Welcome to the follow-up of the BRU-MXP report (part 1) and MXP-MAD-PMI report (part 2)!
In the previous report, I ended with our Air Berlin flight from MAD to PMI. I promised to start with a small word about the hotel, so here we go!
This report also contains information on BCN spotting, and of course a detailed trip report of our 2 IB flights (from PMI to BCN, and from BCN to MAD).
Hotel Helios, Palma De Mallorca, Friday July 16, 2004
After searching in spotterslogs, databases etc, Ivan and me decided to book Hotel Helios in C’an Pastilla.
Spotters recommended us room 540, situated on the top floor of the hotel, overlooking the airport.
Because PMI didn’t offer us any good views after arrival from MAD, we decided to go to the hotel to spot from there. At this time, it was around 8pm.
We left the airport, took a cab to the hotel (around €13), and were greeted by a very friendly guy behind the hotel desk. I was astonished when he started talking Dutch to us! He spoke fluently Dutch, English and Spanish, and probably also German.
He was extremely friendly, and when we gave him our hotel confirmation, he gave us a key for… a room with sea-sight. We immediately told him that we had reserved room 540 (we had a confirmed reservation for this room), and he took a big folder containing a huge number of emails with all the reservations for the hotel. He admitted that a mistake had been made, and he changed our room to 540 (the room luckily wasn’t taken yet!).
We went upstairs, checked out the views from the balcony, and indeed: this hotel is great for spotting! When an AB B737 landed, I suddenly saw a big telescope popping up from the terrace on our left site, and indeed, a nice Briton was writing down registrations on the balcony next to ours! We immediately started chatting, and he told us that an Air Algerie ATR-42 was due later in the evening. I was very lucky that he had such a good telescope, because my 20x50 was not good enough to read off the departures!
A selection of interesting aircraft in the evening: HA-LOC MA B738, G-GSPN FlyGlobespan B737, EC-IXY Volar A321, OY-VKH MYT A330, 7T-VUM AH ATR-42, OY-EI Sterling B737, and of course a huge number of AB, DE, MYT, BY, …
When it was becoming too dark for spotting, we decided to go outside to have a look at the beach, and because we wanted to eat something.
We found a nice British pub, where we had a big and tasty chicken-rice-curry dish, with a ‘cerveza’ (no translation needed for this one ). The cheap prices for food amazed me: only €5,95 for such a big dish. Compare that with the prices asked in MAD…
After dinner, we went to another place to eat a big ice cream. At this point, the aircraft were approaching from the sea, so we saw all planes turning to finals and approaching the airport with their landing lights on (really a nice sight!).
Because it was already midnight, we decided to go back to the hotel, since I wanted to get up at 7am to spot the movements (already a lot of traffic at that time of the day!).
Saturday July 17, 2004 – spotting from the hotel
I got up at 7am, didn’t make much noise because Ivan was still asleep (although I have to say that the noise of the aircraft taking off a bit further quickly woke him up ), and started spotting at the balcony.
Already a lot of traffic at this time… a summary of the interesting aircraft: F-GUYH Aigle Azur B737, OY-MAA DM B735, OK-FIT Fischer B737, I-LING Windjet A320, OY-MRK Sterling.com B737, HB-IHS Belair B752, OY-SEJ Sterling B738wl, SE-DYT SK B738 in Star Alliance c/s, SE-DZL + SE-DZM BY B737 (the first time I saw a B737 in BY-c/s), …
This in combination with the huge number of charters from the UK (First Choice, MyTravel, Thomson, Condor, Hapag Lloyd, …) makes up for a very interesting mix of traffic! I was so impressed that I hope to be able to come back next year.
Our flight left at 14.35, so we left the hotel at 12h with a cab.
Booking our flights
A small word about the situation when we booked our flights. First we had booked UX, because our BCN-MAD flight was scheduled as a B736. Only 2 weeks after we made our booking, UX did not only announce that they would get rid of the B736 before the start of the summer season, but we also got a huge timechange. So I went back to my travel agency, and Anneke handled the situation in a professional way! She cancelled our UX booking, and rebooked us on IB! There was a increase in price of €12, but I was glad because the flight schedules were much better, and because I was going to fly the MD87 for the first time.
