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vivekman2006
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BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Wed Jul 26, 2006 4:58 pm

Sector: BOM-CMB
Airline: Sri Lankan Airlines (UL)
Flight: UL-144
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Departure: 0325
Arrival: 0545

“The flight is nine hours from now!!” I said to my ultra-stupid travel agent who handed me the tickets, and I hadn’t begun packing yet! Either absolute ignorance or careless miscalculation had him telling me earlier that it was on Sunday morning instead of Saturday morning. He sheepishly admitted that there had been a confusion about the dates and handed me the tickets.

We were flying from Mumbai to Bangkok on SriLankan Airways and I was now being told that the airline had provided us a free day-long stopover at Colombo – nine hours prior to departure! Although I was happy that I would get to visit Colombo, I had just nine hours to finish a meeting at work, commute for an hour to reach home, pack, and then commute for another 40 minutes to reach the airport for our flight departing at 0325. Anyway, I rushed through my office commitments, finished packing and reached the airport at 0030 with plenty of time to spare.

Mumbai airport (BOM) was bustling with a series of international departures scheduled around that time. We grabbed a luggage trolley and walked through the now defunct Terminal 2B towards Terminal 2A. After screening our luggage, we joined the mile-long check-in queue at the SriLankan counter. After an endless wait, we checked-in our bags (till Bangkok!) and were handed over our boarding passes and Indian immigration cards. The immigration was a breeze and we were asked to identify our baggage and then proceed to the waiting area. The waiting area at BOM is pretty nice with sleeperettes where you can stretch and catch a short nap while you wait for the security check to be announced.



My wife did just that while I strolled through the area and browsed through the duty-free shops. Too bad, there wasn’t a view of the action outside from here! After a wait of about an hour, we were called in for security check only to join another long queue this time along with passengers flying bmi to LHR. As the bmi flight was to depart earlier, the LHR bound passengers were allowed to proceed first and then we were screened. Now began another wait, this time in the departure hold.



The boarding call came in another 30 minutes and we proceeded to the aerobridge, passed through another security check (!) and finally boarded the aircraft. The A320 already had people on board and this is when I learnt that it was an incoming flight from KHI with a halt at BOM. We found our seats – 27B/27C – right at the back of the aircraft. I was stuck with 27B as my wife snatched the aisle seat from me  Smile The sky marshals did a round of the aircraft as soon as boarding was completed and settled down in their seats.



We were pushed back at around 0330 and began our taxi towards runway 09-27. We got the take-off clearance soon and we lifted off into the night sky. A neat bank to the left and we were on course to CMB! The food & drink menus were distributed as soon as the seat-belt signs were switched off. I ordered a non-vegetarian meal consisting of spiced chicken & gravy along with the customary bread and preserves. I opted for a chilled Carlsberg to go with it. My wife ordered a vegetarian meal consisting of “Chana Masala” (whole gram gravy) and Paneer (cottage cheese) cutlet. The meal was pretty decent, and as we were quite hungry due to the long wait (and therefore no pics of the meal!) it was devoured in no time. The meal was followed up with freshly brewed Ceylon tea/coffee.

As monsoon had not yet set in over India, the flight was pretty smooth and most of the folks dozed off soon after the meals. I was unable to sleep and browsed through the in-flight magazine while listening to music on my iPod. Traces of dawn could be seen as early as 0500, as we were flying over the Indian Ocean. Soon, the announcement for descent was made and people started waking up. The FAs made a customary round of the aircraft asking people to fasten seat belts and stow their seat tables. We made a series of left and right banks and lowered the landing gear. It had become brighter outside now and I could see that there was a slight drizzle. We made a perfect touchdown at around 0600 and after a short taxi, were parked at a remote bay. I was surprised we were parked there inspite of the presence of aerobridges! Anyway, a short bus ride later we were inside the arrivals hall of the Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo.


We finished our immigration facilities in quick time and were handed over vouchers for our stopover at Colombo. We proceeded to collect our baggage, and it was now that we realized that the baggage was checked-in right up to BKK!! The staff at BOM had conveniently forgotten to inform us about this! Anyway, it was a good thing that we had all the essentials to see us through the day. After a wait of around 30 minutes, our transportation arrived to take us to the very nice Hotel Blue Oceanic next to the pristine Ethukale Beach.




