Saturday 19 March 05
Airline:Yemenia Yemen airways
From:London Heathrow LHR
To:Sanaa SAH, Yemen
To:Dhaka Zia Int'l DAC, Bangladesh
Via Dubai DXB
Departure:19:05 GMT (airborne 19:50)
Arrival:05:00 local time
Flying time:6 hours 55 minutes
The Easter break was a chance for me to visit Dhaka (DAC) once again, after scouring a few travel agents i settled for the cheapest option, on Yemenia via Sanaa costing us a measly £375.00 return. I flew British Airways LHR-DAC-LHR last time round but BA were quite pricy on this occasion, Emirates and Qatar Airways were too expensive for my liking aswell, £640.00 return. I had never flown on Yemenia before nor did i know anything about them, so it made for a curious trip. Plus i had never flown on the A330.
After navigating the M1 and M25 i reached terminal 2 at LHR, it was the usual bustling and busy terminal we know with IB, LH and AF flights all departing. The IY check-in desks are located right at the end of T2, there were only a handful of pax checking as we got there nice and early (never take any chances with int'l flights). Check-in was a breeze as we were checked-in by AFSL CSA's.
Our flight would depart from gate 9 which is at the end of the cul-de-sac of T2. After an hour or so of lingering around T2 departures it was time to go through security, security was done in a quick and efficient manner. The BAA screeners were in a rather jolly mood today, all laughing and joking amongst
themselves. The departure screens showed gate 9 which was 10 minutes walk away, so i started making my way through the maze of shops at airside, there's even a mini Harrods here. Got to the gate to find a long queue
as there was a Iberia flight to Barcelona (a 757) departing at gate 7 which made the lounge quite crowded. My passport, ticket and boarding passes were checked again by the female AFSL agents. I sat there for about half
an hour watching planes planes through the glass window to our right side, a TAP A321 pushed back. There was also a large TV screen in the middle of the lounge showing 'Grandstand' on BBC1, showing todays Premiership scores,
Arsenal 1:0 Blackburn! Excellent start to the Easter break!
It was time to board, there was a sea of humanity rushing to the gate, ticket and boarding passes were checked again as we entered the jet bridge. The sound of the APU at full blast hit us as we walked along the bridge. I was
greeted by a male FA standing at the door who showed me my seat which was 32C, it was in the centre section in the rear economy cabin. The interiors of the plane were as you'd expect in immaculate condition since
the plane was barely 6 months old, leased by Yemenia from ILFC. It has a dual first/economy configuration seating 277 seats. I took my seat and watched as the plane filled up with passengers, it was a full flight in economy, not a empty seat in sight. The seat was rather hard and not very comfortable, seat pitch was acceptable, was probably 32 inches. The meal trays were rather flimsy and small, there was also a small coat hanger behind each seat, which was quite handy as i took off my jacket and hung it there instead of getting up and putting it in the overhead bins. There were no PTV's, just a magazine in the seat pocket and 10 channels of music as entertainment. We would be cruising at an altitude of 36,000 feet at 530 mph.
Safety demonstrations were also shown on the overhead monitors which pop down making a rather loud "screeching" noise, cabin announcements were made in English and Arabic. We then eventually pushed back and started taxiing, take off would be from 27L in a easterly direction over
the legendary Hatton Cross. Headphones and blankets were handed out, the FA's also came round with sweets for pax. Since it was dark by now, there was no chance of taking photos, plus the batteries on my camera drained!, but i promise i'll have pictures in the second inbound part of my trip report. I thought the seat next to me would be empty but it wasn't to be, a middle-aged gentleman came and took his seat, he was a London-based Yemeni going to Sanaa to visit relatives. Not suprisingly, most of the passengers were Yemeni with some connecting Indian and Bengali pax for DAC and BOM. The FA's were probably not Yemeni, or at least they didn't look Yemeni in appearance.
An announcement was made over the PA, "cabin crews please cross check and take your seats". We taxied for ages until we reached the threshold of 27L, ahead of us was a BA 747-400-G-BYGF to Hong Kong, JAL 744 and a SAA A340 to CPT, we were behind the SAA A340. Behind us was a BA 757/A320 and the IB 757 to BCN which was at gate 7. The IY A330's have onboard cameras installed in the nose (or is it the landing gear?) giving us a good view of the runway ahead. Finally it was our turn for take-off, the Rolls Royce Trent 700's roared into life and we rolled down the runway and lifted off into the dark London sky. At about 500 feet the starboard wing dipped and we banked in a south easterly direction. Fifty minutes after take off the cabin service started, pre-dinner drinks were served, orange juice, sprite,
apple juice, coke, fanta and water were available, i chose the apple juice. Dinner was then served while we were flying over Switzerland, the usual choice was on offer, chicken or beef. "What would you like to eat sir? chicken or beef?" asked the FA in her arab accent, i chose the chicken,
it tasted good, it was served with rice and vegetables along with a salad consisting of carrots, olives and sliced cucumbers, tea and coffee were also available. There was also a bread roll and a chocolate cake with the meal,
overall the food tasted OK and certainly good enough for me.
