The return flight terminates at HAM, thats the chance to fly DBA on the HAM/STR route.
31.08.2004 STR/ZTH Hapag-Lloyd A310-200 D-AHLV delivered 02.01.1988.
HF 2681, 06.00/09.15 Flights ontime Gate 333 Load factor 100 %, no free seats available.
Photo © D.Lausberg
Photo © Sascha Foerster
The first flight to depart this tuesday morning was ours, a short night to reach the airport ontime. We were there at 4.45, parked the car at P2 as usual and crossed T0/T1 and T2, the older parts of STR airport on our way to the new T3 where all the HF flights are handled. I dont noticed the handling company this morning. Three desks are announced on the screens but only two are open, both with female handling agents staffed and with rather long queues. After 15 minutes to wait a third female agent arrived and now we are quick in front off the desk and checked in. The agent was not to friendly. a bit stressed this early morning time. Security was very busy with long queues, about 5 to 6 flights leave at nearly the same time from T3, Condor/Thomas Cook, LTU, HF, the typical early morning holiday business. An elderly couple in front off us had a problem with their carry on, we waited and than changed the queue as it seems that was a longer discussion to come.
Weve done some airport shopping and short thereafter it was time to board the AC by a finger gate. Final destination of the flight this morning was Corfou, another greek island.
Boarding procedure started at 5.35 and was separated in three parts. First the last rows, than the middle section, than the front.
As there are mostly vacationeers, not frequent flyers to board, you know what I mean when I say it was a bit chaotic till all the passengers were in the right group and find their seats!.
Greeted by two female FAs at the front door, not to friendly. Free newspapers and magazines on offer. The plane doesn´t show his age, it looks like clean and in good condition. Effective work at HF maintenance.
All doors in flight at 6.15. A long takeoff run and departure in western direction in the early morning light. Detailed informations from the flight deck short after departure.
Flight route:STR/Augsburg/MUC/INN/Bozen/VCE/along the eastern italian coastline and over the ionian sea to ZTH.
HF offered us a hot breakfast with pancakes and cherry cream and fresh rolls, coffee or tea and one extra drink service with cold drinks. The breakfast was ok. After one hour in flight, they called for a doctor between the passengers, an old lady had a problem, they carried her in the front galley and one of the FA´s comes from the back of the plane with oxygen, nothing more to see,
but the lady walks back to her seat short before landing, I think she was ok.
The approach to ZTH airport was really amazing, located in a small plain surrounded by mountains in two directions and the ionian sea in the other two, we circled along the coastline of ZTH beneath the mountains and under the level of the highest of them like a jet fighter, left turns, right turns, than IMO very low over the bay of Laganas, a sharp left 180 degree turn and immediate touchdown on the very short runway, full brakes and thrust reversers. There are no taxiways, so we turned around after the aircraft stopped and it seems the runway was no longer than 100 to 200 meters after our stop. ZTH airport has this short runway, no taxiways, 5 to 6 parking stands and a small building with only one baggage belt. Two Travel Service of Cheq Republic B 737-800s waited at the entrance to the runway for departure, a LTU A320 arrived short before us and on our way to arrivals a Novair of Sweden A321 arrived. All the bags on the short belt, you know what this mean, the belt stops and go on, IMO it was old and in bad conditions like the whole building.
Transfer to the hotel by bus was included. Anyway I thinked they sell these old western busses to africa but I think one of them find its way to Zakynthos!.
The hotel and what to do there: We booked "The bay hotel and suites", a 4 star resort at Vasilikos, a quiet location at the Skopos peninsula direct at the beach included halfboard, transfer and the HF flights STR/ZTH/HAM by L´Tur at 534.-- EURO per adult and 149.-- for my son (5 years).
The hotel was renovated and newly refurbished,a good place for a relaxed beach vacation. I rented a Kawasaki KLX 250 Enduro bike for 3 days = 53,70 EUROs. There are a lot of Off-road ways to go, especially to the eastern part of Skopos peninsula where the best beaches and the places with the last caretta-caretta turtles ind the mediterranean sea located.
We enjoyed it,it was great.
Special: The last night of our stay was a big fire at the Skopos hill visible. In the first rays of sunlight at around 6.30 we heard the sound of some prop-engines. Guys, it was amazing when you see these boys with their Canadair waterbombers at work, you think they crashed in the mountain, they circled around, sprayed their load to the fire from different directions, jumped over the hills and vanished in the valleys. A real great show with a good end, no fire visible later.