.......................................................................................................

Sector: CMB-BKK
Airline: Sri Lankan Airlines (UL)
Flight: UL-888
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Departure: 0140
Arrival: 0645

After a day of relaxation and sightseeing, we were picked up at our resort by the SriLankan Airlines minivan and driven to the airport. The entrance to the CMB airport was heavily guarded my armymen and they were stopping all vehicles to check who was on-board! We were allowed to go forward the moment our driver told the guard that we were Indians! Anyway, we arrived at the terminal at around 2330 with only the handbags we had and proceeded towards the check-in counters.

The scene at the check-in counters was chaotic as no one seemed to know where we were supposed to deposit our stopover vouchers and collect the boarding passes. After spending nearly ten minutes shuttling back and forth, someone guided us to the right counter. We were handed over our boarding passes and we proceeded towards immigration, which was dispensed with quickly. We were assigned seats 37A/37C – which meant we had one window and one aisle seat in the 2X4X2 economy configuration! We strolled around the terminal and browsed through the neat duty free shops.



At around 0030, we proceeded towards our departure gates, which I felt were a mile away. Nevertheless, the airport with its glass walls, duty free shops & bright lighting looked pretty swank. The piers leading to the departure holds have mechanized walkways to help people negotiate the long distance to the gates. After security check we waited in the neat little departure hold with a great view of the action unfolding outside. Our aircraft was already at the aerobridge and the ground crew was loading the luggage & food. After an endless wait, the boarding call for families, children and business class passengers came. Finally, we boarded the aircraft and found the way to our seats which were again, towards the rear of the aircraft.



The aircraft was pretty full as it was a hop flight from CMB to PEK with a halt at BKK. Most of the passengers however, were Indian tourists on their way to BKK. I switched on the PTV and changed the channel to the forward looking camera which was showing a flurry of activity as departure time drew closer. We were pushed back bang on time at 0140 and felt the A-330’s massive engines come to life. We began our long taxi towards the runway and I had my eye constantly on the tiny monitor ahead. We aligned perfectly on the runway and waited for clearance. A large aircraft like the A330 sitting at the end of a runway, waiting for take-off clearance is always a sight to see – especially at night with the strobe lights on!

The clearance was obtained soon, and we rolled down the runway and lifted off into a sky filled with dense monsoon clouds. The turbulence began soon enough and kept us company for quite a while. Meanwhile, the menus were distributed and this time I opted for a Thai non-vegetarian meal consisting of fish in mild gravy with red peppers, capsicum, lettuce and noodles along with bread and preserves. The choice of drink again was a chilled Carlsberg.



I browsed through the various programs on offer and selected the Comedy channel which was showing an episode of “The Simpsons”



We began our cruise in a north easterly direction which would take us over the Bay of Bengal towards Thailand. The weather outside was stormy and we encountered frequent turbulence.



Most of the passengers including my wife dozed off after their meals, but I was unable to sleep as usual. I sat through the entire episode of “The Simpsons” and an episode of “Friends” As the turbulence subsided, I decided to take a walk along the darkened aisle. After stretching my legs, I settled down in my seat and tried to force myself to sleep. After a short nap, I woke up again to see traces of dawn appear on the horizon. Soon, we crossed the coastline but I couldn’t see much because of the heavy cloud cover. At around 0615, the captain announced that we were beginning the approach into BKK. Passengers with half sleepy eyes woke up and prepared for landing. We were given the Thai immigration cards for which we were thankful as it would save us time later on at the airport. We were soon on the outskirts of Bangkok and could clearly make out the houses and the roads. The landing gears were lowered and we made a somewhat heavy landing on a raind drenched runway at BKK. As we taxied towards the terminal, a light drizzle welcomed us to Thailand!

A couple of aircraft from Indian Airlines and a United Airlines 747 were seen parked along with the usual Thai Airways birds as we proceeded towards immigration.


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



.......................................................................................................

