Those who read the Trip Reports Forum regularly may remember this trip report. Back in January this year, fellow A.net member Tristar500 and I tried to get a flight on one of Air France’s A 318’s on a flight from Paris to Dusseldorf but unfortunately we were victims of a last minute equipment change and got an A 320 instead, even worse, it was the same A 320 which brought us to Paris in the morning of the same day (F-GFKN). I decided immediately to try to get the A 318 on another flight as soon as possible and a few weeks later I found the perfect opportunity in the Non Aviation Forum, fellow A.net member Pe@rson was organizing an A.net meeting in Manchester for the 10th and 11th of July, the list of attendees already looked good so I decided to join the meeting and booked a Dusseldorf-Paris-Manchester roundtrip on Air France for 199,74 EUR to get 4000 miles which I needed for an Air France award flight within Europe, and to get finally the A 318 which was scheduled to operate the Paris-Manchester leg on the outward flight. I noticed a few days after my booking that fellow A.net member Antoine (707CMF) was already booked on the very same flight to Manchester, I knew that he has a contact person at Air France who already organized a few cockpit jumpseat flights for him, so I asked Antoine if it is possible to get a double jumpseat permission for both of us, he told his contact person about me but he could not give me a guarantee for the jumpseat because the captain is always the person who takes the final decision about jumpseat riders. A few month passed and the day of my trip finally arrived.
Saturday, July 10th 2004
I left the house at 5:05h to catch the first regional train to Dusseldorf airport, my schedule was very tight on this early morning, when the train would have only a few minutes delay, I would miss my flight to Paris and thus my connecting flight to Manchester and the meeting there, fortunately the train was on time and I arrived at the terminal building after another five minute ride from the airport train station with DUS’ (in)famous people mover called SkyTrain, rumor has it that they have to tear it down and build a new one because of construction mistakes on some abutments.
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Photo © Stefan Kunert
I arrived at the Air France check-in counters at 6:53h, only two minutes before check-in end for flight AF1007 to Paris, there I presented my ID as well as my credit card to the female check-in agent, she asked me if I would prefer a window or an aisle seat, I chose an aisle seat and asked if my travel mate, Antoine, already checked in for the Paris-Manchester flight, she found his name in the reservation system and issued me a boarding pass for the seat next to him, “hopefully we won’t sit on our assigned seats” I thought and went through the security checkpoint to gate B 79 where boarding already begun. The gate agent checked my boarding pass and my ID before I helped myself on the newspaper rack which offered the usual large selection of German, French and English newspapers, I chose the weekend edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung as my reading material for the 50 minute hop to the French capital.
The flight to Paris
Flight: AF1007, from Dusseldorf (International) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle)
Departure: July 10th, 7:25h
Equipment: Airbus A 320-200 (F-GLGM)
Class: Economy Class, Seat: 17D
Photo © Peter Kesternich
Photo © William Ronciere
I entered the plane and said: “Hello” to the flight attendant, she checked my boarding pass and welcomed me with a: “Good morning, welcome onboard Sir”. During I was walking through the cabin to my seat I got welcomed by two more attendants which were in very good spirits despite of this early morning hour. I stored my backpack in the overhead bin, said: “Good morning” to the women in the window seat, sat down, and started to read the newspaper. Boarding was completed very soon and I was quite pleased that nobody demanded the middle seat next to me, great, another comfortable flight with a lot of space next to me. Pushback was exactly on time, the cabin crew made the usual security demonstration while we were taxiing to the actice runway. Shortly before we entered 23L, I took a quick look out of the window and saw that there were already people standing on the observation deck of the airport train station, I also like spotting but I would definitely not go to the airport on a Saturday morning at 7:30h just to spot planes. Anyway, the plane accelerated a few seconds later and broke through the low hanging clouds shortly after we got airborne, wow, finally I saw the sun again after several days of cloudy and rainy weather in Germany. The cabin crew were out of their seats shortly after the 10.000 feet indicator ping, they separated the three different service classes of the cabin with curtains before they prepared the drink and meal service. We Economy Class passengers had the choice between a regular croissant or a croissant filled with chocolate, I decided for a chocolate one and washed it down with a cup of coffee. The rest of the flight was rather uneventful, so I continued to read the newspaper until we were on short final for Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, we touched down and taxied to a remote parking position where a bus picked all passengers up to drive them to Terminal 2D.