07.09.2004 ZTH/HAM Hapag-Lloyd B737-800 with winglets D-AHFG delivered 24.06.1998, HF 2394, 11.50/13.45 Flights ontime Gate 1!! Load factor 95 %
Photo © D.Lausberg
Photo © Alexander Gaida
Departure was planned for 11.50, the bus picked us up at 08.40. As we arrived there are large queues of people anywhere, no not only in the building, the queues are around the parking area and around the building. Passengers bound for VIE and HAM were in our bus. The VIE queue was there, very large in front off the building, we built a new queue for HAM. You are allowed to enter the small building when your check in desk opens, 6 desks are there, all queued. I was surprised, as we are allowed to enter the building, check in was quick, two female agents at the open desk, one checked passports and tickets, very friendly, the other checked the bags with the destination stickers, unfriendly. Another long queue for passport control and security. The departure area was overcrowded, not the right place if you are in problems with to many people in the same place. The screens announced why, 8 to 9 planes with delays up to three hours in front, all the passengers in the small departure hall. Im a bit thoughtful about our connection in HAM, but our HF plane arrived exactly ontime from GPA (Patras) a short hop away on the peloponnes and FRA. All the passengers from GPA to HAM are forced to leave the plane at ZTH, not the usually tourist load this time, there are lots of greek people on their way back to germany on the flight.
Much more people in the crowded departure hall, the bag workers and bus drivers sitting outside in the shadow, drinking coffee and beer, nothing to do for them, because there was no other plane there. A Novair B737-800 arrived and then we are allowed to board the B737-800. Greeted by two older female FAs at the front door, friendly and welcomed by the captain via the interkom on board. The plane looks a bit dirty, not in the best conditions.
Very friendly and detailed information from the flight deck, we had to wait for an incoming A 321 from NIKI of Austria, then entered the runway, drive down to the end, turned around, full power to the engines and a quick departure from the short runway.
Flight route: ZTH/GPA/Ioannina/Tirana(never before fly over Albania)/Dubrovnik/Sarajevo/Zagreb/Graz/Linz/NUE/ERF/HAJ/HAM.
HF offered also this time free newspapers and magazines, a hot meal. chicken with rice, rolls and two free drink services. Real good.
Great wheather to fly, with nice views over the Balkan and the Austrian alps.
Arrival short ahead of schedule in HAM at the old Terminal 1, parked at a finger position, but deboarded by stairs and bus, as the finger is not at work this time. A long time to wait for the bags (first in/last out!) and a bit to search to find the way across the huge T2 construction site to the new T4 where all the DBA flights are handled.
07.09.2004 HAM/STR DBA B737-300 D-ADIB delivered 03.09.1999
DI 7185, 16.05/17.15 Flights well ontime Gate A19 Load factor between 60 % and 70 % Price: 78,39 EUR per pax
Photo © Alsatian Spotters
Photo © Benny Bartels
Two check in desks open for DBA, no other passengers there, no time to wait. Checked in by an rather friendly male agent. Stairs up to the viewers terrace to enjoy the evening sun and view the traffic. The usual german planes LH and Cityline with its fleet, LTU A320,HF B737-800, AF and so on.
An Aeroflot of Russia IL 76 was loaded on the apron, a Pulkovo of Russia T 154 arrived and at roundabout 15.30 a DBA B737-300 comes in, parked at position 19, our plane to STR was arrived.
Crossed security, quick, the first time ever they want to see my wifes nailfile from her handbag. Arrived at gate 19 short before boarding was announced. Most of the pax are business travellers on their way to STR. Boarding by a finger this time. Welcomed by the pilot himself and an older female FA, both really friendly. The plane looks like in a good condition, dark leatherseats with the yellow/green heardrest in the usual DBA colour. A quick ontime departure. Flight route as announced from the flight deck short after departure: HAM/HAJ/Kassel/Würzburg/Ludwigsburg/STR.
Service: One free drink service with pretzels or chips or a muesli bar. The green DBA chocolate heart follows. Good wheather, the whole flight. Approach in eastern direction over the Weidacher Höhe, a late touchdown with heavy brakes and thrust reversers the vacate the runway quickly. Said goodbye to the pilote and the female FA at the front door. Deboarding by a finger gate at the new T3 at STR. Quick bags on the belt.
Conclusion: All the flights well ontime, good service on HF and friendly employees on DBA.
The future: HF is forced by its parent company TUI to cut down its costs to the Hapag-Lloyd-Express level, be sure that we customers feel the difference, in performance (for example no back up) or service.
DBA will make the first time ever profits in the third and fourth quarter this year, especially by better load factors and heavy used planes, for example also on charter business to other airlines and tour operators.
I hope to fly HF with the same or better standard again and wish especially DBA as the main domestic LH competitor a profitable future.
Thanx to fellow A.Net member Ndebele (Alex), he send me a mail if he can anything to do for me as he works for DBAs handling agent at STR.
Feel free to comment, positive or not!