Spotting at BKK

BKK airport is heaven for aviation enthusiasts as it sees almost non-stop action with a display of aircraft from around the world. The best part about the airport is the observation deck from where you can see and photograph the action outside. Too bad that there is only one such area across the two international terminals!
Here are some of the highlights of the afternoon.

An Indian A320 VT-ESA in the new livery:


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



SriLankan A330-200 showing off its long wingspan:


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



SAS A340:


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



Thai 747-400:


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



SIA Triple Seven:


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



Thai A-330 with a China Southern 757:


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



Garuda 737/China Airlines Cargo 747:


MyAviation.net photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Vivek Manvi



.......................................................................................................

Sector: BKK-CMB
Airline: Sri Lankan Airlines (UL)
Flight: UL-423
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Departure: 2100
Arrival: 2245

Our tour itinerary meant that we arrived at the Don Muang International Airport, Bangkok at around 1330, around seven hours before departure. However, I wasn’t complaining as this would give me plenty of time for planespotting in daylight! The planespotting details are listed above.

After depositing our bags at the cloak room, we began exploring the terminal building. There was a scale-model of the upcoming Suvarnabhumi airport just outside Bangkok.



The terminal is nicely laid out with the check-in counters in the middle flanked on the sides by money changing counters, passenger assistance booths and a couple of duty free shops.



After spending nearly six hours, we proceeded towards the check-in counters. This time we were checked-in right upto BOM. After paying the customary departure tax of 500THB, we proceeded towards immigration. The formalities done, we now entered a shopper’s heaven, the duty free area. The duty free shops all over the airport belong to King Power and have a mind-boggling range of stuff for sale. In addition to the usual perfumes, alcohol, cosmetics, cigarettes, electronics, Thai traditional craft was also available for sale.



After shopping, we proceeded towards security check and waited in the security hold for our departure call. Suddenly, it started raining heavily accompanied by lightning and thunder. It was as if the weather gods had come out in full force to bid us farewell.  Smile Anyway, boarding was on time and we settled in our seats – 59K/59H – window & aisle seats again!



As we were preparing for pushback, a JAL 747-400 arrived and docked adjacent to us. The Jumbo looked massive in comparison to the A330! Take-off was almost on time at 2105. I watched the bright Bangkok skyline receding slowly on the PTV. We flew into rough weather right from the outset. The heavy turbulence was unsettling and for the first time I was not enjoying a flight. I ordered a vegetarian meal but barely got through half of it. However, the Ceylon tea following the meal was most welcome. The turbulence existed almost throughout the flight and I forced myself to watch “Big Momma’s House 2” to while away the time. I browsed through the in-flight duty free section to see if I could find something worthwhile to buy and finally bought a SriLankan A-330-200 scale model as a souvenir.

Anyway, the weather became clearer as we approached the coast of Sri Lanka and I switched the PTV the forward looking camera. As we neared Colombo, I could make out a growing bright speck representing the airport area. Soon, the runway came into sight as we made a smooth and gradual descent. The touchdown was smooth and almost on time. We taxied for a short while and docked at an aerobridge. As passengers began disembarking, a lady raised an alarm saying that someone had flicked her wallet which was lying in a bag beneath her seat. After checking the overhead bins around her seat, the flight attendants finally asked her to wait till all passengers had disembarked. Don’t know what happened next, but my wife tells me that she saw her emerging out of the aerobridge laughing loudly along with another female friend!! After resting for some time in the arrivals area, we proceeded towards the departure lounge to catch our connecting flight back home to Mumbai.

.......................................................................................................

Sector: CMB-BOM
Airline: Sri Lankan Airlines (UL)
Flight: UL-141
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Departure: 0001
Arrival: 0225

The queue for security check was really long and it took ages for our turn to arrive. After the check, we waited in the departure hold for around thirty minutes till the call for boarding came. We were ferried by a rather odd looking bus to the waiting A320. This time we were assigned seats 25A/25B whereas 25C was empty!!! I was really glad as it allowed both of us to stretch ourselves over the cramped economy class seats.

