A340600
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 5:47 am



Heya,

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 silly , 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
FCA4652
LGW-SZG
12/03/05
Boeing 757-2B7
G-OOBI
Departure time: (Sch/Act) 1400/1424


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © John Higgins - AirTeamImages
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

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

http://img230.exs.cx/img230/6932/20050319ski0500129uv.jpg

We continued our steep climb and the wing was soon slicing through the clouds.

http://img205.exs.cx/img205/4241/20050319ski0500134zh.jpg

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!

http://img227.exs.cx/img227/6784/20050319ski0500169ow.jpg

We reached our cruising altitude and were soon crossing the coast of France

http://img119.exs.cx/img119/5628/20050319ski050023b9ua.jpg

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

http://img115.exs.cx/img115/2413/20050319ski050024b5ph.jpg

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” silly .

As we descended through 21000ft it got bumpy and the seatbelt signs came on. Our speed at this time was 933km/h.

http://img118.exs.cx/img118/9295/20050319ski050031b0jj.jpg

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 Smile!

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.

http://img103.exs.cx/img103/9879/20050319ski050039b1vb.jpg

http://img55.exs.cx/img55/2460/20050319ski050045b3rl.jpg

We came in low over Ikea silly 

http://img238.exs.cx/img238/6184/20050319ski050046b9zr.jpg

http://img17.exs.cx/img17/6724/20050319ski050005b9yl.jpg

The gear was lowered and we started nearing the ground fast.

http://img139.exs.cx/img139/8934/20050319ski050051b2wr.jpg

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.

http://img145.exs.cx/img145/129/20050319ski050054b8ck.jpg

http://img60.exs.cx/img60/1668/20050319ski050055b8ba.jpg

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 biggrin 

http://img53.exs.cx/img53/1613/20050319ski050061b5dr.jpg

I got a beautiful picture of this classic as we came to a halt next to her.

http://img210.exs.cx/img210/6873/trueclassicafterarrivalszg6zz.jpg

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!

http://img74.exs.cx/img74/9319/rb211closeup2fg.jpg

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,

Comments welcome,

Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
A321fly
Posts: 304
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:06 am

Excellent report, you never really hear anything bad about First Choice which is a good thing.

Intrestingly the boxed meals are they just for the flights to SZG or are they on all flights?
 
babybus
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:21 am

Nice report. I can't believe they charge for tea and coffee. I mean that is real mean. One teabag or a spoon of coffee must be less than 1p! If everyone had a drink that's still less than £2.20.

Such news has dampened my appreciation of First Choice. At least you said the food was OK.

Cheers and thanks. smile 
and with that..cabin crew, seats for landing please.
 
AA737-823
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:50 am

Nice report.
I wish we could disembark by airstair more often here in the States. I haven't done that since.... well, I did last summer on a Beech 1900D, but certainly never from a 757.

Great photos, too.
 
Airplanepics
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:59 am

Nice report!

Quoting Babybus (Reply 2):
f everyone had a drink that's still less than £2.20.

It may just be £2.20 for this flight, but thats £2.20 saved from every First Choice Flight completed.

So, say all of FCA's aircraft fly a total of 100 flights a day (I know its not that many, using it as an example) thats £220 a day saved, multiply that by the number of days in a year and the airline is saving a total of £79200! And that's not even including other beverages such as Alcohol and soft drinks!

It soon add's up!
Simon - London-Aviation.com
 
atco2b
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:11 am

Sam, great report as usual! Been on G-OOOS/OOOB in May 2003, they were bloody cramped compared to the 321 (G-OOAF) ! Especially OB, old interior with red-style leatherette arm-rests and blue trim!

You probably know this already Sam, but your aircraft touched down from Innsbruck before your flight. BD' was rotating to Grenoble as the 4610.

Cheers
Tom
Hey, you want to go out for pizza and some sex? What, you don't like pizza?
 
BMIFlyer
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:20 am

Well done sam Big grin

You don't half get around  Wink

See you @ the MAN meet  bigthumbsup 


Lee
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
 
A340600
Topic Author
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:44 am

Hey,

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated  biggrin 

Quoting Atco2b (Reply 5):
You probably know this already Sam, but your aircraft touched down from Innsbruck before your flight. BD' was rotating to Grenoble as the 4610

Funnily enough, yes I do. I accidently picked up another boarding pass from my seat pocket and it was some lady who had flown in from INN that same morning.

Quoting A321fly (Reply 1):
Intrestingly the boxed meals are they just for the flights to SZG or are they on all flights?

I think this is part of their ski flight deals,

Cheers

Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
ScottishLaddie
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First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 8:22 am

Excellent report, as usual, Sam.  Smile
 
BFS
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 11:15 am

Hey
Nice report. You're damn right about the uniform. It looks very very nice until they take off the jacket and you see that horrendous blouse! Same for the guys - nice suit and shirt, bloody awful tie! Hope they change it soon!
 
bmi
Posts: 317
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:42 pm

hey,
always great to read reports with pics on the UK charter carriers! glad you had a good time

see ya
mark
 
A340600
Topic Author
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Sat Mar 26, 2005 9:14 pm

Hey,

Cheers for replies. FCA need to sort that part of the uniform out!

Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
N754AN
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Sun Mar 27, 2005 2:22 am

Fantastic report mate, and excellent pics!

Good stuff.

Chris
Fankoooooooo
 
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Crosswind
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Sun Mar 27, 2005 8:11 am

Nice report and photos - you obviously took a lot of time over it!

One thing I did notice are your timings...
Airline schedules are block times ie gate to gate, not takeoff to touchdown. The times shown on your ticket between departure and arrival include average taxi times at arrival and departure airports, plus average flying times, plus a few extra minutes to account of any unforeseen circumstances.

Your fight had an STD of 14:00, pushed back at 14:10, and was airborne at 14:26 (by our clocks!) so the recorded ATD was 14:10. It's a very common misunderstanding of how airlines measure on time performance.

The lack of a separate tea/coffee service is as much due to time constraints as anything else - yes it the traditional tea/coffee service does cost very little to offer it. However, the only tea/coffee/hot choc service on ski flights is with the normal bar service, and is of the Kenco/Typhoo/Suchards-branded "hot cup" variety that you see on easyjet et al, as opposed to the crew serving tea/coffee brewed in the galley into a cup on your meal tray. On all other flights you would get both the complimentary tea/coffee with the meal, and the chargeable service with the bars.

Serving the meals in boxes on ski flights, as opposed to the tray service on all other routes, means that the whole service is disposable, which again speeds things up - the crew don't have to re-stow meal trays in the carts, and separate the cups and plates which are washed and re-used from the rest of the debris!

Shame you got G-OOBI both ways, but since it is one of the power-by-the-hour aircraft it is generally confined to shortest ski flights on the weekends, and backup duties/subcharters/maintenance cover/ad-hocs for the rest of the week. At least you noticed the new IFE installation - this is a photo of sistership G-OOBJ while with US Airways pre-refurbishment;

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Stephen DeAngelis


The IFE, galleys, bulkheads, seats and toilets are all new, and considering their age I think both aircraft's cabins are in very good condition now.

Regards
CROSSWIND
 
SignalOne
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Mon Mar 28, 2005 6:27 am

Well done Sam, an excellent report. Glad you enjoyed your flights with First Choice Airways. They are very good. It looks as if you had the same meal as me on the way back, very nice indeed.

Excellent!  bigthumbsup 

Regards, Ryan
SIGNALONE  Smile
Golf - Bravo Romeo India Foxtrot
 
A340600
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Sat Apr 09, 2005 1:09 am

Hey,

Cheers for the replies biggrin 

Quoting Crosswind (Reply 13):
Airline schedules are block times ie gate to gate, not takeoff to touchdown.

I know this, but couldn't remember push back time so just put departure Smile

Quoting Crosswind (Reply 13):
Serving the meals in boxes on ski flights, asopposed to the tray service on all other routes, means that the whole service is disposable, which again speeds things up - the crew don't have to re-stow meal trays in the carts, and separate the cups and plates which are washed and re-used from the rest of the debris!

A truly fantastic idea by FCA!

Quoting Crosswind (Reply 13):
The IFE, galleys, bulkheads, seats and toilets are all new, and considering their age I think both aircraft's cabins are in very good condition now.

It was in great condition. The only thing that gave away its age was its overhead lockers and seatbelt/no smoking signs.

Cheers

Sam biggrin 
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
bAe146TOM
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:52 pm

Hey another great report Sam,great to see you had a nice time-I still prefer the 757 its a amazing aircraft! Thanx again for sharing your pix and report all the best  hyper Tom hyper 
 
Horus
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Mon May 02, 2005 1:06 am

Great report Sam! Well done

Horus
EGYPT: A 7,000 Year Old Civilisation
 
A340600
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Tue May 03, 2005 8:36 am

Cheers Tom and Horus biggrin 

Sometime this week I will post my trip on the Blue Peter Bird G-CPEM and G-CPEL,

Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
sausageandmash
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Sun May 15, 2005 10:33 am

Quoting BFS (Reply 9):
Same for the guys - nice suit and shirt, bloody awful tie!

Er, tie? FCA haven't had a tie as part of the men's uniform since May 2003. Open necked pink shirt....are you confused?
Hello - it's me again
 
BFS
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Mon May 16, 2005 1:29 am

Sausageandmash

That´s good news! I´m going to be working for First Choice this summer and so will be wearing the uniform too. I had noticed any time I´d seen the uniform in airports the men weren´t wearing the ties, but in their offices near Manchester all the guys were wearing one in a similar design to that of the ladies´ blouse.
 
A340600
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RE: First Choice Airways LGW-SZG, Boeing 757, W/Pics

Wed May 18, 2005 10:16 am

I'm surprised they get away with the shirts they do for the males. I think that it is a step too far to put them in bright pink Shirts silly . However, I like it, it looks professional, friendly and fun, as does the pink female outfit. Just rid of that HORRIFIC multi coloured drape thing!

Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!

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