I´ve booked a Frequence-Plus ticket to Sicily in September last year for October, but it was impossible about business reasons to do this trip.
So, I need a new destination: LIS in early spring maybe a good result!.
STR-CDG AF 1409 Airbus A320-200 F-GJVW
Schedule: 10.10 / 11.30 Gate 310
Actual: 10.05 / 11.15 Seat 10F
Fare: 25000 FP-Miles and 39.-- EUR Tax
Load Factor: max. 60 %
Photo © PatrickB
Photo © Marco Pianca
Arrived at STR T3, the new and spacious building opened last year, at short after 8 am. Two counters staffed, one male, one female, another female agent arrived till I waited. After one minute to wait, one of the female agents was ready to check me in. She was a bit stressed, as she had a discussion with an older male passenger, IMO from the middle east, who had lots of bags
(40 kilos, I heard about it) and dont want to understand that this is not possible. As I travelled with cabin-bag only, some seconds thereafter I hold my boarding passes for the STR-CDG and the CDG-LIS legs. Security was strict, but no beep as I know the procedure. Tuesday (and Friday) is Hapag-Lloyd hub day at STR, a lot of non frequent flyers to connect, you know what I mean, confusion here, panic there and not easy for me to find a calm and sunny place to visit the interesting traffic this morning. A Bundeswehr (German
Air Force) Transall arrived, nice to follow the smoky prop approach.
HF planes everywhere ( included four A310s). Most interesting for me was the arrival of an old A300 with JAS cheatline and hastily painted Onur titles. It was Saga´s one and only plane, till know operated for FlyAir. AFAIK FlyAir is in financial troubles so OHY leased the bird. My plane from CDG arrived ontime with lots of pax leaving by the airbridge. Time goes by quick and boarding started at 09.30 for the 10.10 flight.
Friendly welcomed by an older female FA ( 1 male / 3 female). My seat was in the first row after biz class.
My 18th leisure flight on the A320 and the first on this plane. It was not in the best conditions, dirty floor, parts of the window cover turns away, only light overpainted. The boarding procedure was finished quick about the low load factor. Most of the pax biz travellers and some vacationeers.
We´re pushed back and lined in to departure, 3 or 4 planes first, included the Air Force Transall. We had to wait for an AZ EMB-145 on short finals, entered the runway and had a powerful departure in eastern direction. A right turn after departure and on to CDG, passed SXB nearby.The good wheather in southern germany changed and the captain announced later thick clouds and light rain in the Paris area. Service was very friendly with one free drink and a small cake. Approach to CDG started early, 25 minutes before arrival, nothing to see until 5 minutes before touchdown. Landing on the most western runway, heavy breaks and thrust reversers to vacate quickly, another plane behind us landed shortly. We had to wait for an departing A340 and a B747 before we´re allowed to cross the active departure runway. Arrival at T2D, most used for the Schengen flights.Deboarding by a finger gate. At CDG all arrivals ended in the public area for security reasons. Conclusion: A separate security check before your connecting flight. I cheked the screens and as usual a gate change between the STR issued boarding pass and the actual announcement. Crossed security again and find a quiet place with good views in the bus boarding area down the stairs to wait for my connecting flight to LIS. T2D is an older part of CDG airport with limited space in the waiting areas and totally underserved with 3 small restrooms for roundabout 30 gates.
CDG-LIS AF 1624 Airbus A 318 F-GUGA
Scheduled: 13.00 / 14.35 Gate D 60
Actual: 13.05 / 14.15 Seat 10A
Load factor: near 100 %
Photo © Philippe Noret - AirTeamImages
Photo © Philippe Noret - AirTeamImages
I saw F-GUGA arriving from my viewing place. AF showed different planes for this flight, on my passenger receipt from October last year no plane type was announced (the STR-CDG and the CDG-STR legs were exactly as announced) and the AF online booking system showed the A 318. I thinked, this could be my plane. Up the stairs to my gate and F-GUGA parked at D60.
My first flight on the A318 and naturally the first on this bird. Again, boarding started early and goes quick forward as the next gate was also used. Again, a very friendly welcome, this time by a older male FA (2 male/1 female). Some problems with the carry-on´s as the plane was nearly complete full. Infact of the upcoming easter days, lots of Portuguese people on their way back home, some biz travellers and some connectors on board. Boarding completed, push back started early and we travelled all the way back beside T2B / A / C like the incoming taxi this morning back to the western departure runway. Only some seconds to wait till another plane landed on the other runway and we departed in southern direction, the clouds lifted and I had really nice views on the city of Paris (especially the Eiffel Tower). Flight route southwestern to Nantes, over the Biscaya, entered the Iberian peninsula between Bilbao and La Coruna and approached over the portuguese countryside to LIS. This plane looks new, was clean and in good conditions. Service: A free drink and a plate with three small sandwiches with cheese or ham and a small cake. IMO a good alternative to my last experiences on European "Full service" carriers like LH or others.
Smooth touchdown, no thrustreversers, leave the active runway in front off the terminal building and arrival at the last finger gate. LIS airport shows clearly the different periods of building, IMO 3 or 4 times expanded the last years. As the wheather was fine ( sunny, 22 degrees) I dont want to loose time by bus and subway and take a taxi to the hotel. 13.-- EUROs, I think it was not cheap, but it was ok.