This particular A-320 had an in-flight entertainment system in the form of dropdown LCD screens. However, I was extremely tired and was in no mood for any entertainment. As soon as we took-off, I requested the flight attendant not to disturb us as we would like to catch up on some sleep. The lady was kinda surprised and asked me whether I would have anything to eat at all! I told her that we had just arrived from BKK and were quite stuffed  Smile

I dozed off as soon as we took-off and for the first time in my life, I fell asleep on a plane  Wink The flight was silky smooth with hardly any turbulence! I didn’t even realize when the meal service began and ended. I woke up when the announcement was made that we were approaching Mumbai. I could make out the bright lights of this city that never sleeps approaching us from the distance. We banked right and lined up with the runway. I could make out the familiar sights in and around Navi Mumbai as we descended. Finally, after a whirlwind tour lasting a week, we touched down on home ground bang on time. After a long taxi, we parked next to a bmi A-330 at Terminal 2A.

All in all, it was a great trip on an under-rated airline and I would not hesitate to fly SriLankan again. In a nutshell, here is how I would rate them:

Punctuality: 4/5

Aircraft condition: 3/5

Cabin crew: 4/5

Food: 3/5

Ground handling: 4/5

Value for money: 5/5
 
VHVXB
Posts: 5309
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:54 pm

RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Wed Jul 26, 2006 8:09 pm

Quoting Vivekman2006 (Thread starter):
The sky marshals did a round of the aircraft as soon as boarding was completed and settled down in their seats.

Wow sky marshalls to and from India first time i have heard of it.

Great trip report Vivek. Very detailed with some great pics. Well Done  thumbsup 
 
767747
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Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:08 am

RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:27 pm

Good report! Sri Lankan Airlines sounds pretty good! Nice pictures.

-767747
I love to fly!
 
blrsea
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:42 am

Good report Vivek. Did UL offer free hotel stay, and dropped and picked you up from the hotel? Did you have Sri Lankan visa or is it not required for Indians?
 
karan69
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:33 am

Good report mate, nice to hear about an underrated airline for a change and nice to hear that they are better than a lot of the other airlines out there.

Also altough you dint mind spotting but is'nt 7 hours before your departure way too long a wait, what was your wife's mood. wink 

Karan
 
jaysit
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:23 pm

The Sri Lankan female FAs apparently wear a pretty sexy uniform. The deeply scooped back of their Saree blouses would be a no-no on Air India - and a good thing too, what with AI's aunties bulging out of their uniforms and all.
Atheism is Myth Understood.
 
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vivekman2006
Posts: 400
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 4:55 pm

Yes UL offered us free hotel stay, all meals (breakfast, lunch, evening tea/coffee & dinner) and transfers to/from the airport.

Indians do not require a SriLankan visa. They just stamp your passport on arrival/departure.

Quoting Blrsea (Reply 3):
Good report Vivek. Did UL offer free hotel stay, and dropped and picked you up from the hotel? Did you have Sri Lankan visa or is it not required for Indians?
 
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vivekman2006
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:03 pm

Yup, seven hours was a long wait but she was kept entertained by the duty free shops & our occasional visits to the food courts  Wink But, at the end of it, both of us were really tired!!

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 4):
Also altough you dint mind spotting but is'nt 7 hours before your departure way too long a wait, what was your wife's mood.
 
srilankan_340
Posts: 202
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2002 11:42 pm

RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:02 pm

Nice to read a Srilankan report after a long while. Well written with good details.

I agree that as far as inflight service is concerned one cannot fault the Srilankan Cabin crew. But the ground crew is something else. Wish they would make them undergo a proper customer service course or something!!

The guys you termed as air marshalls are not strictly in the US Air marshals category. These are just security personnel, and I don't think they carry any weapons either. They are only used on the Indian flights, as there is an additional hand baggage check just prior to boarding the aircraft.

They also serve as a deterrent for the unruly Indian minority (mostly business men/traders who cross trade - the huge boxes they check-in and the amount of 'over sized hand luggage' they manage to bring on board!!). I have spoken to quite a few cabin crew, and none of them enjoy the Indian- sub continent flights (especially the South Indian destinations). This is why these security guys are quite visible with their uniforms etc.

