My in-laws have a studio apartment near Benidorm, so my wife and I decided on a relatively cheap summer holiday, after more expensive trips to Surinam and Madeira earlier in the year. So we decided on the trip to Benidorm in the summer of 2005, from 27 July to 10 august 2005. We took the same trip in 2002 (although we flew AMS-BCN-ALC-BCN-AMS with IB, all a320's)
So the 27th of July finally came. I planned the trip so that I could see MAD airport (bad mistake I know now) and fly on the MD 80 for the first time. I had flown on the DC9 (again with SLM and a frightening experience that was) so I wanted to add the MD 80 to my list of flown planes. IT was a very rainy summer so far in The Netherlands, so we were glad to leave (me, my wife and our 6, well then still 5 year old daughter).
Unfortunately I do not know how to post my own pictures here, which is too bad since I made some nice ones of the aircraft. So I'll use a.net pictures. Upon arriving at the gate our IB a320 was waiting for us. It was EC-IEF
Photo © Manolo Aldana
We left with about a half an hour delay, which made me worry a bit, because we were about to depart from the polderbaan, which compounded the delay to 45 mins. It worried me, because we had to make our connection at MAD. Shortly after the very powerful take-off and steep climb-out the pilot apologized for the delay and said he would fly as fast as possible (so probably mach .82 for the a320) to make up some time, which he did. The trip was about 10-15 mins shorter than planned. But one thing though, the descent into MAD was freakin' bumpy! Our daughter loved the ride, but it gave my wife and me sweaty palms!! I wasn't really that worried though, but it was kind of unusual to us, seeing that the weather was clear.
So there we were in sunny Madrid, 30 deg. C, what a difference from dreary Holland. My first impression of MAD: What a dump!!! I was really disappointed at this airport, which in passengers is number 5 in Europe. Schiphol is number 4, but what a difference!!! Anyway, we had no time to complain, because we had to make our flight. So we hurried to our gate, which wasn't easy. Due to construction we had to take all kinds of detours, not handy when you're not familiar with the airport. Finally we made it to our gate: no aircraft, no announcement. Finally the delay showed up on the boards. So we needn't have hurried. The delay gave us time to eat some pizza and look around. Well, the more I looked around the more disappointed I got at the airport. People smoking everywhere (yeah sure, behind the magical blue barriers that are supposed to stop the smoke I guess, what's the point?) the airport looked really old and worn, and cramped.
Finally after a delay on an hour and a half came our MD88, EC-FOF.
Photo © Ismael Jorda
Man, you could see the age on that thing. The seats were terribly worn, my seat cushion was loose, the p/a system was squeaky. But what a take-off!!! Even more powerful than in AMS and what felt like a vertical climb-out... very exciting!!! Compared to that our arrival in ALC was uneventful, we were quickly out the door and to pick up our rent-a-car. A very nice Smart ForFour, great car! Upon arriving to my in-laws' studio apartment we were a bit shocked. Nobody stayed there in 3 years so it was filthy as hell. So we went shopping first and spent the entire evening 'till about two o'clock in the night cleaning. But after that it was squeaky-clean!!
Sadly, August 10 came much too fast. The weather was awesome, we saw Benidorm, Alicante, Murcia and Valencia. Aah the advantages of a rent-a-car.
We went to the airport, dropped off the car, checked in... or so we thought. I had already checked in online, so I gave the guy our passports, he printed out our boarding passes... with 3 different Russian sounding names!!! (my name is Portuguese to be clear). So I say to the IB groundstaff guy, "these are not our names". His reaction: "yes they are" giving me a look as if I am the most stupid person in the world. So I was like: "hello, I think I know my own name". And these are not it. So he started looking at our passports again, looking at the system. Oh I see, you are not on the list on the flight. That made me about ready to explode. I asked him how is that possible, when I checked in online yesterday, and that was okay??? The guy was getting more annoyed by the minute. How dare we question him?!?!
Anyway he started typing for what felt like ten minutes and finally...."oh I found you", printed out our boarding passes with the seats I reserved. So who was the stupid one. Anyway, I could sense that an apology was not going to come we left. So we entered the terminal area, and yes... no plane. So we waited, and waited and waited. The departure time kept being pushed back. Finally!!! EC-FPJ came to our gate.
Photo © Simon Curtis
We left over two hours late, which meant we missed our connection which was also the last flight of the day to The Netherlands. No panic, same thing happened three years ago and they put us in a nice hotel near the airport. I got in the line at the transfer desk, when it was finally my turn I thought I would get a heart-attack... I forgot our passports on the plane!!!! (who'se stupid now, DO'H!!!)
The guy at the counter was cool though, I could give him the registration of the plane (thank God I watch for that) he made a call and half an hour later someone came with our stuff. I could kiss him!!!!
So they put us in the same hotel as 3 years back and on the first flight out. We wanted our luggage so they would be released. My wife's luggage came, but my own didn't. GREAT!!! Thankfully I always pack underwear, socks and a shirt in my carry-on luggage. So, again another line, the lost-and found. Thankfully they knew where my luggage was and it would be put on the flight tomorrow. Off to the hotel, very nice room, fantastic dinner and breakfast (paid for by Iberia, so I emptied the minibar). The next day at BCN airport check-in was OK, albeit a bit chaotic. I went to the customer service of IB to ask about the luggage, and after some calls the very helpful lady confirmed that it was on the flight.
All in all I found the IB ground-staff in BCN very helpful. In MAD and ALC they were terrible. Rude and stupid. Even stupider than me
The flight home was uneventful, albeit a bit delayed, which I found very funny because everywhere in MAD and BCN there are IB posters saying "Punctuality is our goal". In my experience they have a long way to go!!!
When we arrived at AMS we waited a bit on the taxiway, when suddenly I heard a roar behind us, which was an AC 763 landing in new colours, which were pretty rare then. I made a quick pic of it, but since I don't know how to place it here, too bad. AMS seems to get those quickly, just like the USAir 763 (which busted an engine on take-off at AMS).
I hope my first report wasn't too long-winded and a bit interesting. I look forward to comments!!