After covering the first part of our (Sabena 690 and Apuneger) spotting trip, it’s now time for part 2: MXP-MAD on Alitalia and MAD-PMI on Air Berlin!
Thursday July 15th, 2004
This trip report starts at the point where we have completed our MXP spotting, to go to our gate. Info about MXP spotting has been included in the first part of my spotting trip report.
Before the flight
Our assigned gate was A22, and when we arrived, the counter had just opened and our flight was called for boarding. No plane but a bus was waiting for us, as our plane was on a remote stand.
Ivan and me proceeded to the counter (where very few passengers were waiting, no surprise as this flight was very open in CRS). The gate agent took my ticket, and something very nice happened: he tried to put my boarding pass in a machine, but there was a problem! For some reason, the machine couldn’t read our boarding pass (issued by SN Brussels Airlines for this Alitalia flight). So the guy printed a new boarding pass. 2 boarding passes…doesn’t this sound nice? So he prints the new boarding pass, and at the point that he wants to throw away my original boarding pass, I ask him whether I could keep it, and he agreed! This means that I now have 2 boarding passes for the same flight
Afterwards, we proceeded to the bus, and the bus kept waiting till all pax had boarded (as the plane was lightly loaded). The drive to the plane was quite long (didn’t mind, as we passed nice Alitalia Express stuff), and after some time, we arrived at our MD82.
Mc Donnell Douglas MD82
Seat 09A, later changed to 19F
Departure time scheduled/actual 14.35/14.53
Arrival time scheduled/actual 17.00/16.33
Photo © Paul Dopson - AirTeamImages
I entered the aircraft via the stairs, and once on board, I was not welcomed by the cabin attendant at the door. She was just standing there doing nothing… I said ‘good afternoon’ without a reaction. Another cabin attendant was standing in the end of the C-class cabin. I said ‘good afternoon’ but also didn’t get a reaction.
Due to the light load, all passengers were seated quickly. The guy sitting besides me arrived, and I wished him a good afternoon, also without a reaction. Was everybody having a bad day??
For some reason, the whole middle section of the MD82 was empty while the beginning of the Y-class section contained the biggest part of the 42 passengers on board, with the others (about 15) sitting in the back. From where the decision to put everybody besides eachother instead of spreading us in the cabin? I would be surprised if this has something to do with trimming the aircraft.
We started taxiing to the runway while the cabin crew was giving a safety demonstration. Also during the demonstration, they gave me the impression that they weren’t enjoying their job.
At 14.52, we started our take off-roll, and off we were after 40 seconds!
Only a few minutes after departure, the woman captain welcomed us on board, thanked us for flying Alitalia, gave some flight information, and wished us a nice flight. At least one member of the crew seemed to be in a good mood.
When the seatbelts-signs were turned off, me and Ivan moved to the back of the aircraft. I took 19D-E-F and Ivan 20D-E-F. Due to the good seatpitch of AZ, and all the space we had due to the light load, this was a very comfortable flight.
The ‘service’ started 15 minutes after take off. And old steward who seemed to be very bored handed out Alisnack-boxes. Handing them out is an euphemism – throwing them at the pax fits better. When he reached my row, he said something in Italian. I answered him: “Excuse me?”. At an annoyed tone, he replied again something in Italian. I answered him: “Sorry but I don’t understand you”. He didn’t bother to ask again in English, he just gave me a sandwich. Later, I found out that he had offered me a choice: a sandwich with meat, or a vegetarian sandwich. Amazing that he was too lazy to speak English.
They came around with soft drinks (I took a coke), a few minutes later, they came around with a coffee/tea service. The cabin crew seemed not to like their job at all, this was the worst crew I ever had on a flight.
About the meal: AZ have drastically reduced their service level in comparison with 2 years ago. What we got was a small soggy ham sandwich (with some kind of cheese in it), and a small cake. This for a flight with a scheduled flight time of 2h25min.
TO BE ADDED SOON
We were 30 minutes into the air at this point, and the rubbish had just been cleaned. This was also the last time that we saw the cabin crew before the landing. No 2nd drink service, just nothing. They went to the back to chat with eachother.
Ivan made an inflight picture:
Photo © Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
One hour later, we left our cruising altitude, and started our descend into MAD. The views throughout the flight were very nice!
Approach went fast, and at 16.33h, we touched down after flying just besides a maintenance where 2 IB B742’s were stored.
We vacated the runway, and passed the huge number of JK + IB MD80’s.
The cabin attendant at the door wasn’t interested in greeting the passengers. Oh well, I hadn’t expected anything else.
After following the exit-signs, we proceeded to Terminal 2 in the hope to find ‘Boulevard Barajas’ as soon as possible. After a 10 minutes walk, we finally found what we were looking for! At the 2nd floor of T2 is a small street with shops, called ‘Boulevard Barajas’. At the end is a big seating area of a cafetaria with excellent views of the apron. You see all planes landing, + every plane that taxies to/from the gate has to pass the cafetaria (with the exception of the Air Nostrum-aircraft, but you see them landing). We spent a few hours over there, saw some nice aircraft (the 3 DC8’s of Cygnus Air, EC-IYB A332 Air Madrid, OK-SWY Smartwings B737, 2 B747’s of Aerolineas Argentinas, a Helvetic F100, and some other nice stuff).
