SEAT 1C , Club Europe
Photo © Nik Deblauwe
Early morning start for me today on what is a pretty normal run of the mill flight for myself. I must on average travel this route once a week, but it was as always punctual, the service was quick and efficient and an early arrival thrown in as a bonus. As a side note on this sector we (BA) often have loads of up to 55 in the Club Europe cabin and I never fail to marvel at the efficiency of the crew in managing to serve a full hot breakfast with a serving of rolls and coffee on a flight with an air time of just 33mins!.
26th August 2004
SEAT 27F , World Traveller
Photo © Paul Dopson - AirTeamImages
The flight to Buenos Aires was completely full ‘down the back’ but with a relatively light load in the premium cabins. The passenger complement was approximately half and half with some 85 of us travelling onwards to EZE.
The meal service came shortly after takeoff, in order to allow folks as much rest as possible. The main course was very tasty and consisted of chicken and pasta in a cheese sauce, along with a small salad for starter and a dessert of trifle.
The actual flying time to GRU was approximately 12hrs which was passed in a deep slumber by myself as I awoke about two hours out in time for a light breakfast which was a scrambled egg and bacon roll.
The transit stop in GRU saw the first new airliners entering the log book and our two hour stop was spent at the window facing the taxiway with my telescope in hand frantically trying to read off a Gulf V in near total darkness1 (N reg with Brazilian flag on tail, any ideas greatly appreciated).
The second sector of this journey was relatively uneventful, a small, but adequate snack of a sandwich and cake was served along with a beer from the bar. We landed in EZE 20 minutes ahead of schedule a parked on the pier in between an Alitalia T7 and a United 763 (which turned out to be one of the rarer ones N666UA – well its certainly not too common in the ‘Row).
We transferred to our hotel in the city and spent and great two days in Argentina spending most of our time at AEP, (Aerosur 732 in the hangar – Reg???), and a great evening watching Indipendiente. The hotel we used incidentally was the Hotel Regis and cost approximately £28 for the room and was very clean and centrally located.
29th August 2004
Seat 31E Economy
Photo © Tim de Groot - AirTeamImages
We arrived at EZE early in the hope that Varig would accept our BA staff tickets and enable me to ride the so far elusive MD11. We were overjoyed when we finally reached the front of the huge check in queue and the friendly RG staff confirmed that a) it was a MD11 b) They would take our tickets and most importantly c) There was space!!.
After paying our taxes we rushed to the gate and their in all her glory sat PP-VQJ. Boarding was completed quite rapidly for the large load and we pushed back off stand on time. I could barely contain my excitement as we approached the threshold , having already heard of the 11’s awesome power, I was relishing the thought of one with such a light fuel load, and boy was I not disappointed.
After a brisk and powerful takeoff roll the aircraft entered a very steep left hand bank at what appeared to be only feet above the runway and proceeded to climb steadily to 33000ft for the two hour flight.
The remainder of the flight was relatively uneventful apart from a quite superb Steak for lunch and patch of what I would have called moderate, others around seemed to disagree, turbulence which was over in around twenty mins.
We transferred to the quite superb Golden flat hotel at CGH and spent two awesome days spotting and photographing the movements at both airports before finally having to leave to head to Rio.
31st August 2004
Photo © Fabio Laranjeira
We were unable to book our flights on GOL from the UK , as although they claim to accept international booking via Amex I was unsuccessful in numerous attempts. We did however manage to secure the same low price at the airport desk on the day of departure for only £21.
The flight was nearly full but the aircraft was immaculate and the cabin crew simply stunning!!.
We were served with a snack and a drink on the flight which lasted only 30 mins, and overall I would recommend GOL to anyone, they were efficient, helpful, punctual and most of all very competitively priced 9/10 (Ten would have been a –800 but it was not to be!)
Rio has a spotting destination didn’t really do it for me. After the excitement of CGH, the variety at GRU, and the copious PP/PT/PR – bizjets I felt a little let down by the pace and variety at both of Rio’s airports, although F.A.B 748’s certainly brightened up the log!!.
3rd September 2004
Photo © Oliver Brunke
This trip had intitally been booked as the source of the MD11 ride but having riden one days earlier (and little did i know later in the day) i wasn't too perturbed. I had flown on 763's of both BY and BA before and the dated cramped and very tired interior of this old bird certainly reminede me more of the former!!.
The highlight of this rather mundane flight was the smokey deprture of a FAB 707 infront of us, certainly a rare sight for us Europeans.
The rest of the flight was spent reassuring my friend (a very nervous flyer) as to what all the noises were. However even a veteran of over 400 flights after a while some the noises even evaded me for an answer!!.
Now for the really fun part,
After waiting for a fair few hours for the BA flight to close we were a dismayed as one can be in such situations to find that the flight was full and alas no seat for me!. Never mind though there was was a Varig flight in a few hours so we spent the time consuming several bottle of Skol (the excellant Brazillian beer no the piss weak english crap!!).
We waited and waited and waited at the Varig staff desk, until the lady smiled and asked "Londres?", "Yes please i smiled", "Sorry Full!".
Fantastic , we now had about twenty minuted to decide what to do interms of plan B but our hand was forced in view of the fact that all other flight to Europe were full so MAD it was!!.
3rd September 2004
Photo © Rodolfo Philipp
I really can't tell you very much about this flight at all really, as i was asleep for the most part. An interesting observation however is that Varig turn off the inflight entertainment after about 3hrs so people can sleep. However my friend was unable to and subsequently spent 9hrs sitting wide awake in a pitch black cabin!! . Now i know you can't please everone but just thought it worth mentioning.
On landing in MAD yours truely was regretting not taking back up tickets when the lady at EZY wanted 220 Euros for a one way MAD-LGW, but with no other alternative that would have connected back to Jersey my hand was a again forced!!, ah well we said at least we'll get a nice new A319.
Seat backrow righthand window
Photo © Juan Rodriguez - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
As you can see our A319 turned out to have been made in Seattle and on top of that alas no -700 but an ex BA heap of Crap that already i flown 9 sectors on!!. The flight was very easyjetish, nothing to say really , they get you there, 5 euros for a small beer, another 5 for a sandwich fifteen minutes late. I'm not slaggin them off or anything, EZY are my preferred LCC in europe, but compared to the GOL Flight earlier,m the contrast was stark.
Seat 3A Club Europe
Photo © David Unsworth
Left on time, two G+T's a nice Salmon salad and 30 minutes later a very tired spotter was back home.
Hope you enjoyed reading this report. Any comments critisism's, questions or answers are most welcome.