Biman Bangladesh Airlines
Flight BG 058, July 22nd 2004, 3:20pm
Frankfurt International Airport – Dhaka Zia International
McDonnell Douglas DC10-30, S2-ACO „City of Hazrat-Shah Mahkdoom”
Maslin Executive Class – Seat 3F
After I tried Biman for the first time in 2003 and had quite a good experience, I decided to try them again for my trip to BKK and back.
This time, FRA was my departure airport (instead of BRU in 2003, where Biman really did not care about its customers).
After visiting the Deutsche Bahn lounge in Cologne, I took the ICE train to Frankfurt – not via the high speed route though as I wanted to take the old rhine track because of the better views. I arrived at the airport about 3 hours prior to departure and made my way to the check-in area “T”, which is very convenient if you get to FRA by train as it is located halfway between the station and Terminal 1. At that time, only one counter was open, but nearly nobody was checkin in. A friendly asian Fraport agent asked me for an aisle or window seat and I took the latter. She assigned me 3F. When I asked for the load factor, she said that Business class was quite empty. Unfortunately, she could not tell me which aircraft was on duty today. The agent advised me to make my way to the Biman check in counter in Terminal 1 to collect my lounge voucher as she ran out of it.
So I walked to the designated counter where a lot of people were already checkin in for flight BG 058 to DAC. As I didn´t want to wait in the queue, I quickly approached the female Biman agent who was sitting behind a closed counter. I showed her my boarding pass and she handed me my invitation to the Europe City Club (ECC).
It was a very hot day and the aircondition inside the terminal seemed to be out of order, so the whole area was very muggy and uncomfortable.
A lot of people were inside the Terminal as it was the first day of the school holidays.
At home, I read about the new possibility to register at the Federal Border Police office for the "Automated and Biometrics-Supported Border Controls". The explanation from the BGS website: “In this project, persons travelling on non-Schengen flights whose entry and exit is unproblematic from a border policing perspective may enter and leave German territory without having to go through manual border checks. Persons who wish
to participate in the project must undergo an iris scan and register the resulting biometric data, along with their passport data, with the Federal Border Police. These data will be used to verify enrolment in the project and for biometric.”
As I´m quite open-minded towards such futuristic actions, I decided to go to the designated registration office inside Terminal 1. But as there were some passengers already occupying all registration counters, I skipped it. Maybe next time…
So I took a walk around the terminal, but as the hot conditions inside the building didn´t suit me, I decided to pass through security and make my way to the airside ECC lounge.
I had to queue for security check, but half an hour later, I entered the small lounge which was quite full that day (no wonder). There were plenty of drinks to choose from and also a small selection of sandwiches and biscuits. I took a newspaper and relaxed a little bit. A small monitor with a keyboard was available for flight information. After pushing some buttons which were not marked and maybe also not intended for “public use”, I got a lot of additional info like registrations, load factors, assigned gates, baggage belts etc.. Very interesting indeed.
After some drinks and a tasty sandwich, I realized that my aircraft still had not arrived from FCO. I went to the lounge agent and she told me that the flight was delayed due to handling problems in Rome – well nothing unusual for Biman.
At around 3:15pm, I left the lounge for the gate area and could spot the the old lady S2-ACO through the windows.
The waiting area in front of the gate in area B was full, so I guess the load factor in Y was very high. After 30 minutes, boarding started with chaos. As usual, no priority was given to C class passengers, so I squeezed myself through all those energetic people trying to get onboard first . Fortunately, there was a separate airbridge for C class, so I could enter the aircraft quickly without trouble.
At the door I was greeted by a friendly F/A who showed me my seat 3F on the right side of the aircraft. A pre-departure drink was offered – I took a pineapple juice. Of course, the aircraft was equipped with those dated and oldfangled orange-green flower design seats – but the width was generous and the pitch was also not too bad. However, I always have problems finding a good sleeping position as the recline is not outstanding and I don´t know where to put my head.
After 20 minutes, the captain apoligized for the delay and announced the upcoming departure (the aircraft had lost its assigned slot, so we had to wait). After a long taxi, it was our turn and the City of Hazrat-Shah Makhdoom (what a name!!!) lifted us up into the german summer sky.
When I was back home, I checked the pictures on A.net and found this one (it shows the aircraft taxiing for departure on that day – thanks to the photographer Mr. Callaert. I still wonder if there´s my face somewhere behind the windows ).
Photo © Wim Callaert - Brussels Aviation Photography
I have a short QuickTime clip I recorded inflight. You can download it if you like (approx. 19MB): http://www.airlinetest.de/tripreport/cabin.mov
As you can see, the cabin was very empty. The old guy in the middle seemed to be from FCO. A couple was sitting in 1A and 1B – they also boarded at FRA, as well as the man in 3A. The rest were mostly crew members.