Afterwards, we went outside to catch the free shuttle service to our hotel. We had booked the Tryp Diana, a 4-stars hotel, for only €50 for a double room (inclusive a free shuttle service that runs very frequent). Already 10 minutes after we had left the cafetaria at the airport, we were at the reception of our hotel! The rooms were big and clean. I added the hotel information (and will do the same for PMI) for in case somebody wants to visit MAD airport.
Friday July 16th, 2004
We woke up at 7.30am because we wanted to be at the airport around 9am. After a good shower, we went downstairs to have breakfast, but we quickly returned after we saw that the price was €15! Food enough in the cafetaria at the airport for a much better price!
We checked out, took the hotel bus, and 10 minutes later, we were again in the cafetaria! The views were again excellent, but the temperature is VERY hot when you sit in front of the window between 9 and 12am, because the sun shines just in your face.
Some nice visitors: XA-TOJ Aeromexico B762, N421AV Avianca B762, EC-IOO Air Pullmantur B743, RA-85810 SU Tu154, SU-BMM AMC A300, PP-VOI RG MD11, EI-DEY Meridiana A319, CC-CQE LanChile A343, EI-DBE EUJet F100, XA-JBC Aeromexico B762, …… Needless to say that MAD offers a nice mix of traffic.
After a nice day, we went to the check-in counter of our Air Berlin flight to PMI, where a friendly agent checked us in. I took 12A, and Ivan took 13A. He wished us a nice flight, and we proceeded to our gate. I asked him the number of pax booked on the flight, and 166 pax were booked.
After walking around a bit in the terminal (views of the arriving aircraft were good), we went to our gate. Boarding started on time, and we were bussed to our aircraft. D-ABBJ was going to operate our flight, and the aircraft was parked quite far on a remote stand near a maintenance hangar of IB (a B742 was standing inside), and just besides was a Cameroon Airlines B752 TJ-CAG. The aircraft was there for reparations after (I think) a tailstrike as the aircraft had gotten a new undercarriage in the back.
About the flight
I was the last one of the first bus to board the aircraft, and just when I wanted to go inside, I heard a heavy aircraft braking. I had a look, and it was I-VLEE, a Volare A330! I wrote the aircraft down in my logbook, went inside the plane, and was greeted by a very friendly cabin attendant who offered Air Berlin-sweets and some newspapers!
Air Berlin AB4741
First flight February 03, 2003
Delivered February 19, 2003
Departure time scheduled/actual 17.50/18.07
Arrival time scheduled/actual 19.10/19.05
Photo © Yvo Heunen
Photo © Peter Meid
The cabin looked very fresh, was very clean, and was equipped with nice screens. While going to my seat, I was greeted by another very friendly cabin attendant.
Everything was excellent, except the seatpitch. It may be due to my length, but my knees were pressed in the seat in front of me. Seatpitch was about 28-29 inch.
The second bus arrived, and the cabin filled up till the biggest part of the seats were taken.
Doors were closed, engines were started, and we started taxiing to 36L for take off. In the meantime, we were welcomed on the PA by the purser, and the safety demo was played.
The service started 20 minutes after take off, and AB impressed me again! Not only were the cabin attendants very kind and friendly, they also handed out a nice sandwich and a drink for free (yes, AB offer meals included in the price!).
Here is a picture:
PICTURE TO BE ADDED SOON
In the meantime, the captain came on the PA and gave us the most complete announcement I ever heard, even including the runway we used for take off in Madrid! He thanked us for flying on Air Berlin, gave information to the pax with connections, wished us a nice flight and ended with: “Enjoy your evening, thank you!”.
An inflight picture of Ivan:
Photo © Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
All too soon, we started our approach to Palma De Mallorca (after enjoying the very nice views below us). We overflew the island at a low altitude, and a nice view was the Air Berlin B738wl passing us first in the opposite direction, turning for finals afterwards just behind us!
We touched down, and went to the terminal area used by Air Berlin.
Air Berlin impressed me a lot! The combination of on time flights, professional and friendly cabin crew, and the good service, made up for an excellent experience! Well done AB! Next time I need a domestic flight in Spain, AB will be my first choice, even when they are slightly more expensive than the competition!
Spotting was difficult, but I managed to write down the AB + FlyNiki aircraft, and some others like G-GSPN (a FlyGlobespan B737, a lot of Britannia’s, a Volar A321 EC-IXY and some other nice stuff).
We looked around in the hope to find a spot to see the aircraft at the other side of the airport, but without any luck unfortunately.
After going to the exit, we took a taxi to our hotel, Hotel Helios, located near the beach of Can Pastilla.
More about our hotel (located very good for views of the airport), and more about PMI spotting in Part 3, also covering the 2 Iberia flights from PMI to BCN and from BCN to MAD, + some info on BCN spotting!
I hope you enjoyed this report, and all comments are welcome as usual!