So the day before I planned to go to Sharm El Sheikh, I headed off with a few friends to an Egyptair office in Cairo (in Mohandiseen) to sort out my ticket (my mates had already booked their flights and organised a villa).
So after waiting 15 minutes it was my turn to get the ticket. Initially things didn’t look well. The flights I wanted were both fully booked but after a few minutes of the agent typing away at the computer she found me seats in Business (Horus) Class. I didn’t mind and even though the airfare was a bit steep it would help me collect my Egyptair miles and try out MS's C class seat on the new A330-200s.
Route: Cairo International (CAI/HECA) to Sharm El Sheikh Ophira Airport (SSH/HESH)
Flight Number: Egyptair MS127
Registration: SU-GCF ( http://airfleets.net/ficheapp/plane-a330-610.htm )
Flight time: 0 hours 55 minutes
Gate Departure Scheduled/Actual 07:50/07:56 Local Time
Gate Arrival Scheduled/Actual 08:45/08:42 Local Time
Photo © Hristos Lachtaras
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
The following day we were up pretty early and took a Cairo taxi to the airport. Egyptair operate all their flights out of the recently renovated Terminal 1 (with the exception of their JFK flights which are from T2).
We arrived at the domestic area at 07:05. We went straight into the terminal, and passed security to get to the check-in area. At the same time 2 flights were also being checked-in (to HRG and LXR). After a swift check-in we were issued with our boarding passes (my mates were in economy and I was in business though…hehe)
We then went straight to the boarding gate (number 11). This part of T1 is quite new and despite its small size, it’s clean and modern. At the gate a suited man was walking around offering people tea and coffee which is a nice touch which I haven’t seen at any other airport before.
At 07:25 an announcement was made that boarding would proceed and the busses arrived
So off we got onto the bus to take us to our A330.
Now this is why I like being bussed at an airport (rather than using an airbridge)….you get a ‘tour’ of the airport and ramp activity
View just before we boarded the bus
Egyptair A321 being prepared for a flight to HRG.
A Monarch AB6 leased by Egyptair to cover the Hajj operation (thanks for the information “Onlysmarties”)
Egyptair A320 with Monarch's nose
Royal Air Maroc B738. Will be off to Casablanca in little over an hour
View from the bus. AMC Airline's sole B732 and an Egyptair A320. AMC Airline will be getting the first of 6 brand new B738s (with winglets) in March 2006.
In the morning sunlight our A330 appears...
British engines on an Egyptian bird
Boarding via steps at 07:40
Egyptair have 7 A330-200s in their fleet (the last one arrived on the 28th of February 2006). A further 7 are expected to be ordered this year. The aircraft are configured with 24C/244Y seats.
I was lucky enough to be on board Egyptair's first A330 flight back in 2004. It was on SU-GCE but it in Y class (which is very nice in its own right). Now here was my chance to try out their Business class product (Horus Class).
At this point I split from my mates as they went to the back of the tube. As soon as I walked in I took a few pictures (I was the 2nd C class pax to board) which attracted the attention of the purser who just smiled.
Once I settled down in my seat she (the purser) walked to my seat and offered me a drink. She then said she saw me taking pictures and I explained my interest in aviation and Egyptair. We got talking and she answered several questions I had about MS which was great (unfortunately I can't go into details of what she said...)
Pics of Horus Class
At 07:48 as the last passengers were boarding a 5 minute long pre-recorded announcement was made about flying regulations, safety and general advice.
At 07:53 the last passenger boarded and I overheard the purser say that their were 260 passengers on board (Y was full and there were 2 C class seats empty)
As the doors closed the captain came online and welcomed us aboard his aircraft and detailed to us our routing and other flight information like cruising altitude (24,000ft) for the short 40-minute hop to Sharm El Sheikh.
As soon as he finished a F/A came around with hot towels and a choice of fruit juices on a silver tray….nice.
Fresh juice to start your day
Push back began at 07:56 and the safety announcement was made.
View from window:
A Dash-7 belonging to PAS
AMC B732, Egyptair B735, Air Sinai B735 and a fleet of Egyptair ground vehicles
3 PAS Dash aircraft (2 Dash 8s and 1 Dash 7)
An ex-Egyptair AB6 now with Libyan Arab Airline (TS-IAZ) in one of Egyptair's (oldest) maintenance facilities. The centre will renovated in November 2006.
An African B707 cargo jet
4 Egyptian airlines. Air Memphis DC-9 (ex US Airways off course), Luxor Air MD-83, Lotus Air A320 and Midwest Airline A310
View of T2 with a British Airways B744, Air Cairo A321, Saudi Arabian B772 and Singapore Airlines B773
Construction of T3 (will open June 2007)
Turning onto runway 5R
Take off was the quietest I've experienced. Maybe because of the RR engines or the fact it was a very short flight for an A330.
View of runway 5R and CAI 2 minutes after take off
After around 20 minutes a meal was served. I was kinda surprised as I was only expecting a drink on this short flight. We had a croissant, a bread roll (+cheese+butter+strawberry/apricot jam), a delicious fruit salad and tea/coffee plus a 'Happy Eid' card.
All the C seats are equipped with an in-built massage function and PTVs (AVOD). Besides the movies you have audi channels, games channels, World Information channel, SMS/texting facility and Internet (MSYYZ, I hope that was the news you were hoping for )
The stewards came around several times offering second helpings as well as tea/coffee. Even though they had to take care of 22 C class passengers they were smiling and extremely helpful.
The Red Sea. What I love about this picture is that it shows the 2 great continents of Africa and Asia in one shot. Sinai (Asia) is at the bottom of the picture and Egypt proper (Africa) at the top.
After 30 minutes we began our decent
As I was sitting on the right side of the aircraft I got views of the sea, beach and resort. If I was sitting on the left I would have got views of the desert and stunning mountains.
View as we neared the resort
I present to you Sharm El Sheikh...a world class resort
The islands in the background are where the more professional divers go
Besides the sea, the Red Sea resorts are famous for their world class golf courses
40 seconds before touch down
Landing was smooth and no thrust reversers were used.
Here is a shot of the sole and current terminal at SSH, along with the control tower and mountain backdrop.
Here are pictures of the new terminal. It will open June 2006. The terminal's structure is designed with the local scenery in mind
Russian visitors at the Red Sea including a TU-154 and IL-86
Finally come to a stand still at 08:42
Just before deboarding I asked the purser if I could visit the cockpit, so she went asked the pilots and came back to escort me to the flight deck where I said hello to the flight crew and we talked a bit about Egyptian aviation. Unfortunately photography is strictly prohibited in Egyptair cockpits so no pictures to show.
As I got off the aircraft I grabbed this picture of the new terminal
A Eurocypria B738
Another TU-154 and an Egyptair A321 from Luxor
A look at our aircraft
A look back from the bus as we neared the terminal building. On the foreground is the President's domestic aircraft
A view of the arrival's area (where I was ‘reunited’ with my mates)
View from outside
The Air Mall
The new terminal
We then picked up a taxi and to take us to the resort
Just outside the airport
The next few days were spent sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, diving, quadbiking, sky-diving, parasailing, taking excursions into the desert and Sharm town and loads of other stuff. Sharm El Sheikh is just a piece of heaven on earth and anyone visiting Egypt has to come to this place.
I'll post the return flight later on.
Anyway I hope you all enjoyed the report and all feedback, opinions and questions are welcome!