It also never fails to amaze me as to how many rows of seats will have the cabin attendant call light on and the bells going off almost continuously from take-off to Landing (on a 1 hour flight!!) Funnily. I have never noticed that on any internal flights within India, only on these international flights.
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self- centered: Forgive them anyway - Mother Theresa
 
Nimish
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:31 pm

Great report!

It's kind of odd how a normal 5 hour flight (BOM-BKK) can be stretched to an almost 24 hour liesurely flight via CMB! But that's the secret of UL's success, they have no problem filling up their planes, since they offer good fares and provide a hotel if you're on the ground longer than some duration (I think 5 hours or 8 hours). As you pointed out, on the CMB-BKK sector - a lot of the pax were from India! UL will probably achieve the status of India's carrier before AI does  sarcastic  Big grin!
Incredible India!
 
abrelosojos
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Fri Jul 28, 2006 12:58 pm

Quoting Srilankan_340 (Reply 8):
The guys you termed as air marshalls are not strictly in the US Air marshals category. These are just security personnel, and I don't think they carry any weapons either. They are only used on the Indian flights, as there is an additional hand baggage check just prior to boarding the aircraft.

They also serve as a deterrent for the unruly Indian minority (mostly business men/traders who cross trade - the huge boxes they check-in and the amount of 'over sized hand luggage' they manage to bring on board!!). I have spoken to quite a few cabin crew, and none of them enjoy the Indian- sub continent flights (especially the South Indian destinations). This is why these security guys are quite visible with their uniforms etc.

= I am confused ... according to the OP, these guys came on board at BOM ... so Sri Lankan security guards go on ALL India flights? Thanks,

A.
Live, and let live.
 
srilankan_340
Posts: 202
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2002 11:42 pm

RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:08 pm

Quoting Vivekman2006 (Thread starter):
= I am confused ... according to the OP, these guys came on board at BOM ... so Sri Lankan security guards go on ALL India flights? Thanks,

As far as I am aware this is the case.

I have flown DEL/BLR/MAA/COK a few times in the past three years and on each occasion there had been 2 Male & 1 Female security personnel on board (at least on the A320's anyway, but I guess when they use the 330's /340's there might be more?).They are based in Colombo and make the round trip. I got talking to one of them a couple of years ago as he was seated next to me, and I remember him commenting that it's the inflight meals that is boring as you get more or less the same sort day in day out!!

I thought this was a nice gesture on UL's part as unlike the Cabin crew, they just enjoy the flight as any other passenger, getting the usual Drinks and meal service on these 3-4 hour round trips!
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self- centered: Forgive them anyway - Mother Theresa
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Sat Jul 29, 2006 1:43 am

Nice Report.Great Pics.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
buck3y3nut
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Wed Oct 18, 2006 5:14 am

too bad I can't see the pictures... Oh well...
 
don
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Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2003 4:44 pm

RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:28 am

Just an additional comment on UL security guards on Indian flights,

They were introduced around mid-80s when an attempt was made to load a bomb on board a CMB bound flight at (then) Madras. Only because of captain's vigilance that the attempt was unsuccesful because he insisted that the baggage should be offloaded that belonged to a no show pax despite some of the ground staff forcing him to accept it. The bag containing the bomb blew up a big portion of the terminal building about 1 hr after aircarft took off killing dozens of people.

The investigations showed that the bombers had considerable "inside" help from indian security and ground handling personnell. Since that incident UL had always carried their security guards on sub-continenet flights to conduct their own security oversight for baggage and pax loading, those are the people you mentioned.
 
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vivekman2006
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:33 pm

Quoting Don (Reply 14):
Since that incident UL had always carried their security guards on sub-continenet flights to conduct their own security oversight for baggage and pax loading, those are the people you mentioned.

Good information Don.

No wonder we were asked to identify our bags after check-in and immigration check at BOM airport. Only after we identified them, a special "Verified" tag was attached to the bags and they were put in a separate area for loading on to the aircraft
 
buck3y3nut
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:28 pm

pics are working fine now. Thank you vivek, whatever you did  Smile
the BOM terminal looks decent....
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines (pics)

Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:11 pm

Quoting Buck3y3nut (Reply 16):
the BOM terminal looks decent....

With 2 phases functioning.it looks more spacious too.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)

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