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport
Photo © William Ronciere
Photo © F-ILIP
After I stepped out of the bus, I went directly to Terminal 2F where I met Antoine at Gate 56, we bought a coffee and wanted to drink it on one of the empty gates in the rear part of the terminal but unfortunately this part of the terminal got evercuated by the police at the very same moment. It was the usual situation, some moron forgot his bag at a boarding gate, so the police thought it was a bomb threat and for security reasons they had to close the boarding area. Suddenly the whole terminal became a totally zoo, all passengers moved towards the exit, but fortunately the police opened the rear part of the terminal again after they found out that the bag contained no bomb. Antoine and I went to the lower floor where I had a cigarette in the smoking area, then we sat down in a snack bar to surf via WiFi access on A.net but unfortunately Antoine’s notebook crashed and time was running away quickly, so we had to go to Gate F 41 without a look on A.net.
We entered the bus after two boarding pass and ID checks, now I was in the same situation like exactly half a year ago at exactly the same place, again I sat in a bus at Paris Roissy and was hoping to get a flight on the A 318. The bus driver closed the doors and drove towards an A 319 and an A 318 on a remote position but he passed both planes, I thought: “This can not be true”, my biggest fear was that we would end up in a B 737-300/500 because these planes only have one cockpit jumpseat and they are pretty uncomfortable compared to the Airbus narrowbodies, but then the bus driver stopped and drove back to the Airbusses because the entry of this remote parking position was really hard to find as I could saw by myself later. The A 319 next to the A 318 was one of Air France’s “Dedicate” planes, a long-haul version of the A 319 which serves destinations with low passenger loads in Air France route network, so it seemed that the A 318 was our plane to Manchester. The bus driver stopped in front of the baby Airbus and I was happy that I would finally get a flight on it, our next aim were to get the cockpit jumpseats, that would be the ultimate compensation for me since I got the A 320 with the same registration instead of the A 318 on an earlier flight back in January, as already mentoined on the beginning of the report.
The flight to Manchester
Flight: AF1968, from Paris (Charles de Gaulle) to Manchester (International)
Departure: July 10th 2004, 10:40h
Equipment: Airbus A 318-100 (F-GUGE)
Class: N/A, Seat: Cockpit Jumpseat
Photo © Mike Layer
Photo © Antoine Ossadzow
We entered the plane and had luck because the captain stood at the door to welcome his passengers. Antoine asked him in French if it is possible to join the flight crew on the jumpseats and presented his private pilot license as an additional help. The very friendly captain replied in French but I was confused for a second because I didn’t understand if we were allowed or not, I asked Antoine in English: “Is it possible?”, he replied: “Yes!”, yeeeesssss, we made it . We thanked the captain for his decision before we placed our luggage in the overhead bins of the Business Class, after we got rid of our bags we went directly to the cockpit, it is always a good feeling when you can enter “the office” awaiting a jumpseat flight because they have become so rare nowadays. At first, after we went inside the cockpit, we thanked also the first officer for the jumpseat permission, then I sat down in the jumpseat behind the captains seat, Antoine took of course the middle jumpseat because of the better view to take pictures. The captain apologized for the lack of legroom because his case was placed next to my seat but I told him that it is absolutely no problem because I still had enough legroom. We had a short chat until the flight crew was getting busy with the take-off preperations, before the door got closed a ramp agent came into the cockpit to hand out the passenger list, then he shook the hand of everyone of us and wished us a nice flight. The door got closed, the stairs removed and a tug connected to the gear while the flight crew started engine number one, engine number two got started a few seconds later during pushback, the tug disconnected and a minute later the gate agent “waved us away”. A nice blonde flight attendant entered the cockpit after the captain unlocked the door, she looked at the captain, he looked at her, she smiled and pointed her hand with a tumb up gesture towards him and left the cockpit, then Antoine made the safety briefing during taxi to runway 26L, it was like this:
Antoine: “In front of you is the life vest in case the plane crashes into the water, on the left site is oxygen”.