After 15 minutes I was there at the Sana Classic Executive, a 3 star city hotel near the Avenidas Novas and easy to reach by the subway station San Sebastiao. HRS rate 62.-- EURO per night, breakfast included, recommendable.
What to do in Lisbon for 2 days: Drive the famous old-fashioned tramways called Electronicos (but hold your pocket safe, a good place for pickpockets), take the Elevador de Santa Justa and enjoy a very interesting city.
LIS-CDG AF 1625 Airbus A 318 F-GUGA
Scheduled: 15.30 / 19.00 Gate 7
Actual: 15.30 / 18.40 Seat 20A
Load factor: near 100 %
Photo © José Jorge
Photo © Jp lemaire
This time i go by subway (included in my daily city ticket for Metro and Carris 2,90 EUR) and the Aerobus (3.-- EUR oneway) to the airport.
As the Aerobus runs late after schedule and the drivers had lots of time (manana!) before they started their run to the Airport I was there at 2 pm for my 3.30 pm departure. The new part of LIS airport where AF check in was done is impressive, wide and great. 3 counters staffed with 3 good-looking portuguese females, about 10 pax in front, not more than 5 minutes to wait. Check in was done quick, the agent was friendly, this time I checked ma cabin-sized suitcase in to STR and entered the pax area secured by a boarding-pass control desk. Lots of shops and restaurants thereafter, short before arrival at the gate area there is located the security check. Same procedure as always, belt and jacket off, no beep.
Interesting planes there: TAAG Angola B742, Loftleidir Icelandic B 767-300,
Air Luxor A330, SATA A310, 4 EuroAtlantic planes included the famous TriStar500 and another TriStar without markers.
I was at my gate as my plane arrived. Hmmm..., AF owns a wide variety of planes and what arrived? - F-GUGA, my second leg on the A318 and on this bird. Boarding started 30 minutes before scheduled departure time through the same finger gate as on arrival at Tuesday. Again very friendly welcomed by the FA´s ( 1 male/2 female) and the captain. Plane again clean. Also this time lots of easter travellers on the way to their familys, some biz pax in First and Biz. Taxi to departure is not easy at LIS, all the planes cross the active runway, the taxiway to the holding point is opposite the apron.Departure in western direction. Interesting, they built new houses sure not more than 200 meters beneath the runway. The departure directs us over the city of Lisbon, I remember that I saw some A340s low over the city, typical A340 departure.
Flight route was exactly the same as on Tuesday. The captain informed us pax well, with flight route informartions, sights to see along the route, good wheather over french mainland, the city of Nantes, Le Mans, Versailles castle and so on. Service this leg: A free drink and a cheese sandwich.
Some thunderstorms in the Paris area. On early approach we circled between the high clouds, later we fly through the clouds with heavy shakers, ups and downs, some people crying. Final approach was very interesting. We had to pass the airport, the approaching planes under us in the other direction clearly visible, a sharp left turn to line us in, short after us a widebody breaks through the clouds, also for lining in the approaching queue. Landing again with breaks and thrustreversers to vacate the runway. On the ground I saw how heavy the thunderstorm clouds are, impressive.
Arrival again in T2D. Heavy rain, no finger gate,bad,but CDG has a special kind of buses. Its a sort of driving elevator cabin, it picked us up directly at the planes door and leaves us at a finger gate without going outside in the rain.
CDG-STR AF 1208 Airbus A 319-100 F-GRHO
Scheduled: 21.15 / 22.35 Gate D 56
Actual: 21.10 / 22.15 Seat 25A
Load factor: not more than 40 %
Photo © Pascal Maillot
Photo © Bart Noëth
I take the same place as on Tuesday, stairs down, sit and wait, view the traffic. As it was night, no good views this time.
Again a gate change and early boarding at 8.45 pm. My 12th flight on the A319-100 and the first on this bird. Warm welcomed by the Captain and a female FA (1 male/3 female). Good looking plane, clean.
This time most of the pax are biz flyers on the way back home to germany.
One service with a free drink and some bretzels and crackers. Departure at the same runway as on Tuesday, taxi this time around the new T2F and E.
3 planes to departure in front, but only 1 or 2 minutes to wait. The clouds gone away and this gives me a very nice view over the nightly lighted city short after departure. Flight route: CDG/SXB/STR. Approach started early, more than 30 minutes before arrival. We passed STR in southern direction and approached from the east. The male FA announced: In a view minutes we`re arriving at Frankfurt Rhein/Main airport. Where, the pax asked?. Laughing around: Sorry, at STR Echterdingen airport. Soft landing, we vacate the runway nearly at the end, joined a finger position. Till we waited for the finger I had a nice chat with the male and the female FA in the back of the plane. They said it was a long day and the flight before was CDG-FRA,FRA-CDG and then CDG-STR. They had the night-stop in STR. The female purser apologized her personally by us pax at deboarding for the FRA-STR fault. A special and emotional service. Interesting was bag pick-up. At the announced belt waited lots of pax from an earlier arrived HLX flight from PMI and they are really annoyed as our AF bags arrived as we are at the belt and they had to wait much longer.
Conclusion: After my last trip with 3 LoCoAirlines (Germanwings/Vueling/HLX) only 2 weeks ago I feel more safe on this AF trip. Be sure, safe not in the case of safety in the plane, I think safe around the trip, whats going on if something goes wrong, connection, wheather or else?
Ontime flights, friendly employees at all = Good Job by Air France.
Comments and critics always welcome,