directly behind him. The 777 was not too far below us and was surrounded with very thin clouds. Beautiful sight.
I stared out of the window until we reached the coast where I fell asleep again.
I woke up when we approached the Dutch coast while we were descending into AMS for runway 27. From this direction the a/c had to fly around Amsterdam and over a little piece of the Flevopolder where it turned in for the final approach. This all gave a good aerial view of the city. I've been told that runway 27 is rarely in use because the approach is over highly populated area so I was lucky again.
27 is the most right runway:
Photo © Ariel Shocron
I forgot to write down the registration when I disembarked the a/c at pier D because my brains were still sleeping. But I believe I saw JD on the nose gear door so the registration could be G-EZJD. When I reclaimed my luggage I moved my wrecked body to the train station.
In order to get home I have to change trains one time. This is where it went wrong. When I arrived at the platform to catch my train home this sign said that my train was 15 min. delayed. One minute later they broadcasted that this train was canceled. Nothing new here. Welkom in Nederland!
All together it has been a more than great trip! I've been to great airports and I really have nothing to complain about the Easyjet service. They offer such a good service for such a good price. Very friendly and professional f/a's. A319s are fine a/c but in the case of Easyjet I find their 737s more comfortable.
Next trip: FR GRQ-STN-GRQ 24th/25th April.
[Edited 2004-04-17 01:10:53]
[Edited 2004-04-17 01:33:09]