Then we arrived at the holding point between an Air France B 747-400 and an Aeromexico B 767-200, two minutes later we entered the runway after watching the take-off of the jumbo jet, the wing flex looked very impressive. After another minute, holding on the runway threshold, the ATC gave us take-off clearence and the flight crew immediately accelerated the baby bus after all of us took simultaneously on their sunglasses. It is long time ago that I got pressed so strongly into my seat during a take-off roll, the A 318 is a really poweful airplane, the take-off roll was very enjoyable and great fun. Climbout was enjoyable too because of the view to the front and to the site, after we reached our cruising altitude, the first officer told me: “You can release your shoulder belts”, actually I was quite surprised because I had to wear it during the whole flight on all my previous jumpseat flights, but I released it because I was still belted with the rest of the five point seat belt.
Antoine made a picture of me while I was enjoying the flight:
The very friendly and nice cockpit crew chatted with us and from time to time we could enjoy a few impressive views, for example a L1011 which crossed our way right in front of us, the view on France, the English Channel and Great Britain during we left French airspace, or a view of downtown London. Later, another flight attendant entered the cockpit, first she looked surprised when she saw us on the jumpseats but then she asked what Antoine and I would like to drink, both of us chose a Coke, a few minutes later she came back to serve us the coke and, additionally, also a tray with a cheese sandwich and an apricot cake, I was very impressed by the great service and the friendliness of this fantastic crew.
A picture of the meal:
It seems that Air France is not only the best airline when you are traveling as a regular passenger in the cabin, but also when you are flying on the jumpseat. The remaining flight time passed quick and the flight crew started the descent, the weather conditions where not the best and the plane shook a little bit because of the cloudy sky so all of us put on their shoulder belts. Then the runway came into sight, I enjoyed the last minute of the flight very much, it is simply great when you have a free view to the front while landing.
Here are three short Quicktime videos (if they don't work, simply click on the links with your right mouse button and choose the option "Save target as...":
Video No. 1 is showing the busy flight crew during the start of the descent.
Video No. 2 is showing the approach while MAN's runway 24R comes into sight
Video No. 3 is showing the view out of the cockpit on short final to runway 24R. I didn't film the touchdown because I wanted to enjoy it real and not while looking through a viewfinder of a camera.
The touch down was extremly smooth, after slowing down we taxied to Terminal 2 and Antoine and I waved out of the window, during we passed the visitors park, hoping that someone would take a picture. We chatted again with the crew and Antoine took a few cockpit shots after we arrived at the gate, then we thanked the whole crew for the fantastic flight and dissembarked to attent the Mega MAN Meeting (click here to see some pictures of the meeting).
I hope you enjoyed this little report about my latest jumpseat flight, I decided to post it because flights on the cockpit jumpseats have become very rare nowadays and I want to share this special experience with all of you. I didn’t write a report about the return flights from Manchester to Dusseldorf via Paris because they were rather uneventful (the usual good Air France service which is very recommendable).
Please note that all pictures and videos, as not otherwise indicated, are property of Antoine, every use without his permission is forbidden! As for the whole report, thanks a lot for reading and watching it, questions and comments are welcome as usual.
The Paris-Manchester flight was fantastic, maybe the best I ever had, firstly because I finally got the A 318 but especially because Antoine managed it to get both of us in the cockpit during the whole flight, which is nearly impossible nowadays. It is a really great experience to fly on the cockpit jumpseat of a new aircraft type with a fellow A.net member. Also, the whole crew was very friendy and they made me really feel welcome onboard, my favorite airline impressed me once again.
Special thanks goes out to Antoine, to the whole crew of flight AF1968 on July 10th, and of course also to Antoine’s contact person at Air France, it is great that all of them made this fantastic flight possible.