Palma De Mallorca Airport PMI
We went to the Iberia check-in desks, and encountered a funny situation with the check-in agent. We asked for 2 window seats on the right side of the plane (to see the city of Barcelona on approach), and apparently he didn’t understand this for some reason. “If possible, we would like to get 2 window seats on the right side of the plane please”. “2 window seats?” “Yes, 2 window seats, on the right side of the plane”. “Why do you want 2 window seats?”. “To see the city of Barcelona during the approach, and if possible, we would like to get seats in front of the wing”. “Errrr yes but whyyyyy”. “For the views!”.
He stopped asking “why we wanted a window seat”, and gave us what we wanted. The reason why we wanted seats in front of the wing was for the noise (MD80’s are very loud in the back) and certainly for photography. Of course, we didn’t say him that we were planespotters who wanted to make pictures, to avoid problems.
Anyway, I don’t understand why he was having such a problem with giving a window seat to each of us in front of the wing.
We went through security, and proceeded to the gate for some spotting. We found a window with good views of the departing planes (the arriving planes could not be seen unfortunately), and waited there till our flight was ready for boarding. Our gate was just besides this seating area.
Incidentally, this spot was just besides the gates used by Air Berlin and FlyNiki. The British spotter in the room besides us had told us that the Dreamliner B73G of Air Berlin had only visited once during the past 2 weeks. With Farnborough starting, I hadn’t expected to see the aircraft, but of course we were still hoping because all AB aircraft taxied just in front of us.
At 2pm, our flight was ready for boarding, unfortunately without having seen the Air Berlin B73G. We walk to our gate, queue for a few minutes, and after the ticket control, we proceed through the jetway to our plane. Which aircraft do we see, just passing in front of the window where we just stayed for about one and a half hour? Indeed, the Dreamliner B73G of Air Berlin! Talk about bad luck!
Here are 2 pictures of D-ABBN:
Photo © Jan Szidat
Photo © Jan Szidat
As a regspotter, I was already glad to have seen this nice bird, but for a photographer as Ivan, it was a disappointment of course.
Mc Donnell Douglas MD88
Departure time scheduled/actual 14.25/14.50
Arrival time scheduled/actual 15.10/15.20
Photo © Alastair T. Gardiner
We proceeded to the aircraft, and were greeted by a very friendly cabin attendant. The aircraft was very clean inside, and I was surprised with the very generous seatpitch.
A picture of the cabin of EC-FND:
Photo © Julio Ribeiro
Push-back was 5 minutes late at 14.30, and during push-back, music was played. The safety demonstration afterwards was not understandable because a lot of people were talking very loud. A lot of passengers have apparently no respect for people who fly for example for the first time, and who want to hear the safety demonstration. Although I have seen already a lot of those safety demo’s, I will always look at the crew when they are doing their demo, because it must be frustrating when you are doing your job, and when you see that nobody cares about what you are doing.
While taxiing to 06R, we passed the AB ‘Dreamliner’, together with a bunch of other AB B737’s. Once at the holding point, 2 aircraft passed us first for take off. They had priority apparently… After the take off of EC-HHP (JK MD80) and OY-VKI (MYT A330), it was our turn.
After a roll of 36’, we left the very nice island of Mallorca, for a short hop to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
10 minutes after take off, the pilot made an announcement. I even couldn’t understand whether it was the first officer or the captain when he introduced himself due to all the noise in the cabin. The announcement was not understandable, which was a pity because I like information about our altitude etc.
Just a small note: there was a safety card of an A320 in my seat pocket! I checked the seat pockets of the 2 people besides me after landing at BCN, and those people had no safety card at all! Out of curiosity, are checks for safety cards performed every day?
There was of course no service on this short flight.
Way too soon, we left our cruising altitude, for our descent to BCN. The descent went quick, and we passed some very nice ships below.
Already a few minutes later, we were approaching BCN. To give you an idea of the views of the city, you have to check out this picture made by Ivan:
Photo © Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
As you see, the views are superb!
Barcelona Airport BCN
We rolled out after landing, and parked on a remote stand at the back of the airport, where also 3 interesting Tu-154’s were parked!