What really disappointed me this time: no menus were offered. Last year, I received very nice menus like the one you can see below. I think, this is standard in C class and I don´t know why they didn´t hand out any on that flight.
I quickly forgot this drawback when a friendly F/A in her beautiful traditional uniform asked me what I liked to drink. As I know that Biman only offers alcoholic drinks on request, I ordered a glass of champagne (Lanson) which came along with some tasty nuts (both was refilled without request later on ).
Writing about the non-existing inflight entertainment would be a waste of time. The audio channels were disgusting both in quality and quantity, so no improvement from last years experience. I expected those bengali comedy shows again, and indeed, they were shown on the main screen. I couldn´t believe my eyes when Biman suddenly presented “Sweet Home Alabama” – although not a very up to date movie it was a welcome variety.
As we didn´t receive a menu, I cannot remember the choices offered, but for dinner, I had chicken with rice, spinach and vegetables, bread, butter, greek style salad and a small pie with cream. This was quite ok, however, I´m a big fan of spicy Bengal food and this was far away from being spicy (it was more a western dish).
For dessert, the F/A came with a tray of fresh fruits – very good ! I also took a cup of tea and reclined my seat.
Afterwards, we were offered an overnight kit and I tried to get some sleep which was difficult as always, but somehow I managed to doze for a few hours.
The flight itself was quiet although two members of the cabin staff, who sat behind me, were chatting with a loud voice.
Later on, a light meal, which consisted of sandwiches, an eggplant pizza and a dessert, was served. Quite ok as well.
We began our descend to Zia International Airport. When I looked out of my window I could see huge amounts of water – a lot of the country got flooded at that time and it really put me in a bad mood.
We landed safely about an hour behind schedule, but that was not a problem for me as I had some hours to spend until my onward flight to BKK.
It was early morning in Dhaka and the airport was pretty empty. After getting off the plane, I went to the transit desk where some unfriendly ground staff already waited for connecting passengers.
I received my onward boarding pass along with an invitation to the lounge upstairs.
So I walked to the first floor where somebody suddenly blocked my way and opened the door to the Sheraton lounge. I was a bit confused, but the waiter inside then explained to me that the Maslin Lounge was closed. No problem with me as the Sheraton lounge was much larger with a nice interior. Some snacks and hot drinks were offered on a self-service bar in the middle of the room. Some minutes later, the german couple from 1A and 1B also entered the lounge.
I was really happy to see a clean toilet inside the lounge – if you have ever visited the public ones outside you know what I am talking about.
Below a picture of the Biman Maslin Lounge (not a very nice place):
My onward flight to BKK was scheduled for 9:00am, so I still had some time to spend.
The first leg onboard a Biman aircraft was not too bad, so I was looking forward to the following ones…
Biman Bangladesh Airlines
Flight BG 084, July 23rd 2004, 9:00am
Dhaka Zia International – Bangkok Don Muang
Airbus A310-300, S2-ADE “City of Hazrat Khan Jahan Ali”
Maslin Executive Class - Seat 2G
I left the Sheraton lounge and headed for the departure level. The gate for my onward flight to BKK was already announced on the screen (this screen looked like the one I used together with my Commodore 64 about 15 years ago).
You have a really nice view on the tarmac and the runway from the gate passage, so I took a walk to see what was going on on outside (unfortunately not that much). Bimans S2-ACQ was taxiing for departure:
A friendly custom inspector suddenly approached me and he asked me where I was coming from. We had a nice conversation about famous germans, the flood situation in Bangladesh and my trip in general. I was happy to see that there is also friendly staff working at Zia International Airport .
I went to the announced boarding gate and after a quick security check (not very strict) I settled down in one of the plastic seats.
Boarding started and again, no priority was given to C class passengers.
S2-ADE, an Airbus A310-300, was the aircraft for today´s flight. The seat configuration was 2-3-2 – the cabin itself looked a bit dated, of course with those flower style seats again…
There were only a handful of passengers in Maslin Executive Class, so I had plenty of room to stretch out. A full hot meal was served on this sector, followed by coffee. The flight time was about 2h15.
After an uneventful hop, we arrived at BKK almost on time and immigration was cleared quickly. My bag was one of the first to arrive due to the “Priority” sticker from FRA.
So I took a taxi from the departure level and headed for my hotel.
I have to say that the flight experience so far was quite satisfying. Biman ground staff was rude and indifferent as always, but the crew onboard was effective and attentive most of the time.
The remaining legs were:
BKK- NRT – BKK on TG
BKK – SIN on BG
SIN – BKK – DAC – KWI – FRA on BG
I´ll try to add these reports later on…unfortunately I had some trouble with the Biman staff at SIN on my way back which really turned me angry.
Your comments are always welcome !
For those who want to see the cockpit of S2-ADF inflight, I have another short QuickTime movie recorded in 2003 when I was invited by the captain on the BKK-DAC sector (approx. 10MB): http://www.airlinetest.de/tripreport/cockpit.mov