After everything was cleared the cabin lights were dimmed and the movie was started. Most people fell asleep or were watching the movie, i did neither, instead i listened to my MP3 player and tried to get some sleep (unsuccessfully). Since it was dark there was nothing to see outside, all i could see was the flashes of the red strobe lights reflecting off the wing through the window. Five hours into the flight breakfast was served over the Red Sea, it consisted of a croissant, a fruit salad and a bread roll with butter and strawberry jam along with tea and coffee ofcourse. Since i wasn't hungry i didn't eat anything except a sip of tea. In between this another round of drinks was served, coke, orange juice, apple juice, fanta and water available, i had a coke. An hour and 40 minutes later the cabin was prepared for landing, we would be arriving on time in Sanaa for our connection. We landed in SAH in the early morning, Yemenia insist on disembarking via the rear exits, so we left the plane through door 4L via stairs, there are no jet bridges at SAH. All the pax were bused to the transfer terminal which is basically a brown building resembling a derelict warehouse. As the bus rolled along the tarmac i saw other IY aircraft including their 738's, A310's, an ancient 727 and the other A330 (70-ADT), there was also a Twin Otter in Yemenia colours.
Once we got off the bus we were directed to the two check-in desks in the corner of the transfer hall by a man with a thick black moustache standing at the entrance shouting "Dubai", "Dhaka", "Bombay" while pointing at the
two transfer desks. This was transiting...........Yemeni-style. We were given our boarding passes for the SAH-DAC sector via DXB. As you can see on the itinery, Dubai is not mentioned anywhere, this is my only gripe with Yemenia,
they make intermediatary stops not mentioned on your itinery. But once glance at the flight times before departure i knew there would some stops somewhere along the way as the flight lengths didn't add up. We were then told to get on the bus again and bussed to the next building which is barely 100 yards away...quite farcical stuff. We sat there for 15 minutes while we waited for our bus to take us to our plane. It eventually came and we were taken to our aircraft.
From Sanaa SAH
Via Dubai international DXB
Flight duration - Sanaa-Dubai 2 hours/Dubai-Dhaka 4 hours 30 minutes
Photo © Radek Oneksiak
We boarded via the rear exits again, my window seat (25H) was on the starboard side just behind the wing in correlation with the wingtips which made for an interesting flight as i got to see all the flaps, spoilers and ailerons
in action. After a quick taxi to the runway we had a rolling take-off, a first for me. We took off in bright sunshine heading for Dubai, flying time was 2 hours. Shortly after take-off a hot breakfast was served which consisted off a omelette-style thing with a tomatoe in baked beans and mashed potatoes. Coffee/tea and beverages were also available. The flight passed by and soon we were landing at a sunny Dubai, we docked at gate 10 next to an Air India A310, further afield there was a Gulf Air A330 at the gate. An announcement was made telling all DXB passengers to deplane and all DAC-bound pax remain seated. No duty free shopping at DXB then? The cleaners from Dnata got on the plane and did their stuff. Just before landing at DXB the entire cabin was sprayed with insecticide spray by the FA's. Economy class was around 70% full.
A new group of flight attendants also boarded the plane. Soon it was time to depart for Dhaka, we pushed back and rolled past tonnes of Emirates A330's/777's, a A345, a Iran Air 742 and a MAS A330. The A310 lined up on the runway and we took off once again. Flight duration was 4 hours 30 minutes. The leg room on IY 310's are not bad at all, there was a full 6 inch gap between the end of my knee and the seat in front of me, there's no footrest though. The interior was more worn out obviously but still clean and tidy, but the picture quality on the overhead monitors was atrotious. The seats were comfortable than the A330, they were made by Recaro. The midday lunch was served by a very attractive FA. Beef with vegetables, a salad, a dessert and coffee/tea and drinks on offer. Our routing took us over the Arabian sea, the south coast of Pakistan and over central India into Dhaka. There was some mild turbulence on the way but no scary grip-my-seat stuff. The flight passed by and the time had come for landing at DAC, the cabin was prepared for landing, including more insecticide spray sprayed throughout the cabin. We made our descent into DAC nearly on time at about 5:30 pm. We then taxied off the runway at breakneck speed, the pilot must have been in a rush as i've never taxied in a plane that fast! We were bombing it down to the gate. There wasn't much to see at DAC except a solitary Biman A310 at the gate and a Fokker on the ramp.
This time we deplaned through jet bridges, the FA's stood by the exits saying goodbye to all the pax. Went through immigration, collected my luggage and left by the exits only to be hit by the blazing heat as we left the
air conditioned terminal.
That concludes the end of the outbound journey. The return flight will be DAC-DXB-SAH-ADE-LHR, with more pictures.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the inbound leg coming very soon.