My family and I decided to go to Kitzbuhel for a second time for a weeks skiing in the Alps. We booked a package with First Choice over a year in advance! This trip report is the journey of FCA4652 and FCA4653, my transport to this beautiful place.
[Note: Most pictures not taken in flight are thumbnails to reduce your loading time. Click on ALL images to view full size]
Instead of putting us on the early flight, as they usually do, First Choice had put us on the afternoon flight. Whilst this had its advantages, such as not waking up at ghastly hours and spending the entire time at the airport like a Zombie in desperate need of coffee , there were disadvantages. Sitting around at home twiddling thumbs all morning, busier airports and arriving at our destination in darkness. Still, a flight is a flight, and this to me was a special one. My first Boeing 757 flight in over a decade!
I walked through the doors into the pleasant North Terminal at LGW, far superior to South, and was met by crowds of people check in queuing. A green sign could only confirm that this was the FCA line. We joined it, and after 25 minutes were sent over to premium check-in by a man at the front filtering the queue. My family looked at me hopefully, whilst I laughed and assured them that we would not be getting upgraded as our aircraft was a Boeing 757, hence, no Premium.
I headed through security and into the airy North departure lounge. A mixed sound of passengers bustling in shops, bongs from announcement speakers and water splashing against the fountains, situated on some of the gates, met my ears.
After a short while of waiting we headed down to our gate, told to expect a 15 minute walk, which it never is. On my way I passed numerous BA aircraft, including a couple of world tails which are still floating around and are a nice change from the Union Flag. As we approached our gate, two Boeing 757’s stood next to each other. I knew that G-OOBI was my aircraft today, an ex US Airways bird.
First Choice Airways
Departure time: (Sch/Act) 1400/1424
Photo © John Higgins - AirTeamImages
Photo © Mathias Krewedl
We boarded straight away, and I was sat in seat 5A, exactly where I was last year to GNB with FCA, but on the 321! The first thing that struck me was just how cramped the plane was, the A321 felt much more spacious. The armrest dug into my thigh because I had to sit slightly one way due to the lack of the legroom.
The cabin crew looked smart in their bright pink uniforms, but then some of them took their jackets off to reveal the hideous baggy multi coloured top which I had hoped FCA had got rid of. The cabin crew told me they were not good to work in and stuck to you.
The overhead panels and bins looked older, showing its age from US. It did however have flip down flat screen TV’s which were nice. The control for the entertainment was in the overhead locker ahead of us, taking up almost the entirety of it minimising the space for luggage of the passengers seated in those rows.
The air bridge was detached and the cabin crew came round giving children little kits including colouring pencils etc. The F/A’s seemed very nice, as always on FCA.
We started to roll back and one of the cabin crew brought down the screens and started the safety briefing. It was a nice and professional presentation, but slightly tedious and too long.
As we came to a halt next to the satellite the fan blades of engine 1 started to rotate.
A beautiful sound, only a RR engine could make followed as the engine came to life, soon followed by number 2. The aircraft rolled slightly from side to side, as the tug was disconnected and before long the engine noise increased and we rolled forward across the taxiway towards 26L.
As we continued, the wing bumping up and down softly, the flaps were set for departure and we passed numerous aircraft, including an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200, a Phuket Air Boeing 747-300 (yes it was) and a Ryanair 737-200.
Company G-OOBD disappeared out of my view and was son heard roaring away as she started her roll. We followed and swung onto the runway. Still rolling the thrust was increased and we started to speed up. With one final push of the thrust lever, the sound increased and the familiar RB-211 sound roared through the cabin as I was pinned to the back of my seat.
We rotated and climbed 757 style out by the car parks
We continued our steep climb and the wing was soon slicing through the clouds.
As we were seated very near to the front I was surprised to hear an FA attracting my attention and offering me my meal. I was handed a box and today it was Chicken Veloute with broccoli, carrots and potatoes. With this I got a bread role and some mineral water in a little tub
What surprised me was that drinks came at a cost! No free tea/ coffee anymore!
We reached our cruising altitude and were soon crossing the coast of France
Meanwhile BBC’s ‘Holiday’ programme was shown as our entertainment
I tried some new shots capturing the window from further back as we cruised over France
The F/A’s were very attentive and friendly, it was just a shame about the baggy ‘shirt’ part of the uniform, which looked very cheap. After ‘Holiday’ was over there was a Skymap, which was nice, and a First Choice Quiz and Facts section on the screens which passed the time.
As we started to near Austria the weather took a turn below. Check out the difference from the left to the right!
We started our descent, the thick cloud nearing. The captain had warned us that SZG was suffering battering winds and snowy conditions and that “whilst this is good to holidayers, it is not good for planes” .
As we descended through 21000ft it got bumpy and the seatbelt signs came on. Our speed at this time was 933km/h.
We hit the clouds and I told my family they were in for a ride! The man behind taunted his wife even though she was obviously petrified!
Soon enough it started to get a bit rough and the speed brakes sprung into action. The bumps got quite vigorous as the overhead bins rattled. We dipped, and literally fell through the sky at one time, everyone screaming. Me being the plane nut I am smiled and thought it was all great !
The snowy Austrian ground emerged through the thick cloud as we swung this way and that. The pilots increased the thrust in short bursts, almost up to takeoff power at one stage as we continued to sway about making steep turns over Austrian towns.
We came in low over Ikea
The gear was lowered and we started nearing the ground fast.
We took one final swing and 10 seconds later we were over the runway, a Transavia 738 heading for departure.
The Captain levelled us out perfectly, swung us into line and brought us down gently, a remarkable landing! The rear section of the plane burst into applause.
We continued to slow using no thrust reverse to aid until we sped off the runway, being welcomed to Salzburg where the local time was 16.40 and the outside temperature was 5C.
It was only now, as we taxied along side the runway that I could see the extreme approach assigned to aircraft landing at SZG that day. A Transaero 767-300ER came in parallel to the runway, nose down, turned round and slammed onto runway 34.
We continued towards the ramp, a FlyBe just arrived.
Good old photographers, had to take a picture of you back
I got a beautiful picture of this classic as we came to a halt next to her.
The engines slowly wined down and the seatbelt sign was turned off. The familiar sound of everyone undoing their seatbelts rung throughout the cabin.
Deboarding was very quick, especially as I was near to the door. I thanked the cabin crew before heading out onto Austrian soil. As I stood on the bus, which would take me into the terminal, I whipped out my camera and took this shot of the wonderful RB-211, a fantastic engine!
Overall FCA were once again very good. Although the seating was cramped the seats themselves were comfortable and the entertainment and skymap was welcomed. The cabin crew were very good and the meal was tasty. Thank you First Choice.
I will not do a trip report on the way back, as it is almost exactly the same, but with a lack of photos due to it being night time. However, here are some shots from that flight including what was on, food and sunset.
Thanks for reading,