RA-85760 of Continental Airways
Photo © Luis Rosa
RA-85696 of Continental Airways
Photo © Leonid Faerberg [Sky&Media]
RA-85823 of Samara Airlines
Photo © Manuel Marin - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
A bus was waiting for us, and during our bus-drive, I logged all aircraft we passed. At this point, I noticed a guy looking at me, together with his sun of about 12 years old. After a minute, I heard him saying to his sun: “die jongen schrijft de nummers van die vliegtuigen op”, or translated in English: “this guy is writing down the regs on the plane”. So it was a Belgian too! He looked at me, and started chatting. I told him I was a Belgian too, and he asked me if I was a planespotter. Immediately after that question, he started reading off the registration numbers for me, so I only had to write them down! His wife asked me whether I was interested only in Iberia planes, or in all aircraft.
Our bustrip had come to and end, so I wished them a nice holiday, and he wished me a nice spotting afternoon!
Once in the transit area of BCN, we went to a food corner to get something to drink. Although I was hungry, I didn’t eat anything because I wanted to try out ‘Tu Menu’ of IB.
Spotting in Barcelona
Since we were only in transit, I can’t comment on the spotting situation when you are not airside.
Spotting when you are airside is easy, under the condition that you are lucky to get a remote stand at the back of the airport (where we arrived). A lot of aircraft are parked over there, and you can’t read them off from the terminal.
Once you have seen all aircraft at the gate, you can go to the M2-gates to read off all departing and arriving traffic.
Some nice visitors: EI-CXN B733 Transaero (ex-Sabena!), EC-IZD Vueling A320 (I’m glad I saw this aircraft at BCN, because EC-JAB seems to be the only plane visiting BRU), I-ALPK F100 Alpi Eagles, EI-DBW Transaero B762, and again 2 nice Tu154’s:
RA-85708 of Kras Air
Photo © Manuel Marín - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
RA-85844 of Ural Airlines
Photo © Kai-jens Meyer
The 2 hours we had in transit passed quickly, and at 17.30, our flight was called for boarding.
Mc Donnell Douglas MD87
Departure time scheduled/actual 18.00/18.19
Arrival time scheduled/actual 19.10/19.05
Photo © Markus van de Kamp
Just like on our previous IB-flight, a very friendly IB-crew was there to welcome the passengers.
Also similar to our previous flight was the clean cabin with a comfortable seat pitch.
For some reason, I get very fat people besides me on 50% of my flights. After the fat smelly guy taking a lot of my space on the PMI-MAD flight earlier in the afternoon, I got a very fat woman besides me, with the difference that she wasn’t smelly. I understand that Southwest now asks fat people to book 2 seats, because I can imagine that it must be difficult with somebody of this size besides you on a long flight.
We were ready for push-back on-time, and taxied to the runway for take off. We passed a parking place with a lot of Air Nostrum DHC8’s and CRJ’s, so I managed again to fill some gaps in my logbook.
After a short roll of only 26 seconds, we were on our way to MAD!
About the service: I had hoped to be able to buy a sandwich, a snack and a drink on board (IB is offering a package for about €9), but unfortunately, our flight was 10 minutes too short So nothing was offered.
Nothing worth to note happened on the flight. The flying conditions were great, there was no service, the announcements of both the cabin crew and the pilots were not understandable due to all the noise in the cabin (not from the engines but from the people) and the IB MD87’s are equipped with old ugly screens to give some ‘entertainment’ to the passengers.
Of course, nobody was looking at the cartoons. Instead of investing in inflight entertainment, they would better invest in a drink service for the passengers.
Landing was soft, and after we turned onto the taxiway, I saw a B742 of IB touching down. The registration was EC-DIB, and this was also the last B747 of the IB-fleet I needed. Only a few days after I left MAD, my logbook became incomplete again, because TF-AMB (the second B744 ex-SIA) was delivered in the meantime.
Madrid Airport, Saturday 17/07/2004
We went to ‘Boulevard Barajas’ for a drink and a snack, combined with some spotting from the cafetaria.
Amongst the more interesting aircraft were PP-VQK RG MD11, D-AIPC 4U A319, EC-IOO B743 Air Pullmantur, and as usual, a lot of Air France ERJ’s + A320’s.
Our hotel was the same one as 2 days ago, Tryp Diana.
This was part 3 of our spotting trip! I hope you enjoyed it… all comments/questions/suggestions are welcome as usual!
Part 4 will be the last part of our spotting trip, covering our Alitalia flight from MAD to FCO, and our SN flight from FCO to BRU. Part 4 will normally be posted within 2 weeks, because I'll be in LHR next weekend (flying on BA).