Photo © Airsnaps - WorldAirlineImages
On Saturday 2 July we took the short flight from Valencia to Palma de Mallorca with Air Europa. The plane was the 737-800 EC-IYI, with Disney figures painted on the fuselage.
Photo © Ignatiy Savranskiy
On Monday 4 July I boarded easyJet Airbus A319 HB-JZK to Basel-Mulhouse. easyJet had just started this service from their new hub on the French-Swiss-German border a few days ago; for me it was the first flight on one of their new Airbuses and also the first time to EuroAirport. After arriving in Basel, I stood outside the terminal building in no-time after going through the Swiss customs channel. I took a bus to Basel train station and connected there to an intercity train bound for Zurich, where I had some business to attend to that day. Thanks by the way to the A.netters who gave me practical info for the trip from BSL to ZRH. That afternoon it rained very hard, but I still managed to do some sightseeing on foot after finishing the necessary business.
Photo © Christoph Meyer
The next morning I took the train to Zurich´s Kloten airport, where I did some spotting on the large viewing terrace. The most interesting visitor for me was a South African Airways Airbus A340, of which I could take some nice detail shots. Then I went through customs to my gate, where the Air Berlin Airbus A320 EC-HZU, leased from Iberworld, was waiting to take me and my fellow passengers back to Palma de Mallorca. I had hoped to fly in one of the 737NG´s with blended winglets, but I sort of made up for that by buying a Herpa model of this type for my collection… The climb southwards offered some spectacular views of the Alps and the many lakes, followed by a smooth ride along the French coast and crossing the Mediterranean towards the Balearic Islands.
Photo © Javier F. Bobadilla - Iberian Spotters
Wednesday 6 July we had a Spanair flight from Palma to Barcelona, but the flight was operated by AeBal with one of their Boeing 717´s. This modern ´mad dog´ is by far more comfortable than the MD-80 series, both in cabin layout and noise level. Despite sitting in the back end of the plane, just before the right-hand engine´s intake, the engine sound didn´t bother me at all.
In BCN, one of our suitcases never appeared on the baggage belt. I reported this to Spanair´s handling agent in Barcelona, Newco, who entered everything in the computer and told me that the suitcase had ended up in Vigo instead. It would obviously be sent to Barcelona as soon as possible, but the problem was that we would be leaving for Istanbul and then Bangkok the next day. We checked in in our hotel, went into the city for a few hours and then returned to the airport to see whether there was any more news regarding my suitcase. They now said that it was supposed to be on the last flight from Vigo to Madrid, and it would be sent from Madrid to Barcelona on the first flight the following morning. So, the next day we arrived at the airport in time to get the suitcase and check in for Istanbul… not. The suitcase had never made it to Barcelona. Where it was exactly, they couldn´t tell. The only thing left to do was giving them the address of the hotel in Thailand where we would be staying for the next five nights, and hope that it would in some way arrive there on one of the Star Alliance airlines. Thai Airways maybe? Almost all my clothes were in that suitcase, including my old Denim Air uniform and an airline pilot´s hat my partner bought me as a funny gift in Istanbul in June. It´s now September and still no trace of my suitcase… Spanair never contacted me again, despite various emails, faxes and letters that I sent to them. They simply don´t seem to care, as I am in Thailand now and can´t just go there to knock on their door. I also never got any compensation, as Newco told me I would. As a last effort I wrote a letter to Spanair´s parent company SAS, to see whether their Scandinavian efficiency can help me in one way or another.
Photo © Gerry Stegmeier
7 JULY BCN-IST 1400-1815
Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800
7 JULY IST-BKK 2305-12.15
Turkish Airlines Airbus A340-300
Then, on Thursday, came the time to say goodbye to Spain and embark on our trip to our new home land. Our Turkish Airlines flight was delayed 40 minutes due to traffic congestion, according to the captain. I had hoped the flight would be on one of THY´s new A320´s or A321´s, but it was a 737-800 instead. Oh well…
I believe Turkish Airlines is one of the few flag carriers that are actually improving their service instead of letting it decline due to cost cutting and whatever else, and this was again proven to be true on these flights to Istanbul and Bangkok. The food is very good and the staff professional.
The BCN-IST leg offered some great views of Sardinia, the Italian ´boot´ and Greece along the route, followed by an excellent landing at Atatürk airport. Here we would have about four hours to spend before boarding our next flight to Thailand. Although the shopping is quite limited, the food and drink outlets are quite plentiful in Istanbul´s modern international terminal. This combined with a good internet connection at the terminal hotel didn´t make the long wait too much of a burden. In any case, the new terminal is a huge improvement over the old cramped one!
Photo © Irfan Caliskan
The boarding of our flight went quite smoothly, but we were slightly delayed because we had to wait for a group of Indonesian passengers. Whether they simply arrived too late at the gate or they came in on a delayed flight from somewhere else, I don´t know. The plane was completely full in economy class on this flight to Bangkok and Singapore. We soon were climbing out over Istanbul towards the east. The sky was very clear and I could easily recognise the towns of Izmit and Adapazari, where my grandparents live and where I spent three years of my childhood, respectively.
I had done this flight before on a trip to Bangkok in 1995, originating from Amsterdam, in Business Class. I´ve never forgiven myself for not applying for a frequent flyer card back then, which would probably have gained me a free flight within Europe. The only thing I really missed this time was that THY doesn´t have a personal in-flight entertainment system yet in economy class, which does make a long flight better. Does anyone know whether their new A330´s have such a system?
In between waking up, breakfast and landing I took some pictures out of the window. I love shots showing the wing, winglet and engines. The landing at hot Bangkok´s Don Muang airport couldn´t have been smoother, and an hour later we were in our rental car on our way to our new home town, Pattaya.